An Overview of VirtualBox 2

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The objective of this chapter of VirtualBox 2 Essentials is to provide an overview of the history of VirtualBox and offer a high level overview of how VirtualBox works and how it compares to other approaches to virtualization.

What is VirtualBox?

VirtualBox is a desktop virtualization solution which enables multiple guest operating systems to run on a single host computer. The technology was originally developed by a German company called Innotek. Innotek was subsequently acquired by Sun Microsystems in 1998 and the VirtualBox product incorporated into Sun's xVM family of virtualization technologies.

VirtualBox is supplied in two different editions. The most suitable edition will depend on the needs of the user:

  • VirtualBox Full Binary Edition - Free for personal use and evaluation purposes, this edition is pre-built and fully functional. The source code for this edition is not available and licenses must be purchased for commercial use of the product.
  • VirtualBox Open Source Edition (OSE) - Freely available for personal and commercial use and includes source code released under the terms of the GNU Public License (GPL). The source code must be compiled prior to use and the following features are missing from this edition:
- Remote Display Protocol (RDP) Server - Allows remote access to virtual machines using RDP based clients.
- USB support - Provides virtual machine access to USB devices connected to the host computer system.
- USB over RDP - Allows USB devices attached to a local system to be made available to virtual machines running on remote hosts.
- iSCSI initiator - Enables iSCSI storage devices to be used as virtual disks without the need for iSCSI drivers on the guest operating system.
- Serial ATA controller - Increases the performance of virtual hard disk and allows more than three virtual hard disks to be connected to a single virtual machine.