Linked by Eugenia Loli on Wed 8th May 2002 16:41 UTC
OSNews, Generic OSes The open source Bochs, VMware Workstation by VMware, Inc. and VirtualPC from Connectix are applications that virtualize or emulate the x86 hardware, allowing you to run multiple operating systems on top of a "host" operating system that these three applications run upon. This means that you will be able to run Linux or FreeBSD or other supported "guest" OSes under Windows, Linux (or Macintosh), inside a window or fullscreen. But which one delivers the best performance for the money? And what about the free Bochs?
Order by: Score:
Hi Eugenia
by kevpatt on Wed 8th May 2002 17:31 UTC

Remember me from Be days? (maybe not)

Only one point to quibble with: In your article blurb, you state that "Bochs... are applications that virtualize the x86 hardware..." Well, I know that you clarify that in the article, but the blurb is incorrect, since Bochs is really a full-blown emulator, not a "virtualizer" like VMWare. I wish it were! What's up with Plex86, anyway?

Anyhoo, thought you might want to know that I was able to install, boot, and RUN BeOS R5 in VMWare 3.5 beta. Only a few glitches, such as no color (stub VGA as expected), and wrong CPU speed ID (probably a loop during the boot process, gets hosed by the VM), so it reports my Atlon 1.4 as about 60 MHz, and of course the BeOS system clock runs like I'm in a future-going time machine. ;)

I suspect that VMWare doesn't handle very well the MSRs that BeOS uses for high-resolution timing? Too bad.

Re: Hi Eugenia
by Eugenia on Wed 8th May 2002 17:40 UTC

I added the "or emulate" blurb, but there is not a real issue, because I do clarify it later in the article.

>What's up with Plex86, anyway?

AFAIK, it is dead, right after Mandrake laid off Kevin.

>BeOS R5 in VMWare 3.5 beta

Unfortunately, I don't have access to this unreleased version. I was able to boot the BeOS installer with VMWare 3.1, but BeOS could not see the virtual hard drive. I was more lucky by booting it directly from my real hard drive, from its BFS partition. But it is extremely slow for the reasons explained in the article and in the comments here:

by Kevin on Wed 8th May 2002 17:45 UTC

Very nice review! I like it alot ;)

Have you every thought of submitting you articles to newspapers or magazines? I know my local news paper, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, (along with many others) could use some good technology articles. they just finaly got a "personal technology" section a few months ago. And that consists of one page of articles every wensday. lol.

Re: Hi Eugenia
by kevpatt on Wed 8th May 2002 17:50 UTC

Sorry. It wasn't VMWare 3.5, it was VMWare 3.1 BETA, which is "older" than what you tested, most likely, since it's no longer in BETA.

BTW: How to get BeOS RUNNING in VM 3.1... Select "Other" as the guest OS, then make sure that "Enable RAW Access" is checked under CD-ROM/DVD-ROM options. It worked perfectly for me, just booting & installing directly from my R5 Pro CD!!

Sound under VMWare
by Raj on Wed 8th May 2002 17:52 UTC

Just a little note from my experience running VMWare Workstation 3.0 and 3.1 under Linux (RedHat 7.2), sound works very well under WinXP, RedHat 7.3, and FreeBSD. IIRC, VMWare creates a virtual Sound Blaster 16 which most OS's have built-in support for. Watching streaming video on windows media player running in vmware nets extremely acceptable performance on my athlon 750.

btw, great review.. thanks a lot!

Re: Sound under VMWare
by Eugenia on Wed 8th May 2002 17:54 UTC

>sound works very well under RedHat 7.3

I don't even hear a "tick" on Red Hat 7.2. :o

plex86 is being worked on again
by arougthopher on Wed 8th May 2002 18:20 UTC

at a new site. the site has not been updated in a while. The new site is:

The have a file their from the 5th of May (source only), that compiles on my box, though I have not gotten it to run yet (i've only been trying for about 5 minutes)

re: Re: Sound under VMWare
by arougthopher on Wed 8th May 2002 18:26 UTC

I had troubles with vmware 3.0 and sound, but upgraded to 3.1 the other day, installed the sb16 drivers under win2k (in the vm), and everything works just great. i'm running rh7.2 with latest kernel for that version, which, with 3.1, you don't have to build the kernel mods for anymore.

by Kevin on Wed 8th May 2002 18:39 UTC

VMWare doesn't work in windows 98, right?

