InnoTek’s Virtual Box

Recently, while digging, I stumbled across an article detailing the installation process of InnoTek’s VirtualBox. After seeing how easy it was to install this virtualization tool I figured I would give it a shot.This isn’t my first experience with virtualization software as I have recently found the joy of VMWare. With this in mind I was shocked at how simple VirtualBox was to install. In VMWare you are asked all sorts of questions that can be a tad on the intimidating side, although generally the default is the correct answer (how am I supposed to know that?). VirtualBox on the other hand was as easy as installing the pre-requisites (available in Ubuntu’s package manager) and running the .deb file that I downloaded from Innotek’s site.

After the install the application is almost ready to start, but before you can get to far into it you have to add yourself as a user to the newly created “vboxusers” group. The program does a great job of pointing this out and does so with out letting you move too deep. The downside of this methodology is that I am forced to log out for the changes to take affect. This isn’t the biggest pain as it isn’t a complete restart but none the less a minor inconvenience.

From here the application really gets points in my book, particularly when you consider the price tag of $0 (personal use only). It uses a clean simple interface that is full of context style help. This tactic was very refreshing from VMWare which doesn’t provide much inline help. It seemed like any question I had was quickly answered by simply mousing over the questionable item. Some where on the screen (this was on multiple screens) a text box would change and fill me in on what the item was for and what could/would happen if I changed it.

The overall look and feel was clean and easy to navigate. One thing to note is that it didn’t follow my theme. Instead it had a gray and blue finish. After giving this some thought and looking at some of the files I installed, I believe that this is a QT based program, not GTK. This would easily explain the appearance. With this in mind it still looked great. The icons are large and colorful and easily understandable.
The overall layout follows the task flow nicely. The individual virtual machines(VM) are located vertically on the left with each receiving an icon based on its OS type. On the right you can view and edit the details of the selected VM. When a VM session is initiated a new window opens and the VM is started. This could be done a little better by following in VMWare’s foot steps and running the VM’s in individual tabs. One positive note to the new window is that there is no surrounding items to take up valuable space.

The final piece of the pie for this application comes in how it works. So far (1hr of use) I am batting .500. I was easily able to run the OLPC’s Sugar OS but as of right now cannot get Mandriva One 2007 GNOME — Metisse Inside! to fully boot. It appears to make it all the way through but then it just sits idle with the active cursor at a blue screen (pre-login phase?).

Even with the small hiccup in Mandriva One I am sure this is going to be a great program and with a little more playing I will easily be able to get it up and running. I will try and write an update as I continue to play with this great new program.