The Best Virtualization App for Linux

The Best Virtualization App for LinuxWhether you can't live without that one Windows app or you just want to try out a new Linux distro, virtualization is a great way to go. Our favorite virtualization app for Linux is the free, powerful VirtualBox.

The Best Virtualization App for Linux

VirtualBox

Platform: Windows/Mac/Linux
Price: Free
Download Page

The Best Virtualization App for Linux

  • Easy installation of popular operating systems like Windows, Linux, and Mac OS X
  • Run multiple virtualized environments simultaneously
  • Run a guest OS in "seamless mode", which puts the applications on your main Linux desktop
  • Fast performance all around
  • Take snapshots of your virtual machines, so you can start it up from any configuration or point in its life
  • Clipboad sharing
  • 3D Virtualization
  • Open virtual disk images made in VirtualBox, VMWare, or Microsoft Virtual PC

The Best Virtualization App for Linux

VirtualBox makes running other operating systems—whether it be Windows, other flavors of Linux, or even Mac OS X—super easy on your home computer. Just insert your install disc (or point it to an ISO on your computer), and you can install it in a virtual machine with as much or as little RAM, CPU, and hard drive space as you want. It integrates with your mouse pointer, so you don't even have to click on the window to start using it, and lets you create "snapshots" of your machines so, like restore points, you can just boot it up from any point in its history and use it from that point. You can even share your clipboard back and forth between your virtualized and host OS.

The Best Virtualization App for Linux

VirtualBox can seem a little intimidating to most beginners, but so can any virtualization program. In addition, its "seamless" mode, while cool, isn't done quite as well as VMWare's—it brings the entire toolbar of your guest OS with it, and moving the Windows around isn't the smoothest experience. But, overall, it's still very feature-filled, and with a great documentation and a ton of users, it isn't difficult to find answers to any of your questions.

The Best Virtualization App for Linux

VMWare Player is VirtualBox's main competition, providing a similar feature set from a well-known company in virtualization. The main differences are that VMWare's equivalent of seamless mode is a bit better integrated and it has drag-and-drop file sharing, though it doesn't have a snapshot feature—which is, arguably, a more useful feature, which is why VirtualBox ekes it out in this App Directory. VMWare is also feels a bit more sluggish, though like VirtualBox, it is free, so it's worth trying both. If you want the whole package, VMWare Workstation has everything VMWare Player has and more (like snapshots), but it'll set you back 200 clams, so it probably isn't worth it for most home users.

There are others available, but these are the two main competitors in the field, and definitely the easiest to use. Do you have a favorite tool that we didn't mention? Let us know in the comments.


Lifehacker's App Directory is a new and growing directory of recommendations for the best applications and tools in a number of given categories.

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