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Given the following requirements and constraints:

  1. Purpose: light-weight VM host for local Windows (desktop and server) and Linux guests.
  2. Host OS needs to be hardware compatible with Dell Inspiron 17R - N7110
    • Intel Core i3-2310M (2.10 GHz)
    • 640 GB SATA II HDD
    • 6 GB DDR3 SDRAM
    • Intel Centrino Wireless-N 1030
    • Integrated Intel HD Graphics 3000 (up to 1.6 GB Dynamic Video Memory)
  3. Need to be able to run 2 or 3 VM Guests at a time (3 would be rare and can live without, if not possible.)
  4. Need to have network access from guests through the wireless card in the laptop (i.e., I should not have to depend on the wired LAN card.)
  5. Guests need to be able to access USB storage connected to host (either directly or as a remote "share".)
  6. Sound support for guests would be nice, but not critical.
  7. Auto-starting a preferred VM at host start up would be nice (again, not critical.)

Which is my best option?

  • I assume I need 64-bit host OS to access all the RAM.
  • Server or Desktop?
  • GUI or not (I assume so, even though it makes the host "heavier")?
  • KVM, VMware, or VirtualBox?

Can some one help me weigh pros and cons (or point me to relevant online resources?)

Thank you very kindly,

Grant Lindsay

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up vote 1 down vote accepted

First of all, using Virtualbox or Vmware depends on your needs. You can check out those:;siu-container

Also, you can find tons of comparison links between virtualization applications via Google. For those you listed, either Virtualbox or Vmware can do any of it easily.

If you prefer 64bit OS, that would be nice. Using multiple guest VMs will surely eat your RAMs, also consider reserving a good Swap part.

Network access via host machine is not a problem, you can easily do that.

Each application has USB and sound support.

You can autostart any VM via some scripts or just commands.

I recommend using server with a lightweight desktop, maybe Flubox.

Choosing Virtualbox or Vmware is up to you. You can use Vmware server for free, Virtualbox is totally free as you can see.

share|improve this answer
Thanks for that. Does anyone have any opinions on or experience with KVM as an alternative to VirtualBox or VMware? – Grant Lindsay Nov 4 '11 at 21:04
Just to come back to this, I ended up (twice, now) installing Ubuntu desktop, 64-bit -- first 12.04 onto a Dell laptop, then 14.04 pre-installed on a System76 laptop. Then used QEMU/Virt to host various other OSs, including Windows XP and 7 desktops, and 2000, 2003, 2008 servers. (If I remember correctly.) Overall, very happy with the configuration. – Grant Lindsay Aug 7 '14 at 16:17

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