VirtualBox continues to innovate, 3.1 released

I’m really impressed with Sun’s VirtualBox. Ever since they bought it from Innotek the development has not stood still. Today it’s probably one of the easiest to use and most popular virtualisation technologies, especially on the desktop. Sure, there are closed source bits which is annoying (USB and Remote Desktop support), but that aside, the project has really been innovating.

Now version 3.1 is out and it has some high-end features which might make VMware a little nervous:

VirtualBox 3.1, introduced Nov. 30, offers what Sun officials call “teleportation” capabilities. The software enables businesses to move a running VM between hosts that are running different operating systems, are different classes of computers—including moving from a server to a client—and running different processors, such as chips from Intel and Advanced Micro Devices.

The VMs can be moved uninterrupted when a physical host needs to be brought down.

The grass roots have also been improved:

In addition, VirtualBox 3.1 offers enhanced execution speed—including a 30 percent improvement in memory handling over the previous version of VirtualBox—upgraded network performance that offers better throughput and reduced CPU cycles through a new high-speed, paravirtualized network driver, and a new two-dimensional video acceleration feature for Windows VMs. It also includes better snapshotting features, according to Sun officials.

Here’s the list of new features:

* 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)

Now, if only OpenOffice.org innovated like VirtualBox..

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