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What are good solutions for virtualized Windows on Linux? I need good system performance.

I use Xen for Linux virtualization on my work machines, can Xen be used for Windows as well?

I also used VirtualBox in the past, but the performance wasn't best.

Any other options?

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Xen was used to virtualize windows instances on a college campus where I worked. It's possible. I can't comment on performance between all the virtualization solutions though. – RobotHumans Dec 10 '10 at 13:14
up vote 4 down vote accepted

Inferior VM performance is usually because the guest is running in "HVM" mode (Hardware Virtualized Mode, or Fully-Virtualized Mode). While this may allow you to run an unmodified system in a virtual machine, all of the I/O devices are emulated in software. So, if you use a network interface card (NIC) a device driver in the guest communicates with a driver in the host system running VBOX; this driver pretends to be a network interface card, responding to register-level reads and writes. Once the emulated NIC software decides what the VM guest really wants, it forwards a request to the actual device driver in the VBOX host. Sound inefficient? You bet it is.

To improve the situation, VBOX provides "Guest Additions" for most guest O/S's. These are actually some relatively simple device drivers that know how to communicate with the host's device drivers using high-level commands instead of hardware register reads and writes. Using these para-virtualization drivers, you should get only a few percent performance degradation over a bare-metal install.

You may want to try Oracle VM which installs onto bare-metal and supports both Linux and Windows guests. Para-virtualized add-on drivers are available for Windows. There are even pre-configured Linux templates similar to VMWare appliances. No pre-configured Windows because it isn't redistributable, but add-on drivers are available. Check it out at http://www.oracle.com/oraclevm, it's free to download and free to use. Commercial support is available.

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Oracle VM == VirtualBox (aka VBOX) – Sathya Dec 10 '10 at 16:34

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