The best articles for learning how to virtualize operating systems

Virtualization is the foundation of cloud computing—what are some of the key benefits it can bring to your organization?

Many IT organizations deploy servers that are only running at a fraction of their capacity, often because they are dedicating their physical server to a specific application. This is usually an inefficient mechanism because there is an excess capacity that is not being consumed, which leads to higher operating costs and IT costs.

In efforts to drive higher capacity utilization and reduce costs, virtualization was created. This article will provide an overview of virtualization and its key components and explain five of the (many) benefits your organization could enjoy through virtualization:

Slash your IT expenses

Reduce downtime and enhance resiliency in disaster recovery situations

Increase efficiency and productivity

Control independence and DevOps

Move to be more green-friendly (organizational and environmental)

What is virtualization?

Virtualization uses software to create an abstraction layer over the physical hardware. In doing so, it creates a virtual compute system, known as virtual machines (VMs). This allows organizations to run multiple virtual computers, operating systems, and applications on a single physical server — essentially partitioning it into multiple virtual servers. Simply put, one of the main advantages of virtualization is that it’s a more efficient use of the physical computer hardware; this, in turn, provides a greater return on a company’s investment.

See the following video for more of a dive into virtualization technology:

What is a virtual machine (VM)?

In the simplest terms possible, a virtual machine (VM) is a virtual representation of a physical computer. As mentioned above, virtualization allows an organization to create multiple virtual machines—each with their own operating system (OS) and applications—on a single physical machine.

A virtual machine can’t interact directly with a physical computer, however. Instead, it needs a lightweight software layer called a hypervisor to coordinate with the physical hardware upon which it runs.

What is a hypervisor?

The hypervisor is essential to virtualization—it’s a thin software layer that allows multiple operating systems to run alongside each other and share the same physical computing resources. These operating systems come as the aforementioned virtual machines (VMs)—virtual representations of a physical computer—and the hypervisor assigns each VM its own portion of the underlying computing power, memory, and storage. This prevents the VMs from interfering with each other.

Five benefits of virtualization

Virtualizing your environment can increase scalability while simultaneously reducing expenses, and the following details a just a few of the many benefits that virtualization can bring to your organization:

1. Slash your IT expenses

Utilizing a non-virtualized environment can be inefficient because when you are not consuming the application on the server, the compute is sitting idle and can’t be used for other applications. When you virtualize an environment, that single physical server transforms into many virtual machines. These virtual machines can have different operating systems and run different applications while still all being hosted on the single physical server.

The consolidation of the applications onto virtualized environments is a more cost-effective approach because you’ll be able to consume fewer physical customers, helping you spend significantly less money on servers and bring cost savings to your organization.

2. Reduce downtime and enhance resiliency in disaster recovery situations

When a disaster affects a physical server, someone is responsible for replacing or fixing it—this could take hours or even days. With a virtualized environment, it’s easy to provision and deploy, allowing you to replicate or clone the virtual machine that’s been affected. The recovery process would take mere minutes—as opposed to the hours it would take to provision and set up a new physical server—significantly enhancing the resiliency of the environment and improving business continuity.

3. Increase efficiency and productivity

With fewer servers, your IT teams will be able to spend less time maintaining the physical hardware and IT infrastructure. You’ll be able to install, update, and maintain the environment across all the VMs in the virtual environment on the server instead of going through the laborious and tedious process of applying the updates server-by-server. Less time dedicated to maintaining the environment increases your team’s efficiency and productivity.

4. Control independence and DevOps

Since the virtualized environment is segmented into virtual machines, your developers can quickly spin up a virtual machine without impacting a production environment. This is ideal for Dev/Test, as the developer can quickly clone the virtual machine and run a test on the environment.

For example, if a new software patch has been released, someone can clone the virtual machine and apply the latest software update, test the environment, and then pull it into their production application. This increases the speed and agility of an application.

5. Move to be more green-friendly (organizational and environmental)

When you are able to cut down on the number of physical servers you’re using, it’ll lead to a reduction in the amount of power being consumed. This has two green benefits:

  • It reduces expenses for the business, and that money can be reinvested elsewhere.
  • It reduces the carbon footprint of the data center.

Virtualization and IBM Cloud

Virtualization is a powerful tool that helps relieve administrative overhead while increasing cost savings, scalability, and efficiency. Despite being created decades ago, virtualization continues to be a catalyst for companies’ IT strategies. The importance of virtualization is being exponentially accelerated as companies look at their IT modernization journey, and the benefits listed here are just the tip of the iceberg.

IBM Cloud offers a full complement of cloud-based virtualization solutions, spanning public cloud services through to private and hybrid cloud offerings. You can use it to create and run virtual infrastructure and also take advantage of services ranging from cloud-based AI to VMware workload migration with IBM Cloud for VMware Solutions.

Prerequisites – Types of Server Virtualization, Hardware based Virtualization
Operating system-based Virtualization refers to an operating system feature in which the kernel enables the existence of various isolated user-space instances. The installation of virtualization software also refers to Operating system-based virtualization. It is installed over a pre-existing operating system and that operating system is called the host operating system.

In this virtualization, a user installs the virtualization software in the operating system of his system like any other program and utilizes this application to operate and generate various virtual machines. Here, the virtualization software allows direct access to any of the created virtual machines to the user. As the host OS can provide hardware devices with the mandatory support, operating system virtualization may affect compatibility issues of hardware even when the hardware driver is not allocated to the virtualization software.

Virtualization software is able to convert hardware IT resources that require unique software for operation into virtualized IT resources. As the host OS is a complete operating system in itself, many OS-based services are available as organizational management and administration tools can be utilized for the virtualization host management.

The best articles for learning how to virtualize operating systems

Some major operating system-based services are mentioned below:

  1. Backup and Recovery.
  2. Security Management.
  3. Integration to Directory Services.
  1. Hardware capabilities can be employed, such as the network connection and CPU.
  2. Connected peripherals with which it can interact, such as webcam, printer, keyboard, or Scanners.
  3. Data that can be read or written, such as files, folders, and network shares.

The Operating system may have the capability to allow or deny access to such resources based on which the program requests them and the user account in the context of which it runs. OS may also hide these resources, which leads that when a computer program computes them, they do not appear in the enumeration results. Nevertheless, from a programming perspective, the computer program has interacted with those resources and the operating system has managed an act of interaction.

With operating-system-virtualization or containerization, it is probable to run programs within containers, to which only parts of these resources are allocated. A program that is expected to perceive the whole computer, once run inside a container, can only see the allocated resources and believes them to be all that is available. Several containers can be formed on each operating system, to each of which a subset of the computer’s resources is allocated. Each container may include many computer programs. These programs may run parallel or distinctly, even interrelate with each other.

We’re only a couple of months away from the new year, which means it’s time to start looking ahead to the tech trends that will dominate the software industry in 2022. As the new year approaches, we want to help you get familiar with upcoming trends so you can be prepared and start taking your skills to the next level. Our first topic in the series is virtualization. If you’re looking to get into the cloud space, it’s important to get on top of this trend! We’ll discuss what virtualization is, why it’s important, how it works, and much more.

Let’s get started!

We’ll cover:

Get hands-on with virtualization for free.

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What is virtualization?

Virtualization is a fundamental aspect of cloud computing. Virtualization technology allows us to use the features of a physical machine across multiple virtual environments, or virtual machines (VMs). Virtualization software creates an abstraction layer over computer hardware. The hardware elements of a physical computer, such as memory, storage, and processors, can then be partitioned into different VMs. VMs operate just like regular computers, and each VM has its own operating system.

Cloud providers take advantage of the powerful features of virtualization to best serve their customers. You can buy the computing resources that you need when you need them, and you can scale them when your workload increases or decreases. There are a lot of different virtualization tools and software on the market from big tech companies such as Microsoft, IBM, Red Hat, Intel, AWS, and VMware. There are open-source offerings, along with public, private, or hybrid cloud services available, so we can choose the tools that best fit our needs.

Benefits of virtualization

Some of the main benefits of virtualization include:

Security: We can use virtual firewalls to secure data and isolate our apps so they’re protected from various threats. Virtualization enables automated provisioning, which allows for more security and visibility across physical or virtual applications.

Reliability: We can rely on our virtual environments to efficiently handle disaster recovery operations and perform any necessary backups or retrieval operations.

Cost savings: Virtualization software is less expensive and requires less hardware to run.

Testing: With virtualization, our environment is split into various VMs. We can replicate those VMs to perform any necessary testing without affecting the actual production environment.

Efficiency: Since we have fewer physical servers, we don’t have to spend as much time maintaining physical machines. We can perform any operations we need to within our virtual environment, which boosts productivity.

Scalability: With virtualization, it’s easy to scale our virtual cloud environment. We can automate scaling as needed to accommodate for growth to ensure that the appropriate resources are available.

Disaster recovery and downtime: We can replicate VMs in case of a disaster, which enhances resiliency and reduces downtime.

Virtual machines and hypervisors

Virtual machines and hypervisors are two important concepts in virtualization. They both play a major role in how virtualization works. Let’s discuss what virtual machines and hypervisors are, and then we’ll dive deeper into how virtualization works.

