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VirtualBox 3.1 released!

December 1st, 2009 No comments

Just when you thought you can start a new month without some new software, Sun has blessed the world with a ray of VirtualBox 3.1 goodness on us all! All hail the Sun. I’ve been using the Betas and trying out the spanking awesome Teleportation feature in VirtualBox 3.1. So lets take a bit of a look at the new grub.

Beam me up Scotty!

You know, people say the catch phrase thinking its from Star Trek, but did you know that it was never actually mentioned in any episode?

Teleportation or ‘Live Migration‘ in Xen/KVM  or vMotion in VMWare allows you to move a running virtual machine to another host without any downtime. Sun brings us this ‘Enterprise’ feature to VirtualBox. Whats even cooler, is that you can teleport your running VM on different host platforms (Windows -> OpenSolaris or Linux, vice versa) but not from one hardware set (Intel) to another (AMD) unless they both have the same instruction-sets. The transport layer for the teleportation is TCP/IP, so as long as the agreed port is open and accessible you can even teleport it through the tubes! (assuming you have a fast link like those pesky Dutch)

There are a few conditions and caveats as I’ve found. Firstly you must ensure (as you’d expect) the target VM has to have the exact same configuration as the source VM (same RAM, graphics memory, storage, CD/DVD images etc) the other thing is to be weary of the CPUs the host computer has. As long as its between the same generations (different clock speeds are OK) it should work (I tried between a QX6850 -> E6600 but QX6850->AMD X2 4600+ wasn’t so pretty!).

Once you’ve configured the target host to match the source host, time to ask VirtualBox to keep its eyes open for an incoming beam.

VBoxManage modifyvm [VirtualMachineName] --teleporter on --teleporterport [Port]

Then on the source host, send out the beams to initiate the teleportation:

VBoxManage controlvm [VirtualMachineName] teleport --host [TargetIP] --port [Port]

Give it some time to think and if you tried a localhost migration, it should migrate seamlessly 🙂

Scotty doesn’t know

Scotty doesn’t know about the other little changes, but you will. The new VirtualBox has lots of refinements in the UI. For one, new icons for all the Guest operating systems. The settings window has had a make over and includes ‘optimal settings’ detection.

Windows 2003 VM in VirtualBox 3.1

Windows 2003 VM in VirtualBox 3.1

Here its telling me my Windows 2003 VM should have atleast 20Mb Video Memory assigned to it to work well in full-screen mode. Heading over to the Display options in VirtualBox 3.1 we find that the Video Memory selectors have got little indicators now, as well as the inclusion of 2D Video Acceleration.

Windows 2003 VM - VirtualBox 3.1 Display Settings

Windows 2003 VM - VirtualBox 3.1 Display Settings

Depending how ever many cores you have, it will highlight what you should set as the maximum number of cores available for your VirtualMachine as well as the recommended RAM allocation. This is what I see in my Intel QX6850 development workstation.

VirtualBox 3.1 System Processor Settings

VirtualBox 3.1 System Processor Settings

VirtualBox 3.1 - Motherboard Settings

VirtualBox 3.1 - Motherboard Settings

VirtualBox now also has experimental support for Extensible Firmware Interface (EFI) which will eventually replace the aging BIOS bootstrap (which is the default). Well known operating systems that boot via EFI include Windows Vista and Windows 7, Apple OS X and Fedora 11+.

The Storage controls in VirtualBox GUI has also had a bit of a make over. The options to select a disk and a controller have changed, CD/DVD drives can be attached to an arbitrary IDE controller too now!

VirtualBox 3.1 - Storage

VirtualBox 3.1 - Storage

The networking settings GUI in the new VirtualBox has change too, not only that but you can now configure the network interfaces whilst the guest is running – YAY!

VirtualBox 3.1 Network Settings

VirtualBox 3.1 Network Settings

Snapshots are a lot more flexible in this release (much like VMWare’s snapshot feature). Previously you can only restore from the last created snapshot, now any arbitrary snapshot can be restored too or branched off.

For those who use OpenSolaris (like yours truely!) the rewritten USB support (still experimental btw!) should mean we can interact with our USB devices in Solaris Nevada 124 or higher now – I’m running 127 and have USB devices appearing in my VMs.

If those don’t give you any indication on to the pure awesomeness of this release, there was a significant performance improvement for APE & AMD64 guests (VT-x/AMD-V) which will be quite noticeable from what I’ve been told by a college.

As Barack Obama said, tis time for a change..log.

