If there is a fashionable concept in 2009, this is undoubtedly for me that of virtualization, so in Genbeta we are going to launch a series of articles that will deal with this topic and for this we will begin with a introduction to virtualization in which we will give an overview on the subject and introduce some concepts to understand virtualization a little better.
We will also talk throughout this series about some of the most interesting solutions that we can use to virtualize on our computers, such as VirtualBox, VMware or Parallels among others, which will offer us the possibility of having several “virtual computers” running simultaneously. Although this technology is highly appreciated in the business environment, we will try to analyze it from the domestic point of view, seeing what advantages it can bring us.
The two most important concepts for understanding virtualization are host and guest. Both concepts refer to our operating system, and therefore we should talk about the host operating system and the guest system.
- The host is the computer on which we install our virtualization program and that it will assign or loan certain hardware resources to the virtual machine that we create.
- The guest is the virtual computer that we have created, through our virtualization program and to which we have assigned certain resources to function.
To try to clarify the concept a little more, we will make a real estate simile. We could say that our computer would be like a loft, it has many meters in a single space and virtualization would allow us to divide it into small individual apartments, among themselves, within the space of our loft. Returning to our scope we can say that at a physical level we have a single computer, but at a logical level we have several computers working at the same time.
To build the virtual machine we have to allocate certain hardware resources, which are usually hard disk space, memory RAM or number of processors that the host yields to the guest. In addition, the normal thing is that we have to indicate the type of operating system that we want to host in this virtual machine, specifying whether it is Windows or a Linux distribution.
When we have our virtual machine, the next step we must do will consist of install an operating systemEither Windows or Linux and it will work with the same rules as it does on a normal computer, updates, licenses, installation of additional software, etc. Therefore they are also susceptible to being attacked by malware like any other computer.
For all these characteristics that we have discussed, we would have to say that for virtualization to work acceptably well modern and powerful computers will be needed, which can yield resources to your guest systems so that they work fine afterwards. For example if we have a computer with a single core processor and 1 GB of memory RAM it will be difficult to give resources to the guest. It will work but the experience would be better with multicore processors and more memory capacity. Regarding the hard disk, it would not be so important because we can give the space on an external hard disk without problems.
Throughout the special we will give some examples of virtualization with different platforms. To make it a little more interesting, we will alternate systems, we will virtualize both from Windows and Linux, and we will use different platforms, VMware, VirtualBox, etc. to try to perform different examples and at the same time to compare the performance offered by these solutions, both for the host and for the guest.
I hope that in this way together we can clarify a little the concept of virtualization and its utilities. In the next entry in the series we will try to delve a little deeper into the advantages that virtualizing can have in different environments where we will see some of the reasons why this type of technology has been so successful this year, especially in the business world and what advantages it can offer us at a domestic level.
In Genbeta | Available VirtualBox 2.2: software for multiplatform virtualization