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Virtualization Education Operating Systems Windows IT Linux

Ask Slashdot: Which Virtual Machine Software For a Beginner? 361

An anonymous reader writes "I am getting ready to start learning the use of virtual machines. What VM software would you recommend? This is for personal use. It would be good to run both Windows VMs and Linux VMs. Early use would be maintaining multiple Windows installs using only one desktop computer with plenty of cores and memory. I would be starting with a Windows host, but probably later switching to a Linux host after I learn more about it. Free is good, but reliability and ease of use are better. What is your preferred choice for a VM beginner? VMware? Xen? VirtualBox? Something else?" It may also be helpful if you can recommend particular VM software for particular uses, or provide some insight on different hosting options.
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Ask Slashdot: Which Virtual Machine Software For a Beginner?

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  • Re:Virtualbox (Score:4, Interesting)

    by epine ( 68316 ) on Friday November 09, 2012 @08:56PM (#41938243)

    I recently configured my first virtual host under VirtualBox to run LMDE, as my desktop Mint was behind the times on some packages I needed for a online course on big data. I didn't want to convert my main desktop to LMDE without some miles under my belt. There are many package management problems I can fix quickly enough, and just as many that leave me dead in the water. This was my "straw poll" installation.

    I made a huge blunder allocating only 8GB for the system disk. I hit the disk full condition installing some small packages right after obtaining the latest Update Pack. There were package errors. Gnome keyring now constantly tells me about some missing directory. Related? Who knows. Once you've hit disk full, you're guessing until the end of eternity. The storage problem was due to 1.2GB of retained deb files in /var/cache/apt/archives. I ran a command line tool to increase the size of the disk image, but this didn't show up as extra disk space inside the OS.

    Some package management command at the command line to gather a list of installed packages decided to spawn a GUI view window (I didn't expect this) which immediately punted my window manager, leaving my console windows tiny and immobile. Related? Who knows.

    Overall it's been 98% pain free. The other nee Sun product I recommend is ZFS. I could really get into this snapshot business in a big way.

  • Re:What the fuck (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Architect_sasyr ( 938685 ) on Friday November 09, 2012 @08:58PM (#41938269)
    Canker or not you are dealing with a culture who have, well, read a 500 page manual or three. I don't see that it's a big deal to expect the same from others if I had to do it - of course I was doing it before a widespread internet connection was available, but I don't feel that times have changed that much we should not have to learn for ourselves.
  • Re:VirtualBox (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 09, 2012 @09:49PM (#41938705)

    The dichotomy is interesting -- the "don't ask questions, read multiple 500 page manuals, then make a half-baked decision and call yourself a genius for having done all that hard work" vs the parent. The original question was asked very humbly -- and was seeking real world advice -- what would you use if you were a newbie to virtualization? It wasn't "I'm an idiot, do it for me" as some previous posters asserted. It was a "hey you've been down this road, you know where the stupidities are, I'd like to leverage your hard earned knowledge".

    Now for my answer: when I start middle and high school kids out on this I go with virtual box. I've found it to be less fiddly than others; Xen is great until you send a kid home to work on a project in a VM and he wants to run it on dad's windows box. After even a little success, it's easy to branch out and explore. Also, not everyone has time to read the 500 page manuals -- some of us who are also card carrying geeks are out there working on things like engineering proteins for cell repair. What's the you say, you want to leverage that technology for post heart-attack recovery (you sit on your hind qtrs all day, eat junk food, you'll need it).... oh go read the manual and reproduce all the experiments or have your Doc do the same. You want to know what the best early bio-markers are for Alz Disease so you can try treatments BEFORE your brain rots -- go do your own work -- go read all the medical journal articles -- even those in that field can't keep up with the reading!

  • Re:What the fuck (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Genda ( 560240 ) <> on Friday November 09, 2012 @10:12PM (#41938881) Journal

    I had a long conversation with a man I consider brilliant (at least in the area of causing people to be extraordinary.) I listened to him speak about "Being Nice" as distinct from being gracious or compassionate. We (most folks) be nice so people will like us, so people will think well of us, as a function of social survival. The people who're truly dedicated to the greatness of others, are to a person, not nice. Watch professional coaches, when they need to be supportive they are, when the need to apply brute force to knock the crap loose, they do, when the thing that is required to make a difference is, in your face rage, they will be in your face shouting. The funny thing is that nice people garner like. The hard-ass straight-up people who would rather take a spit in the eye and make you rise to the occasion than all the kind words under heaven, garner rabid dedication and respect.

    We've raised a generation of young people who are for the most part spoon fed, almost utterly protected from concerns about self esteem, in a world wrapped in nerf and sanitized for their convenience. That was very nice for this generation of adults, but I'm not at all certain we've done our children or our society any great favors. Perhaps its easier when you make people dependent on authority, so they acquiesce as a matter of habit, herd animals. Personally I think there is healthy place between crazed individualists and social drones. I fear we aren't currently at anything resembling the sweet spot.

  • Re:What the fuck (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Architect_sasyr ( 938685 ) on Friday November 09, 2012 @10:36PM (#41939105)
    Your logic needs to be checked. Someone has gone to the effort of writing down all of Newtons work, annotated and bound into a big textbook. Someone has gone to all the effort of putting together a wikipedia entry on virtualisation and have even included an entire page worth of software comparisons. You don't see an "advanced user" getting shitty when someone says "on this particular hardware configuration every third packet gets dropped when using a virtual interface for 802.1q" because clearly that person has been working at it for a while. On the other hand, if someone asked on slashdot "how do I determine the length of the longest side in a right angled triangle" they would be shouted down for the same reason a lot of people are shouting down the OP. These are basics you can either look up, or pay someone to teach you (i.e. school/ university). Most of us have at least gone to the effort of reading the 500 page manual, because someone wrote it to make our job easier.

    The culmination of knowledge on the internet should not be a bunch of people telling you the answer. Expert systems and other forms of AI make it easier to look up the answer (i.e. google) which should see, if nothing else, a reduction in basics questions.

    Unfortunately this is not the case and there is a particularly large rise in questions like this - particularly amongst the currently-in-school generation of "first world" learners. My citation? Every day experience consulting into schools for OLPC-style deployments.
  • by TheGoodNamesWereGone ( 1844118 ) on Saturday November 10, 2012 @02:33AM (#41940271)

    (To the OP)

    VMware is easy to use and is free, as in beer. One of its strengths is that virtual disks can be moved about and that makes it easy to create virtual appliances. There're a ton of them out there on the net, mostly Linux distros tailored for a specific use. I've fooled around a bit with VBox and it's OK. Its performance is not on the same level with VMware. Or you could try Zen. Or attach electrodes to your feet like they did to Ham.

    For me, as a desktop Linux user, VMware has been the mac-daddy killer app. There's not much reason to boot to Windows these days except for games, and I've found that what won't run under wine will usually run in VMware with a Windblows guest. Also, there were some kernel taint problem associated with VirtualBox that've been probably fixed by now.

    On the other hand, if you're planning on running OS/2 in your guest, then Vbox is the only way to go! I learned that a couple of months ago.

Experience varies directly with equipment ruined.