VirtualBox is more free than you might think en

By drm on Friday 5 February 2010 00:35 - Comments (14)
Categories: Development, Tips, tips, tips ..., Views: 17.054

I read a post today at the Zend Framework general mailinglist from Ralf Eggert, having trouble with Internet Explorer 6. As all of us developers know, IE6 is trouble.

But what's more trouble is MultipleIE's, and more of the like. It has been helpful for a while, but it is more trouble than it's worth, nowadays. It causes crashes, render bugs and other difficulties, while a native IE6 is no trouble at all.

So, I suggested installing VirtualBox, with a Windows XP and native IE6 on it. It reminded me that VirtualBox gave me the impression the first time I downloaded it, that the compiled (binary) version isn't really free, and that you might need to pay a licence fee whenever you're using it in a commercial environment, since they separately license a free open source version, distributed under GPL .

Well, read the terms. You can use it on a desktop for exactly these kind of purposes, in any environment you like. Please note the following quotes:
“Personal Use” requires that you use the Product on the same Host Computer where you installed it yourself and that no more than one client connect to that Host Computer at a time for the purpose of displaying Guest Computers remotely.
6. What exactly do you mean by personal use and academic use in the Personal Use and Evaluation License?

Personal use is when you install the product on one or more PCs yourself and you make use of it (or even your friend, sister and grandmother). It doesn't matter whether you just use it for fun or run your multi-million euro business with it. Also, if you install it on your work PC at some large company, this is still personal use. However, if you are an administrator and want to deploy it to the 500 desktops in your company, this would no longer qualify as personal use. Well, you could ask each of your 500 employees to install VirtualBox but don't you think we deserve some money in this case? We'd even assist you with any issue you might have.

Use at academic institutions such as schools, colleges and universities by both teachers and students is covered. So in addition to the personal use which is always permitted, academic institutions may also choose to roll out the software in an automated way to make it available to its students and personnel.
Be aware of this, people. Go download and go berserk. This is a gem.

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By Tweakers user TeeDee, Friday 5 February 2010 00:46

Hmm, Virtualbox is a bliss. I agree. However, if you want to test stuff on XP and IE6; Microsoft has a couple of VirtualPC images available with XP and IE6 (amongst other!). These VPC images do not require you to have all licenses needed, so I think that's a little bit cheaper.

Since you're not running Windows (am I correct...?) this might get tricky ;)

Regarding the terms of Vbox I must admit I've never read them... (as with a lot of other terms in other applications) but the license/usage is pretty straightforward: use it! We don't care. You only need to pay is, if you're going to use it as a server thing or something.

Funny thing though: don't even try to install OS X on virtualbox... It won't work. ;)

By Tweakers user kokx, Friday 5 February 2010 00:53

Well, there are lot of people using VirtualBox very happily as 'replacement' for VirtualPC with windows + IE6. I'm a linux user, but my university just forces me to use windows over and over again.

So I just use MSDNAA to get windows copies, and I run them in VirtualBox. And I'm quite sure that I'm not the only one doing this. VirtualBox is a lot more open them VMWare, so I like it a lot more ;).

By Tweakers user Sgreehder, Friday 5 February 2010 01:53

Drop support for Internet Explorer 6.. easy as that.

By Tweakers user Jogai, Friday 5 February 2010 07:54

Its more than once said in the meuktracker...

By Tweakers user The Lord, Friday 5 February 2010 09:26

Microsoft did publish a virtual IE some while ago especially aimed for testing. As far as I can remenber this is a VPC VHD with full OS (XP SP3) with IE installed on it. It was freely downloadable for public use and had an expiration set. But it could be downloaded as many times as necessary. So expiration does not really matter anymore.

By Tweakers user Blokker_1999, Friday 5 February 2010 10:26

Indeed, this has been known for a long time by a lot of tweakers. Everytime VBox makes it to the meuktracker someone mentions it and it is also covered in a lot of other places.

But what surprises me more is that a lot of VBox users don't know it. It's in the license agreement you agree with when installing the software and yet ppl don't read it.