Re; VMWare...
by Eugenia on Wed 8th May 2002 18:44 UTC

> Have you every thought of submitting you articles to newspapers or magazines?

Not with my grammar. ;)

> VMWare doesn't work in windows 98, right?

No, it does not make sense to support a FAT32-based OS. Even VirtualPC has different binaries for Win9x/ME and for NT/XP/2k. You see, you can't have more than a 2 GB file under FAT32, which means that if you want to install Red Hat 7.3 which is 5 CDs or XP which will need 3-4 GB to work efficiently with it, you are out of luck with Win9x/ME. Plus NT/XP/2k support more features and stability, something that VMWare supports and welcomes. We should not forget that VMWare is mostly a professional tool, it is not directly destined for end users.

by Anonymous on Wed 8th May 2002 19:24 UTC

I am running freebsd under vmware and I don't get the text mode lag at all. I only have it during the first 3 minutes of work, and then, it is lightning fast

VPC under MacOSX slower than MacOS 9
by Eugenia on Wed 8th May 2002 19:49 UTC

This one is an interesting article on the peformance of Virtual PC under MacOSX and MacOS 9. Check their links too:

re: VMWare
by Kevin on Wed 8th May 2002 20:01 UTC

> Have you every thought of submitting you articles to newspapers or magazines?

Not with my grammar. ;)

lol. It's not that bad, plus they have ediotrs to fix grammer mistakes. ;)

> VMWare doesn't work in windows 98, right?
No, it does not make sense to support a FAT32-based OS.

Ah, good point. That's another good thing about BFS, the file size limit is... well, huge. I think the BeOS Bible said it was around 18 petabytes (hmm, i'd love to have a ig enough harddrive to test that.).

i wonder....
by curious on Wed 8th May 2002 20:26 UTC

Has anyone had any luck with the x86 version of Darwin under any of these things? I've only tried with bochs... and thats been a while.. no go at that time

The VMWare Price really stinks
by Anonymous on Wed 8th May 2002 20:53 UTC

As you stated, the price makes it rather prohibitive to the masses. The Express product was perfect, then they orphaned it and forced an upgrade (bad move).

by Charles Krohn on Wed 8th May 2002 20:58 UTC

Does anyone know how to get VMware to support VESA video cards? Is it even possible?

I'd like to know since I'm interested in running QNX, which doesn't have a "guest OS kit"

VMware is cool :-)
by CattBeMac on Wed 8th May 2002 20:59 UTC

We got VMware on our Linux Workstation (the Dual 1.6 GHz AMD Athlon) running Windows 2000 on RH Linux, it seems to work great so far, we've only had it for about a month now. I am not sure which is better between VMware and VPC, I guess I'll have to let you guys decide that!

by Eugenia on Wed 8th May 2002 21:08 UTC

>Does anyone know how to get VMware to support VESA video cards? Is it even possible?

How do you think AtheOS and SkyOS are running under VMWare in the screenshots? VMWare will automatically expose the VESA if the VMWare virtual graphics card drive is not installed or supported under the guest OS.

re: I wonder....
by James Hopton on Wed 8th May 2002 21:37 UTC

I tried the Latest ISO of GNU/Darwin on a straight PII 350 with 256mb ram. It was painfully slow install and boot. FreeBSD runs circles around it. I really wouldn't want to try it under an emulator. It would take all night to install.

VMware = good
by Lithium Element on Wed 8th May 2002 22:38 UTC

I'm currently running NT 4.0 Workstation (SP6) under Slackware Linux 8.0 with a 1 GHz PIII with 256MB RAM with VMware Workstation 3.1 and it runs quite nicely. The only problem I've encountered is some weirdness with going to full-screen mode...sometimes it takes a few tries at the button to get it to actually switch.

