Art Alexion on 23 Nov 2010 05:16:41 -0800

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Re: [PLUG] Virtualization for small system?

On Tue, Nov 23, 2010 at 7:02 AM, James Barrett <> wrote:
Virtualbox will do exactly what you need it to do, and is very easy to
use.  Virtualbox makes setting up virtual machines quick and painless.
 Xen is also sufficient, but it would be very cumbersome for your

The only possible constraint I can see with your configuration is RAM.
 You might struggle if you appropriate less than 256MB to your XP
environment, which, after overhead, will take a huge chunk out of the
RAM left over for your Linux host environment.  1GB of RAM will work
fine, but it will be much faster if you had 2GB.

A +1 to Jim's comments.

I use Virtual Box for TurboTax at home, and some Windows admin tools (vSphere, Active Directory and Exchange Admin), at work.  While I have watched co-workers struggle keeping the VMware stuff working whenever they update their kernel, VirtualBox just keeps working.

That said, here are some limitations I have learned.

  1. VBox will run a 64 bit windows guest on a 32 bit Linux host ... but very poorly.  Don't bother with it.
  2. IE 8 seems to behave very differently backported to XP, than natively on Win7.  I don't know anything about page rendering, but I know many unintended IE8 side effects can mess up a lot of other critical systems on XP and Win servers <2008R2. (Not the OS as far as I can tell, but some third party software).
  3. That said, VBox runs XP pretty well when you give the guest 512 MB RAM, but don't bother with Win7 unless you can give the guest =>2 GB.
  4. If you use VBox a lot, don't be afraid to use seamless mode.
A few years ago, I tried doing what I needed with KVM.  Great performance, but not enough to overcome cumbersome command parameters and relatively tedious configuration when compared to VBox' straight forward GUI. 

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