Imagine this scenario: you need to run your favorite application under Linux but the application has not been ported to Linux yet and there is no other alternative that would completely suit your needs. Or you need to work with several operating systems.
Of course you can have multiple OSes installed in multiboot configuration but that means that often you would end up with limited access to data stored in other OS installations and you cannot work with two or more systems simultaneously. One possible solution is to run (possibly several) guest OSes inside virtual machines installed on the host system. In order to do that special piece of software is needed to emulate and manage the virtual machines. Examples of such software are VMware, VirtualPC (both commercial), Bochs, Plex86 (both are free but yet not suitable for ordinary use). But there is another promising alternative coming soon: Serenity Virtual station.
I am currently using VMware Workstation and I usually work with several Linux distributions, BSDs and other OSes installed under WMware. However I have been periodically encountering some stability problems regarding VMware and I have been looking for some alternative. Then I came across Serenity Virtual Station project and they provided me with a trial copy.
Note that SVista is still under development and the early beta trial version that I have received for the purpose of testing is not yet available to the public. This article is focused on Linux version of SVista and therefore some features may be different or missing with respect to Windows and OS/2 version.
Hardware and software requirements
- PC equipped with at least 400MHz or faster processor (Pentium II or compatible, 700MHz or faster is recommended for reasonable performance)
Enough memory for host OS including SVista and the guest OS. In practice, it is possible to run average Linux distro with X Window System installed inside SVista virtual machine on PC with 128 MB RAM. Of course more memory
Disk space: enough space for virtual hard drives. Each virtual hard drive occupies 100MB to 4000MB. SVista is able to compress empty space on virtual
- Any graphic card supported under X Window System will do, 8 bpp depth or higher.
- Any network card supported under Linux.
- Linux kernel 2.4.x is required at the moment, support for 2.6.x kernel.
Supported host operating systems
These OSes will be supported as host operating systems when the first version of SVista is released:
Windows NT 4 SP6, Windows 2000 SP2, Windows XP and Windows Server 2003. Linux (kernel 2.4) will also be supported, but the initial feature set may be different compared to the Windows version. Also OS/2 and eComStation will be supported as host OSes (again, the feature set may be different). FreeBSD should be supported too.
Supported guest operating systems
The following guest OSes will be fully supported in the first production version: OS/2 2.1, Warp3, Warp4, WarpServer, Warp 4 Convenience Pack, eComStation 1.1, Windows NT 4, Windows 2000 and XP, DOS. Other operating systems are under testing, for example Linux.
SVista installation (under Linux)
During installation SVista kernel module is compiled, therefore it is necessary to have corresponding kernel sources installed. I had troubles to compile SVista kernel module on Red Hat Linux kernels. For the moment being it is safer to use vanilla kernel from ftp.kernel.org. SVista comes with startup script which takes care about loading necessary modules at system startup. When upgrading to another kernel version (or just recompiling kernel with different options) it is necessary to recompile SVista module too.
Serenity Virtual Station
First try: Damn Small Linux
At first I have tried to boot some small live Linux distribution. For this purpose I have chosen Damn Small Linux which is a nifty lightweight live Linux distribution that fits on miniCD. Configuring virtual station is pretty straightforward: pick Linux as guest OS type, then point SVista to boot from ISO image of Damn Small Linux instead of physical CD-ROM drive, set the size of memory for the virtual machine, setup virtual hard drive (size and location), turn on networking support. After powering on virtual machine Damn Small Linux boots without problem.
Damn Small Linux running under SVista
Second try: Vector Linux
Next I have tried to install Vector Linux 4.0 to virtual hard disk under SVista. Vector Linux is small footprint Linux distribution aimed at low performance computers. First boot from ISO image of VL4.0, subsequent installation to virtual drive completed without problem. Then I set VM to boot from virtual hard drive. Again, Vector Linux comes up without problem. After that I have spent some time playing with Vector Linux, doing some compiles – performance looks good.