Virtual machines

A virtual machine is a virtual environment that acts as a virtual computer system. It has its own memory, network interface, storage, operating system, and CPU. Instead of using physical hardware to manage, run, and deploy programs and applications, it uses virtual hardware. To create a virtualized environment, we have a physical host machine, and we can run multiple virtual guest machines on the host machine. Since each VM has its own operating system, the guest machines function separately from each other even though they run on the same host machine. VMs are very portable, and they allow us to easily scale our applications to distribute heavy workloads.

Hypervisors

A hypervisor, or virtual machine monitor (VMM), is a software we can use to create and run VMs. Hypervisors use physical resources to allow us to virtually use and share system resources to support multiple guest VMs. When we use a hypervisor, we can run different operating systems side by side and still share the same virtualized hardware resources. They allow us to separate physical resources from virtual environments. There are two main types of hypervisors: bare metal and hosted.

Bare metal hypervisors are installed directly on the physical server where the operating system is normally installed. They act as lightweight operating systems, and they’re mainly used in virtual server situations. Hosted hypervisors run on top of the operating system of the host machine. They run as a software layer on top of an operating system just like other programs.

Data-at-rest encryption secures data all the way down to the storage level. Increase VM security in a couple of steps and .

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Create a software-based—or virtual—representation of applications, servers, storage and networks to reduce IT expenses while boosting efficiency and agility.

Virtualization 101

The best articles for learning how to virtualize operating systems

Leverage the Power of Virtualization

Take advantage of decreased IT costs and reduced business disruption.

The best articles for learning how to virtualize operating systems

Next-Gen Virtualization for Dummies

Discover what next-gen virtualization can do for your data center.

Benefits of Virtualization

Reduced capital and operating costs.

Minimized or eliminated downtime.

Increased IT productivity, efficiency, agility and responsiveness.

Faster provisioning of applications and resources.

Greater business continuity and disaster recovery.

Simplified data center management.

Availability of a true Software-Defined Data Center.

HOW VIRTUALIZATION WORKS

Virtualization 101

Due to the limitations of x86 servers, many IT organizations must deploy multiple servers, each operating at a fraction of their capacity, to keep pace with today’s high storage and processing demands. The result: huge inefficiencies and excessive operating costs.

Enter virtualization. Virtualization relies on software to simulate hardware functionality and create a virtual computer system. This enables IT organizations to run more than one virtual system – and multiple operating systems and applications – on a single server. The resulting benefits include economies of scale and greater efficiency.

Virtual Machines Explained

A virtual computer system is known as a “virtual machine” (VM): a tightly isolated software container with an operating system and application inside. Each self-contained VM is completely independent. Putting multiple VMs on a single computer enables several operating systems and applications to run on just one physical server, or “host.”

A thin layer of software called a “hypervisor” decouples the virtual machines from the host and dynamically allocates computing resources to each virtual machine as needed.

Key Properties of Virtual Machines

Partitioning

  • Run multiple operating systems on one physical machine.
  • Divide system resources between virtual machines.

Isolation

  • Provide fault and security isolation at the hardware level.
  • Preserve performance with advanced resource controls.

Encapsulation

  • Save the entire state of a virtual machine to files.
  • Move and copy virtual machines as easily as moving and copying files.

Hardware Independence

  • Provision or migrate any virtual machine to any physical server.

Types of Virtualization

Server Virtualization

Server virtualization enables multiple operating systems to run on a single physical server as highly efficient virtual machines. Key benefits include:

  • Greater IT efficiencies
  • Reduced operating costs
  • Faster workload deployment
  • Increased application performance
  • Higher server availability
  • Eliminated server sprawl and complexity

Network Virtualization

By completely reproducing a physical network, network virtualization allows applications to run on a virtual network as if they were running on a physical network — but with greater operational benefits and all the hardware independencies of virtualization. (Network virtualization presents logical networking devices and services — logical ports, switches, routers, firewalls, load balancers, VPNs and more — to connected workloads.)

The best articles for learning how to virtualize operating systemsKrulUA / Getty Images

Many of today’s cutting-edge technologies such as cloud computing, edge computing and microservices owe their start to the concept of the virtual machine—separating operating systems and software instances from a physical computer.

What is a virtual machine?

At its base level, a virtual machine (VM) is software that runs programs or applications without being tied to a physical machine. In a VM instance, one or more guest machines can run on a physical host computer.

Each VM has its own operating system, and functions separately from other VMs, even if they are located on the same physical host. VMs generally run on computer servers, but they can also be run on desktop systems, or even embedded platforms. Multiple VMs can share resources from the physical host, including CPU cycles, network bandwidth and memory.

VMs have their origins in the early days of computing in the 1960s when time sharing for mainframe users was a means of separating software from a physical host system. Virtual machine was defined in the early 1970s as “an efficient, isolated duplicate of a real computer machine.”

VMs as we know them today have gained steam over the past 15 years as companies adopted server virtualization in order to utilize the compute power of their physical servers more efficiently, reducing the need for physical servers and so saving space in the data center. Because apps with different OS requirements could run on a single physical host, different server hardware was not required for each one.

In general, there are two types of VMs: Process VMs, which separate a single process, and system VMs, which offer a full separation of the operating system and applications from the physical computer. Examples of process VMs include the Java Virtual Machine, the .NET Framework and the Parrot virtual machine.

System VMs rely on hypervisors, as a go-between giving software access to the hardware resources. Big names in the hypervisor space include VMware (ESX/ESXi), Intel/Linux Foundation (Xen), Oracle (MV Server for SPARC and Oracle VM Server for x86) and Microsoft (Hyper-V).

Desktop computer systems can also utilize virtual machines. The biggest example here would be a Mac user running a virtual Windows 10 instance on their physical Mac hardware.

Advantages of virtual machines

Because the software is separate from the physical host computer, users can run multiple OS instances on a single piece of hardware, saving a company time, management costs and the physical space. Another advantage is that VMs can support legacy apps, reducing or eliminating the need and cost of migrating an older app to an updated or different operating system.

In addition, developers use VMs in order to test apps in a safe, sandboxed environment. This can also help isolate malware that might infect a given VM instance. Since software inside a VM cannot tamper with the host computer, malicious software cannot spread as much damage.

Virtual machine downsides

Virtual machines do have a few disadvantages. Running multiple VMs on one physical host can result in unstable performance, especially if infrastructure requirements for a particular application are not met. This also makes them less efficient in many cases when compared to a physical computer. Most IT operations utilize a balance between physical and virtual systems.

Other forms of virtualization

The success of VMs in server virtualization led to applying virtualization to other areas including storage, networking, and desktops. Chances are if there’s a type of hardware that’s being used in the data center, the concept of virtualizing it is being explored (see application delivery controllers as one case).

In network virtualization companies have explored network-as-a-service options and network functions virtualization (NFV), which uses commodity servers to replace specialized network appliances to enable more flexible and scalable services. This differs a bit from software-defined networking, which separates the network control plane from the forwarding plane to enable more automated provisioning and policy-based management of network resources. A third technology, virtual network functions, are software-based services that can run in an NFV environment, including processes such as routing, firewalling, load balancing, WAN acceleration, and encryption.

VMs and containers

The growth of VMs has led to further development of technologies such as containers, which take the concept another step and is gaining appeal among web application developers. In a container setting, a single application along with its dependencies, can be virtualized. With much less overhead than a VM, a container only includes binaries, libraries, and applications.

While some think the development of containers may kill the virtual machine, there are enough capabilities and benefits of VMs that keep the technology moving forward. For example, VMs remain useful when running multiple applications together, or when running legacy applications on older operating systems.

In addition, some feel that containers are less secure than VM hypervisors because containers have only one OS that applications share, while VMs can isolate the application and the OS.

Gary Chen, the research manager of IDC’s Software-Defined Compute division, said the VM software market remains a foundational technology, even as customers explore cloud architectures and containers. “The virtual machine software market has been remarkably resilient and will continue to grow positively over the next five years, despite being highly mature and approaching saturation,” Chen writes in IDC’s Worldwide Virtual Machine Software Forecast, 2019-2022.

VMS, 5G and edge computing

VMs are seen as a part of new technologies such as 5G and edge computing. For example, virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) vendors such as Microsoft, VMware and Citrix are looking at ways to extend their VDI systems to employees who now work at home as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. “With VDI, you need extremely low latency because you are sending your keystrokes and mouse movements to basically a remote desktop,” says Mahadev Satyanarayanan, a professor of computer science at Carnegie Mellon University. In 2009, Satyanarayanan wrote about how virtual machine-based cloudlets could be used to provide better processing capabilities to mobile devices on the edge of the Internet, which led to the development of edge computing.

Like many other technologies in use today, these would not have been developed had it not been for the original virtual-machine concepts introduced decades ago.

Keith Shaw is a freelance digital journalist who has written about the IT world for more than 20 years.

The best articles for learning how to virtualize operating systems

Virtualization is the process of running a virtual instance of a computer system in a layer abstracted from the actual hardware. Most commonly, it refers to running multiple operating systems on a computer system simultaneously. To the applications running on top of the virtualized machine, it can appear as if they are on their own dedicated machine, where the operating system, libraries, and other programs are unique to the guest virtualized system and unconnected to the host operating system which sits below it.

There are many reasons why people utilize virtualization in computing. To desktop users, the most common use is to be able to run applications meant for a different operating system without having to switch computers or reboot into a different system. For administrators of servers, virtualization also offers the ability to run different operating systems, but perhaps, more importantly, it offers a way to segment a large system into many smaller parts, allowing the server to be used more efficiently by a number of different users or applications with different needs. It also allows for isolation, keeping programs running inside of a virtual machine safe from the processes taking place in another virtual machine on the same host.

