Bozzlife: Virtual Showdown!

in OCD6 months ago

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Over the past week or so, I have been playing around with virtual environments on my Windows 10 desktop quite a bit. You can get a better idea of how I got to this point by reading this post.

If you are a new follower, I manage all of the technology for a small public school district. Servers, printers, desktops, network hardware, you name it, I manage it. I am pretty familiar with VMware and the ESXi software as I have it running on a couple pieces of host hardware in my district.

I have also been using Oracle Virtual Box for quite some time to have a supplemental test machine right inside of my regular desktop.

After the debacle that was the above mentioned post, I was finally able to dig into Windows Sandbox and Hypervisor.

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I have to admit, at first glance, Windows Sandbox is pretty cool. I just recently installed 64 GB of DDR4 RAM into my machine, so performance didn't appear to be an issue for me. I like the fact that you can copy and paste stuff from your desktop. You can also install software which is kind of the main reason for the environment in the first place. It gives you a safe space to test software that could be malicious or detrimental to the operation of your machine.

The biggest issue I have with Sandbox is the fact that you lose everything when you close the window. All that software you installed is gone. It would be nice if there was some kind of "save-state", but I guess that is what they created Hypervisor for.

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Hypervisor is also pretty cool from what I have seen. The interface takes a little getting used to, but once you do, it is pretty easy to navigate around. Once you have a local server created, a ton more options become available to you over on the right hand side of the screen that you see above.

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There is also a quick and easy "Create Virtual Machine" wizard that walks you through the process of setting up your first machine. You can use an .iso file that you already have downloaded, or you can have the wizard download and create a machine with one of the highlighted distributions.

Unfortunately, this is where most of the coolness ends. Having used Virtual Box for many years, I was used to a much smoother experience than what Hypervisor offers. To be fair, I didn't try running a Windows install on Hypervisor, instead, I was specifically interested in starting up a Linux client and I was woefully disappointed. I do like the fact that Hypervisor has "save-states" like Virtual Box, so that gave it a leg up over Windows Sandbox.

Hypervisor just doesn't work well with Linux. Sure it boots and it is usable (sort of), but there are many features that just aren't available. For example, you can't easily have a shared clipboard from your host machine to your client. Likewise, I couldn't find an easy way to share a USB drive between the host and client (Virtual Box has a passthrough).

Finally, there is a tremendous amount of lag between the input and the screen. Moving the mouse around was almost sickening. I did some research on Google and the consensus was to not interact with the machine via the Hypervisor software. Instead they recommended you RDP (Remote Desktop) into the client and perform actions on it that way. Not a huge deal if you are running a Windows client, but a little more complicated if you are running a Linux one.

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After giving it the benefit of the doubt for about a day or two, I finally said "eff it" and moved back to good old Virtual Box. Oracle has really made a fantastic piece of software that works well and plays well with just about any distribution you could want. If I still had a license key, and Windows still had activation servers to support it, I could run Windows XP in a Virtual Box.

I had a handful of network switches that still require an old version of Java to access the Web GUI. I found a specific Linux distro that has an old browser and version of Java that would allow me to access those switches and it ran on Virtual Box flawlessly up until I finally replaced those switches.

I really wanted to like Hypervisor, believe me, I did. It just wasn't meant to me. I am not closing the door on it. In fact, I just installed it on my laptop so I could take the first four screenshots you see above. I also might throw it on a server some day to see how it runs hosting a Windows Client. I have a feeling it is going to be much friendlier than Linux since it is a Microsoft product after all.

TL:DR


If you are looking for a quick and easy way to set up a virtual environment that is intuitive and accessible to pretty much any user, skip Hypervisor, check out Oracle Virtual Box instead.


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