VirtualBox vs VMWare Player

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VirtualBox vs VMWare Player

Postposted on Sun Jul 06, 2014 10:35 pm

I've been religiously using VirtualBox for the past several years to host Linux distros.

I decided to try out VMWare Player today. Fired up a brand new install of Mint17 (based off Ubuntu 14.04)

Functionally, the two are very similar. Performance - VMWare is much faster at handling Mint17. The guest addon install procedure was also much simpler compared to Virtual-box. The UI is also a bit more clean and streamlined.

I am now thinking of moving all my VMs to VMWare now.

What are your opinions on this? What do you guys use?
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Re: VirtualBox vs VMWare Player

Postposted on Sun Jul 06, 2014 11:14 pm

I use VirtualBox, but will be watching this thread to see what other people think. Maybe I need to give the latest VMWare player a try.

I originally switched to VirtualBox about 6 years ago, after some negative experiences trying to get VMWare to work on Linux. Pretty sure those issues have been fixed by now though.
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Re: VirtualBox vs VMWare Player

Postposted on Mon Jul 07, 2014 12:08 am

VMware (player) has always been faster than Virtualbox for me but Virtualbox has more features than the free VMware Player.
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Re: VirtualBox vs VMWare Player

Postposted on Mon Jul 07, 2014 12:50 am

I use Virtual Box on my NAS since their is a FreeBSD based host application and a plug-in to get it to work on NAS4Free. It works rather well for what I want it to do. As far as performance, I have no real point of reference to determine if it'd be any faster/slower than VMWare player considering the uniqueness of this setup.
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Re: VirtualBox vs VMWare Player

Postposted on Mon Jul 07, 2014 3:23 pm

I've had less problems with VMware over the years. VirtualBox is good, but not as trouble free.

Plus the VMware performance is top notch.
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Re: VirtualBox vs VMWare Player

Postposted on Mon Jul 07, 2014 4:47 pm

I've only used VBox, and have had enough problems with it I don't plan to ever use it again. heh.
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Re: VirtualBox vs VMWare Player

Postposted on Mon Jul 07, 2014 4:58 pm

I generally use VMware Player for Windows & Mac OS X VMs and VirtualBox for Linux distros, mainly because the guest utilities are better (at any rate, more convenient) for those respective platforms. Generally I use 64-bit Windows for my host OS.

As of a few versions ago, VMware had much faster USB 2.0 emulation than VB did, so any virtual machine that needed an external USB hard drive was done in VMware. Contrariwise, it's a lot easier to tell a VirtualBox VM to boot from a different drive, since you can do it in the GUI there, but for VMware you have to either hammer the key to get into the BIOS setup or just edit the .vmx file. VMware is also better for old versions of Windows, e.g. Windows 98SE, because VBox doesn't have any guest utilities for them.

One killer feature that VBox has but Player doesn't: snapshots. With snapshots you can take a shot of your VM as it is, then do something that might break it, and if it breaks you restore to the snapshot and try again. VMware requires you to buy Workstation or Fusion to get that feature.
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Re: VirtualBox vs VMWare Player

Postposted on Mon Jul 07, 2014 6:19 pm

I've used VirtualBox for years without any major problems, but I don't really attach physical devices to it either.

Tried VMWare (free version with Win7 as Host OS) on multiple PCs a 3-4 years ago, and could not get a mouse to work properly with it.
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Re: VirtualBox vs VMWare Player

Postposted on Mon Jul 07, 2014 8:16 pm

I have also used VirtualBox for years, and plan to continue to do so. I use it quite heavily, doing almost everything in VMs, hosted on Windows 7 and 8.x, OS X, and of course Linux. Guests include(d) Win XP, Win 7, Win 8.x, various Linux distros, and most flavors of BSD. Never had a problem or felt there was a performance problem.

However, there are two things I'm not completely happy about with VirtualBox: it does not virtualize the AES-NI x86 instructions, and I cannot assign physical devices to virtual machines.