What is a hypervisor?

More on virtualization

A hypervisor is a program for creating and running virtual machines. Hypervisors have traditionally been split into two classes: type one, or “bare metal” hypervisors that run guest virtual machines directly on a system’s hardware, essentially behaving as an operating system. Type two, or “hosted” hypervisors behave more like traditional applications that can be started and stopped like a normal program. In modern systems, this split is less prevalent, particularly with systems like KVM. KVM, short for kernel-based virtual machine, is a part of the Linux kernel that can run virtual machines directly, although you can still use a system running KVM virtual machines as a normal computer itself.

What is a virtual machine?

A virtual machine is the emulated equivalent of a computer system that runs on top of another system. Virtual machines may have access to any number of resources: computing power, through hardware-assisted but limited access to the host machine’s CPU and memory; one or more physical or virtual disk devices for storage; a virtual or real network inferface; as well as any devices such as video cards, USB devices, or other hardware that are shared with the virtual machine. If the virtual machine is stored on a virtual disk, this is often referred to as a disk image. A disk image may contain the files for a virtual machine to boot, or, it can contain any other specific storage needs.

What is the difference between a container and a virtual machine?

You may have heard of Linux containers, which are conceptually similar to virtual machines, but function somewhat differently. While both containers and virtual machines allow for running applications in an isolated environment, allowing you to stack many onto the same machine as if they are separate computers, containers are not full, independent machines. A container is actually just an isolated process that shared the same Linux kernel as the host operating system, as well as the libraries and other files needed for the execution of the program running inside of the container, often with a network interface such that the container can be exposed to the world in the same way as a virtual machine. Typically, containers are designed to run a single program, as opposed to emulating a full multi-purpose server.

Where can I learn more?

Want to learn how you can get started with virtualization? We’ve got plenty of resources for you. Be sure to check out our virtualization tag set, or take a look at one of these great articles.

This article gives you details about the maximum configuration for components you can add and remove on a Hyper-V host or its virtual machines, such as virtual processors or checkpoints. As you plan your deployment, consider the maximums that apply to each virtual machine, as well as those that apply to the Hyper-V host. Maximums continue to grow in Windows Server versions, in response to requests to support newer scenarios such as machine learning and data analytics.

For information about System Center Virtual Machine Manager (VMM), see Virtual Machine Manager. VMM is a Microsoft product for managing a virtualized data center that is sold separately.

Maximums for virtual machines

These maximums apply to each virtual machine. Not all components are available in both generations of virtual machines. For a comparison of the generations, see Should I create a generation 1 or 2 virtual machine in Hyper-V?

  • 64 Hyper-V specific network adapters
  • 4 legacy network adapters;
  • 8 Hyper-V specific network adapters
  • 4 legacy network adapters

Maximums for Hyper-V hosts

These maximums apply to each Hyper-V host.

  • Hardware-assisted virtualization
  • Hardware-enforced Data Execution Prevention (DEP)

Failover Clusters and Hyper-V

This table lists the maximums that apply when using Hyper-V and Failover Clustering. It’s important to do capacity planning to ensure that there will be enough hardware resources to run all the virtual machines in a clustered environment.

To learn about updates to Failover Clustering, including new features for virtual machines, see What’s New in Failover Clustering in Windows Server 2016.

Technology generally develops linearly even something comes along that should change its progression. Take PC operating systems, which arrived in the 1980s. One of the big problems they brought with them was the need to keep the OS and applications from breaking every time Intel made a change to its chipset or the firmware. The fix, eventually, was to create Virtual Machines – a virtual hardware layer that would remain constant, regardless of what happened to the underlying hardware.

Much of the problems we’ve had with deployments over the last couple of decades have revolved around the need for IT to keep the PC image static while the hardware changed. If we instead preloaded a Virtual Machine from either VMware or Microsoft – and then placed the image on that – you could assure a level of compatibility you generally don’t get today.

Let’s explore rethinking PCs, virtual vachines, and operating systems this week.

Rethinking PCs

When PCs were first created, the folks that built the OS and the folks that built the hardware were the same. Apple built both, and IBM bought the rights to Windows so it could effectively do the same thing as well. But on the Windows side, the operating system quickly became decoupled. It allowed for a far more competitive market, but also one that was unusually plagued by incompatibilities and breakage because the two halves of the PC weren’t developed together.

For a time in the early parts of this century – when Intel and Microsoft weren’t even talking to each other very well – we got disasters like Windows Vista and Windows 8, platforms that even Microsoft would like to forget. Things eventually evened out, and most of those problems are history. But in some ways, this problem has worsened because AMD has risen to be a power and Qualcomm is now providing PC solutions. This hardware variety is forcing Intel to speed its own development efforts – raising the possibility that maintaining OS reliability will get harder to do.

One way Microsoft is addressing this with its Surface line; the company is starting to specify processors for the Surface X and the upcoming Surface Neo twin-screen laptop: from Qualcomm and Intel, respectively. Custom processors are an interesting idea, but were Dell, HP, and Lenovo to go down this path, the resulting hardware complexity – and the chance for OS breakage – would increase dramatically.

In this new world, there is a need to allow the OS side of the solution from Apple, Google, and Microsoft to advance as fast as those firms can move and for the hardware platforms from AMD, Intel, and Qualcomm to do the same without any resulting breakage.

Enter the Virtual Machine

A Virtual Machine running on hardware generally has a Hypervisor, so you can run multiple virtual machine instances – each isolated from the other because the technology is generally used on servers where you have multiple users on the same hardware.

On a PC, you could have distinct VM instances for work, school, and personal use with differing levels of user freedom. The company VM would be locked down so that the firm is better protected from the other usage models. Viruses often come into companies carried by employees who aren’t careful with their personal use of their firm’s PC. You mostly see this kind of behavior with developers who need to keep their dev projects separate from their enterprise image.

Even with a three-image installation (work, school, personal), you’d be able to optimize on all three support organizations. Work IT handles the work image, school IT handles the school image, and the OEM helps with the personal image (which they could charge for). You’d get a higher level of security because the two or three usage models would be isolated from each other – and you’d free up the OS vendor and the platform vendor to advance their platforms faster because they could specify a set Virtual Machine configuration.

The VM company, be it VMware or Microsoft, could then work with the hardware vendor to optimize flexibility as a performance factor and hardware development PC would evolve to become better multi-host clients. Other options would be creating a VM for your kids on the family PC that could be automatically purged and rebuilt regularly as well as tuned OSs for things like eSports. You might be able to create games that ran native on a VM while suspending the other VMs when you compete. And, of course, IT would get a very stable virtual hardware image that would remain as stable as they needed it to be across hardware vendors and hardware versions.

I think it is time to begin rethinking the relationship between Operating Systems, Hypervisors, and Virtual machines to better secure our PCs (Root Kits would generally become a thing of the past thanks to the VM). The result could be more flexible, more reliable, more secure, and better able to deal with our changing future than the way we build the platforms today.

I think the world is ready for a change; now, it is just a matter of time before an OEM is willing to take the risk and try something new.

Rob Enderle is president and principal analyst of the Enderle Group, a forward looking emerging technology advisory firm. With more than 25 years’ experience in emerging technologies, he provides regional and global companies with guidance.

The best articles for learning how to virtualize operating systems

A virtual machine is a program you run on a computer that acts like it is a separate computer. It is basically a way to create a computer within a computer.

A virtual machine runs in a window on the host computer and gives a user the same experience they would have if they were using a completely different computer. Virtual machines are sandboxed from the host computer. This means that nothing that runs on the virtual machine can impact the host computer.

Virtual machines are often used for running software on operating systems that software wasn’t originally intended for. For instance, if you are using a Mac computer you can run Windows programs inside a Windows virtual machine on the Mac computer. Virtual machines are also used to quickly set up software with an image, access virus-infected data, and test other operating systems.

A single physical computer can run multiple virtual machines at the same time. Often a server will use a program called a hypervisor to manage multiple virtual machines that are running at the same time. Virtual machines have virtual hardware, including CPUs, memory, hard drives, and more. Each piece of virtual hardware is mapped to real hardware on the host computer.

There are a few drawbacks with virtual machines. Since hardware resources are indirect, they are not as efficient as a physical computer. Also, when many virtual machines are running at the same time on a single computer, performance can become unstable.

Virtual Machine Programs

There are many different virtual machine programs you can use. Some options are VirtualBox (Windows, Linux, Mac OS X), VMware Player (Windows, Linux), VMware Fusion (Mac OS X) and Parallels Desktop (Mac OS X).

VirtualBox is one of the most popular virtual machine programs since it is free, open source, and available on all the popular operating systems. We’ll show you how to set up a virtual machine using VirtualBox.

Setting up a Virtual Machine (VirtualBox)

VirtualBox is an open source Virtual Machine program from Oracle. It allows users to virtually install many operating systems on virtual drives, including Windows, BSD, Linux, Solaris, and more.

Since VirtualBox runs on Windows, Linux, and Mac, the process for setting up a virtual machine is pretty much the same in each operating system.

