VirtualBox – Parallels on a Budget

VirtualBoxNow that you’ve spent all your money on a nice new Mac, iPhone, Apple TV etc., your budget is starting to get very tight. But you still want to run Windows without Bootcamp, or check out that ubuntu thing that your geek friends talk about without spending any more cash. Well, fortunately you’re still in luck with VirtualBox. VirtualBox is a free virtual machine from sun microsystems. While it may not have all the bells and whistles that Parallels or VMWare Fusion offer, its price tag makes VirtualBox an attractive alternative. In fact, VirtualBox can install certain operating systems that Parallels currently does not support (such as the latest version of Ubuntu Linux). If you want to check out VirtualBox keep in mind the following:

  • Memory – You’re going to need at least 512MB of ram for the guest OS. That means you will need at least 1GB of ram for your Mac, preferably more, in order to run comfortably. Otherwise, running a virtual machine will be an exercise in slowwwww.
  • Intel Mac – You’re gonna need one to run VirtualBox
  • Drive Space – If you have a MacBook Air with a 60Gb or 80Gb drive, keep in mind that a guest OS will take up Gigabytes of space. Running out can be painful.
  • Patience – VirtualBox runs on many platforms but it is still in Beta for the Mac. Things may not work out the first or second time. Most virtual machines will add additional modules to the Operating System (called kernel modules). Kernel modules can bring the whole system down. But with a little patience you can still have an enjoyable experience.

So if you want try a virtual machine on the cheap, VirtualBox is for you.