Setting up VMware under slackware is a bit weird though...due to the different init file layout. Basically, you have to make an init.d directory under /etc/rc.d and then populate it with rc0.d to rc6.d directories, then install VMware. To have VMware's startup actually run on boot you need to add /etc/rc.d/init.d/vmware to one of your startup scripts (rc.local is a good choice). All this is documented on VMware's site as well...

by Dave Poirier on Wed 8th May 2002 22:56 UTC

If you think VMWare is expensive, take a look at Virtutech's Simics, now that's industrial grade ;)

Important notes:
by Albino on Wed 8th May 2002 23:09 UTC

Bochs is free. VirtualPC is shite that costs money. VMWare is shite that costs money.

Terminal Server
by Antarius on Thu 9th May 2002 00:13 UTC

To those of you who have Windows (any version) running as a guest OS:

Would it be possible to have a Linux or BSD box, running a few copies of Windows (in different X sessions), piping the output via VNC (or TightVNC) to other machines on the network?

I'm hoping to migrate from a Windows 2000 Server (running Terminal Services) to a Linux or BSD based box. At this stage there is only one application that I cannot replace with an open sourced solution.

Crossover Office (Or Transgamings WineX) is my next hope until/if there is a native Linux/BSD version of this accounting package.

(I've actually offered to port the OSX version to BSD & Linux for free, yet they still give me the brush off "Linux is not part of our plans right now..." because "there is no market for it..." response. I feel an online petition coming on...)

Re: Terminal Server
by Kevin on Thu 9th May 2002 02:22 UTC

Would it be possible to have a Linux or BSD box, running a few copies of Windows (in different X sessions), piping the output via VNC (or TightVNC) to other machines on the network?

Probley... but unless you have a 1000 Mbps network, or faster, and a really nice server I have a feeling this will be a really slow setup. VNC isn't very fast... but that could be just me.

by Antarius on Thu 9th May 2002 03:24 UTC

G'day Kevin,

I think it might just be you. ;)

I've used TightVNC on small (5-10 workstation) networks on a 10Mbps Hub and the speed has been quite good! The same can be said for a 56K POTS connection (for 1 workstation, of course...)

XDP, OTOH, is an entirely different matter... <shudder>

Re: i wonder.....
by JCooper on Thu 9th May 2002 09:19 UTC

>Has anyone had any luck with the x86 version of Darwin
>under any of these things? I've only tried with bochs...
>and thats been a while.. no go at that time

I couldn't get the installer to even start.....

re: TightVNC
by Kevin on Thu 9th May 2002 13:16 UTC

Intersting. I haven't tried TightVNC, mabye there are a lot of speed ups in that. But yeah, it could just be me.

by Dennis on Thu 9th May 2002 13:50 UTC

VMWare 3.0.0 runs good under W2k and Redhat 7.2 Works with the Network Adapter without any failures. It is very stable and to test Programms it is very good to use !

To do devel.
by Fmunch on Thu 9th May 2002 14:01 UTC

For Linux os devel their is UML.
It ' s very usefull because it ' s give you a lot of information for debuging .

VirtualPC Sound Emulation
by JoNty on Thu 9th May 2002 14:32 UTC

Does anyone know what the sound emulation is like in VirtualPC running DOS as a guest OS? I'd love to set it up for old legacy game emulation.

Emulating win98 over a win2k environment
by Zudzug on Thu 9th May 2002 14:44 UTC

Has anyone of you been successfull at running win98 games over VMWare and the likes? All I want is an emulator. There's those games (like Final Fantasy VII, Star Wars Pod Racer and Soul Reaver) that just won't run that well over win2k or XP. I tried emulating win98 with VMWare 3.1 I think, but in the end I couldn't get it to emulate the environment properly.

I don't care how much ressources I have to waste to get decent emulation, today's computer exceed the minimum requirements by as much as a whole gigahertz, an extra 460mb of ram and the likes.

So, is there anything out there that would let me run old DirectX games in emulation? I just hate to have to reboot everytime...

No sound problems yet ;)
by A7V on Thu 9th May 2002 16:10 UTC

Great Review!