I have also used various VMWare products, including Fusion on OS X, VMWare Player, and ESXi. I always felt these were too invasive to the host, and overall too heavy-weight for no benefit I could see or that I really needed. Were I to try to run a huge installation of virtual machines, I might feel differently. Though these days, Cloud environments, such as OpenStack, seem like a better approach for larger installations. For my hobby consisting of a few physical boxes each running a VM or three, VMWare seemed like over-kill.
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Re: VirtualBox vs VMWare Player

Postposted on Mon Jul 07, 2014 8:46 pm

To expand this question a bit, how about Hyper-V? I'm starting to play with it a bit at work. First impressions are that it's pretty decent as long as you don't use a Linux distro with a GUI as a guest, because the connection window doesn't know what to do with X: it seems to assume that RDP is present.
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Re: VirtualBox vs VMWare Player

Postposted on Mon Jul 07, 2014 8:58 pm

MarkG509 wrote:However, there are two things I'm not completely happy about with VirtualBox: it does not virtualize the AES-NI x86 instructions, and I cannot assign physical devices to virtual machines.

By "physical devices" do you mean disk drives, or devices in general? Because there *is* a way to assign raw block devices or partitions to a VM via VBoxManage commands. This is covered in the Advanced Topics section of the VirtualBox manual.
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Re: VirtualBox vs VMWare Player

Postposted on Mon Jul 07, 2014 9:39 pm

bthylafh wrote:To expand this question a bit, how about Hyper-V? I'm starting to play with it a bit at work. First impressions are that it's pretty decent as long as you don't use a Linux distro with a GUI as a guest, because the connection window doesn't know what to do with X: it seems to assume that RDP is present.

Hyper-V seems to mess with NVidia drivers a bit from what I was reading and experienced.

It wasn't catastrophic, but it was plenty odd.
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Re: VirtualBox vs VMWare Player

Postposted on Mon Jul 07, 2014 9:52 pm

just brew it! wrote:Because there *is* a way to assign raw block devices or partitions to a VM via VBoxManage commands.
Thanks! How did I miss that?!?!? I've been wanting to set up a FreeNAS box, and will definitely try setting it up with raw disk access!

I was also referring to things like graphics adapters (e.g., run games in a Windows guest with full performance (or at least enough to run Flight Simulator), but now I see in section 9.6 of the manual this may also work on Linux hosts with proper kernel configuration and an extension pack.
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Re: VirtualBox vs VMWare Player

Postposted on Mon Jul 07, 2014 10:09 pm

MarkG509 wrote:I was also referring to things like graphics adapters (e.g., run games in a Windows guest with full performance (or at least enough to run Flight Simulator), but now I see in section 9.6 of the manual this may also work on Linux hosts with proper kernel configuration and an extension pack.

You're probably SOL on this unless you're running an honest-to-goodness server motherboard. PCI passthrough requires correctly implemented support for IOMMU, and this is apparently quite rare on consumer desktop boards (even ones that claim to support it).
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Re: VirtualBox vs VMWare Player

Postposted on Tue Jul 08, 2014 11:00 am

I've used VirtualBox here at work to maintain our Linux SDK (for our IR cameras). Basic functionality and camera connection was no problem, but image capture, processing and display was damn near impossible: 2-5 frames every 30 seconds for a camera that should be throwing out up to 100fps (depending on settings). This is odd, because everything else seems to work fine. So for proper testing I have some distributions installed natively where I had to reboot to.

Spotting this thread made me try out VMWare Player again: Full camera performance during capture. This makes my life so much easier, I've already replaced my VMs. We used to think the performance problems were "because of virtualisation", but it seems it was just because of VirtualBox.

From my brief work, VirtualBox feels easier to manage and more accessible, and the VMWare guest tools installer on Linux feels nearly amateurish in comparison. Everything I really need is available on both, though, and stuff like snapshots is irrelevant to me.