He didn’t say that, I just reused 36 Mafia’s Lolli Lolli. The entire change log appears below from the website.

VirtualBox 3.1.0 (released 2009-11-30)

This version is a major update. The following major new features were added:

  • Teleportation (aka live migration); migrate a live VM session from one host to another (see the manual for more information)
  • VM states can now be restored from arbitrary snapshots instead of only the last one, and new snapshots can be taken from other snapshots as well (“branched snapshots”; see the manual for more information)
  • 2D video acceleration for Windows guests; use the host video hardware for overlay stretching and color conversion (see the manual for more information)
  • More flexible storage attachments: CD/DVD drives can be attached to an arbitrary IDE controller, and there can be more than one such drive (the manual for more information)
  • The network attachment type can be changed while a VM is running
  • Complete rewrite of experimental USB support for OpenSolaris hosts making use of the latest USB enhancements in Solaris Nevada 124 and higher
  • Significant performance improvements for PAE and AMD64 guests (VT-x and AMD-V only; normal (non-nested) paging)
  • Experimental support for EFI (Extensible Firmware Interface; see the manual for more information)
  • Support for paravirtualized network adapters (virtio-net; see the manual for more information)

In addition, the following items were fixed and/or added:

  • VMM: guest SMP fixes for certain rare cases
  • GUI: snapshots include a screenshot
  • GUI: locked storage media can be unmounted by force
  • GUI: the a log window grabbed all key events from other GUI windows (bug #5291)
  • GUI: allow to disable USB filters (bug #5426)
  • GUI: improved memory slider in the VM settings
  • GUI: the VirtualBox website couldn’t be opened from the help menu (bug #4559)
  • 3D support: major performance improvement in VBO processing
  • 3D support: added GL_EXT_framebuffer_object, GL_EXT_compiled_vertex_array support
  • 3D support: fixed crashes in FarCry, SecondLife, Call of Duty, Unreal Tournament, Eve Online (bugs #2801, #2791)
  • 3D support: fixed graphics corruption in World of Warcraft (#2816)
  • 3D support: fixed Final frame of Compiz animation not updated to the screen (#4653)
  • 3D support: fixed incorrect rendering of non ARGB textures under compiz
  • iSCSI: support iSCSI targets with more than 2TiB capacity
  • VRDP: fixed occasional VRDP server crash (bug #5424)
  • Network: fixed the E1000 emulation for QNX (and probably other) guests (bug #3206)
  • NAT: added host resolver DNS proxy (see the manual for more information)
  • VMDK: fixed incorrectly rejected big images split into 2G pieces (bug #5523, #2787)
  • VMDK: fixed compatibility issue with fixed or raw disk VMDK files (bug #2723)
  • VHD: fixed incompatibility with Hyper-V
  • Support for Parallels version 2 disk image (HDD) files; see the manual for more information
  • OVF: create manifest files on export and verify the content of an optional manifest file on import
  • OVF: fixed memory setting during import (bug #4188)
  • Mouse device: now five buttons are passed to the guest (bug #3773)
  • VBoxHeadless: fixed loss of saved state when VM fails to start
  • VBoxSDL: fixed crash during shutdown (Windows hosts only)
  • X11 based hosts: allow the user to specify their own scan code layout (bug #2302)
  • Mac OS X hosts: don’t auto show the menu and dock in fullscreen (bug #4866)
  • Mac OS X hosts (64 bit): don’t interpret mouse wheel events as left click (bug #5049)
  • Mac OS X hosts: fixed a VM abort during shutdown under certain conditions
  • Solaris hosts: combined the kernel interface package into the VirtualBox main package
  • Solaris hosts: support for OpenSolaris Boomer architecture (with OSS audio backend).
  • Shared folders: VBOXSVR is visible in Network folder (Windows guests, bug #4842)
  • Shared folders: performance improvements (Windows guests, bug #1728)
  • Windows, Linux and Solaris Additions: added balloon tip notifier if VirtualBox host version was updated and Additions are out of date
  • Solaris guests: fixed keyboard emulation (bug #1589)
  • Solaris Additions: fixed as_pagelock() failed errors affecting guest properties (bug #5337)
  • Windows Additions: added automatic logon support for Windows Vista and Windows 7
  • Windows Additions: improved file version lookup for guest OS information
  • Windows Additions: fixed runtime OS detection on Windows 7 for session information
  • Windows Additions: fixed crash in seamless mode (contributed by Huihong Luo)
  • Linux Additions: added support for uninstalling the Linux Guest Additions (bug #4039)
  • Linux guest shared folders: allow mounting a shared folder if a file of the same name as the folder exists in the current directory (bug #928)
  • SDK: added object-oriented web service bindings for PHP5

Overall this is a solid new release from Sun – unsure about its stability as I’ve only been running a few VMs (Windows 2003, CentOS and Fedora 12) for about 10-12hrs. Nothing bad as yet.