Start with downloading and installing VirtualBox. You can download it at this link: VirtualBox Downloads

You will also need to download an .iso file for the operating system that you want to run in your virtual machine. For instance, you can download a Windows 10 .iso file here: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/software-download/windows10ISO

Once you have VirtualBox running, click the “New” button

The best articles for learning how to virtualize operating systems

Create a new virtual machine.

Next you will have to choose which OS you plan on installing. In the “Name” box, type the name of the OS you want to install. VirtualBox will guess the type and version based on the name you type in, but you can change these settings if you need to.

The best articles for learning how to virtualize operating systems

Configure the virtual machine.

The wizard will automatically select default settings based on the OS type and version you selected. You can always change the settings as you go through the wizard. Just keep clicking “Continue” and “Create” until you get through the wizard. It’s usually fine to use the defaults.

Next, start the virtual machine you just created by clicking “Start”.

The best articles for learning how to virtualize operating systems

Start the virtual machine.

Once the virtual machine starts up, select the .iso image file you want to use.

The best articles for learning how to virtualize operating systems

Install the operating system on the virtual machine.

Your virtual machine will now load your selected operating system. The operating system may require some setup, but it will be the same setup that would be required if you had installed it on a standard computer.

The best articles for learning how to virtualize operating systems

Windows 10 is successfully running inside a virtual machine.

Congratulations! You’ve run your first Virtual Machine in VirtualBox.

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The best articles for learning how to virtualize operating systems

operating system (OS), program that manages a computer’s resources, especially the allocation of those resources among other programs. Typical resources include the central processing unit (CPU), computer memory, file storage, input/output (I/O) devices, and network connections. Management tasks include scheduling resource use to avoid conflicts and interference between programs. Unlike most programs, which complete a task and terminate, an operating system runs indefinitely and terminates only when the computer is turned off.

Modern multiprocessing operating systems allow many processes to be active, where each process is a “thread” of computation being used to execute a program. One form of multiprocessing is called time-sharing, which lets many users share computer access by rapidly switching between them. Time-sharing must guard against interference between users’ programs, and most systems use virtual memory, in which the memory, or “address space,” used by a program may reside in secondary memory (such as on a magnetic hard disk drive) when not in immediate use, to be swapped back to occupy the faster main computer memory on demand. This virtual memory both increases the address space available to a program and helps to prevent programs from interfering with each other, but it requires careful control by the operating system and a set of allocation tables to keep track of memory use. Perhaps the most delicate and critical task for a modern operating system is allocation of the CPU; each process is allowed to use the CPU for a limited time, which may be a fraction of a second, and then must give up control and become suspended until its next turn. Switching between processes must itself use the CPU while protecting all data of the processes.

The best articles for learning how to virtualize operating systems

The first digital computers had no operating systems. They ran one program at a time, which had command of all system resources, and a human operator would provide any special resources needed. The first operating systems were developed in the mid-1950s. These were small “supervisor programs” that provided basic I/O operations (such as controlling punch card readers and printers) and kept accounts of CPU usage for billing. Supervisor programs also provided multiprogramming capabilities to enable several programs to run at once. This was particularly important so that these early multimillion-dollar machines would not be idle during slow I/O operations.

Computers acquired more powerful operating systems in the 1960s with the emergence of time-sharing, which required a system to manage multiple users sharing CPU time and terminals. Two early time-sharing systems were CTSS (Compatible Time Sharing System), developed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the Dartmouth College Basic System, developed at Dartmouth College. Other multiprogrammed systems included Atlas, at the University of Manchester, England, and IBM’s OS/360, probably the most complex software package of the 1960s. After 1972 the Multics system for General Electric Co.’s GE 645 computer (and later for Honeywell Inc.’s computers) became the most sophisticated system, with most of the multiprogramming and time-sharing capabilities that later became standard.

The minicomputers of the 1970s had limited memory and required smaller operating systems. The most important operating system of that period was UNIX, developed by AT&T for large minicomputers as a simpler alternative to Multics. It became widely used in the 1980s, in part because it was free to universities and in part because it was designed with a set of tools that were powerful in the hands of skilled programmers. More recently, Linux, an open-source version of UNIX developed in part by a group led by Finnish computer science student Linus Torvalds and in part by a group led by American computer programmer Richard Stallman, has become popular on personal computers as well as on larger computers.

In addition to such general-purpose systems, special-purpose operating systems run on small computers that control assembly lines, aircraft, and even home appliances. They are real-time systems, designed to provide rapid response to sensors and to use their inputs to control machinery. Operating systems have also been developed for mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. Apple Inc.’s iOS, which runs on iPhones and iPads, and Google Inc.’s Android are two prominent mobile operating systems.

From the standpoint of a user or an application program, an operating system provides services. Some of these are simple user commands like “dir”—show the files on a disk—while others are low-level “system calls” that a graphics program might use to display an image. In either case the operating system provides appropriate access to its objects, the tables of disk locations in one case and the routines to transfer data to the screen in the other. Some of its routines, those that manage the CPU and memory, are generally accessible only to other portions of the operating system.

Contemporary operating systems for personal computers commonly provide a graphical user interface (GUI). The GUI may be an intrinsic part of the system, as in the older versions of Apple’s Mac OS and Microsoft Corporation’s Windows OS; in others it is a set of programs that depend on an underlying system, as in the X Window system for UNIX and Apple’s Mac OS X.

Operating systems also provide network services and file-sharing capabilities—even the ability to share resources between systems of different types, such as Windows and UNIX. Such sharing has become feasible through the introduction of network protocols (communication rules) such as the Internet’s TCP/IP.

Backed by affordable enterprise support for hybrid environments, Oracle Virtualization reduces operation and support costs while increasing IT efficiency and agility—on premises and in the cloud.

The best articles for learning how to virtualize operating systems

Open source Kernel-based Virtual Machine (KVM) is part of Linux and is gaining market share and becoming the standard for many cloud vendors. Read this analyst paper to learn why.

Use the world’s most popular cross-platform virtualization software on your desktop and easily deploy to any cloud.

Read this free ebook to get the details on how to deliver code faster, use built-in encryption, automate virtual machine creation, and automate deployments to the cloud.

Oracle Virtualization is designed for hybrid cloud

Streamline cloud implementations

Leverage modern cloud virtualization and increase ROI with open source solutions that have enterprise-grade support.

Explore microVMs and security

Learn about the speed and security of lightweight Kata Containers as compared to other containers such as Docker containers.

Maximize your budget

Utilize a modern, low-overhead hypervisor to minimize infrastructure and software licensing costs.

Oracle Virtualization

Modern, open architecture with leading performance

Open source KVM environment and oVirt-based management with enterprise-grade performance and support from Oracle. Included with Oracle Linux Premier Support.

Features
  • Open source, optimized hypervisor
  • Simplified management with Oracle Linux Virtualization Manager
  • Designed for hybrid cloud
  • Easy to move VMs to cloud
  • Security updates without rebooting
  • Hard partitioning for Oracle Software

Develop on any desktop, deploy to any cloud

Award-winning open source desktop virtualization software makes it quick and easy to operate secure, multiplatform operating systems on a single workstation and deploy applications to remote workers or any cloud securely.

Features
  • Run multiple operating systems on one desktop
  • Choose Windows, Linux, Oracle Solaris, or Mac OS X
  • Easily create a multiplatform DevTest environment
  • Quickly export and import VMs to and from cloud
  • Increase security with 256-bit data encryption
  • Run legacy applications on modern hardware
  • Secure app deployments for remote workers

Speed of containers with the isolation of VMs

Kata Containers is part of Oracle Linux Cloud Native Environment and is an Open Container Initiative (OCI)-compliant runtime that uses lightweight virtual machines to provide isolation using hardware virtualization technology.

Features
  • Each pod runs on a dedicated kernel
  • Consistent performance
  • Complies with Open Container Initiative
  • Fast boot time

Open cloud virtualization

Oracle VM Server goes beyond simple server consolidation to accelerate application deployment and simplify lifecycle management.

Features
  • Fully integrated management
  • Rapid deployment with VM templates
  • All Oracle applications fully certified
  • Free to download and distribute
  • Cost-effective, enterprise-quality support

Virtualization for UNIX workloads

Efficient, enterprise-class virtualization capabilities in Oracle SPARC Servers—together with the Oracle Solaris operating system—allow you to create up to 128 virtual servers on one system.

Features
  • Consolidation of up to 128 virtual machines
  • Flexible and secure live migration between hosts
  • Dynamic resource management
  • Redundant virtual networks and disks

Oracle Virtualization customer successes

Customers across a variety of industries worldwide are succeeding with Oracle virtualization software. Oracle virtualization fully supports both Oracle and non-Oracle applications, delivering more efficient performance, simplified management, and lower TCO.

Cisco cryptographic services team reduces cost of virtualization with Oracle Linux KVM

Benefits of Oracle Virtualization

Leverage latest cloud virtualization for on-premises deployments

KVM is a hypervisor in the mainline Linux kernel that can simplify the deployment of virtual machines in hybrid clouds.

Increase security

Automatically patch your hypervisors with zero downtime.

Secure application access for remote workers

Oracle VM VirtualBox can help provide secure remote access to restricted applications while protecting classified data.

Oracle Linux Virtualization Manager – New Managing Virtual Machines short training videos

New Oracle Linux Virtualization Manager training videos have been released to add to the set of videos that were announced previously in the Oracle Linux Blog. These blogs provide pointers to free, short videos that you can take at your own pace to get a better at understanding of the product.