All in all, glad I picked up VMWare again.
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Re: VirtualBox vs VMWare Player

Postposted on Tue Jul 08, 2014 11:20 am

Saribro wrote:I've used VirtualBox here at work to maintain our Linux SDK (for our IR cameras). Basic functionality and camera connection was no problem, but image capture, processing and display was damn near impossible: 2-5 frames every 30 seconds for a camera that should be throwing out up to 100fps (depending on settings). This is odd, because everything else seems to work fine. So for proper testing I have some distributions installed natively where I had to reboot to.

Did you have the Extension Pack (for USB 2.0 support) installed? Otherwise, the camera connection was probably running at USB 1.1 speeds.

As an aside, if you are needing to maintain multiple non-virtual installations for testing purposes, you may want to get one of these (for full size HDDs) or these (for laptop size HDDs/SSDs). This will reduce the time required to swap a boot drive to around 10 seconds.
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Re: VirtualBox vs VMWare Player

Postposted on Tue Jul 08, 2014 11:27 am

Savyg wrote:I've only used VBox, and have had enough problems with it I don't plan to ever use it again. heh.

Same here. Between the clunky UI, cryptic options, and things like needing an "extension pack" for USB 2.0 support, ugh.

In perspective: it's a pretty good product for free/OSS. But it's a far cry behind the competition, namely VMWare.
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Re: VirtualBox vs VMWare Player

Postposted on Tue Jul 08, 2014 3:32 pm

just brew it! wrote:Did you have the Extension Pack (for USB 2.0 support) installed? Otherwise, the camera connection was probably running at USB 1.1 speeds.

I did have the Extension Pack, but that doesn't matter as these are network cameras on gigabit ethernet. Some are TCP running our own protocol (but only have 100Mbit controllers in 'em), the newer ones are GigEVision (UDP) peaking at 60-70MiB/s.
While I am curious as to where the bottleneck is, an afternoon of creating VMs made it fairly moot.

As an aside, if you are needing to maintain multiple non-virtual installations for testing purposes, you may want to get one of these (for full size HDDs) or these (for laptop size HDDs/SSDs). This will reduce the time required to swap a boot drive to around 10 seconds.

That's ok, I can spare 4 partitions of 30GiB on my drive :). The issue is the rebooting, not the space.
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Re: VirtualBox vs VMWare Player

Postposted on Tue Jul 08, 2014 3:49 pm

FWIW I've noticed some performance issues with VirtualBox's NAT virtual networking. Only seems to affect certain applications (go figure). Switching to Bridged mode seems to help.
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Re: VirtualBox vs VMWare Player

Postposted on Tue Jul 08, 2014 4:53 pm

It may also help to use the virtio paravirtualized network adapter instead of the default emulated Intel NIC.
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Re: VirtualBox vs VMWare Player

Postposted on Tue Jul 08, 2014 5:12 pm

bthylafh wrote:To expand this question a bit, how about Hyper-V? I'm starting to play with it a bit at work. First impressions are that it's pretty decent as long as you don't use a Linux distro with a GUI as a guest, because the connection window doesn't know what to do with X: it seems to assume that RDP is present.


Eh? Using Mint 17 KDE in Hyper-V with no issues.

Savyg wrote:Hyper-V seems to mess with NVidia drivers a bit from what I was reading and experienced.

It wasn't catastrophic, but it was plenty odd.


It did originally work, then NVIDIA broke it, and 337.88 fixes that. Some casual reading implies that the 337.88 fix disabled VT-D for non-workstation class cards. Hyper-V lacks VT-D functionality on Windows 8 and 8.1 regardless.
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Re: VirtualBox vs VMWare Player

Postposted on Tue Jul 08, 2014 5:36 pm

Ryu Connor wrote:
bthylafh wrote:To expand this question a bit, how about Hyper-V? I'm starting to play with it a bit at work. First impressions are that it's pretty decent as long as you don't use a Linux distro with a GUI as a guest, because the connection window doesn't know what to do with X: it seems to assume that RDP is present.


Eh? Using Mint 17 KDE in Hyper-V with no issues.