Download from the VirtualBox site:

  • VirtualBox 3.1.0 for Windows hosts x86/amd64
  • VirtualBox 3.1.0 for Solaris and OpenSolaris hosts x86/amd64

Enjoy!

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VirtualBox 3.0.2 released with SMP and Network IO fixes

July 13th, 2009 No comments

Quick note about VirtualBox 3.0.2 being released, this fixes up two critcal problems – one is the poor SMP performance everyone is coming to realise, and the network IO issue (reproduced in Fedora for

  • VMM: fixed network regressions (guest hangs during network IO) (bug #4343)
  • VMM: guest SMP performance improvements
  • VMM: fixed hangs and poor performance with Kaspersky Internet Security (VT-x/AMD-V only; bug #1778)
  • VMM: fixed crashes when executing certain Linux guests (software virtualization only; bugs #2696 & #3868)
  • ACPI: fixed Windows 2000 kernel hangs with IO-APIC enabled (bug #4348)
  • APIC: fixed high idle load for certain Linux guests (3.0 regression)
  • BIOS: properly handle Ctrl-Alt-Del in real mode
  • iSCSI: fixed configuration parsing (bug #4236)
  • OVF: fix potential confusion when exporting networks
  • OVF: compatibility fix (bug #4452)
  • NAT: fixed crashes under certain circumstances (bug #4330)
  • 3D support: fixed dynamic linking on Solaris/OpenSolaris guests (bug #4399)
  • 3D support: fixed incorrect context/window tracking for multithreaded apps
  • Shared Folders: fixed loading from saved state (bug #1595)
  • Shared Folders: host file permissions set to 0400 with Windows guest (bug #4381)
  • X11 host and guest clipboard: fixed a number of issues, including bug #4380 and #4344
  • X11 Additions: fixed some issues with seamless windows in X11 guests (bug #3727)
  • Windows Additions: added VBoxServiceNT for NT4 guests (for time synchronization and guest properties)
  • Windows Additions: fixed version lookup
  • Linux hosts: workaround for buggy graphics drivers showing a black VM window on recent distributions (bug #4335)
  • Linux hosts: fixed typo in kernel module startup script (bug #4388)
  • Installer: support Pardus Linux
  • Solaris hosts: several installer fixes
  • Solaris host: fixed a preemption issue causing VMs to never start on Solaris 10 (bug #4328).
  • Solaris guest: fixed mouse integration for OpenSolaris 2009.06 (bug #4365)
  • Windows hosts: fixed high CPU usage after resuming the host (bug #2978)
  • OVF: accept ovf:/disk/ specifiers with a single slash in addition to ovf://disk/ (bug #4452)
  • Fixed a settings file conversion bug which sometimes caused hardware acceleration to be enabled for virtual machines that had no explicit configuration in the XML.

Download links:

  • VirtualBox 3.0.2 for Windows hosts x86/amd64
  • VirtualBox 3.0.2 for Solaris and OpenSolaris hosts x86/amd64
  • VirtualBox 3.0.2 Software Developer Kit (SDK) All platforms (registration required)

I’ve been running it all day at work today without issues.

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Time flies: VirtualBox 3.0 final is out!

July 1st, 2009 No comments

It only feels like last week that I mentioned the beta release of VirtualBox 3.0, Sun has released the final version of the much anticipated v3.0!

As mentioned earlier, this release is super exciting for the simple fact that it has SMP support – a maximum of 32 virtual CPUs (but relax, you shouldn’t assign more than what you can afford – or the number of cores you have!). VMWare still only supports a maximum of 2 virtual-cpus (this _may_ change in VMWare 7.0!), another feat is the hardware 3D (Direct3D/OpenGL)  support for guests.

