virtualbox-logo-sm Once in a while a new technology comes along and changes the way we do things. Virtualization is one of those technologies.If you don’t know what virtualization is, here’s a quick run down. You build a computer with some good specs and plenty of RAM. Then you install your “host” operating system. This could be Windows, MacIntosh or Linux. Then you install the Virtualization software. We’ve been using Oracle VirtualBox. It’s free and works great. Using the Virtualization software you create your virtual machine. You specify the amount of RAM and the size of the virtual hard disk. Once that’s done, you install your “guest” operating system. This can be anything you like. You can choose any version of Windows, just about any flavor of Linux, Mac OS x, NetWare, OS/2 or even DOS. The Virtual machine runs and acts just like a real machine. It has no idea that it is virtual. Depending on the speed and memory of the Host, you can run many virtual machines on one physical machine.
Server Applications

It’s easy to see the ways you can use Virtualization for servers. You can run several virtual servers on one physical machine. Let’s say you need a Windows server running MS SQL on your network. You also want to run a web server on Linux. You can have your host operating system and a Windows Guest and a Linux Guest all on one physical machine. If you want to run a Linux/Samba machine for file sharing you can create one of those too.

Another benefit to Virtualization is cloning. You can take any Virtual Machine that is running, shut it down and clone it. This makes an exact copy of the virtual hard disk of that virtual machine. You can then copy it off the host machine as a backup. You can take that clone and copy it to another host machine and it will be able to run there. We have had instances where a Windows virtual machine suffered a blue screen of death issue. We couldn’t even get it to start up. We took a clone from a couple of days earlier and fire it right up. We got the most recent daily backup and restored the missing days and we were back in business in less than an hour.

This is just the beginning of what can be done with Server Virtualization.


Virtualization for the Desktop

Yes, Virtualization for the desktop is a wonderful thing.

Linux for the desktop has come a long way especially recently and are not very susceptible to threats like viruses. However, most people are not comfortable making the switch. With Virtualization you can run a version of Linux such as Ubuntu or any of the other flavors with either Gnome, KDE or Xfce and run Windows 7 or 8 in a Virtual Machine. Windows desktops in particular are very susceptible to such things as viruses, mal-ware, ad-ware, rogue applications and worms. With that in mind, you can configure your Windows Virtual Machine just the way you like it and clone it. Should anything happen to your Windows Virtual Machine you can always revert to the clone and have your Windows Machine back to you original configuration, nice and clean and fast.

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