About 2 hours

Gave Oracle’s VirtualBox 4.2.4 a try tonight. Have now purged it from my system and re-installed VMware Player 5.0.1. Total cost: 2 hours of my life I’ll never get back.

UPDATE: It’s 2014 and VirtualBox is now much better than it was, while VMware is not. I’ve switched to VirtualBox on my Windows machines and now use KVM on my Unix (Linux and BSD) hosts.

There’s really not much more I can say. After the release of every major version I’ve gone ahead and given VirtualBox a try, and it has consistently come up wanting. To add insult to injury, over the same time period VMware Player has just as consistently improved to the point that nearly all of the quirks that used to make actually managing it on a backwater workstation like mine have faded away.

VirtualBox has always seemed somehow incomplete to me. Reinforcing that impression is the fact that to get USB support to work properly you need to install an extension after the service has been setup. Whenever I’ve tried creating a new guest with it in the past something didn’t work quite right. This time around it was the display and network components. After re-installing VMware Player I was able to create a guest using the same media without any problems.

If I didn’t know better I’d say that Oracle hasn’t invested the resources needed to advance VirtualBox, but instead has been content to just keep it above water — but they’ve never done that before with open source, have they?

Sure, I’d prefer it if VMware Player was open source (other parts of the VMware ecosystem, including its Linux tools and Cloud Foundry PaaS offerings, are open source). But it is free, as is the ESXi hypervisor. For now the Player is this system administrator’s most reliable, and least expensive, way to do desktop virtualization. At some point in the future I’ll break down and invest in a machine that can support KVM and move everything over to Red Hat’s virtualization stack. Then my life will be complete.