This version is a major update. The following major new features were added:

  • Guest SMP with up to 32 virtual CPUs (VT-x and AMD-V only; see chapter 3.7.2.2 of the user manual)
  • Windows guests: ability to use Direct3D 8/9 applications / games (experimental; see chapter 4.8 of the user manual)
  • Support for OpenGL 2.0 for Windows, Linux and Solaris guests

In addition, the following items were ?xed and/or added:

  • Solaris hosts: allow suspend/resume on the host when a VM is running (bug #3826)
  • Solaris hosts: loosen the restriction for contiguous physical memory under certain conditions
  • Mac OS X hosts: ?xed guest PAE
  • Linux hosts: kernel module compile ?xes for 2.6.31 (bug #4264)
  • VMM: ?xed occasional guru meditation when loading a saved state (VT-x only)
  • VMM: eliminated IO-APIC overhead with 32 bits guests (VT-x only, some Intel CPUs don’t support this feature (most do); bug #638)
  • VMM: ?xed 64 bits CentOS guest hangs during early boot (AMD-V only; bug #3927)
  • VMM: performance improvements for certain PAE guests (e.g. Linux 2.6.29+ kernels)
  • VMM: some Windows guests detected a completely wrong CPU frequency (bug #2227)
  • VMM: ?xed hanging and unkillable VM processes (bug #4040)
  • VMM: ?xed random infrequent guest crashes due to XMM state corruption (Win64 hosts only)
  • VMM: performance improvements for network I/O (VT-x/AMD-V only)
  • GUI: added mini toolbar for fullscreen and seamless mode (Thanks to Huihong Luo)
  • GUI: redesigned settings dialogs
  • GUI: allow to create/remove more than one host-only network adapters (non Windows hosts)
  • GUI: display estimated time for long running operations (e.g. OVF import/export)
  • GUI: ?xed rare hangs when open the OVF import/export wizards (bug #4157)
  • 3D support: ?xed VM crashes for client applications using incorrect OpenGL states
  • 3D support: ?xed memory corruption when querying for supported texture compression formats
  • 3D support: ?xed incorrect rendering of glDrawRangeElements
  • 3D support: ?xed memory leak when using VBOs
  • 3D support: ?xed glew library detection
  • 3D support: ?xed random textures corruption
  • VRDP: support Windows 7 RDP client
  • Networking: ?xed another problem with TX checksum of?oading with Linux kernels up to version 2.6.18
  • NAT: ?xed “open ports on virtual router 10.0.2.2 – 513, 514” (forum)
  • NAT: allow to con?gure socket and internal parameters
  • NAT: allow to bind sockets to speci?c interface
  • PXE boot: signi?cant performance increase (VT-x/AMD-V only)
  • VHD: properly write empty sectors when cloning of VHD images (bug #4080)
  • VHD: ?xed crash when discarding snapshots of a VHD image
  • VHD: ?xed access beyond the block bitmap which could lead to arbitrary crashes
  • VBoxManage: ?xed incorrect partition table processing when creating VMDK ?les giving raw partition access (bug #3510)
  • VBoxManage: support cloning to existing image ?le
  • OVF: several OVF 1.0 compatibility ?xes
  • OVF: ?xed exporting of disk images when multiple virtual machines are exported at once
  • Virtual mouse device: eliminated micro-movements of the virtual mouse which were confusing some applications (bug #3782)
  • Shared Folders: sometimes a ?le was created using the wrong permissions (2.2.0 regression; bug #3785)
  • Shared Folders: allow to change ?le attributes from Linux guests and use the correct ?le mode when creating ?les
  • Shared Folders: some content was incorrectly written under certain conditions (bug #1187)
  • Shared Folders: ?xed incorrect ?le timestamps, when using Windows guest on a Linux host (bug #3404)
  • X11 clipboard: ?x duplicate end of lines (bug #4270)
  • X11 guests: a number of shared clipboard ?xes
  • Linux guests: Guest Additions support for SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop 11
  • Linux guests: new daemon vboxadd-service to handle time synchronization and guest property lookup
  • Linux guests: implemented guest properties (OS info, logged in users, basic network information)
  • Windows host installer: VirtualBox Python API can now be installed automatically (requires Python and Win32 Extensions installed)
  • USB: Support for high-speed isochronous endpoints has been added. In addition, read-ahead buffering is performed for input endpoints (currently Linux hosts only). This should allow additional devices to work, notably webcams (bug #242).
  • USB: ?xed error handling for some USB dongles
  • Web service: ?xed inability to handle NULL pointers for object arguments, which are valid values for a lot of APIs, in both the raw and the object-oriented web service.
  • Web service: object-oriented bindings for JAX-WS did not exhibit interface inheritance correctly, ?xed
  • Web service: added support for IDisplay and IGuest interfaces, which were previously unavailable
  • Registration dialog uses Sun Online accounts now

Why keep reading, upgrade dammit!