The Oracle Linux Virtualization Manager is a server virtualization management platform, based on the oVirt open source project, that can be easily deployed to configure, monitor, and manage an Oracle Linux Kernel-based Virtual Machine (KVM) environment with enterprise-grade performance and support from Oracle. This environment also includes management, cloud native computing tools, and the operating system, delivering leading performance and security for hybrid and multi-cloud deployments.

Chances are you may have used a virtual machine (VM) for business. If not:

A VM is an operating system (OS) or application environment installed on software that imitates dedicated hardware. It provides the same functionality as a physical computer and can be accessed from a variety of devices. Sometimes called virtual images, many companies offer VMs as a way for their employees to connect to their work remotely.

These days virtual images are available from a number of cloud-based providers. Amazon Web Services (AWS) offers Amazon Machine Images (AMIs), Google offers virtual images on its Google Cloud Platform, and Microsoft offers virtual machines on its Microsoft Azure program. All three platforms are very similar, despite the differences in name.

Working with Virtual Images

Applications of virtual images include development and testing, running applications, or extending a datacenter. Virtual images, or instances, can be spun up in the cloud to cost-effectively perform routine computing operations without investing in local hardware or software. Usage can be scaled up or down depending on your organization’s needs. By removing the need to purchase, set up, and maintain hardware, you can deploy virtual images quickly and focus on the task at hand.

The best articles for learning how to virtualize operating systems

Security in the Cloud

Regardless of whether you’re operating in the cloud or locally on your premises, CIS recommends hardening your system by taking steps to limit potential security weaknesses. Most operating systems and other computer applications are developed with a focus on convenience over security. Implementing secure configurations can help harden your systems by disabling unnecessary ports or services, eliminating unneeded programs, and limiting administrative privileges.

By working with cybersecurity experts around the world, CIS leads the development of secure configuration settings for over 100 technologies and platforms. These community-driven configuration guidelines (called CIS Benchmarks) are available to download free in PDF format.

CIS Hardened Images

A single operating system can have over 200 configuration settings, which means hardening an image manually can be a tedious process. Want to save time without risking cybersecurity? Use a CIS Hardened Image. CIS Hardened Images are preconfigured to meet the robust security recommendations of the CIS Benchmarks. (Note: If your organization is a frequent AWS user, we suggest starting with the CIS Amazon Web Services Foundations Benchmark.)

For the most serious security needs, CIS takes hardening a step further by providing Level 1 and Level 2 CIS Benchmark profiles. Here’s the difference:

  • A Level 1 profile is intended to be practical and prudent, provide a clear security benefit, and not inhibit the utility of the technology beyond acceptable means.
  • A Level 2 profile is intended for environments or use cases where security is paramount, acts a defense in depth measure, and may negatively inhibit the utility or performance of the technology.

Still have questions? Check out the CIS Hardened Images FAQ.

Many people use VMs everyday to access computers in another location

Scott Orgera is a former Lifewire writer covering tech since 2007. He has 25+ years' experience as a programmer and QA leader, and holds several Microsoft certifications including MCSE, MCP+I, and MOUS. He is also A+ certified.

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A virtual machine uses software and computer hardware to emulate additional computers in one physical device. Learn more about what a virtual machine is and what you can do in a VM environment.

What Is a Virtual Machine?

Virtual machines emulate a separate operating system (the guest) and a separate computer from your existing OS (the host), for example, to run Unbuntu Linux on Windows 10. The virtual computer environment appears in a separate window and is typically isolated as a standalone environment. Still, interactivity between the guest and host is often permitted for tasks such as file transfers.

Everyday Reasons for Using a VM

Developers use virtual machine software to create and test software on various platforms without using a second device. You can use a VM environment to access applications that are part of an operating system that’s different from the one installed on your computer. For example, virtual machines make it possible to play a game exclusive to Windows on a Mac.

In addition, VMs provide a level of flexibility in terms of experimenting that is not always feasible on your host operating system. Most VM software allows you to take snapshots of the guest OS, which you can revert to if something goes wrong such as a malware infection.

Why Businesses Might Use Virtual Machines

Many organizations deploy and maintain several virtual machines. Rather than running several computers at all times, companies use VMs that are hosted on a smaller subset of powerful servers, saving money on physical space, electricity, and maintenance.

These VMs can be controlled from a single administrative interface and made accessible to employees from their remote workstations, often spread across multiple geographical locations. Because of the isolated nature of the virtual machine instances, companies can allow users to access their corporate networks using this technology on their computers for added flexibility and cost savings.

Virtual machines give admins full control along with real-time monitoring capability and advanced security oversight. Each VM can be controlled, started, and stopped instantly with a mouse click or command line entry.

Common Limitations of Virtual Machines

While VMs are useful, there are notable limitations that need to be understood so that your performance expectations are realistic. Even if the device hosting the VM contains powerful hardware, the virtual instance may run slower than it would on its independent computer. Advancements in hardware support within VMs have come a long way in recent years. Still, this limitation will never be completely eliminated.

Another limitation is cost. Aside from the fees associated with some virtual machine software, installing and running an operating system may require a license or other authentication method. For example, running a guest instance of Windows 10 requires a valid license key just as it does when you install the operating system on an actual PC. While a virtual solution is typically cheaper in most cases than purchasing additional physical machines, the costs add up if you require a large-scale rollout.

Other potential limitations to consider are the lack of support for certain hardware components and possible network constraints. As long as you do your research and have realistic expectations, implementing virtual machines in your home or business environment could be beneficial.

Hypervisors and Other Virtual Machine Software

Application-based VM software, commonly known as hypervisors, come in all shapes and sizes tailored toward personal and business use. Hypervisors allow multiple VMs running different operating systems to share the same hardware resources. System administrators can use hypervisors to monitor and manage multiple virtual machines across a network all at once.

Once you have a virtual machine application installed, you will need to choose and install an operating system on your virtual machine. Once an OS is installed, you can use your virtual machine like any other computer.

Virtual machines are fully-featured, standalone environments where you can install and use entire operating systems. Emulators seek to recreate specific software and hardware virtually to accomplish a particular goal, like playing a game on an out-of-date system.

According to a Research and Markets report, client virtualization is expected to drive continual growth in the IT sector. Long gone are the days of tedious one-on-one interaction between servers and systems, it is now time to embrace the automated and virtualized alternative. Mainly, there are three options and here they are:

Presentation virtualization

As hinted in the name, it is an application delivery method that delivers desktops or applications from a shared server. This enables access to client applications from a central server that is connected with clients. This initiates a presentation session through a web portal while giving them access to a virtualized application instance on a shared Windows Server OS. The only resources shared with the client is the graphical user interface as well as the mouse/keyboard.

Benefits of this presentation virtualization range from reduced user resource needs to simplicity, since applications are installed only once despite multiple users sharing the same application instance and even server level administration since multiple users are sharing the resources of the same system.

Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI)

Sharing similarities with presentation virtualization, VDI solutions are also a remote display protocol that hosts centrally-managed virtual machines (VMs) that client PCs are connected to on a one-on-one network relationship. Also known as desktop virtualization, this method utilizes a hypervisor that is in charge of hosting a dedicated operating system VM for each client individually. Due to the fact that each client is totally separate from one another on the server, this option allows for flexibility, management, and security.

Why VDI? Firstly, it saves you more money since it has smaller software licensing requirements and it also reduces the need for staff to manage and troubleshoot problems. It also allows for secure mobile access to applications by enabling hardware-based GPU sharing through a secure connection from any device as well as better desktop security thanks to customizable permissions and settings. Lastly, it allows for easier maintenance – after logging off at the end of the day the desktop can be reset wiping clean any downloaded software customizations.

Application virtualization

Application virtualization is capable of allowing applications to run in environments that are foreign to the them, for example Wine allows some Microsoft Windows apps to run on Linux. By establishing a common software baseline across multiple computers within an organization, application virtualization also reduces system integration and administration costs. Finally, it enables simplified operating system migrations, whereby applications can be transferred to removable media or between computers without having to install them: effectively becoming portable software.

Not only has virtualization revolutionized the world of IT and computing, but it also has the potential to do the same for your business. Give us a call at 800-421-7151 and find out which option is best for you and your unique business requirements.

As the name suggests, a virtual machine (VM) is a virtual environment that simulates a physical machine. VMs have their own central processing unit (CPU), memory, network interface, and storage, but they are independent of physical hardware. Multiple VMs can coexist in a single physical machine without collision, as long as the hardware resources are efficiently distributed. VMs are implemented using software emulation and hardware virtualization.

Virtual Machine Types

There are two types of virtual machines organizations can use:

Process Virtual Machine

Also known as an application virtual machine, a process virtual machine supports a single process or application to run on a host OS. It is used to mask the underlying hardware or OS and execute the application just like other native applications. It is often used to provide a platform-independent programming environment. For example, Java applications are implemented using Java virtual machine (JVM). Another example is Wine software, which helps Windows applications run on Linux

System Virtual Machine

A system virtual machine, or hardware virtual machine, virtualizes a complete operating system and can be used as a substitute for a physical machine. A system virtual machine shares the physical resources of the host machine but has its own OS. The virtualization process runs on a hypervisor or a virtual machine monitor running on bare hardware (native virtual machine ), or on top of an OS (hosted virtual machine ). VirtualBox and VMware ESXi are both examples of a system virtual machine .