Vector Linux 4.0 install
Third try: DOS
Apart from Linux distros I have also run DOS (no screenshots here, everybody knows what does DOS look like :-). I have not tried Windows at the moment.
As this is beta software I have agreed not to publish benchmark comparisons at the moment, however I can say that SVista looks very promising. The beta version exhibited comparable performance to VMware and one can expect that the final version will bring further improvements and optimizations. I am eagerly awaiting the final production version.
SVista is commercial product. In detail, the user interface part will probably be released under some free license (possibly LGPL?) while the virtual machine core will be covered by commercial license.
According to Serenity Systems, Serenity Virtual Station will be probably released in the 2nd or early 3rd quarter of 2004. Several features like support of USB and sound devices are still under development – it is not clear whether these will be included in the first release or not. Later releases will also include the possibility of saving and restoring virtual machine state. Support for 2.6.x branch of Linux kernels will be added when the 2.6.x kernel becomes more widely used. A public beta version is planned in April 2004.
While this article is based on beta version of SVista which is still under development I can say that it looks very promising. The sooner there is another alternative of virtual machine software to pick from the better.
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Does this VM emulate a graphics card with 3D support?
Or does it just emulate a VESA card?
s/3D support/hardware accelerated 3D support/
BTW, this 60 second delay is long and annoying…
It is necessary for flooding.
Regarding your question, I don’t think it supports 3D. It is very hard to do so. No other similar emulator does that either, e.g. vmware or VPC.
While the article tells me what Serenity Virtual Station is, it does not really tell me why I should be interested. What differentiates this from VMWare or VirutalPC?
“While the article tells me what Serenity Virtual Station is, it does not really tell me why I should be interested. What differentiates this from VMWare or VirutalPC?”
I’m hoping it turns out to be a bit cheaper. VMware is now down to $199, and VPC is $129 i think. To me, the downside to VPC is that you need a windows host.
It’s impressive they are aiming for linux, NT, FreeBSD, and OS/2 as host.
Yeesh, why the hell do people use Motif when there are better Free (yes, as in LGPL) toolkits to use?
Well, it couldn’t be more expensive than VMWare which is way overpriced. Also, VirtualPC only runs on Windows.
The program is based on twoOStwo which uses Qt, so what you see is probably a theme that the author likes.
Umm.. I have VirtualPC running on my ibook so I don’t think it’s Windows only. Or did microsoft already clobber the mac support for the newer versions?
I hope it’s better then twoostwo that product had a long way to go to compete with vmware the damm thing would never work for me under any os win32 or linux
IRC it is twoostwo. lol
If there is no 3D and it is not free, then what does it have that isn’t already on the market? Vmware is tested tried and true so I can’t imagine that this will be substantially cheaper to be worth the trouble. Especially since all the OS freaks already own Vmware; I know I do.
VMWare doesn’t officially support a Debian host OS. I’d snatch up a couple copies of SVista no questions asked if it runs on debian, and runs win2k + msaccess (i’m doing a lot of work converting msaccess apps over to F/OSS). don’t need fancy hardware support or anything like that…
“VMWare doesn’t officially support a Debian host OS”
I use Debian on VMWare EVERY day!!! I have NO issues with it at all.
Same is true for Slackware. I use VMWare on Slack since the VMWare public beta back in the day (y2k IIRC); never had any Slack-related issue.
When you dual or multi boot, you can only one run OS at a time.
Is it possible to create an OS of OSes, that would be able to run each OS at the same time on native hardware. This OS would need to compartmentalise each OS so memory areas of one OS doesn’t overwrite other OSes memory areas.
Is it possible? I am guess it would take a lot of work.
and just not to be off-topic. I really didn’t understand what Serenity Virtual Station is, it sounds the same as VMWARE or Virtual PC, or is it something closer to Cooperative Linux.
Various old time-sharing system did something like that…
You still need a system underneath the systems – one ring to rule them all
What’s the relation to twoOstwo ( http://www.twoostwo.org/ ) ? Does this replace toostwo, or is it just that parallax ( http://www.parallax.ru/ ) sold their system to 2 companies ( http://www.netsys.info/ )?
