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Is any one of these better than the others? What are the differences in practical terms for home use?

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up vote 11 down vote accepted

Virtualbox will be much easier for use in the home. The GUI is great and its very simple to use... not to mention the amount of users and documentation out there. And with the recent hardware 3D acceleration addition its a great choice.

Use Virtualbox.

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For testing and virtualized XP for daily use I recommend VirtualBox. It's free and has all the necessary features to run desktop OS's. It is also cross platform which means you can move your virtual machines around.

For server type scenarios and always on machines I would use VMWare Server. It makes the management of machines simpler and easier.

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I remember problems with VMWare on ubuntu. The new version has client not as standalone application, but as plugin to firefox - it didn't work for me. VirtualBox on the other hand is very easy and seems "nicer". VMWare however has ability of managing virtual machines by network (firefox), while VirtualBox you can manage only from machine it is running on.

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I use VMware Server 2.0 for my software testing environment, where I run virtual machines of ubuntu, debian, suse, centos, fedora, opensolaris, freebsd, openbsd, windows xp/vista/7 concurrently.

I like the snapshot feature, as I can create a baseline installation, snapshot it, then doing testing, and reset it back to where I was.

Until this bug and this bug are fixed, I won't use KVM on Ubuntu.

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Both those bugs seem to be fixed now, at least in Jaunty and newer. – Jimmy Hedman Feb 28 '10 at 22:03

Parallels is just great. Of course, you need a Mac with that! :)

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Parallels Workstation is available for Windows and Linux. – EmmEff Aug 29 '09 at 23:51

Virtualbox is really nice, WMware has a lot of different products "WMware server, WMware workstation, WMware desktop etc" it's a bit confusing.

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VMware Server on a Windows (or Linux) desktop is an excellent free alternative, although it has some limitations that VirtualBox does not (for example, the number of snapshots allowed per VM). VMware Workstation adds more snapshots and other features. VMware Virtual Desktop Infrastructure is not a home-use app if that's what you're referring to by "VMware desktop". – EmmEff Aug 29 '09 at 23:56

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