Benefits of Using a Virtual Machine

A virtual machine is essentially a computer within a computer. VMs have several advantages:

  • Lower hardware costs. Many organizations don’t fully utilize their hardware resources. Instead of investing in another server, organizations can spin up virtual servers instead.
  • Quicker Desktop Provisioning and Deployment. Deploying a new physical server often takes numerous time-consuming steps. However, with virtualized systems, organizations can deploy new virtual servers quickly using secure pre-configured server templates.
  • Smaller Footprint. Utilizing virtualization reduces the office space needed to maintain and extend IT capabilities while also freeing up desk space to support more employees.
  • Enhanced Data Security. Virtualization streamlines disaster recovery by replicating your servers in the cloud. Since VMs are independent of the underlying hardware, organizations don’t need the same physical servers offsite to facilitate a secondary recovery site. In the event of a disaster, employees can be back online quickly with a cost-effective backup and disaster recovery solution.
  • Portability. It’s possible to seamlessly move VMs across virtual environments and even from one physical server to another, with minimal input on the part of IT teams. VMs are isolated from one another and have their own virtual hardware, making them hardware-independent. Moving physical servers to another location is a more resource-intensive task.
  • Improved IT Efficiency. Many IT departments spend at least half of their time managing routine administrative tasks, however with virtualization it’s possible to partition one physical server into several virtual machines—administrators can deploy and manage multiple operating systems at once from a single physical server.

Challenges in Using a Virtual Machine

VMs have a huge number of advantages, especially when people need to run more than one operating system in a single physical device. However, there are several challenges associated with using VMs:

  • When simultaneous VMs run on a host computer, each can introduce an unstable performance depending on the workload of the system.
  • The efficiency of VMs falls short compared to physical machines.
  • Licensing models of virtualization solutions can be tricky. They can result in huge upfront investment costs due to additional hardware requirements.
  • Due to the increasingly high number of breaches on VM and cloud deployments, security is an added concern.
  • For every virtualization solution, the infrastructure setup is complex. Small businesses have to hire experts to deploy these solutions successfully.
  • VMs pose data security threats when multiple users try to access the same or different VMs on the same physical host.

Similarities and Differences Between a Virtual machine and a Container

A container is a standardized unit of software that includes the code along with all its dependencies, such as system libraries, system tools and settings. Containerized applications can be deployed quickly and reliably across all types of infrastructure. A virtual machine and a container both isolate applications so they can run on any platform. But a virtual machine differs from a container in that it virtualizes hardware to run multiple OS on a single machine. In contrast, a container packages a single application with all its dependencies so it can run on any OS.

Virtual machines run on a hypervisor and include a separate OS image, while containers on a single host share the host’s OS kernel. This makes containers extremely lightweight and reduces the management overhead as compared to virtual machine s. Their portability makes them perfect for web applications and microservices. Virtual machines are not as lightweight and may take more time to boot, but they have their own OS kernel and are best suited for running multiple applications simultaneously or for legacy applications that require an older OS. V irtual machines and containers can also be used together.

How Parallels RAS helps

Parallels® Remote Application Server (RAS) is a leading virtualization solution that offers both application and desktop delivery under a single license. This all-in-one solution eliminates the need for having additional hardware components. With a minimal learning curve and user-friendly interface, you don’t need experts to deploy and use Parallels RAS. Parallels RAS offers prebuilt templates to deploy to the cloud, allows auto-scaling of resources and supports a wide range of major hypervisors. It also reduces data-loss risks and malicious activity by using policies that limit access based on user, location, group permission and device.

Parallels RAS supports Federal Information Processing Standard (FIPS) 140-2, Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) encryption and multifactor authentication (MFA) for added security. Its unified and intuitive management console, configuration wizards and customizable tools can easily configure remote desktop and virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) solutions.

By The best articles for learning how to virtualize operating systemsPriya Pedamkar

The best articles for learning how to virtualize operating systems

Introduction to Advantages of Virtualization

In this article, we will discuss the Advantages of Virtualization. A virtual form of a computer or server or any hardware component is created and this process is called virtualization. The software used in hardware functionalities is used in virtualization. A hard disc can be partitioned during the installation of OS and this is an example of virtualization. The types of virtualization are full virtualization, paravirtualization, and OS-level virtualization. The physical machine can be used to its full capacity using virtualization. The virtualization process started in the 1960s with the mainframe computers. Virtual machines nowadays act like a real computer and people enjoy their advantages to the core.

What is Virtualization?

A virtual source, either server or OS or network is created which does all the work of physical server or network and this process is called virtualization. When compared with the traditional computing process, virtualization manages the workload as it scales up the storage and enhances the process effectively. Virtualization can be applied to any of the system layers and is used from the server level to the network level of the operating system. Virtualization includes system-level virtualization, hardware virtualization or server level virtualization. The common type of virtualization used is system-level that too in the operating systems.

Hadoop, Data Science, Statistics & others

Based on the resource for which it is created, virtualization is divided into network, server, desktop, hardware, software, and storage virtualization. Server virtualization is the process of pooling resources from different physical servers and making them into different virtual servers. For this process, a special tool called hypervisor is used. Type 1 hypervisors run directly on hardware and are also called a bare-metal hypervisor. Type 2 hypervisor runs on the guest OS and is called host hypervisor.

Type 1 hypervisors are used by VMware, Microsoft, and Citrix. Type 2 hypervisors are used in Red hat’s virtual machine based on Oracle. Virtualization is done with the help of virtual machines that act as data stored in a computer that can be moved to any other system. The file structure of data can be either describing the hardware or hard drive. Virtualization is used in almost all parts of digital life and is worthwhile using it due to its less cost.

The hypervisor used in virtual machines can be used to make changes in hardware or hard drive based on the need of the client using the same. When the changes have to be made, it can be saved in such a way that writing is done after the working of the software. This helps the user to boot the system in the known state. Different layers of working of virtualization require different technologies and hence different skill sets. One should be careful in selecting the layer and the technology as a single mistake leads to loss of data.

Advantages of Virtualization

Advantages of virtualization are as follows:

  1. Since virtualization is always applied in existing parts of the system, better efficiency and performance is always guaranteed by the virtual machines. This helps the system to store and perform with the data in the system.
  2. Virtual machines are not placed together. They are logically separated so that a malware attack on one VM will not affect the other VM.
  3. Since hardware virtualization is carried out, we need to purchase less hardware for system usage. This helps to tackle the cost of hardware. Only the storage has to be expanded. The space required will be less if the storage is properly managed by the resources.
  4. Virtual machines have a better backup than physical machines. This shows the reliability of virtualization. Also, it recovers the file faster and it has good retrieval capability.
  5. Virtual machines are easily managed by third-party providers and hence the cost can be known beforehand. This helps to manage the costs of the infrastructure and create plans accordingly.
  6. Service providers help with the software by automatically updating the software whenever needed. This saves time and also the resources can focus on other work rather than checking the VMs.
  7. The performance and the uptime are increased with the usage of VMs. Even the cheap service providers offer uptime of 99%.
  8. Resources are allocated faster than physical machines. Since the deployment is faster, it saves time and VMs are spread throughout the organization for which resources are sorted out easily.
  9. Users can become digital entrepreneurs easily with the help of digital servers and storage devices available today. The work can be managed, developed and divided online with the help of virtualization. There are many sites working with virtualization and anyone can find work in those sites with the knowledge of the application used in the sites.
  10. It helps to save energy as the number of physical software and hardware used can be reduced due to virtualization. Local hardware is not allocated and there is less need for the same. This helps to manage the funds efficiently for other purposes. Consumption rates are reduced and data centers need not be used for the organization. The carbon footprint is reduced and it gives peace of mind of contributing less pollution.
  11. Virtualization makes the system scalable depending on the need of the user and the storage capacity is more than any physical system. This scalability helps to use many applications and allocation of resources for the same. Also, this helps to use the system with the storage capacity of two systems and hence the availability of one system can be reduced.
  12. Servers run very fast in the system when compared with physical servers. We need not wait for any installations or updates to complete as in virtual machines, these things are done by service providers. Also, there are virtual backup tools.

When the number of VMs is more, it is difficult to manage and create confusion. Also, it is difficult to add new VMs to the network once the network has sufficient virtual machines. If the VM in the network is not used, it takes up lots of memory and hence it is wastage. Also, VMs should be always monitored.

Windows OS support on Microsoft Surface Pro is supported.

Each Webex Meetings monthly release is tested and certified against the current preview of monthly rollup and all semi-annual Windows 10 releases.

Webex Meetings supports Windows Server 2012 R2 and 2016 with limitation that, for Webex meetings, Productivity Tools, and the desktop application, if a user doesn’t have administrator privileges, then an administrator is required to install the Webex Meetings applications and Productivity Tools.

Mac OS X

FedRAMP-compliant Webex Meetings sites require Mac OS 10.13 or later.

Starting with Mac OS X 10.7, Apple no longer offers Java as part of the Mac operating system. Since Webex Meetings previously relied on the Java browser plugin to download the meeting application for first-time users, users without Java installed found it difficult to join a meeting. The dependency on Java was removed. Instead, the user is asked to install a small plugin that, once installed, handles the rest of the meeting application installation and then starts the meeting.