  • VirtualBox 3.0.0 for Windows hosts x86/amd64
  • VirtualBox 3.0.0 for Solaris and OpenSolaris hosts x86/amd64
  • VirtualBox 3.0.0 Software Developer Kit (SDK) All platforms (registration required)

Enjoy, see the manual online too!

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Sun-shine lolipops: VirtualBox 2.2.4 comes out of the oven

May 31st, 2009 No comments

Sun Microsystems (pwnd by the Oracle) has release VirtualBox 2.2.4.

VirtualBox 2.2.4 (released 2009-05-29)

This is a maintenance release. The following items were ?xed and/or added:

  • Windows Installer: ?xed a potential hang during installation
  • Windows Installer: ?xed several problems (bug #3892)
  • Solaris hosts: make it work with Solaris build 114 or later (bug #3981)
  • Solaris hosts: ?xed a bug serial port character handling found during loopback (bug #3120)
  • Linux hosts: adapted vboxdrv.sh to the latest changes in VBoxManage list runningvms (bug #4034)
  • Windows hosts: ?xed a crash caused by host-only/bridged networking
  • Mac OS X hosts: ?xed access to host DVD with passthrough disabled (bug #4077)
  • Guest Additions: ?xed problems with KDE 4 not recognizing mouse clicks
  • Windows Additions: ?xed incorrect 8-bit guest color depth in Windows 7 guests
  • GUI: warn if VT-x/AMD-V could not be enabled for guests that require this setting (bug #4055)
  • VMM: ?xed occassional crash due to insuf?ent memory
  • VMM: ?xed hanging 64 bits Solaris guests
  • VMM: restore from a saved state occassionally failed (bugs #3984 and #2742)
  • Clipboard: ?xed a deadlock while shutting down the shared clipboard on X11 hosts (bug #4020)
  • OVF: ?xed potential hang during import
  • OVF: ?xed potential crashes during import/export on Win64 hosts
  • VBoxManage modifyhd –compact: ?xed bug which could lead to crashes and image corruption (bug #3864)
  • VBoxManage metrics collect: now ?ushes the output stream.
  • VHD: made VBoxManage internalcommands sethduuid work for .vhd ?les (bug #3443)
  • VHD: some .vhd ?les could not be cloned (bug #4080)
  • VMDK: ?xed creating snapshots
  • NAT: improvement of TCP connection establisment (bug #2987)
  • NAT: ?xed order of DNS servers in DHCP lease (bug #4091)
  • NAT: ?xed DHCP lease for multiple name servers (bug #3692)
  • NAT: ?xed a potential segfault if the host lost its connectivity (bug #3964)
  • Shared Folders: deny access to parent directories on Windows hosts (bug #4090)
  • Shared Folders: make rm/rmdir work with Solaris guests on Windows hosts
  • Networking: ?xed the problem with blocked receiving thread when a broadcast packet arrives too early to be handled by uninitialized e1000 adapter.
  • Networking: ?xed the problem that caused host freezes/crashes when using bridged mode with host’s interface having RX checksum of?oading on (bug #3926 and related). Fixes problems with TX of?oading as well (bug #3870)
  • PXE boot: Added support for PRO/1000 MT Server adapter.
  • Python bindings: ?xed keyword con?ict
  • SCSI: ?xed occasional crashes on Win64
  • Serial: allow to redirect the serial port to a raw ?le (bug #1023)
  • VRDP: ?xed a rare incorrect screen update

This release’s most significant update is the bugfix for truncating your files to 300Kb when attempting to compact the hard-disk – damn annoying! Update mos def.

Download:

  • VirtualBox 2.2.4 for Windows hosts x86/amd64
  • VirtualBox 2.2.4 for Solaris and OpenSolaris hosts x86/amd64
  • VirtualBox 2.2.4 Software Developer Kit (SDK) All platforms (registration required)

Enjoy, oh btw did you know that OpenSolaris 2009.06 is coming tomorrow (Monday?)

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HEAT OF THE MOMENT: Breaking News, Oracle buys Sun MicroSystems!

April 21st, 2009 1 comment
oracle

Oracle Corporation

Sun Microsystems

Sun Microsystems

In what may come as a suprise to everyone, Oracle Corporation has bought Sun MicroSystems for a cool $7.4Billion benjamins. IBM was eying a buyout for quite sometime but (I reckons for the better of mankind) has failed to secure the epic deal.

