Linux

Virtualization p0wns emulation

Jack Wallen has used just about every possible technology when it comes to Linux - even those that help run Windows applications. Recently he has been on a quest to discover which is superior, virtualization or emulation. He's found his answer. Do you agree?

I have been writing a lengthy series that attempts to help new Linux users figure out the best way to cover their Windows application needs. The series starts off by showing how well the Linux community has all of their needs covered by showing the open source equivalents to the most popular Windows applications. The series then goes on to highlight the different ways a user can run full-blown Windows applications. The choices? Virtualization or emulation.

Many years ago I worked with WINE quite a bit. Yes, I know..Wine Is Not an Emulator. But it was the best means to emulate a Windows environment on a Linux operating system in order to run the applications. I was able to run a few applications back then. That was then, this is now. Now WINE alone seems to have just as much trouble as it did back then. This is mostly because Windows applications seemed to constantly be "evolving" (or are the de-evolving?), so the WINE developers are always having to "fix" issues. But WINE is not the only player in town.

If you've never heard of it, Crossover is an outstanding pre-packed WINE product that makes for installing and running many of the more popular Windows applications much easier. But even with packaged system as user-friendly as Crossover is, there are still problems. Many of the newer Windows applications (Office 2007) can be fussy to install. I have managed to install it and use it, but it doesn't always want to work on the first try. On top of that, installation is a timely process that requires a LOT of user interaction.

But even with the problems, I have to say that WINE and Crossover should be applauded for what they have achieved. Not only does Crossover do office tools well, they (Codeweavers) also have a tool specially packaged for games. Crossover Games is a tool that allows you to install quite a large number of games on Linux with the help of a pre-packaged WINE system similar to what was once referred to as Crossover Office. Such titles as World Of Warcraft, EVE Online, Half Life, Counterstrike, Guild Wars, and more are supported. This, of course, brings me around to that age-old argument that Linux doesn't support games. Well, it does. And just because you have to drop an extra $39.99 to purchase Crossover Games shouldn't stop you from giving it a try. You pay that much for World of Warcraft in how many months?

But...

Compared to virtualization, emulation is child's play. Of course this isn't exactly a fair comparison because one attempts to emulate an environment and the other virtualizes the real environment. So it would only make sense that virtualization is superior to emulation.

But...

Virtualization has its costs. Quite literally. Not only do you have to pay for the software to virtualize the environment (unless you are using VirtualBox - and why shouldn't you), you also have to pay for the software you want to run as well as the operating system you want to virtualize (if you are virtualizing Windows). And beyond the cost there is that ever-present guilt that accompanies giving cash to Microsoft that many of us suffer from.

But...

When your job depends upon it, there really is only one choice - virtualization.

Which do you prefer? And why?

About

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.

26 comments
jfreedle2
jfreedle2

I use Virtualization to run Linux under Windows!

dpresley_50201
dpresley_50201

Virtualization is superior to emulation, but not all Windows apps will run inside a virtualized environment (VirtualBox, closed source edition for me). Particularly some games seem to be very picky about their environments. For general computing, virtualization beats emulation and multi-booting any day.

andya
andya

I use Virtualization on my laptop to have full running OS's that I can use in case of emergencies. I have a copy of all my critical servers in VM's and can put my laptop on the network and keep my company up 100%, or as close to that as possible. I had been using VMWare for years, but recently started testing and using Sun xVM VirtualBox. I discovered the xVM VirtualBox uses less memory, processes, and can be up and running in a lot less time than VMWare.

tor
tor

Once you go linux you should never go back. I your legacy Windows stuff requires a second box, get a second box and Windows to your hearts content and never have to tweak and tune and adjust and virtualize and emulate and all that that entails. Opensource and linux are everybit as good as .exe Windows; even better in some opinions; so why bother trying to have the best of two worlds running at once; what's the benefit? Also, as long as Jack and others are trying to integrate, integrate, integrate, linux will always be considered as the "second" class OS. If there are games (ugh!) and softwares that can't run on linux, change or redevelop them so they can or, even better, do without. Give up on Windows Jack and come join us on the lighter side of computing.

ben.bergman
ben.bergman

If WINE isn't an emulator and virtualization IS emulation, the title of this article really needs some reworking (along with using an internet-slang dictionary). As far as the actual debate goes, WINE will seriously trump virtualization so long as the software is supported. That is really the only downside at the moment. Hopefully now that WINE has hit 1.x and Linux is gaining ground it will grow a bit faster than it has in the past.

Sepius
Sepius

Cant get rid of the "but". I currently run virtualisation more. I find when I show some one something on open office or Gimp, they ask "can this be done in windows?" I fire up the VirtualBox and show the same task in windows, then return to Linux and continue, and everyone seems happy. But only good for cross platform apps. Crossover has been the best emulator I have had for gaming. I have also used Cedega, but find better support in the Crossover product....but. The games I like are generally not that well supported, and unfortunately, even though very popular, there is no Linux port or equivalent, and with no directx in VirtualBox, its no good either .... but I have heard sun will be having directx support in a future release, Yay.... but have heard that stuff before.

shryko
shryko

really, I only use wine for gaming... I've been tempted to use it for more, but beyond photoshop (and similar), I've not even helped a friend use it. if WINE supports it? it's either the older APIs, or it's something that is significant (ie. MS Office, Photoshop, WoW)... and a lot of games are considered significant. OpenOffice, firefox, et al mean I don't really use windows for much, and firing up a full virtualization system? Too much of a pain to be practical to me.

