First of all, what’s a virtual operating system (or virtual machine)? Just in case, an operating system, is the software that makes it possible to use your computer without knowledge about how the hardware works. This could be Windows (XP, 2000, Vista or Windows 7), Linux (Ubuntu, LinuxMint, Debian, OpenSuse, ……), BSD or a Mac (OS X). The operating system is a logical unit who hides what happens on the background when you open a file, save something or start a program. They are great!

Now you know what an operating system is, what’s a virtual one? It’s a technique where multiple operating systems are working on the same computer on the same moment! Where do they save there files? Each virtual machine has a big file, that represents his hard drive. This technique is already since the 60ties in use, but still most people at home do not use it.

Why would you want to use virtual machines? There are a lot of reasons, like that a standalone operating system only uses 15% of his power. 85% Is just left for nothing. Specially for servers, this is bad, because they cost a lot! With virtualization it’s possible to combine multiple servers in 1. It means:

  • less energy use
  • much more efficiĆ«nt
  • less hardware
  • price => happy

Making a backup is as easy as making a copy of the hardware file, and when your computer fails, you can use this file to restart your server in no time on a different computer.

Another thing where you want to use a Virtual Machine: to share an operating system with pre-installed software (like for school use). No more losing time with installing it!

Use at home? Of course! You could use it test new operating systems, or to test software, when you are want to ensure that it’s safe. You could also use multiple screens, multiple operating systems! How cool is that??

Different technologies?

  • Full virtualization: You already have a host with operating system, and use a program like VirtualBox to simulate a computer. The virtual machine doesn’t has direct access to hardware.
  • Para virtualization: Some components from the virtual machine have direct access to the hardware.
  • Application virtualization: A technique where programs you install are bound to a layer. When you disable that layer, all the changes the program made are gone.
  • Desktop virtualization: Multiple screens, and multiple people, work on the same computer. Each user has his own screen.
  • Storage virtualization: Multiple hard drives combined in one logical volume.

Do you want to test it? Check this tutorial about how to install Ubuntu on VirtualBox!

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