Question is, what will happen to the buyouts such as VirtualBox (Oracle has a hypervisor which launched in 2007 and is based on the Xen Hypervisor), MySQL which was acquired by Sun a while ago (Oracle has this little RDBMS called Oracle btw), OpenOffice which will have another O  added to it (oooo  its OOo).

ibm_confidential

On the brighter side though, Oracle did kick off in 2007 the upcoming Btrfs filesystem and with Sun messing about with CDDL and patents in ZFS, maybe we can finally get something happenning to push ZFS into Linux?

Then theres the future of Java, DTrace, oh gosh so so many questions, so many unknowns. I guess we’ll have to follow the white rabbit and see how things goes Neo.

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Citrix gives away XenServer & Enterprise Tools for Free!

February 24th, 2009 1 comment

A quick note before I head to bed tonight, Citrix has decided to give away its OSS XenSource virtualisation platform for free…

If you’re reading this, you already know the news: XenServer, our enterprise virtual infrastructure platform is now free (including resource pooling and live relo), and we have announced Citrix Essentials for XenServer, and Citrix Essentials for Hyper-V as our virtualization management portfolio that offers a rich set of automated functions that drive the compatible virtualization layers beneath – the free Hyper-V hypervisor from Microsoft, and the free XenServer Enterprise virtual infrastructure platform from Citrix.  Finally, and most importanly, we announced a powerful go-to-market roadmap with Microsoft.

The eqivalent of Citrix’s XenMotion – which can migrate a live virtual machine to any other XenServer host running in the same resource pool without downtime – in the VMWare world is a pretty $4-6K investment. Not a bad move considering VMWare is about to do its VMWorld Europe 2009 show soon.

From the product site, a direct comparison:

Features included at no cost Citrix XenServer VMware ESXi
Bare-metal hypervisor 64-bit 32-bit
Max virtual CPUs 8 4
Windows® and Linux guests
Unlimited servers, VMs, memory
P2V & V2V conversion
Shared SAN and NAS storage
Centralized multi-server management
Resilient distributed management architecture
Live motion
Shared VM template library
Centralized configuration management
Virtual infrastructure patch management
Intelligent initial VM placement
Intelligent server maintenance mode
Fine-grained CPU resource controls
Hot-swappable disks and NICs

Virualization.info has an interesting look at the move and what it may mean. Otherwise, go grab your copy.

Direct download links appear below:

Base Installer [296Mb] (MD5)
Linux Guest Support Installer [245Mb] (MD5)
XenCenter for Windows [6Mb] (MD5)

Enjoy!

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Windows Server 2008 R2 Beta Download

January 11th, 2009 1 comment

Now that the road to downloading Windows 7 Beta 1 and finding a key for Windows 7 Beta 1 have been travelled by most, its time to look towards Windows Server 2008 R2 Beta.

This release contains some significant updates to the virtualisation hypervisor in Windows Server (Hyper-Vwiki) and will only be offered as a 64-bit release sporting 256 processors (with 32 processors in VMs).

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Sun ushers in VirtualBox 2.1 with cool new features!

December 18th, 2008 2 comments

VirtualBoxIt only feels like last month Sun released VirtualBox 2.0 and they’ve just released 2.1 which brings a plethora of additional goodies… from the changelog:

  • Support for hardware virtualization (VT-x and AMD-V) on Mac OS X hosts
  • Support for 64-bit guests on 32-bit host operating systems (experimental; see user manual, chapter 1.6, 64-bit guests, page 16)
  • Added support for Intel Nehalem virtualization enhancements (EPT and VPID; see user manual, chapter 1.2, Software vs. hardware virtualization (VT-x and AMD-V), page 10))
  • Experimental 3D acceleration via OpenGL (see user manual, chapter 4.8, Hardware 3D acceleration (OpenGL), page 66)
  • Experimental LsiLogic and BusLogic SCSI controllers (see user manual, chapter 5.1, Hard disk controllers: IDE, SATA (AHCI), SCSI, page 70)
  • Full VMDK/VHD support including snapshots (see user manual, chapter 5.2, Disk image ?les (VDI, VMDK, VHD), page 72)
  • New NAT engine with signi?cantly better performance, reliability and ICMP echo (ping) support (bugs #1046, #2438, #2223, #1247)
  • New Host Interface Networking implementations for Windows and Linux hosts with easier setup (replaces TUN/TAP on Linux and manual bridging on Windows)

Some key things to note here, those “cool” people that run OS X can now get hardware virtualisation. Even if you have a 32bit host operating system your able to run 64bit hosts so long as you enable hardware acceleration on the CPU (AMD-V or Intel-VT) as VirtualBox’s Hypervisor requires this to work. A couple of other major additions – tested personally, include the enhanced virtualisation on the new Nahalem processors (Extended Page Table & Virtual Processor Identifier – see below) and the starting block for OpenGL (and later DirectX) Acceleration in XP and Vista. Testing this on OpenGL gave some decent performance though its still got a bit of work to do.

