VMware Player and VirtualBox are the two most popular virtualization software packages for x86 processor architecture. VMware Player is free for personal non-commercial use, and available for commercial use if VMware Fusion commercial license is purchased. VirtualBox is released for free under the terms of the GPL version 2, and additional proprietary components are available under a proprietary PUEL license.
When you compare VMware Player and VirtualBox side by side, it is hard to say which one is better, as each one has its own pros and cons, compared to the other. Which one to choose all boils down to your need and requirements.
In this post, I will highlight advantages and disadvantages of VMware Player and VirtualBox in terms of their features. The comparison is done for VMware Player 5 and VirtualBox 4.2.12.
Pros and Cons of VMware Player
- Creates on host machine a virtual switch dedicated for NAT networking, which allows NATed guest virtual machines (VMs) to be reachable from one another, as well as from host machine through the virtual switch.
- Offers a built-in DHCP service shared by all NATed VMs.
- Can add as many as ten virtual network adapters (or vNICs) to a guest VM, while VirtualBox can add only up to eight vNICs to each VM.
- Supports nested hardware-assisted virtualization. That is, you can instantiate guest hypervisors which require hardware-assisted virtualization. All major hypervisors such as KVM, vSphere, Xen, XenServer are supported.
- Support for USB 3.0 (available for Windows 8 guest VMs).
- Does not offer built-in VM snapshot.
- Does not offer built-in VM cloning.
- Bridged networking does not work with some WiFi network adapters, in which case VMs with bridged network are not reachable from the host machine's WiFi network.
- Supports only single disk image type (i.e., vmdk).
- Does not support multiple virtual monitors for a guest VM.
- Cannot be installed on OS X and Solaris host operating systems.
- Less frequently updated (i.e., yearly major version upgrade).
- Very limited command-line interface for managing VMs (e.g., VIX API).
Pros and Cons of VirtualBox
- Offers built-in GUI-based wizard for cloning a VM.
- Offers built-in VM snapshot, and supports multiple snapshots.
- Supports multiple types of disk image (e.g., vdi, vmdk, vhd, hdd, qed, qcow).
- Supports multiple virtual monitors for a guest VM. Multiple virtual monitors belonging to a VM can be displayed in multiple windows of host machine, or via multiple physical monitors.
- Can be installed on OS X, Windows 7, Windows 2008 Server, Solaris, OpenSolaris, FreeBSD host operating systems.
- More frequent minor version upgrades.
- Comprehensive built-in command-line interface for creating and running VMs (e.g., VBoxManage).
- Cannot access NATed guest VMs from host machine without enabling port forwarding on host machine.
- NATed guest VMs are isolated from one other, and cannot communicate with one another.
- Bridged networking or host-only networking is required if guest VMs need to communicate with one another on the same Layer-2 network.
- Can add up to eight vNICs to a guest VM, while VMware Player can create up to ten vNICs per guest VM. You can configure only four vNICs via VirtualBox GUI. To add more than four vNICs, you need to use VirtualBox CLI.
- Does not support nested hardware-assisted virtualization.
- No support for USB 3.0.
If there is anything to add or correct, feel free to post a comment.
For performance comparison between VMware Player and VirtualBox, check out my subsequent article on this topic.
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