A Virtual Machine is an operating system or application environment system that emulates a computer system. Virtual machines are based on computer architectures, providing the same functionality as a physical computer.
There are two types of virtual machines – one is a system virtual machine which provides a substitute for a real machine, the other is a process virtual machine which is designed to execute computer programs in a platform-independent environment.
CBR lists the best virtual machine application software available across a selection of computer systems.
VirtualBox is a free and open-source hypervisor for x86 computers that is developed by Oracle. It can be installed on a number of host operating systems, such as Linux, macOS, Windows, Solaris and OpenSolaris.
It also supports the creation and management of virtual machines which run versions of Windows, Linux, BSD and others, as well as limited virtualisation of macOS guests on Apple hardware.
Described as “Cross-platform” virtualisation software, VirtualBox is able to create and run multiple virtual machines all at the same time.
This enables users to access multiple operating systems on one desktop, with teleportation of running virtual machines between hosts without interruption.
The software functions offer 3D virtualisation, multi-screen resolutions and laudable hardware support with other features included.
Windows Virtual PC
Windows Virtual PC is a freeware virtualisation program designed for Microsoft Windows. It does not run on versions earlier than Windows 7 and does not support MS-DOS or operating systems earlier than Windows XP Professional SP3.
The Virtual PC is able to virtualise a standard IBM PC compatible device and all associated hardware, with the ability to enable supported Windows operating systems to run inside it.
The Windows Virtual PC can be accessed by either being installed by OEMs or via direct download from Microsoft’s website.
Linux-based guests can also be installed in Virtual PC; these include RedHat and SUSE Linux, some of which must be installed in text mode as they do not support the Virtual PC’s graphics chip.
Kernel-based Virtual Machine
A Kernel-based Virtualisation Machine is a virtualisation infrastructure for Linux kernel which develops into a hypervisor.
KVM originally supported x86 processors and an ARM port, before being merged during the 3.9 kernel merge window.
A selection of guest operating systems is supported with KVM such as, different versions of Linux, BSD, Solaris, Windows and more.
To enable KVM to work effectively, a processor is required with hardware virtualisation extensions. Each virtual machine has an individual private virtualised hardware like a network card, disk, graphics adapter and others.
KVM is open source software and the kernel component of KVM is included in mainline Linux.
VMware Workstation Player
VMware Workstation Player is virtualisation software packaged for x64 computers running Microsoft Windows or Linux that is offered free of charge by VMware.
Its VMware Player is able to run all existing virtual appliances and also create its own virtual machines, using the same virtualisation core as VMware Workstation.
The Workstation package is particularly more suitable for professional users who would need a powerhouse virtual machine that is capable of simultaneously running applications on multiple guest operating systems.
Whereas, VMware’s Workstation Player is ideal for personal use, offering a quick installation and integration between operating systems is seamless.
Hyper-V, formerly named Windows Server Virtualisation, is a hypervisor designed to create virtual machines on x86-64 systems running Windows.
A server computer that runs Hyper-V can be configured to expose individual virtual machines to one or more networks.
Hyper-V carries out the isolation of virtual machines in terms of a partition, a logical unit of isolation that is supported by the hypervisor that each operating system executes in.
The Hyper-V does not virtualise audio hardware, and does not require users to have an existing installation of Windows Server 2008 or R2.
The Hyper-V Server is built with components of Windows with an included Windows Server Core user experience.
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