By Tweakers user Vaudtje, Friday 5 February 2010 10:40

Also, when I wanted to download VMWare Player, I was required to fill out a large form with a lot of detailed personal information before I could get to the link.
Since VirtualBox happily plays VMWare images, I went to their site and could download it directly without having to submit any7 personal information :)

By Tweakers user terje7601, Friday 5 February 2010 10:42

Question is: will it stay like this now that Oracle owns it? There has barely been said something about VirtualBox (& other things like OpenSolaris e.g.) since the acquisition of Sun.


in addition to Teedee & The Lord: the mentioned Virtual PC images can be found here

@golfdiesel: this is only true for Windows 7 Professional & up

@SPee: no doubt that the development will continue, but will it stay open-source? Will it stay as free as it is now? And even then, maybe they 'll do it like this:
VirtualBox as it is now only receives sporadic updates (like support for new guest OS'es etc) & stays free. At the same time, they create "VirtualBox Enterprise", in which they heavily invest & add all kinds of new features to, but which isn't free anymore?

Oracle + Sun...I 'm still far from convinced :O

[Comment edited on Friday 5 February 2010 12:57]

By Tweakers user golfdiesel, Friday 5 February 2010 11:36

If you have a copy of Windows 7 then you can download MS Virtual PC for free, including a Windows XP virtual PC for legacy software which does not run in Windows 7.

By Tweakers user SPee, Friday 5 February 2010 12:08

Before I installed it on my Work laptop I have read carefully the license. It was hard to understand, but after long searching I was certain it was safe to use.

I think the development will continue, so Oracle can also supply/sell virtual appliances without the need for other parties (like VmWare).

By John, Friday 5 February 2010 13:57

What's the meuktracker? :p
Sounds interesting though

By Tim, Friday 5 February 2010 16:16

VirtualBox comes in 2 flavours.
There is one comercial and one opensource (not that it is GPL licenced)edition.
The last one doen´t support usb on host devive and some other things.
I use it one FreeBSD happely for a while now. Network and Shares are supported.
To bad it can only emulate x86 and no Risc ARM machine. Virtual box is thereby not suiteble vor embeded testing.
And also to bad Qemu (i thing Virtualbox is based on this) isn´t supported anymore...

By Tweakers user WeeJeWel, Friday 5 February 2010 17:23

Ever heard of IETester? Stable as a hydrogen atom ;)

By Tweakers user Hero of Time, Friday 5 February 2010 23:11

I'm a moderator on their forum, though haven't been online there for some time due to graduation (about 3 months 'offline'). Over the past few years, a lot more users have found VB and it would be a very bad idea for Oracle to abandon this program. They will loose a big hit in the market, it already is one of the three biggest type-2 virtualizers. Type-2 means it needs a host to run on, like VPC and VMW, unlike ESX.

If you check the Editions page, you will see what features are not included in the Open Source (GPLv2) edition. It's USB, VRDP and USB over VRDP. VRDP stands for Virtual Remote Desktop Protocol. In other words, there is an RDP server available for your VMs. See it like HP's iLO system, only limited in use (you can't exactly turn it on, mount media or power-cycle a stuck machine).

I'm sure that when Oracle abandons this program, it will probably be forked by some volunteers and made in a new project.

@Tim, VirtualBox is dual-licensed. GPLv2 and closed (PUEL). A part from the Licensing FAQ:
Why dual licensing?

We -- like other companies -- believe that dual licensing gives both developers and users the best of two worlds. While anyone is free to look at the code and even improve it, commercial licenses support the company and allow for professional maintenance and support. The open-source community gets more high-quality free software at no cost, while businesses can rely on quality support from our first-hand developers. Both worlds profit from each other: The commercial licenses support both our business, and the open-source community, and vice versa.
Also, it's not really based on Qemu. See the Developer FAQ for more information. As it currently stands, last thing I've heard from one of the main devs, is that there is no trace of Qemu left.

VirtualBox can also handle VHD images, so images for VirtualPC will work on it. The IE test images used to work in VB without problems, however, recent changes to the build images made it cause some issues. The default NIC drivers were no longer available, so installing the NIC to actually get to the webserver was problematic. It was also hardware locked, so you would have only 3 days before you needed to activate, but it appeared later that it were 3 reboots instead. You would loose one for installing the NIC in some way and another for a different thing you needed, which I forgot. If you started with a clean image and 3 days/reboots, installing the Additions was enough of a change in drivers it would fail immediately.
Luckily, someone from the IEblog responded and promised a change, though on what term was not said. Since a lot of webdevs don't run Windows, that person knew that MS made a big mistake with this 'limitation'.

This just proves that VB has a solid base in the market and Oracle would shoot itself in the foot so to say if they drop this. I hope the current devs won't have to fear for their jobs, but from what I've heard from a fellow mod, it seems they are, or at least somehow pushed by the higher ups (note: this is just speculation, I have no idea what is really going on).

[Comment edited on Friday 5 February 2010 23:12]

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