The move to include 3D acceleration is an interesting one, considering VMWare recently acquired Tungsten Graphics – who is the company behind Mesa, TTM memory manager and Gallium3D.  Interesting times ahead – as always 🙂

What’s an Extendable Page Table & that VPID thing???

Virtualisation in the Intel world comes in two flavours, the Intel VT-x and Intel VT-i Architectures. The VT-x is for IA-32 processors, whilst the VT-i is for Itanium processors.

Intel took a slice of the Virtualisation pie offered by AMD’s Pacifier architecture in implementing a method of translating ordinary IA-32 page tables from the guest-physical addresses to the host-physical addresses used to access memory. This way, guest’s can handle their own page tables directly and page-faults associated with them directly and minimize the (sizable) overhead associated with translating. This is known as Extended Page Tables (EPT).

Virtual Processor Identifiers (VPIDs) on the other hand allows a hypervisor (or a VMM) to assign a non-zero VPID to each virtual processor with the initial processor (VPID = 0) assigned to the hypervisor itself. This way, the CPU can use the VPIDs to tag translations in the Translation Lookaside Buffer (TLB) which removes the performance penalties associated with flushing TLBs on VM Entry and exit.

Both these two bits of technology (along with NMI-window exiting)  come on the Nahelem processor‘s Virtualisation enhancments. If your interested in a more indepth explanation see the article Solving Virtualisation Challenges with VT-X and VT-I from the Intel Technology Journal.

Other Changes in 2.1

  • VMM: signi?cant performance improvements for VT-x (real mode execution)
  • VMM: support for hardware breakpoints (VT-x and AMD-V only; bug #477)
  • VMM: VGA performance improvements for VT-x and AMD-V
  • VMM: Solaris and OpenSolaris guest performance improvements for AMD-V (Barcelona family CPUs only)
  • VMM: ?xed guru meditation while running the Dr. Web virus scanner (software virtualization only; bug #1439)
  • VMM: deactivate VT-x and AMD-V when the host machine goes into suspend mode; reactivate when the host machine resumes (Windows, Mac OS X & Linux hosts; bug #1660)
  • VMM: ?xed guest hangs when restoring VT-x or AMD-V saved states/snapshots
  • VMM: ?xed guru meditation when executing a one byte debug instruction (VT-x only; bug #2617)
  • VMM: ?xed guru meditation for PAE guests on non-PAE hosts (VT-x)
  • VMM: disallow mixing of software and hardware virtualization execution in general (bug #2404)
  • VMM: ?xed black screen when booting OS/2 1.x (AMD-V only)
  • GUI: pause running VMs when the host machine goes into suspend mode (Windows & Mac OS X hosts)
  • GUI: resume previously paused VMs when the host machine resumes after suspend (Windows & Mac OS X hosts)
  • GUI: save the state of running or paused VMs when the host machine’s battery reaches critical level (Windows hosts)
  • GUI: properly restore the position of the selector window when running on the compiz window manager
  • GUI: properly restore the VM in seamless mode (2.0 regression)
  • GUI: warn user about non optimal memory settings
  • GUI: structure operating system list according to family and version for improved usability
  • GUI: prede?ned settings for QNX guests
  • IDE: improved ATAPI passthrough support
  • Networking: added support for up to 8 Ethernet adapters per VM
  • Networking: ?xed issue where a VM could lose connectivity after a reboot
  • iSCSI: allow snapshot/diff creation using local VDI ?le
  • iSCSI: improved interoperability with iSCSI targets
  • Graphics: ?xed handling of a guest video memory which is not a power of two (bug #2724)
  • VBoxManage: ?xed bug which prevented setting up the serial port for direct device access.
  • VBoxManage: added support for VMDK and VHD image creation
  • VBoxManage: added support for image conversion (VDI/VMDK/VHD/RAW)
  • Solaris hosts: added IPv6 support between host and guest when using host interface networking
  • Mac OS X hosts: added ACPI host power status reporting
  • API: redesigned storage model with better generalization
  • API: allow attaching a hard disk to more than one VM at a time
  • API: added methods to return network con?guration information of the host system
  • Shared Folders: performance and stability ?xes for Windows guests (Microsoft Of?ce Applications)

Performance & Updates

Overall, on the two different machines that I’ve tried the new 2.1 release on, they’ve both “felt” snappier (QX6850 and a Core i7 965Earchitecture summary) but unlike the 1.6 release – which was somewhat flakey for me, 2.x releases of VirtualBox are solid.

