I was using VMware Fusion a while before I discovered VirtualBox. My intention is purely to test my web application on IE6+.
That’s the reason why I would rather go for VirtualBox as a free, more lightweight and faster Virtual Machine developed and
continuously enhanced by Sun Microsystems.
VirtualBox has a lot of similarities to VMware Fusion or Parallel in term of functions. However, from what I observe,
VirtualBox is much faster and consumes less memory than VMware Fusion as well as Parallel. You can download and give it a try at
If your intention is like me, to use a Virtual Machine software to test your application on IE6+, VirtualBox perfectly suits you.
Although VM Ware Fusion and Parallel are racing for the number of functionalities, VirtualBox on the other hands, try to optimize
the speed and add in reasonable functions to suit with the basic purposes of using a virtual machine.
Yet another great thing about this open source application is that it can run on other operating system
as well (e.g. Linux, Windows and Solaris).
Here is the starting point of VirtualBox.
Same as other Virtual Machine Application (VMware Fusion, Parallel), you would be able to install multiple Operating System (OS)
on your VirtualBox. In my case, I have already installed Ubuntu 9.0.4 and Windows XP.
There are many configurations for the new piece of the OS that need to be set up before installation (e.g. Printer, Network Adapter,
DVD). Fortunately, adapting from other commercial Virtual Machine Software, VirtualBox has already done everything for you. On your
side, you only need to press Next, Next and Next… choose allocated RAM, allocated Hard Disk and, yay, finish.
Here are the advantages between VirtualBox and VM Ware Fusion…
Extra Guest Additions
After you finish installation of the new OS, VirtualBox offers you to install extra guest additions. From menu Devices, select Install
Guest Additions… After that, double clicking on the VirtualBox Guest Additions will install extra features for VirtualBox.
- Seamless mode (as good as the competitor virtual machine applications)
- Full Screen mode: Perfect! Very fast to switch on and off
- Mouse Integration between Mac OSX and Guest OS
Although shared folder support is not as good as other competitors, VirtualBox provides quite satisfied solution for shared folder.
In order to create a shared folder, you need to…
- Click on the cute folder icon at the bottom of the VirtualBox window
- Go through the process of setting the shared folder
In the Windows OS, you would have to right click on the My Computer icon, choose
- Expand My Network Places and VirtualBox Shared Folders
- Clicking on the shared folder under VirtualBox Shared Folders will bring you to the shared folder that you set in previous step.
In order to make it more convenient for me, I have mapped this shared folder as a network drive on the Windows Guest OS by the
- From Desktop, Double click on My Computer
- From menu bar, select menu Tools
- From drop down menu Tools, click on Map Network Drive
- Choose the Drive
Type in the mapped folder (From what you see when you open VirtualBox Shared Folders under My Network Places). In my case,
it is \\VBOXSVR\Desktop.
- Yay! Done. You are now able to connect to the shared folder with one click.
Unfortunately, this won’t work on Windows 7 and Windows Vista.
Short Keystrokes to Switch Windows/Full Screen Mode
- VMware Fusion requires user to press command-control-enter
- Virtualbox, you only needs to press command-f
Fast Switching Off
We just need to close the VirtualBox window, VirtualBox will ask you to save the machine state, send the shutdown signal or
to Power off the machine. Normally, I just click OK to switch off. VirtualBox is also faster to switch off than VMware
Fusion and Parallel.