VMware Work­sta­tion 14.1.3 vs Virtual­Box 5.2.18

Does the closed source pro­pri­etary app of­fer any real ad­van­tage over its open source peer?

Linux User & Developer - - Contents -

One is open source, the other is pro­pri­etary, but which one is bet­ter?

specs VMWare Work­sta­tion

Price: £220 CPu: 1.3GHz, 64-bit raM: 2GB, 4GB rec­om­mended stor­age: 1.2GB avail­able from www.vmware.com

specs Virtual­Box CPu: 32-bit or 64-bit with SSE2 sup­port

raM: 512MB stor­age: 30MB avail­able From www.virtual­box.org VMware Work­sta­tion is the com­pany’s flag­ship desk­top vir­tu­al­i­sa­tion brand and in­cludes Work­sta­tion Player and Work­sta­tion Pro. You can use the fea­ture-lim­ited VMware Work­sta­tion Player for free for non-com­mer­cial use, while the full-fea­tured Work­sta­tion Pro is avail­able for a hefty £220. Work­sta­tion Player uses the same closed source hyper­vi­sor tech­nol­ogy plat­form as Work­sta­tion Pro. De­spite the price dif­fer­ence both prod­ucts re­ceive the same per­for­mance up­dates, bug fixes and up­dated sup­port for new hard­ware and OS sup­port.

Both Work­sta­tion prod­ucts in­clude all the ba­sic fea­tures you’d ex­pect from a desk­top vir­tu­al­i­sa­tion prod­uct. They sup­port over 200 guest OSes, in­clud­ing the Win­dows 10 Spring Cre­ators Up­date and Ubuntu 18.04, as both guest and host. Work­sta­tion Player en­ables you to share files be­tween the host and guest and run the VMs in dif­fer­ent view modes. Once you’ve in­stalled the VMware Tools ex­ten­sions in­side a VM, it will sup­port DX10 and OpenGL 3.3. The VMs also sup­port USB 3.0 de­vices and 4K dis­plays along with a wide range of vir­tual de­vices.

On the Linux desk­top, the VMware prod­ucts com­pete with Virtual­Box. Of the two, Work­sta­tion Player doesn’t of­fer enough to stand up to the func­tion­al­ity of­fered by Virtual­Box. For in­stance, you can’t cre­ate en­crypted VMs in Player, while you can in Virtual­Box. Sim­i­larly, Player doesn’t en­able you to run mul­ti­ple VMs at once, which again isn’t an is­sue with Virtual­Box.

More im­por­tantly, use­ful fea­tures such as snapshots and cloning that are part of Virtual­Box are only avail­able in Work­sta­tion Pro. Also, while you can con­trol Virtual­Box from the VBoxMan­age com­man­d­line in­ter­face, the abil­ity to con­trol Work­sta­tion with its CLI isn’t avail­able to users of the free Player.

Be­sides their costs, the other ma­jor dif­fer­ence be­tween the Work­sta­tion bun­dle and Virtual­Box is that the lat­ter is open source, for the most part. Some of Virtual­Box’s use­ful func­tions – such as disk im­age en­cryp­tion, sup­port for USB 3.0 de­vices and bi-di­rec­tional shar­ing be­tween the guest and the host – do re­quire the pro­pri­etary Ex­ten­sion

Pack add-on. While home users can use this for free, com­mer­cial Virtual­Box de­ploy­ments need to pur­chase a li­cence to use it.

On the en­ter­prise front, Work­sta­tion Pro does have an up­per hand when it comes to in­ter­op­er­at­ing with other en­ter­prise-spe­cific com­po­nents, par­tic­u­larly those from VMware. That’s mostly down to the fact that while Work­sta­tion has been reared for the en­ter­prise desk­top, Virtual­Box is pri­mar­ily de­signed for the ev­ery­day desk­top user, with fea­tures that also make sense in a com­mer­cial de­ploy­ment.

Virtual­Box ships with fea­tures that make it a vi­able op­tion for small data cen­tres and an ideal plat­form to test server de­ploy­ments, up­grades, and other things be­fore phys­i­cal roll­out. For in­stance, while Virtual­Box VMs are iso­lated from the net­work by de­fault, you can run a server in­side a VM and set up port for­ward­ing to make sure the server is reach­able from out­side. Like Work­sta­tion Pro, it also in­cludes a net­work ed­i­tor tool that en­ables you to cre­ate com­plex net­work con­fig­u­ra­tions. Virtual­Box

The abil­ity to con­trol Work­sta­tion with its CLI isn’t avail­able to users of the free Player, un­like Virtual­Box

also has use­ful stor­age em­u­la­tion fea­tures such as NCQ ac­cel­er­a­tion for raw disks, SSD pass-through and con­trollers for PATA, SAS and iSCSI disks.

An­other in­ter­est­ing dif­fer­ence be­tween the Work­sta­tion bun­dle and Virtual­Box is the num­ber of Win­dows-only fea­tures in each. Here too the Work­sta­tion bun­dle outscores Virtual­Box, with fea­tures such as vir­tu­al­i­sa­tion-based se­cu­rity avail­able ex­clu­sively for Win­dows 10 and Win­dows Server guests. Even some of Work­sta­tion’s best desk­top-cen­tric fea­tures, such as Easy In­stall, are only avail­able to a hand­ful of Linux guests.

That’s not to say Virtual­Box is with­out faults. One of its big­gest crit­i­cisms is the pro­pri­etary na­ture of its ex­ten­sions add-on. An­other prom­i­nent lim­i­ta­tion is its in­abil­ity to as­sign more that 128MB of video mem­ory to guests.

Mayank Sharma

aboveBoth Work­sta­tion apps en­able you to cre­ate VMs with up to 16 CPUs and 64GB of RAM

aboveYou can run VMware Work­sta­tion Pro as a server so that you can share VMs with other users

aboveYou can eas­ily test net­work soft­ware such as fire­walls and gate­ways by de­ploy­ing them in­side Virtual­Box

Be­lowUse a third­party web-based in­ter­face to con­trol Virtual­Box on a head­less server

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