I needed a quick way to test something with Linux without having to have a dedicated machine to do it, so my choice went over vmware 3.1

'Real Machine' Specs:
AMD Athlon XP 1700+, 256Mb RAM, 2 Intel NICs, WinXP PRO

'VM Machine' Specs:
128Mb RAM, 2 NICs, RedHat 7.2

I'm running 1 VM NIC bridged with public IP from my ISP and the other to my intranet. KDE runs very fast and with sound ;)
Currently this VM is hosting a DirectConnect Hub Server with 450 users witch translates to 450 open connections and 60+ KB/s upload modem traffic 24/7. No crashes for a month testing now.

The only problem I had was the logfile vmware uses: 5,7Gbs in 4 hours? some fast text log to screen from DCHUB caused BitBlk errors in vmware. No option to disable logging?!

VNC Server for Speed
by bzImage on Thu 9th May 2002 16:34 UTC

It's best to run the VNC server on the Linux side inside of vmware, and use the VNC client on the Windows box. It's very fast for me.

Check out

Well, I haven't tried windows games. I also don't know DirectX compatible the emulated graphics cards are.
Unlike the article says, VirtualPC does not emulate a s3 Virge. It's indeed a s3 card, but not the Virge. It's some kind of 2D card.
Maybe there are other solutions fitting better for you.
1.) Check
Maybe you find help there.
2.) The games you mentioned (Final Fantasy VII, Star Wars Pod Racer and Soul Reaver) are also avaiable for PlayStation. Maybe you should give PlayStation emulation a try.
Check and
eMail me if you need more help.

Thnx for the nice article. I've been running VMWare for quite a while with great success. When faced with the choice of which os to be the 'Host' and which is to be the 'Guest' os, my own views might help some of you.

The issue is that with the typical desire to run NT and a *nix system together on th same hardware, one sees that VMWare is purchased as one of two different binaries: as a Win2k/NT 'Host' , or as a 'Linux' host. For at least two reasons one is *strongly* advised to use the Win2k/NT version of VMware as the Host system, and then to install one or more linux/unix's , etc, as guests. The reasons follow:

1) With Win2k/NT as the 'base' ie, 'host' system installed, one finds that nearly all hardware is available at ALL times .. We love linux, but the fact is we have hardware that just will not run *yet* in that environment. (Eg: Nikon 4000 filmscanner, which is a pure 'firewire' device). Working in Linux (guest system) lets me immediately switch back to the host NT5, and i'm golden. I get full support of all hardware whether linux drivers exist or not. The *host* system MUST support what you need in order for the guest system to have any chance of accessing it. Period.

2) All instances of MS os's installed (as guest or host) must have costs a license fee. I think that having NT5 as host satisfies any inclination to add multiple 'guest' NT systems to a Linux host. (yea, this is a 'soft' reason, cuz ya might never dream of having two MS os's)

I use NT5 (Win2k) as host on this 512meg dual PII with very satisfactory results. Photoshop 6, the Nikon scanner, 8 USB ports, digitizer, dual monitors, and a mix of scsi and ide drives (including CDR and a CDROM-DVD disk) all work fully under the Win host. As an example of what i've said, DVD drives are not supported in VMWare yet, but i can use it fully in NT. (unfortunately, VMWare does not support SMP !)

I'm nearly always in my trusty linux (SuSE 7.3) which i manually upgraded to the 2.4.18 kernel. Today i effortlessly started that Suse virtual machine and caused it to boot from the new SuSE 8.0 cdrom disk (the nice SuSE DVD disk is useless in this system, as i said.) The upgrade was a snap: kde3 is great , kmail is beautiful, and so far it's a 'go'.

(afterthought: re: dual monitors: the full use of dual monitors for each os (NT and Linux) needs comment: my host NT fully supports both ViewSonic flatscreens. If i booted a purt linux boot, (which i can do via SystemCommander) then linux, too , sees both monitors fine. However, booting to the NT5 host only lets the NT use both monitors fully. Linux guest starts up in an NT5 window, which can be dragged to either of the 2 monitors and behaves fine. However, guest os's run much faster in 'Fullscreen' , and if that linux window is popped up to fullscreen, it instantly comes up *only* on the first monitor, no matter where it's 'windowed' instance existed.. a little quirky, but in no way a problem. When fullscreen on monitor 0 , the rest of the NT desktop is seen fine on monitor 1.