Doesn't for me on an Ubuntu Xfce machine. Maybe the Hyper-V mouse driver module didn't get loaded automatically?
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Re: VirtualBox vs VMWare Player

Postposted on Tue Jul 08, 2014 8:19 pm

bthylafh wrote:It may also help to use the virtio paravirtualized network adapter instead of the default emulated Intel NIC.

Or the vmxnet3 paravirtualized adapter in VMware, which should give better performance even than the virtualized Intel adapter.
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Re: VirtualBox vs VMWare Player

Postposted on Tue Jul 08, 2014 11:50 pm

bthylafh wrote:but for VMware you have to either hammer the key to get into the BIOS setup or just edit the .vmx file.


That actually got fixed quite a while back. Now you power off VM, right click, Power->Power on to bios and poof. No key hammering.

I'm expecting VMware to crack down on VMPlayer soon, it's starting to cannibalize VMware Workstation market share. This started when they gave Player the ability to create new VMs on it's own, and it's slowly assimilated Workstation's feature set ever since.

Regarding the mentions of VBox vs. VMware USB performance: Oh Gord yes. VMware spent a large pile of money and man hours in the early 2000s hammering out a nearly flawless implementation of USB for their VM products, and it's been extended and remained performant since (did I just use "performant" outside of work?? Must take PTO soon). Vbox has always had a decent but second rate USB setup, and in high performance scenarios, it always shows.

I want to love Vbox, I love F/OSS, but it's not as F/OSS as it should be, and things like the creaky USB stack make it hard to love.

Plus VMware has really good OSX host and guest support, I don't know that VBox can even boot OSX guests or hosts at all yet.
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Re: VirtualBox vs VMWare Player

Postposted on Wed Jul 09, 2014 6:22 am

bthylafh wrote:It may also help to use the virtio paravirtualized network adapter instead of the default emulated Intel NIC.

Wait... what? Why didn't I notice that before? I guess I almost never open the NIC dropdown; I just use the default emulated Intel one. Will have to give that a try.

(This is one of the things I love about threads like this. You can learn useful things about tools you thought you already understood fairly well!)
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Re: VirtualBox vs VMWare Player

Postposted on Wed Jul 09, 2014 6:41 am

just brew it! wrote:Wait... what? Why didn't I notice that before?

Because the Intel emulation should work to begin with, and because VMWare includes a simple-but-effective wizard for machine creation that asks you stuff like that.
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Re: VirtualBox vs VMWare Player

Postposted on Wed Jul 09, 2014 8:29 am

Forge wrote:
bthylafh wrote:but for VMware you have to either hammer the key to get into the BIOS setup or just edit the .vmx file.


That actually got fixed quite a while back. Now you power off VM, right click, Power->Power on to bios and poof. No key hammering.


In Player or just Workstation? I don't see that option on my copy of the latest Player.
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Re: VirtualBox vs VMWare Player

Postposted on Wed Jul 09, 2014 9:27 am

I can confirm that using the para-virtualized NIC does indeed improve network performance in VirtualBox. Quite dramatically so, if the virtual NIC is also configured for NAT. Recent Linux distros appear to already have the appropriate para-virtualized driver out-of-box, so there's nothing to install in the guest. Just flip the type of virtual NIC to "Paravirtualized network (virtio-net)".
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Re: VirtualBox vs VMWare Player

Postposted on Wed Jul 09, 2014 1:56 pm

You need at least a 2.6.25 kernel to use the virtio NIC. I suppose we'll need to wait a bit longer before they make that default for Linux guests, alas.

BTW, virtio NICs can (allegedly) be made to work with Windows guests if you install the drivers from here:
http://www.linux-kvm.org/page/WindowsGu ... ad_Drivers
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Re: VirtualBox vs VMWare Player

Postposted on Wed Jul 09, 2014 2:35 pm

bthylafh wrote:You need at least a 2.6.25 kernel to use the virtio NIC. I suppose we'll need to wait a bit longer before they make that default for Linux guests, alas.

2.6.25 is over 6 years old. I don't think it would be unreasonable to make the virtio NIC the default when creating new Linux guests.
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