3D Acceleration Option

Dont take my word for it, download and try it out.

Gets me a VirtualBox 2.1

Grab your copy and try it out.

  • VirtualBox 2.1.0 for Windows hosts x86 | AMD64
  • VirtualBox 2.1.0 for Solaris and OpenSolaris hosts x86 | AMD64

Give it a shot, heck try OpenSolaris 2008.11 on there just for kicks!

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VWMare Fusion 2.0 out, comes with *FREE* McAfee Virus Scan to protect your Windoze…

September 17th, 2008 No comments

VMWare just released Fusion 2.0 which is a free update for 1.x users of the fruity OS, among the enhancements…

  • Greatly improved 3D performance and compatibility with DirectX 9.0c and Shader Model 2 software and games. (VMware Fusion runs best with the latest graphics hardware, like the NVIDIA 8800 GT, ATI Radeon HD 2600, and ATI Radeon HD 3870.)
  • When playing high-definition video (720p, 1080i, 1080p) in a Windows XP or Windows Vista virtual machine, VMware Fusion now uses hardware acceleration for smooth video playback

Which is quite a feat, whilst I’m not a Fusion user – No Apple, It just Works!!! – it seems the Fusion Hypervisor is doing some serious legwork now. Whats more (heh) VMWare even ‘collaborated’ with McAfee to give those Apple users a little something something for their Windoze experience:

Virus Protection and Firewall Included for Windows XP and Vista Virtual Machines

  • To keep your Windows-on-Mac experience as safe as possible, VMware Fusion includes a complimentary 12-month subscription to McAfee VirusScan Plus to protect your Windows investment

Funny.

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Sun releases VirtualBox 2.0 just couple of days after 1.6.6!

September 7th, 2008 1 comment

One of the hottest Virtualisation applications going around the internets these days is Sun’s recently aquired VirtualBox software suite. The bright folks at Sun have just announced version 2.0 release which is a couple of days after the 1.6.6 maintenance release.

Being a fan of VirtualBox from around the 1.3.x days when it was owned by Innotek and seeing it mature the way it has, its been quite impressive – if not for the wide platform compatibility and the fact that its a ‘free’ product for personal use that’s competitive with commercial offerings such as VMWare – which has been my fulltime VM product (loving VMWare 6.5 btw!).

VirtualBox 2.0 brings some uber goodness to the mix (from the changelog):

    This version is a major update. The following major new features were added:

    • 64 bits guest support (64 bits host only)
    • New native Leopard user interface on Mac OS X hosts
    • The GUI was converted from Qt3 to Qt4 with many visual improvements
    • New-version notifier
    • Guest property information interface
    • Host Interface Networking on Mac OS X hosts
    • New Host Interface Networking on Solaris hosts
    • Support for Nested Paging on modern AMD CPUs (major performance gain)
    • Framework for collecting performance and resource usage data (metrics)
    • Added SATA asynchronous IO (NCQ: Native Command Queuing) when accessing raw disks/partitions (major performance gain)
    • Clipboard integration for OS/2 Guests
    • Created separate SDK component featuring a new Python programming interface on Linux and Solaris hosts
    • Support for VHD disk images

    In addition, the following items were fixed and/or added:

    • VMM: VT-x fixes
    • AHCI/SATA: improved performance
    • GUI: keyboard fixes
    • Linux installer: properly uninstall the package even if unregistering the DKMS module fails
    • Linux additions: the guest screen resolution is properly restored
    • Network: added support for jumbo frames (> 1536 bytes)
    • Shared Folders: fixed guest crash with Windows Media Player 11
    • Mac OS X: Ctrl+Left mouse click doesn’t simulate a right mouse click in the guest anymore. Use Hostkey+Left for a right mouse click emulation. (bug #1766)

    Download your copy based on your Operating System:

    • VirtualBox 2.0.0 for Windows hosts x86 | AMD64 (only on Windows x64!)
    • VirtualBox 2.0.0 for Solaris and OpenSolaris hosts x86 | AMD64

    After installing 2.0, my 1.6.x images seamlessly moved to the 2.0 release with minimal fuss, just make sure you shutdown your VMs prior to upgrading to avoid hassles.

    Not to be forgotten is VMWare’s upcoming 6.5 release which is rolling full steam ahead!

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