One of the big things in the IT industry these days is virtualization. In general terms, this is using an existing computer to run multiple operating systems at the same time. On my computer I can install special software, and then run Windows, Linux, and sometimes even MacOS in a “window”. This “window” let’s you see the boot screen, the loading process, and then when the operating system has started, you use it as if it were on your main computer. This is a great way to test new operating systems, run applications that you use rarely but require a different operating system, or just to play around.
VMware and Microsoft both have virtualization products. I’ve tried them both, and they both have their strengths and weaknesses. They used to cost money, but now both of them offer free server products, and Microsoft has a free personal product. If you wanted to try an alternative, then you could try VirtualBox from innotek.
innotek VirtualBox is a general-purpose full virtualizer for x86 hardware. Targeted at server, desktop and embedded use, it is now the only professional-quality virtualization solution that is also Open Source Software.
I’ve installed this on my home computer, and it runs great. So far I have setup a Windows 2000 virtual machine and it runs great. The Windows 98 machine is a little sluggish, but that is probably because Windows 98 didn’t run very well. The software seems to have all of the features of the bigger commercial products. You can modify which drives you use, how you want the networking setup, and more.
This isn’t a great screenshot (I had to keep it small in order to have it fit in the blog and in the newsletter), but the top left corner shows the main Virtual Box windows. The black “DOS” screen, is a virtual machine booting from my Windows 98 setup CD. The window on the right that is showing the WindowsUpdate screen is a Windows 2000 virtual machine.