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Linux - Virtualization and Cloud This forum is for the discussion of all topics relating to Linux Virtualization and Linux Cloud platforms. Xen, KVM, OpenVZ, VirtualBox, VMware, Linux-VServer and all other Linux Virtualization platforms are welcome. OpenStack, CloudStack, ownCloud, Cloud Foundry, Eucalyptus, Nimbus, OpenNebula and all other Linux Cloud platforms are welcome. Note that questions relating solely to non-Linux OS's should be asked in the General forum.

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Old 10-05-2013, 09:41 PM   #1
amitks81
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Question Xen vs Virtuallbox for VMs on laptop


Hi All,

I need advice regarding the best virtualization setup for my laptop.

My need:
1. To be able to run multiple OS at the same time.
2. To have access to running OS not by rebooting into it.
3. To have good stability of the whole system.

Present Situation:
I'm having multiple OS on my laptop and reboot whenever I needed to work in another OS. My objective is to avoid rebooting and saving switching time as sometimes I've to switch for petty tasks like guiding someone how to do something in a particular application/OS, etc.

Solutions in sight:
1. Install Xen with Debian Stable as Dom0, every other OS as separate DomU, use vnc from Dom0 to work in each OS.

2. Install Debian Stable as main OS, run every other OS as VM in virtualbox.

My laptop specs:
CPU: AMD A8-3500M
RAM: 8GB
HDD: 640GB

Wireless network is the primary mode for network connectivity.


I want advice from you guys based on your experience as to which of these 2 solutions would be good. Please suggest alternate solutions too.

Personally, I'm leaning towards Xen based solution as I could leave VMs running and switch would be just a vnc connect to the said OS VM, though leaving VMs running would consume memory as well as power too. With Virtualbox approach, the fastest would be to use VM snapshots.

Please suggest.

--Amit

Last edited by amitks81; 10-05-2013 at 09:53 PM.
 
Old 10-05-2013, 10:06 PM   #2
mostlyharmless
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Depends what you need your VMs for, "petty tasks" sounds like a better fit for VBox, and Xen is probably overkill.
 
Old 10-05-2013, 10:19 PM   #3
amitks81
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Well, it's only sometimes that petty tasks come in. But most of the times, I'm find use of multiple OS as I work as developer. Most of the companies, though they use linux on the device firmware but use windows for application development and I find myself juggling between the two.

For example, some application build is going on in windows, or stupid windows updates happenning and I need to have my development environment for my main work in Debian.

I too think probably Xen would be an overkill, but I want to know pros & cons of having Xen instead of Virtualbox.

--Amit
 
Old 10-06-2013, 09:40 AM   #4
mostlyharmless
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Comparing Xen and VBox is little like apples and oranges, ie they're both fruit
From my perspective I'd say VBox is easier to setup/install, but slower. Xen, as a type 1 hypervisor, allows near native hardware speed and passthrough of hardware better, at this point. If you want even USB passthrough in VBox you'll need extensions from Oracle, whereas Xen is completely open source. Just my opinions, I'm sure plenty of others are valid.
 
Old 10-06-2013, 10:04 AM   #5
dt64
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If you main OS should be Linux I'd go for KVM, if you main OS was Windows I'd go for VMware.
 
Old 10-14-2013, 05:46 PM   #6
gradinaruvasile
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You could use kvm/qemu with libvirt - it works very similar to xen (its somewhat a replacement) without needing any special setups.
I uses KVM (or qemu, newer versions of qemu incorporate kvm) as the virtualizer, and the libvirt demon as the "supervisor" - it has even a very handy tray based graphical manager (virt-manager) that works basically as the VBox interface + it has the ability to connect via ssh tunnels to other computers running libvirt or even xen - it has pretty much the same functionality.
Nice thing is that the VMs started this way run in separate threads, so you can restart X or anything, your VMs will be running. Starting the virt-manager will reconnect it to the daemon and resume monitoring.
If you use Windows VMs make sure you use the QXL virtual GPU+ the SPICE drivers for optimal performance. Also, the best network and storage interfaces are by using the virtio virtual interfaces. The aforementioned SPICE drivers (already in the Linux kernel) will install the whole bundle on Windows. Also, USB passthrough is working, best is via the SPICE channels (using spicy to view the VMs) - the newer USB sharing method which is simpler seems to not be as effective.
 
Old 10-14-2013, 06:59 PM   #7
jefro
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I use virtualbox and save state instead of power off. While that isn't the same as running, it is pretty fast. Use as little client ram as needed.

There are some other choices like proxmox but they tend to be more for server use and http access.
 
Old 10-25-2013, 02:14 AM   #8
akiuni
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From my point of view, I think Virtualbox would better suite your needs because it's easier to setup and manage.
You would probably get better performances with xen. But it's more designed for servers and would be harder to debug if you get into troubles.
 
Old 10-25-2013, 04:06 AM   #9
gradinaruvasile
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Quote:
Originally Posted by akiuni View Post
From my point of view, I think Virtualbox would better suite your needs because it's easier to setup and manage.
You would probably get better performances with xen. But it's more designed for servers and would be harder to debug if you get into troubles.
I was using VirtualBox before i switched to qemu/libvirt.
If you need to have network connection between the host and guest, you need to set up a bridge for qemu - it can be done i think even from virt-manager, but i recommend setting a bridge up with the system utils to make sure you dont mess up your network.
Other than that, installation is just as easy if you use virt-manager.

Management is magitudes easier with virt-manager though - you have a status icon in the tray that can be used to start/stop/pause vm's in a few clicks or open the virt manager interface for advanced usage.
Also, the qemu/libvirt vm's are all running independently from the x server - you can restart/stop x, you will still have all your vm's running.
virt-manager can manage VMs from other computers too (via built in ssh tunneling), so if you have libvirt installed on a server, you can use a virt-manager on your computer to manage it just as easily as you manage local VMs. Also you can use virt-manager to manage VMs on remote Xen servers just as with libvirt.
 
Old 10-25-2013, 04:06 PM   #10
Nuke'em
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I personally use virtualbox because it's the easiest to install and configure. The drawback is it can be slow for distros that are heavily bloated and uses heavy desktop managers like KDE and such.

KVM is good too if your CPU, kernel and BIOS have hardware virtualization support. If your BIOS doesn't have hardware virtualization support, KVM will still run but it will be slow.

VMware workstation is great but it is not free. They offer a trial for 30 days. VMPlayer is free but some features are not avilable.

VMWare workstation and VMplayer are easy to install and it is available for linux as well. You download a file, make it executable and run it. A GUI wizard opens and you answer questions which are self-explanatory.

I have no experience with Xen. Sorry.

In my opinion I would try all and see how each one performs best on your system.

Best of luck

Last edited by Nuke'em; 10-25-2013 at 04:32 PM.
 
Old 10-26-2013, 05:42 AM   #11
gradinaruvasile
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nuke'em View Post
KVM is good too if your CPU, kernel and BIOS have hardware virtualization support. If your BIOS doesn't have hardware virtualization support, KVM will still run but it will be slow.
This is applicable for all virtualization applications.
All of them are capable of virtualization without actually needing CPU support nowadays (KVM lately was integrated in Qemu which can do virtualization without CPU support).
But since virtually all current (since around 2005) Intel/AMD CPUs have virtualization support (sans Intel's artificially crippled lower end core2duo-era server CPUs and older low end Celerons/Semprons), this isnt really a problem if you stay clear of Intels low end crap.

BTW i tried VBox with and without the hardware virtualization and it hogs CPU like hell without it.

PS. KVM alone does not run without the svn extension to my knowledge.
 
  


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