VPC vs VMWare
by Leo on Fri 10th May 2002 02:27 UTC

I've tested both VPC for Windows and VMWare. From my experience VPC is more compatible with most OS. Most OSs I tried installed and detected the hardware (including the sound card) without glitches. The list of OSes:
1. Linux - Mandrake 7.2 thru 8.1, Trustix 1.5
2. OpenBSD 2.9
3. Windows 98, Windows 2000 Server
4. Dos 6.22 (to run Master of Magic ;) )

Contrary to the review, I find the GUI performance in VPC is actually better than VMWare. Overall performance is not that great, sometimes it will stall for a while (probably due to disk I/O).

The latest VPC 4.3 has a built-in remote desktop feature which allows you to use VNC client to view your client OS's output.

sound emulation in VMWare
by D.Stiller on Fri 10th May 2002 03:17 UTC

It takes a while to configure (especially with a virtual linux machine running on an actual linux box), but you can get sound working.

FCGA Celerons?
by John Hoffmann on Fri 10th May 2002 05:25 UTC

I think you mean PPGA, as the Abit BP6 doesn't take the newer FCPGA chips.

RE: VirtualPC Sound Emulation
by Luke on Fri 10th May 2002 05:47 UTC

I have VirtualPC for Windows, and sound emulation is pretty good (but by no means perfect). First off, sound emulation under Linux has known problems and is very difficult to get working. I've been trying for a while and still can't get it to work. Under Windows it is good. Under DOS it is surprisingly good. All you need to do is add the SET BLASTER= line to your autoexec.bat and nearly everything works. For some reason, however, none of Creative Labs SB16 (the sound card VPC emulates) drivers detect the card. But this does not matter, as most (if not all) DOS programs/games do not require drivers to be loaded. There's this program called QVPRO (quickview pro?) or something. It runs under plain DOS and plays nearly all types of media (MPEG, AVI, DIVX, QUICKTIME, WAV, MP3, etc). Under VPC, every type of file I could find and test worked perfectly. You can download a 30 day free trial, if you didn't know.

RedHat Installation
by Anonymous on Fri 10th May 2002 05:53 UTC

Just an FYI.. in VMware's FAQ it mentions that you should install RedHat in text mode. The problem is that until the guest os toolkit is installed, X will be very slow. I tried both last week just to see the difference, and a text install takes about 4-5 minutes and a graphical install was going to take about 1.5-2 hours on a 1.8GHz machine w/ 1GB of RAM. Once the OS toolkit is installed though, it's lightning fast.

by scott y. on Fri 10th May 2002 07:32 UTC

I got onto the virt pc bandwagon the day the beta was
publically announced... (or so).. and ended up picking
it up for a reduced rate a month later. I knew that vmware
was a much more mature product, but I also know that vmware and bochs were dead slow.

to me, virtual pc blew away vmware in terms of ease of
use, price and speed.

for the cds and floppies, can't you "bind" them to the virt pc? vs sharing them with the host?

I run all my system now through virtual pc -- because I use a type of home-grown "ghost" imaging of the base os installs of win95, win98 and freebsd... although I haven't had to re-install the freebsd :->

Basically, my 900mhz laptop running virtual pc hosting freebsd is FASTER than my 500mhz celeron running freebsd native. Oh well.

So, anyway, my current laptop has 512mb ram, next will have 1 GB. disk is 20 GB or so, next will probably be at least 30. So with this much ram and 128mb to each virtual, I can run everything I need from one machine.

I see vmware as a much more mature product and ready for use in business for server farms and the like and probably both vmware and virtpc would be good/great for home use. I simply liked the easy of the interface and speed of virtpc.