csmith.kaze
csmith.kaze

I mean, I know grammatically that is how you would spell it in l33tspeak, but I am sure it is actually spelled "pwn" On another note, why is there an article with pwn, p0wn, or whatever in the title? I know hardcore gamers that would cringe at seeing that. (i also see that I am not the first to comment on this subject. Yay me and rushing through to post my scathing, yet perfectly typed, rebuttal)

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

I Googled 'define p0wns'. I got no definitions in the first three pages of results, just links to the word in use. I'm sure I'm the only fossil who doesn't know what it means, but would someone mind letting me in on it? Extra points if you can provide an origin and / or pronunciation. Thanks.

Dogcatcher
Dogcatcher

I have experimented only a little with emulation and virtualization. Why? Because those technologies appear to introduce complexity that is more elegantly solved by using the appropriate OS on a separate computer. However, the ease of installing and using XP Mode with Virtual PC on Windows 7 suggests that the technology is maturing and approaching plug-and-play. For those who test software and regularly want to get back to a clean system, it certainly is faster to reload a clean VHD file than to use Ghost to restore a partition. Tips or a tutorial on installing a new OS (say OpenSuse) under Virtual PC might be welcomed by your readers. Also maybe a comparison of Hyper-V to Virtual PC. We know that one is for servers and one is for the desktop, but what else should we know?

Sepius
Sepius

KVM and VMWare are virtual machines that allow a OS to operate within a hosted OS. It can allow direct access to hardware etc. I think VirtualBox is also a virtual machine, but not sure. I know it can use AMD's SVM CPU extension, but I think it can also operate without it. Any one welcome to correct me. As I understand, you need certain hardware to host virtual OS's. An emulated environment, like QEMU, is a piece of software that behaves as hardware and allows loading an independent OS. Downsides are usually pieces of the emulated hardware is not supported so usually limited to hosting same OS clients, although QEMU is pretty good, I have heard. I hope this makes some sense, but I would lean WINE towards and emulated OS environment. But really, the concept of WINE itself is pretty unique, and I think a WINE environment is a better description. :).

jcr
jcr

Can get a nice beefy machine, stuff it with RAM and HDDs, and then run at least a couple VMs on the linux host. Store snapshots on the local network, and never have to worry about your windoze box attracting worms. I've had some pretty decent success running windows in VMs under Ubuntu and OS 10.4+, along with a LAMP & file server. Now...I don't play the high-end intensive 3D sparkley shoot-em-ups much these days. Bare metal and high speed bus to some monster GPU'll always be faster (well...dunno about 'always'. For now, then). That said though, VMWare fusion is doing well with 3D hardware acceleration in the guest & so is Virtual Box...getting better, and for most uses (legacy games, definitely) it rocks! For providing machines for kids, it's hard to beat. They can do anything they want to a virtual machine, and when it dies--or when you have to kill it--you can bring it right back. Hrmph. Babbeling. There are lots of good reasons to go virtual, desktop or server. Eh, but i'll stop now.

RipVan
RipVan

The fact is, "we are own your bases!" Or did I mean "w3 ar3 p0wn y0ur bas3s?"

jlwallen
jlwallen

ask a teen for the definition (and variations) of p0wn. i've heard from my 20 year old at least: p0wn p0wnage p0nked and some I couldn't spell or comprehend. usually they were rattled off while gaming.

NotSoChiGuy
NotSoChiGuy

...but I'm fairly certain this is what was intended: http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=pwns Edit: In the event it is blocked, here is one of the definitions offered-- "Stemming from the misspelling of the word "owns", being that the "p" key is right next to the "o" key. It does not mean the possesive {sic} "owns", but as in a form of domination, such as in a game or sport."

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

"we are own your bases!" is another reference I don't get.

Forum Surfer
Forum Surfer

I've done that. Sad when your children become your translator

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

Some of the definitions on the link attribute the origin to gamers inability to distinguish between the adjacent P and O keys. Since I can type and don't game, I don't see myself using the term. But thanks for the info.

RipVan
RipVan

...while 24 million people had to go to the web to try to remember how they say it.

csmith.kaze
csmith.kaze

I am actually a little on the young side to share in this meme.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

Another game term, and another of these 'viral memes' that I never seem to catch. Apparently some of these catch phrases aren't as viral as those using them believe.

csmith.kaze
csmith.kaze

i am pretty sure that that specific string of characters have like 3 hits on google, while "All your base are belong to us" is closer to 24 million.

jcr
jcr

...or for any type - somewhat tragically - of intarwebs community: Ha! I do know what you mean; nearly a new language at times -- but you're missing the point with a typing tutor; you don't *need* to know how to type. or spell. or be all that concerned 'bout whether you're using the right 'their' or 'your' or 'too' or...well, all that. Just wack some keys, abbreviate maliciously, never use a spell checker, and you've got it ;)

NotSoChiGuy
NotSoChiGuy

I first happened across the term reading a blog about a Bears game. Something to the effect of "Favre just pwns the Bears". At first, I chalked it up as a typo, but then the responses rolled in using the term, so I looked it up to see what it meant. Someone needs to come out with a Mavis Beacon for texting devices and/or game consoles!!

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