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VirtualBox vs. KVM on the Desktop: A Comparison

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Software

As we wrote recently, KVM has a lot to recommend it as a virtualization solution in Ubuntu 10.04, especially in the server room. But how ready is it for the desktop, and can it contend with applications like VirtualBox when it comes to ease-of-use?

If you haven’t yet tried KVM, you should, whether you’re using Ubuntu on a server or a desktop. As Linux’s built-in virtualization hypervisor, KVM can run a wide variety of guest operating systems with impressive efficiency. On some platforms, it can also take advantage of paravirtualization to make things even faster.

VirtualBox, meanwhile, has long been established as a popular and free (thought not entirely Free) virtualization platform, especially for desktop users. And the project, which was originally owned by Innotek, then acquired by Sun and consequently now owned by Oracle, continues to push out innovative features.

While KVM and VirtualBox are both excellent products, I wanted to determine which of them was better suited for the desktop. Here’s what I found.

Management Tools

For desktop users–especially the non-geeky ones–simple and intuitive management tools are essential for running virtual machines. To this end, VirtualBox comes with a pretty well designed GUI for creating and running guest machines. If you can point and click, you can use VirtualBox.

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