[ExI] virtualbox etc.

Tomasz Rola rtomek at ceti.pl
Mon Feb 29 02:24:15 UTC 2016

On Sun, Feb 28, 2016 at 05:34:42PM -0600, William Flynn Wallace wrote:
> First, this seems inferior:
> http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2410292,00.asp

Yes, they talk about Parallels (never used it) and VMware (I have used
it a lot, but it was still back in 20th century, had no contact with
software since that time). I guess for the purpose of trying
alternatives, you can go with whatever you can find out there. I am
not sure about VMware, I can see they have download section but
evolved into few product families and I would need more time to
understand which you should use - most probably something with
"workstation" in its name.

Given that we do not know what you will decide, maybe VirtualBox would
be just good enough to run it for a day or a week.

> Second, while I have visited Wikipedia and explored several definitions of
> things, I still cannot figure out the damned thing is for.

You are doing all right. It is remarkable that you look for
information, good job. As of what the thing is for, it is a way to
have more than one computer when you only have one, quickly and with
as low effort as possible.

In my case, I use it mostly for some quick experimentation. I do not
like rebooting and I do not like to mess with my partitions on
disk. Yet, when I want to try some operating system, I would be
supposed to install it on my computer, right? But, this would require
that I interrupt what I do, and then some of this stuff is a bit
experimental and can do something nasty to the computer and I will
have to clean up, and what I want is just to have a look at it, see if
it is worth more of my time or not. So, I can spare thirty minutes of
my time, create such a virtual computer and run this operating system
in it. While the OS installs, I can read emails or even watch a movie
or write a program. To do such thing without VM software, I would
require another computer. But I do not have place for it.

Nowadays, computers are quite powerful. They could easily pretend to
be more than one. I could have about twenty 1990-era-equivalent
virtual PC computers without even noticing much. So I could setup
small network of virtual computers all inside one bigger computer and
see how certain things go in such network - for example, this kind of
setup may be used in security testing. Say, I want to see how virus
(a.k.a. worm) goes from one computer to another. With real (physical)
computers, this is going to be tricky and a bit dangerous, because it
is never 100% guaranteed you can clean up after such experiment. With
VM, it is all much safer. There might be viruses which could break out
of such VM and go out into the wild, but otherwise, once the
experiments are over, all it takes to clean up is deleting such
machines, and this should be it.

You do not need to buy twenty computers, then physically run around
the lab pressing their keyboards - you just make it all going on,
sitting at your desk, comfortably turning them on when you need them,
turning them off when you do not.

Likewise, since I am not sure if I want to upgrade my current Debian
or go with totally another OS, I can make a VM with copy of my current
Debian, upgrade it and see if I like it or not. Or I can have a VM
specifically for certain things, like doing tax reports, once a year,
with tax program who only works with very specific ten years old
operating system. But I do not want to use that system at all, I only
need it once a year. I could thus decide to keep such virtual machine
stored somewhere on a pendrive, and use it just once a year. Or I
could have another real computer standing in my room, collecting dust,
only to be used once a year and not touched otherwise, because if
something goes wonky I will have to reinstall everything and loose

> It runs a virtual copy of an OS, right?  Why? 

No no... it runs a full virtual computer. Because you can do things
with such computer that you would not want to do with real one,
without fearing consequences. The OS thinks this is the real
computer. Thus both you and the OS are very happy, in theory at least.

> If I downloaded Linux, why not run that straight rather than through
> Virtual box?  If I run Windows through it will that fix any
> problems?  See how lost I am?

If you have a hardware problem, like something overheating and giving
you BSOD, the problem will stay and haunt you until solved. Otherwise,
I only suggested to try virtual machine to see if you like Linux or
not. If you do like it, you could keep using it that way, i.e. inside
VM or go on and install it on physical computer. And if you do not,
all you need to do is remove the virtual machine and you are done. I
think this is very convenient way to try things, especially that
nowadays one could do quite a lot that way.

Besides, installing unknown OS on your home computer may not be the
best idea, because it is easy to screw up and then you would have to
reinstall Windows and everything you need to use it.

So I think it is both easier and safer to do it in VM first, even if
it seems very exotic and alien.

> Maybe it's hard for you to understand that from what I read about this
> stuff, I am a total beginner and thus lost.

But I can see you are trying to find the way, so do not despair.

Tomasz Rola

** A C programmer asked whether computer had Buddha's nature.      **
** As the answer, master did "rm -rif" on the programmer's home    **
** directory. And then the C programmer became enlightened...      **
**                                                                 **
** Tomasz Rola          mailto:tomasz_rola at bigfoot.com             **

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