Game changers that show up in life often do not show up in the way and the when we expect them. That often leads us to not accuracy see them for what they are. This is going to be a year of game changing in 2012, and most of us do not yet see it.
One company we can thank for the change is, Microsoft. Windows 8 will be out sometime this year. You won’t have to touch it to feel its impact. The Redmond, WA company put a muzzle in the mouth of its marketing department about its bottom of the barrel Hyper-V a few years ago and quietly improved the code.
They will make it a standard feature in Windows 8 (NT V.6.2). Keep in mind they have added ARM CPU support to this NT version. We can get devices with multiple ARM in a single package in several smartphones and tablets now. This means…
Virtual Machines will be something your mom will be using, if not knowing it. VM usage is about to become so commonplace the next generation of ARM chips will have what I call 2 and a half CPUs. 2 of them are real bit busters. The ‘½’ CPU will stay alive while the other 2 are OFF. It will perform functions in a low power state, extending battery life.
While Windows is not an open source offering, it does impact the field of computing. It’s inclusion will have the impact the GUI had on the command line. That being, making it more commonplace.
In the Open Source world, we’re not the poor stepchild, thanks to Virtual Box and others such as Ulteo. The latter has not responded to my query as of press time, so I’ll focus on Virtual Box, which we will call VB from here.
When Oracle picked up Sun Microsystems it got VB and found a way to make Larry more money while still kicking some digital ass. It’s open source and free to download and use for non-commercial usage. Commercial use is $50 USD.
I’ve been playing with all the VM offerings I can find and can honestly report they are all pretty good now. All of them, even the formally crapware, Hyper-V. So now it’s like getting a pair of shoes. A matter of matching your needs and budget. (Even your time of learning is a cost).
Assuming you are new to the VM game, if I had to pick one to learn, I would go, hands down with VB. It isn’t as efficient or as feature laden as Parallels on the Mac or VMWare on Windows. And setting aside the no cost of entry, it has two features it’s commercial cousins cannot touch.
Sun is maturing VB faster than some folks change underwear. And unlike it’s tors, you don’t experience lock in of your images. This makes is the clear choice for your first VM experience, since your investment of time in creating images can be brought forward to a work environment where they may have standardized on VMWare or Parallels.
Another beauty of VB is, from a technical standpoint, the sheer flexibility. It’s the only one that can can sit on top of a NT-based Windows and run the OSX stuff. Apple says that’s a big no-no. And I have met a few developers that wanted to be sure there stuff didn’t make the Big Cat based OS users strike out with claws of anger.
It also can be a life saver to firms that are locked to DOS based products, often found in embedded applications such as PBX and elevator controls. Yes, there is the openDOS project for that, however that is another topic for another time.
The bottom line is no matter what your host OS wants or needs are, VB is the ideal platform to get started (and maybe stay with) the VM game. Debian users just query Virtual Box in synaptic package management. Be sure to add fuse if your going to make BSD or FAT/NTFS based images. RPM folk look for a yum load.
Windows (W2K or >) and Big Cat (Mac OSX) people should visit https://www.virtualbox.org
Article by Tcat Houser editor-in-chief of TRCBNews.com