When you start or join an event using Events (classic) for the first time on Safari 6.X and Safari 7, a problem occurs. After you have installed Webex , Safari requires you to trust the plugin for the site you’re attempting to join or start the event from. The page will refresh after that, but you’ll not join the event. In order to join, go back to the link you originally selected and you will be able to join successfully.

The following Webex services are available:

Webcast mode for attendees doesn’t support Windows Server 2008 64-bit, Windows Server 2008 R2 64-bit, Mac OS 10.13, and Mac OS 10.14.

Webex Support is no longer supported on Mac OS as it relied on the Java client, which went EOL (End of Life) on April 1, 2021.

Linux (Web App) (32-bit/64-bit)

Ubuntu 14.x or later

OpenSuSE 13.x or later

Fedora 18 or later

Red Hat 6 or later

Debian 8.x or later

The following Webex services are available for Linux on the web app:

Webcast mode for attendees doesn’t support OpenSuSE 13.x or later, Fedora 18 or later, Red Hat 6 or later, and Debian 8.x or later.

Events (classic) (attendees)

Webex Training (attendees)

Known issues and limitations for Linux on the Webex Meetings web app:

In some versions of Linux, users must proactively install and activate the “OpenH264 Video Codec provided by Cisco Systems, Inc.” plugin for the video, call my computer, and content sharing features to work in Firefox.

Content sharing doesn’t work in Linux versions that use Wayland as their display management system (such as Fedora 25 and later), due to an issue with the WebRTC screen sharing API.

Sending and receiving video doesn’t work in Fedora 28 due to an issue with the H.264 codec.

Linux clients are not supported for end-to-end encryption.

See the Web App Supported Operating Systems and Browsers for more information on the additional features for Linux that are available in the Webex Meetings desktop app.

Chrome OS Support

Support for Google Chrome OS is currently available through the Webex Meetings Web App (Web-Based meeting client support) and the Webex Meetings Android App (Downloadable meeting client support).

See the Web App Supported Operating Systems and Browsers for more details on what’s supported.

The Webex Meetings mobile app (version 11.0 or higher) is supported on all Chrome devices that officially support Android apps, through Google Play.

Minimum System Requirements

Browsers

Windows

Internet Explorer 11 (32-bit/64-bit)

The Edge browser is supported only for starting and joining meetings, events, training sessions, or support sessions in Webex Meetings , Webex Training, Webex Webinars , Events (classic) , and Webex Support.

Mozilla Firefox 52 and later is fully supported in Windows. Firefox 51 and earlier versions aren’t supported. Users receive a message stating this when they attempt to join or start a meeting with these browser versions.

Mozilla Firefox ESR isn’t supported.

Chrome latest 32-bit/64-bit

Win Edge Chromium is supported for all customers, including lockdown customers.

The WebView2 component is required on Windows systems in order to use the Slido integration (and future apps) and the Facebook & Facebook Workplace Live Streaming features.

Mac OS X

Firefox 52 and later is fully supported in Mac OS X. Firefox 51 and earlier versions aren’t supported. Users receive a message stating this when they attempt to join or start a meeting with these browser versions.

Safari 11 and later

Chrome latest 32-bit/64-bit

Mac Edge Chromium requires Mac Desktop client to be on version 40.1 or later.

Linux (Web App)

Firefox 48 or later

Chrome 65 or later

The following Webex services are available for Linux on the Web App:

See the Web App Supported Operating Systems and Browsers for more information on the additional features for Linux that are available in the Webex Meetings Web App.

The best articles for learning how to virtualize operating systems

If you’re the administrator of a system where users need to be separate from one another and from the original server, a cheap and efficient way to do this is by creating private servers through a process called “server virtualization.”

Server virtualization is the idea of taking a physical server and, with the help of virtualization software, partitioning the server, or dividing it up, so that it appears as several "virtual servers," each of which can run their copy of an operating system. In this way, rather than the entire server dedicated to one thing, it can be used in several different ways.

Advantages of Server Virtualization

  1. Saves money on IT costs. When you partition one physical server into several virtual machines, you can deploy, operate and manage multiple operating system instances at once on that single physical server. Fewer physical servers mean less money spent on those servers.
  2. Reduces the number of physical servers a company must have on its premises. Regardless of company size, it’s always a good idea to save space.
  3. Cuts down on energy consumption since there are fewer physical servers consuming power. That’s especially important, given the trend toward green IT planning and implementation.
  4. Creates independent user environments. Keeping everything separate is especially useful for purposes such as software testing (so programmers can run applications in one virtual server without affecting others).
  5. Provide affordable web hosting. When dozens of servers can fit on the same computer, the supply of servers is increased for virtually no additional cost.

Types of Server Virtualization

  1. Virtual machine model (or “full virtualization”): Based on the host/guest paradigm, use a special kind of software called a hypervisor. Administrators can create guests with different operating systems.
  2. Paravirtual machine (PVM): similar to full virtualization, also based on a host/guest paradigm. Can also run multiple OSes.
  3. OS-level: not based on the host/guest paradigm. Guests must use the same OS as the administrator/host, and partitions are completely separated from one another (so problems in one cannot affect any others).

Careers in Virtualization

Some of the server-virtualization-related positions you may come across on employment websites may include:

  • virtualization engineer
  • virtualization architect
  • server virtualization systems administrator
  • cloud virtualization engineer

Major Players in the Server Virtualization Arena:

  • VMWare
  • Microsoft ; .

The Future of Server Virtualization

Understand that virtualization itself is not a novel concept. (Computer scientists have been making “supercomputers” for decades.) However, virtualization for servers was only invented in the late 90s.

It took a while to catch on, but in past years especially, the growth of server virtualization has been explosive. Companies realized they were wasting resources, and virtualization technology was adopted by most as a way to consolidate their business’ technical operations. These days, server virtualization is more of a basic requirement than an advanced concept.

With that in mind, specializing in server virtualization as a career move may not put you in high demand on its own (although it is continuing to evolve). However, being familiar with implementing virtualization can set you up for whatever’s coming next.

Note: updates have since been made to this article by Laurence Bradford.

The best articles for learning how to virtualize operating systems

The best articles for learning how to virtualize operating systems
What are Virtual Machines
Support: Getting Started and Getting Help
About SCS (COMP) Course Virtual Machines
List of SCS (COMP) Course Virtual Machines

What are Virtual Machines

  • virtualization– the underlying technology that allows a virtual operating system to be run as an application on your computer’s operating system
  • hypervisor– the virtualization application (such as VirtualBox or VMware) running on your host computer that allows it to run a guest virtual operating system
  • host– the computer on which you are running the hypervisor application
  • guest– a virtual operating system running within the hypervisor on your host computer. The virtual operating system term is synonymous with other terms such as Virtual Machine, VM and instance

Virtual Machines are virtual computers running as an application on a host computer, such as your laptop. The Virtual Machine runs on top of your host computer’s operating system, using a virtualization tool called a hypervisor. This allows you to run any number of guest operating systems without impacting the operating system on your own host computer. For example, most of our courses use Virtual Machines built on the Linux environment. By taking advantage of hypervisor technology, students can continue to run their preferred operating system (Windows 10, Linux, older Intel based macOS devices, etc.), and run the course Virtual Machine on their computer like they would any other application. NOTE: Most hypervisors do NOT support the Apple M1 chipset. See this article for details.

Support: Getting Started and Getting Help


    Step-by-step tutorials that demonstrate how to set up Virtual Machines or your computer
    General Virtual Machine guides and troubleshooting articles

About SCS (COMP) Course Virtual Machines

The SCS Course Virtual Machines (SCS VMs) are all in VirtualBox .ova format (unless otherwise noted). Most will work fine with other hypervisors (KVM, VMWare, Hyper-V, etc.). The naming convention is the usually the course code COMPXXXX of the course it was built for, followed by an optional term, such as -F21 for Fall 2021, representing when it was created. Many VMs continue to be used for both future terms and different courses. Consult with your Instructor to determine the exact SCS VM you are expected to use for your course!

IMPORTANT: Some vital things to remember when working with SCS VMs:

  • SCS VMs require the VirtualBox Extension Pack (Installing VirtualBox Guide)
  • The current SCS VMs have been tested with VirtualBox 6.1.26 on Windows 10, Intel based Mac macOS, and Linux
  • There are many known issues with pre 6.1.10 versions of VirtualBox in particular, please try to install 6.1.26 or newer
  • Older SCS VMs are NOT tested on recent operating systems and newer versions of VirtualBox
  • Most hypervisors, including VirtualBox, do NOT support the Apple M1 chipset. So SCS VMs can not be used on those devices. See this article for details

Current SCS (COMP) Course Virtual Machines (2021/2022)

NOTE: Our CURRENT Virtual Machines typically use the credentials username: student / password: student (unless otherwise noted).

