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#comparing #virtuals #VirtualBox vs #Docker #Xen #KVM

A quick comparison between containers and virtual ones is a clear choice between speed or security and ease of administration:

Quick Introduction

VirtualBox emulates software on haredware combined, it was developed by Innotek that later passed to Sun and ended up with Oracle, it is provided free and open, except for additions in the extensions package, it is special because it combines hardware virtualization supported by software virtualization as the only software that does this and the first to provide pravirtualization.

Docker was made by Solomon Hykes as a mini-cloud, then evolved by integrating Linux Container, using the libVirt library thus providing the missing optimization with access to hardware, Sun's original idea on solaris which is now called Solaris Container, is now extremely fast and optimal as the lightest virtual solution but less secure as the paravirtualization involves direct access to the hardware.

Qemu (and Xen/KVM) are binary translation emulation, purely software virtualization technique but thanks to KVM from Avi Kivity and Red Hat the KVM was integrated into the kernel and supports paravirtualization however limited to very modern Alpha and ARM or x86/64 systems. Ian Pat was working on XEN with Simon Crosby with a foundation which was acquired by Cirix and started a strong Linux integration by a virtual machine API. With this Qemu, Xen and KVM are integrated into the api of the new LibVirt in an infrastructure where Qemu joins and later VirtualBox and Docker would do it.

Comparison Charts

Virtual Software Comparison Chart

item virtualbox Docker/Xen qemu y/o KVM vmware(soft)
Hardware VT Intel-VT/AMD-V Direct-access Indirect-access Direct-access
Limits disc, cpu, ram disc, host only disc, cpu, ram, gpu disc
Performance Good High Acceptable High
CPU require x86/x64 Host only x86/x64/ARM/PwrPC/m68k x86/x64
CPU emulation x86/x64/PwrPC Host only x86/x64[ARM/PwrPC/m68k] x86/x64
OS require Linux,Mac,BSD.Win Linux,BSD Linux,Mac,BSD,Os2,Win Linux,Win
OS emulation Linux,Mac,BSD.Win Host only Linux,Mac,BSD,Os2,Win Linux,Win
InterfazGUI Yes, full No Yes, 3rth party/partial Yes, full
Pausing Yes, with recover Yes, no recovery Yes, no recovery Yes, with recover
Ram (dinam) Yes, non dinamyc Host only Yes, non dinamyc Yes, Dinamyc

Access disc Software Comparison Chart

tipo virtualbox bochs qemu/KVM vmware Docker/Xen
ISO Si Si Si Si No
USB 1.1 Si Si Si Si Si
USB 2/3 No No Si Si Si
HDD(disco) Si Si Si Si Si
HDD(parti) Si Si Si Si Si
RAW Si Si Si No Si
VDI Si No No No No
VHD Si Si No No Si
VMDK4 Si Si No Si No
VMDK3 Si Si Si Si No
QCOW Si No Si No No
QCOW2 Si No Si No No


For emulation and containment in general, the best case is VirtualBox for beginners and novice; for intermediate level administration is VirtualBox. VirtualBox, unlike docker containers, emulates a system that is different from the host, even with different architecture and completely isolated.

High performance requires Docker for better, if not different OS/arch software, as containers access directly, but requires a higher level of experience with them.

Configuring a docker or VMWare is complicated if you don't have the knowledge, especially if you don't provide graphical interfaces for the insiders.

Qemu results in a very complicated solution as it requires XEN or KVM itself, does not emulate with good performance and is not easy to manage.

In the future Docker will replace VMWare except for special cases of software for different systems.

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