Mac OSX on intel...
by Merce on Fri 10th May 2002 10:35 UTC

Just an interesting thought I had, Running Mac OS X under one of these emulators (for lack of a better term...). Can it be done?

Dual CPU does not matter
by wronk on Fri 10th May 2002 12:42 UTC

You made serveral references to how your test machine had dual CPU's. Hate to break it to ya, but VMware is not multithreaded..... so you could have 10cpu's and not notice a speed increase. Same goes for running VirtualPC under Win98.... last I knew, Win98 didn't support multiple processors.

Re: Dual CPU does not matter
by KAMiKAZOW on Fri 10th May 2002 15:16 UTC

AFAIK, VMware is multithreaded.

VMWare Pricing $$$
by gh351 on Fri 10th May 2002 15:52 UTC

Too bad VMWare ended the Express version and the "hobbyist" pricing for Workstation. I'd certainly buy a copy if it was $100. So would most of my friends. For $300, I'll just keep an extra machine around to run Windows.

What About Win4Lin?
by webshowpro on Fri 10th May 2002 20:08 UTC

I would have liked to see a comparison with Netraverse's Win4Lin product ( ). I have been using their 3.0 version for a while to test different browsers on win98.

The 3.0 version only supports win98 and 95, but the newer version 4.0, now includes support for ME and additional hardware support.

It is definately more virtualized than VMWARE, and application performance seems better based on my limited experience with VMWARE.

For comparitive sakes though win4lin might be better compared to the former VMWARE "Express" version.

I believe I paid $80 bucks for my copy.


(I have no affiliation w/ netraverse, other than being a reasonably happy customer)

Re:What About Win4Lin?
by Eugenia on Fri 10th May 2002 20:19 UTC

I am well aware of Win4Lin, but the reason we did not include Win4Lin to the review was because the review was primarily under WindowsXP. However, NetRaverse have already contacted me about a Win4Lin 4 review, so stay tuned. ;)

and Linux?
by fh on Fri 10th May 2002 22:10 UTC

Your title is: "VMWare Workstation 3.1 vs Virtual PC 4.3.2 vs Bochs 1.4". Why haven't you began your article by saying your tests were based on Windows (or perhaps i didn't read whith my glasses). What about tests based on Linux as host OS?

by Kim Cheung on Sat 11th May 2002 06:10 UTC

I am running VPC under eComStation (OEM version of OS/2) as host and a variety of operating systems as guest. I do not see the CD/floppy drive problem you described. We have tested VPC on a variety of hardware. The "slowless" you experience might actually be caused by the dual processor (don't remember if you were runnign NT as host, or Linux as host). The current version of VPC does not take advantage of SMP and having it around might actually slow things down. In any event, I would not recommend using the sub-1GHz processors to run it. My thinkpad T22/900 is ok for a demo machine but things become very usable on my Athlon 1900+ system.

We are doing a number of things to boost the performance of runing VPC under eCS. You didn't mention if you are using the shared folder feature of VPC but we found that performance is generally much better by not using that feature. In fact, if you can minimize or eliminate local I/O, you will get a tremendous boost in performance. For instance, we are running the host diskless - remote booted from the server and the Guest "thinks" that it has a local hard drive but all I/O are actually networked I/O - cached at the server.

As I understand it, VPC's method of virtualization makes it more compatible. We have been throwing all kinds of operating systems that we can find at VPC and everything works. The only one I didn't get to try is BeOS (I don't really have a need for that).

I have no way of comparing VMWare to VPC since VMWare does not support OS/2 but I find VPC very usable - given the proper hardware.

win4lin - the most _practical_ solution...?
by bob hall on Sun 12th May 2002 09:27 UTC

I'd like to reinforce the comment on win4lin - I've been using it for about 2 years now under slack 7.0 (with various kernels) to host a win95 system. It's much more lightweight than vmware (it'll run on a 24Mb 486-100), and on midrange machines, much faster. In comparison Bochs is technically intereting but glacial.


VMware works with sound re-direct perfectly
by Anonymous on Thu 16th May 2002 07:35 UTC

At my machinve VMWARE works well with sound adapter re-direct