On a side note towOstwo is very crashy. Example: When Windows95 halts or reboots my machine rebboots too, the linux host that is
Actually VMWARE ESX server does this exact thing. They still emulate most of the hardware but instead of having a host os you use their lightweight os. One really cool thing they do is they will compare pages in physical memory and if two diferent guest OS’s having two identical memory pages they map them both two one physical page. This is really cool if you are running say four copies of windows on a machine and all of the dll’s are only in physical memory once for all four guests. They also do some other cool things like virtual SMP and the ability to move guests from one box to another wthout shutting down the guest.
Cool thanks for the replies.
As a software approach, project Xen from Cambridge tries to do that, with trivial modifications done ot operating systems. Linux is already running with almost full speed, but AFAIK Microsoft resists to port Windows for various reasons.
As a hardware one, the Vanderbuilt architecture of Intel is going to provide hardware virtualization. But this would be introduced 2006 at the earliest.
Xen project: http://www.cl.cam.ac.uk/netos/papers/2003-xensosp.pdf
Well if you had a machine capable of partitioning you could several OSs each running in their own partition with vnc installed on each one and using one of them to connect to the others.
So it’s easy all you need is $11,640 for a P630 ( http://www-132.ibm.com/content/home/store_IBMPublicUSA/en_US/eServe… ) 🙂
Note : p650 would be better if you’re serious about partitions but then you’re looking at $26,895
>Bochs, Plex86 (both are free but yet not suitable for ordinary use)
Bochs is _very_ ready, but also very slow, because it is _not_ a virtual machine, but a x86 emulator.
Plex86 has been revamped to rum only Linux, so it is not a competitor to VMware anymore.
“What’s the relation to twoOstwo ( http://www.twoostwo.org/ ) ? Does this replace toostwo, or is it just that parallax ( http://www.parallax.ru/ ) sold their system to 2 companies ( http://www.netsys.info/ )? ”
Parallax initially developed the system for one host, the German 2os2 company (cant remember the name) funded the developemnt for an OS/2 guest as to sell to companies that wanted to move from OS/2 but keep on using the software, that in turn meant that they got in contact with serenity (owners of ecomstation) and serenity funded further development of the program into a multi host/guest system, so all systems are based on the same codebase but intended for slightly different market segments/have different features.
As for pricing, this has apparently not been nailed down but they are talking about a similar priceopoint as vmware, the difference being that SvS will come with versions of all guest os’s bar Windows out of the pack (FreeBSD 1 or 2 linux variants, ecomstation (an upgraded os/2 client) etc.), so it will be a turnkey system without the need for recompiling, driver hunting etc.
The interesting thing about SVS is the amount of industry support SS has managed to drum up even prior to the release, they have got a host of companies supporting the system including IBM.
If one is going to hurl rocks at VMware’s windows they should be atleast courteous enough to:
1. Document the specific issues they are having — generic comments are useless
2. Confess as to what version of VMware they are using — using an older release that may have been improved is not fair
The following link was on Slashdot and OSnews before:
It’s an overview of emulators and virtualizers. Might answer some of the questions posed above.
How is thsi different from Win4Lin and Vmware?
Only works on Linux with a kernel patch and is only able to run Windows 9x. I heard it is fast, but i don’t have a license myself.
Does it support Sound in DOS? Virtual PC does, but it’s kind of screwed up in points. VMWare’s sound support for DOS doesn’t work (just read the VMWare support board, people have tried in vain to get it to work). This would kick seriously if sound support worked.
Any chance that I could use this to run BeOS as a guest OS? I’ve got BeOS software that I’d like to run, but on modern hardware it gets more and more difficult to get BeOS to function properly. It seems like something like this might be usable as a “bridge” to make up for BeOS’s lack of modern drivers (similar to how I can run Amiga programs on my PC with an emulator, despite the PC’s lacking the Amiga’s custom graphics processors)
How much will it COST?
Is a Free, Open Source, virtual machine which is very fast, and portable.