The computer programmer is a creator of universes for which he alone is responsible. Universes of virtually unlimited complexity can be created in the form of computer programs.
Joseph Weizenbaum

Your assumptions are your windows on the world. Scrub them off every once in a while, or the light won’t come in.
Alan Alda

A house without books is like a room without windows. No man has a right to bring up his children without surrounding them with books, if he has the means to buy them. It is wrong to his family. Children learn to read by being in the presence of books. The love of knowledge comes with reading and grows upon it. And the love of knowledge, in a young mind, is almost a warrant against the inferior excitement of passions and vices.
Horace Mann

Last year, I was growing tired of Windows and the on going cost to keep up to date.  My company sold off some old computers with Ubuntu 9.10 pre-installed on them.  I bought one for my kids to browse the Internet and write school papers.

I liked Ubuntu a alot and decided I would convert my main PC with Windows XP to Ubuntu 9.10.  I knew some things would only work on Windows so I wanted to keep my XP license.  At my company, we use VM Workstation for the developers.  I found out that VMWare has a free product to convert a physical machine to a virtual machine that I could run with the free VM Player that runs on Windows or Linux, including Ubuntu.

I did get my XP to run on VM Player.  Keeping VM Player up to date was a hassle and I chose not to do it.  I built a new machine with Ubuntu 10.10.  I decided to use VirtualBox instead.  The Personal Use and Evaluation License is very liberal.  VirtualBox has pre-built binaries for Ubuntu and my future desire to build a dead head virtual server is doable with VirtualBox.  There is a lot of documentation.

So instead of VM Player, I decided to try VirtualBox.  But my results were not what I desired.  I decided to try VM Player again.  VM Player is now much easier. (See my install here)

The rest of this blog will show why I chose VM Player.

Both VM Player and VirtualBox are versions 3.x  VirtualBox is now version 4.x but I have not retired it.  VM Player is doing what I want so I doubt I will compare these products again.

I built my computer from components in 2004.  It has a 2.6 GHz processor, 3 GB of RAM with SATA hard drives.


  • Both install easily.
  • Both automatically display update is ready and easily updated.
  • Both ran guest OS (Windows XP) seamlessly.
  • Both shared folders easily and permanently in guest OS (Windows XP)


Advantage VirtualBox

  • Snap shot manager comes with free version
  • Much easier to convert VM guest OS (Ubuntu 10.10) to VirtualBox
  • Boots to full screen properly for guest OS (Ubuntu 10.10).  VM Player keeps the screen centered at 640 x 480.  Just take VM Player out of full screen and then restore to full screen and it works properly.

Advantage VM Player

  • Guest OS (Ubuntu 10.10) works seamlessly.  Ubuntu 10.10 was jerky and slightly sluggish under VirtualBox.
  • Shared folders are a breeze in guest OS (Ubuntu 10.10).  Shared folders permanently are available at the mount point /mnt/hgfs  VirtualBox is much hard to make permanent.  You need to edit one of two configuration files and the share is only for one user ID.  Note: When I copied a VM guest OS (Ubuntu 10.10) to VirtualBox, the permanent shared folder was available via VirtualBox at /mnt/hgfs
  • Finally, USB devices.  Worked perfectly in VM Player for both Ubuntu and Win XP guest OS.  I had the correct VirtualBox that allows USB devices but the guest OS could never use them.  The VirtualBox tools saw the USB devices but they were never usable in the guest OS.
  • Backing up VM guest OS to my USB hard drive was easy with VM.  Just copy the folders and contents.  VirtualBox has things hidden and separate.  Needed to add a cloning step before back in the VirtualBox.

I had enough.  I tried to VirtualBox but the USB devices was the final hurdle that I chose not to debug.  I have made my decision and I plan to stick with VM Player.

I will review my decision when I finally make a headless server to host all my virtual workstations and servers.

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1 Comment on Virtual Windows

  1. […] Tools menu.  As you can see, I have installed both VirtualBox and VMware Player.  In a later blog, I will explain why I chose Player over […]

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