[SOLVED] Virtualize Debian desktop. Which VM software?

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[SOLVED] Virtualize Debian desktop. Which VM software?

Postby ditzy » 2017-09-25 16:47

Hello. I am looking for some perspective on which virtualization software might be best for virtualizing a high use Debian desktop environment.

I prefer linux for most things, but want native Windows around without having to switch OSes. I have a Windows host (Win7 right now but soon Win10) and I've been virtualizing Debian for years using VirtualBox. I usually configure it with 100% CPU access (I have a Core i5) and 50% of my RAM (8GB out of 16GB total), and as much video RAM as it can take (128MB). Even with as much hardware virtualization enabled as my computer has, though -- and admittedly I don't think it's much -- I often don't have a very good experience. Browsers (I mostly use Chrome) can be slow, and sound often doesn't work right, to name a couple common problems.

I've made it work for a few years, but wanted to see if there might be a better alternative. I've heard that it's not good to give so much RAM to desktop VM software, and some other things about the inefficiency of my setup. Does anyone know if something other than VirtualBox might be a better solution, or something other than virtualization like this altogether?
Last edited by ditzy on 2017-10-02 17:19, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Virtualize Debian desktop. Which VM software?

Postby pylkko » 2017-09-25 17:12

if you do almost everything in OS 1 and still occasionally need OS 2 and are concerned about performance, then the first thing that will come to mind for any even half sane person is: why not run OS 1 native/host and OS 2 as a virtual machine. That is what I do, I run a win 10 virtual machine on Debian.
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Re: Virtualize Debian desktop. Which VM software?

Postby ruffwoof » 2017-09-25 21:25

A couple spring to mind.

Another dedicated box (you can get PC's the size of a usb flashstick nowadays) and xtightvncviewer/rdesktop into that from the main OS.

kvm/qemu. Which is similar but runs a second 'box' as a virtual system. You can also set that to serve the graphics to vnc so you just vnc into that (better mouse and graphics). That would likely be similar to virtualbox however.

Having whichever you use the most for browsing/videos/sound as the host would be my choice.
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Re: Virtualize Debian desktop. Which VM software?

Postby pendrachken » 2017-10-01 23:59

ditzy wrote:Hello. I am looking for some perspective on which virtualization software might be best for virtualizing a high use Debian desktop environment.

I prefer linux for most things, but want native Windows around without having to switch OSes. I have a Windows host (Win7 right now but soon Win10) and I've been virtualizing Debian for years using VirtualBox. I usually configure it with 100% CPU access (I have a Core i5) and 50% of my RAM (8GB out of 16GB total), and as much video RAM as it can take (128MB). Even with as much hardware virtualization enabled as my computer has, though -- and admittedly I don't think it's much -- I often don't have a very good experience. Browsers (I mostly use Chrome) can be slow, and sound often doesn't work right, to name a couple common problems.

I've made it work for a few years, but wanted to see if there might be a better alternative. I've heard that it's not good to give so much RAM to desktop VM software, and some other things about the inefficiency of my setup. Does anyone know if something other than VirtualBox might be a better solution, or something other than virtualization like this altogether?



For the most part VBox is crap when it comes to hard workloads / performance. It's good for quick and dirty VMs and downloading some FOSS VM setups that don't have vmware images.


I personally use VMWare player ( the free version ) for running several Linux / BSD VMs on a winserver 2K12R2 ( Windows 8.1 ) host at native speeds. Core i5 4590 with VM access to 1-2 cores / 32GB RAM and giving 4-12 GB per VM I can run up to three VMs before starting to run into memory and disk I/O and CPU bound issues.
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Re: Virtualize Debian desktop. Which VM software?

Postby ditzy » 2017-10-02 17:12

Thank you all for the replies! These are great suggestions and I feel good about having things to try now.

I have thought about setting up another machine, but hadn't thought about remote desktop for using it, which is an idea I actually really like. I've also heard kvm mentioned a bunch but had yet to look into it. I might explore both of those.

I've heard that vbox isn't great for performance, but struggled to find much clear info about it. I did have a chance to speak with someone who worked on some Vagrant tools and they were pretty clear about how crap vbox is and that I should at least use vmware, haha. So hearing that again now is very reassuring and I think making that switch will be the first thing I try.

Thank you all!
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Re: [SOLVED] Virtualize Debian desktop. Which VM software?

Postby stevepusser » 2017-10-02 23:12

I've heard good things about virt-manager, but have no experience with it. Does anyone here use it?
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