Which free virtualization software do you guys prefer?

I have used Virtual PC and VirtualBox (briefly), any advantage of using either one?

Any other recomendations?

  • 4
    What OS('s) will you be running as VMs?
    – arathorn
    Aug 14, 2009 at 19:32

6 Answers 6


VirtualBox is constantly being improved. I've seen it get a ton better in a short time. It has great features over what VirtualPC can do. The USB support, 3D Graphics support and Seamless mode are great. I use it on Linux, Windows and Mac hosts for Linux and Windows guest OS's.


VirtualBox is my preference; I can run my VMs from other OS's. Virtual PC locks you into a Windows host.

VMWare Workstation is probably the most feature complete, but you'll have to pay. If you decide to switch from using their Windows version to their Linux version then you have to pay again.

VirtualBox has a solid feature set, is free, and runs on a variety of OS's and virtualizes a variety of OS's. Their feature-list is very competitive with VMWare.

VirtualPC hasn't offered much I like. You can use it on Windows to run Windows. Great, but Windows as a Host OS is a fairly poor choice performance wise. Personally I think it's just to keep Microsoft from telling customers they have to use another big-name product (like VMWare, look at their stock prices if you don't think they're large).

  • +1 for explaining that VirtualBox machines can be transferred to a different host platform. This is probably one of the biggest benefits. Jun 29, 2012 at 23:58

I prefer Virtual PC when I need to use an older version of Windows. When I want Linux or I have some special requirements (e.g. USB), I use VirtualBox.


For Linux VMs, I'd definitely go with VirtualBox. I've gotten them to work with Virtual PC before (Ubuntu, CentOS, and Mandrake), but man it's a headache. If it's for a Windows VM, either would work fine.


VMware Workstation is excellent - a feature list a mile long, and it's continually being improved - but it costs money.

VMware Player and VMware Server are both free. Both have limitations: VMware Player cannot create VMs (although various workarounds are available) and does not support snapshots (which I've found invaluable for testing and experimentation). VMware Server can only be managed through a web interface that's great for a server but awkward for desktop use, and it lacks support for multiple snapshots.

VirtualBox is a good product; actively developed, a good feature set (such as USB support and multiple snapshots), and no cost unless you're doing something like a corporate- or division-wide deployment.

I haven't used Virtual PC; VMware Workstation is probably a better product, and VirtualBox is free and runs on any host and with any guest, so I've had no need for Virtual PC.

  • All three are fairly comparable. VMWare is nice, but if you're not going to buy it then you might as well use VirtualBox to avoid the hassle of having dodge around paying. VirtualPC is fine, but I've never found a reason to use it over the others.
    – STW
    Aug 14, 2009 at 19:58

VMWare Player and VMVare Server are free. I used the latter for a while. (Now I'm using a Mac, so I'm using Fusion, which isn't free...)

Machines can be moved between Fusion and other VMWare prods, though. Thats cool!

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