Virtual Machine
(SHA1 checksum)
Size
(GB)
OS Privileged
user / password
Staff / Faculty
COMP2401-F21.ova
UPDATED Aug 27, 2021
(4a7d5b41ebfe17dc492fb6a7174a3f23dbdd0189)
1.7 ubuntu
20.04
student / student C. Laurendeau
D. Nussbaum
S. Maqsood
M. Lanthier
A. Pullin
COMP3004-F21.ova
UPDATED Sep 28, 2021
(4441cc4bc14784230aec2fb1432e2ef73a488fd8)
2.1 ubuntu
20.04
student / student V. Radonjic
A. Pullin
COMP3005-F20.ova
UPDATED Aug 27, 2020
(182cafd252ec798087401e43f53a2fe3ed11289a)
1.1 fedora
20
fedora / virtualbox M. Liu
xubuntu-18.04-FD.ova
(COMP5704 / COMP4009)
UPDATED Sep 29, 2021
(e157a04ffc5391305577a67a920ce93a763700b9)
1.2 ubuntu
18.04
student / student F. Dehne
A. Pullin
COMP5305-W22-INMVM.ova
UPDATED Feb 11, 2022
(5e5da4edf778d70017658b3e6b4125fa099ae639)
2.6 INM DBMS student / stu123 M. Liu

SHA1: We include a SHA1 checksum so that you can verify the integrity of the downloaded .ova file. Here is how to check the SHA1 checksum on different operating systems (this may take some time for larger files):

The best articles for learning how to virtualize operating systems

The best virtual machine software make it simple and easy to run different operating systems on your desktop PC or laptop.

Virtual machines have become an important part of computing, not least for business and especially for cloud computing. However, virtualization is something also available to home users as well.

For personal use, virtualization enables users to run different operating systems on their home PC, such as running Windows on a Mac, or running Linux on a Windows PC – and vice versa.

A key advantage of running a virtual machine is that it allows you to run apps that would otherwise not be available due to having very different system requirements, which is one particular reason why virtualization has become so important in business.

Another, surprisingly, is security concerns, as malware cannot run properly in a virtualized environment, and often will shut down if it detects it is in one.

Overall, virtualization has become a powerful tool in computing and IT, and here we’ll feature the best in virtual machine software.

1. VMware Workstation Player

20 years of development shines through

Reasons to buy

VMware offers a very comprehensive selection of virtualization products, with Fusion for the Apple Mac and Workstation Player for the PC.

Despite the name difference, these two products offer effectively the same solution, though tailored to each host OS.

For the Mac that includes a neat ‘Unity Mode’ that enables Mac OS to launch Windows applications from the Dock and have them appear like they’re part of the host OS.

Workstation, as the version numbering suggests, is a more mature product and delivers one of the most sophisticated VM implementations seen so far.

Being one of the few hosts that supports DirectX 10 and OpenGL 3.3, it allows CAD and other GPU accelerated applications to work under virtualization.

Workstation Player for Windows or Linux is free for personal use, though Pro is required for business users, and those wanting to run restricted VMs created using Pro or Fusion Pro.

2. VirtualBox

Not all good things cost money

Reasons to buy

Not sure what operating systems you are likely to use? Then VirtualBox is a good choice because it supports an amazingly wide selection of host and client combinations.

Windows from XP onwards, any Linux level 2.4 or better, Windows NT, Server 2003, Solaris, OpenSolaris and even OpenBSD Unix. There are even people that nostalgically run Windows 3.x or even IBM OS/2 on their modern systems,

It also runs on Apple Mac, and for Apple users, it can host a client Mac VM session.

Oracle has been kind enough to support VirtualBox, and provide a wide selection of pre-built developer VMs to download and use at no cost.

And, all this is free, even the Enterprise release.

3. Parallels Desktop

The best Apple Mac virtuality

Reasons to buy
Reasons to avoid

Boot Camp is Apple’s free tool for running a Virtual session under macOS, but those that need to do this on a regular basis use Parallels Desktop, now owned by software behemoth Corel.

It enables users to seamlessly run Windows alongside macOS, for those awkward moments when they need software that only works on that platform.

A few of the elegant things that Parallels can do is make Windows alerts appear in the Mac notification center, and operate a unified clipboard.

Most Mac users think of Parallels as a tool exclusively for using Windows, but it can be used to host a wide range of Linux distros, Chrome OS (which the best Chromebooks run) and even other (and older) versions of Mac OS.

The lowest rung is the basic edition. Above that is a Pro edition that can address more memory and supports development environments like Microsoft Visual Studio. And, a Business Edition that includes centralized license management tools for IT professionals to use.

4. QEMU

A virtual hardware emulator

Reasons to buy
Reasons to avoid

The QEMU website isn’t very sophisticated, but don’t let that put you off.

Where this product slightly differs from other VM solutions is that it is both a VM host and also a machine emulator. Along with x86 PC, QEMU can emulate PowerPC, MIPS64, ARM, SPARC (32 and 64), MicroBlaze, ETRAX CRIS, SH4 and RISC-V, among others.

It manages to do this without administrator privileges, and the performance of VMs running on it is close to that of native installations.

What QEMU lacks is any sophisticated interface tools, instead relying on CLI inputs to install and configure VM clients.

At this time it is also only able to host on Linux, even if it can run a wide range of operating systems under that.

5. Citrix Hypervisor

A highly scalable solution from Citrix

Reasons to buy
Reasons to avoid

Oddly, Citrix Hypervisor started life as an open source project, and to this day it remains free to download and install. Or rather the basic version is free, but advanced features are restricted to paid tier releases.

Paying customers get sophisticated management tools, the ability to automate and distribute live environments at will. It also has the GPU pass-through and virtualized GPU capabilities, allowing it to offer virtualized CAD for example.

The other thrust of XenServer is to create virtual data centers that can handle planned and unplanned outages equally smoothly, and maintain the high levels of availability that business expects.

6. Xen Project

Reasons to buy

Xen Project is a free and open source virtual machine monitor (VMM), intended to serve as a type-1 hyperviser for multiple operating systems using the same hardware. Originally developed by Cambridge University, the staff who created it spun it into a company that was later acquired by Citrix. The Xen Project now works with The Linux Foundation in promoting open source applications.

It is especially used for advanced virtualization, not least for servers, in both commercial and open source environments. This includes but is not restricted to Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) applications, desktop virtualization, and security virtualized. The Xen Project software is even being used in automotive and aviation systems.

The service is especially applicable for hyperscale clouds, and can easily be used with AWS, Azure, Rackspace, IBM Softlayer, and Oracle. A key emphasis is on security by using as small a code base as possible, making it not just secure but especially flexible.

The best articles for learning how to virtualize operating systems

There is no conflict that Linux is a better option than Windows for programmers. But in this article, we will talk about which of the two operating systems is better for the role of a data scientist.

1. Speed

90% of the world’s fastest supercomputers run on Linux, compared to the 1% on Windows. The computing power of Linux is much more than that of Windows, plus it comes with excellent hardware support. Data scientists run data so large in number that it gets difficult to handle. Windows is not a very good platform as it fails on the computing speed compared to Linux.

Another aspect is the use of Docker which lets one develop experiments that can run simultaneously without interfering with each other. It helps to create independent containers to run the algorithms, some of which are capable of running at a fast speed only on GPUs and not CPUs. To run the Docker containers on NVIDIA Docker, which is an NVIDIA GPU, one can only use a Linux host machine. For GPU-accelerated algorithms, Linux definitely wins.

2. Software

Linux has many software choices when it comes to doing a specific task compared to Windows. One could search for a text editor on Freshmeat and get a number of results. Software on Linux comes with more features and greater usability than software on Windows.

3. Flexibility

Linux is highly flexible. It can be made to run on almost anything and everything. It has great flexibility of functionality. The amount of resources that it takes to run is much less than that of Windows. If Windows is given 8 gigs of RAM it runs poorly for functions as heavy as the job of a data scientist. Linux can use much less than this. Because of this, one can run on older hardware for longer without having to worry about new resources being available to one’s applications. Accessing, scrubbing and deploying data is far easier in Linux than in Windows.

4. Free Applications

The Linux OS is free. Moreover, it is open-sourced. So data scientists, who are also generally avid enthusiasts of open-source projects, can contribute to the Linux community and suggest changes according to the work of data scientists. It has many applications and features suitable for the data science community. Not only one is getting the software for no charge but also has the option to modify the source code and add more features if you understand the programming language. Linux has all of the features you can need in an OS and it is fully hardware compatible. Regular users and programmers contribute applications all the time. The open source contribution could be a small modification or feature enhancement of an already existing software or it can even be a completely new application. Compared to Linux, Windows has considerably less number of free products. Windows is not free or open-sourced. Majority of the Linux software is free and open source.

5. Presentations And Work Sheets

Linux has Libre Office but Windows’ Microsoft Office is much more powerful. When dealing with metadata, which is what data scientists are popularly known to do in their daily work life, there needs to be a good tool or set of tools for arranging data. Windows wins here with its Excel and easy presentation techniques. Word processing and handling spreadsheets is much easier in Windows.

6. Job Demand

Because of the speed of Linux, it is in high demand in data scientist’s or any software role’s job profile. Most data science companies use Linux because of the obvious advantages that it provides with analysing data. Most data scientists have their codes developed and deployed on the Linux OS. Having said that, there are also companies that use Windows as their OS so one should be flexible enough to adapt to both OSs.

7. Conclusion

Broadly speaking, it is not the OS that matters for efficient work in data science, but the tools and the environment that an OS provides for the work of a data scientist. A good OS will have a better number of tools.

Apart from considering the similarity or differences in the number of tools available, other factors like speed also matter to decide what OS to go choose. To be on the safer side it is always better to go with a Linux system, over Windows. Linux is built to be more developer-friendly and gives much more flexibility over Windows.