Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Project to try: QEMU

I came across QEMU in an old Linux Journal. And what is QEMU?

QEMU is a generic and open source machine emulator and virtualizer.

When used as a machine emulator, QEMU can run OSes and programs made for one machine (e.g. an ARM board) on a different machine (e.g. your own PC). By using dynamic translation, it achieves very good performances.

When used as a virtualizer, QEMU achieves near native performances by executing the guest code directly on the host CPU. QEMU supports virtualization when executing under the Xen hypervisor or using the KVM kernel module in Linux. When using KVM, QEMU can virtualize x86, server and embedded PowerPC, and S390 guests.

This is all a fancy way of saying, that apparently you can run a Linux box under Windows in a free and efficient way. The setup looks simple too.

I keep threatening to kick Windows off my laptop and turn it into a Linux only show. But then, I start think about what happens every time a client sends me a PowerPoint doc, or I need to do IE testing.

I'm thinking QEMU coulkd give me a linux sandbox to play in. And if I like it so much, I can flip things around and run Windows in the virtual environment.

Regardless, this virtualization stuff is amazingly powerful - I should be playing with it.

Anyone have any feedback on QEMU or other easy-to-setup Linux virtual setups?


  1. Ben you have to try VirtualBox. It is lightyears ahead of QEMU It is open source, loved and respected by all its peers... you get the picture.

    FWIW it is trivial to set up "shared folders" between Windows and Linux... it is just a joy to use.

  2. Another vote for VirtualBox. I use it most days and it works great.

  3. Hey Guys -

    Thanks for the suggestion. VirtualBox it is!


  4. I've used both (and others) I'd have to agree with the use of VirtualBox in its current incarnation. Early versions left lots to be desired, but its last few releases have been amazing.

    On the QEMU/KVM side, its great if you are looking to run a headless system, but otherwise it limits the control you have on the settings. Using vnc you can get around some of the display issue, but if you are working with VPNs you can sometimes loose access to the VNC port. We are using QEMU for hosting Windows on our Linux workstations at work and I'm not totally enjoying it... I wish we had selected a better desktop hosting VM. Supposedly the latest version of QEMU on Red Hat is suppose to have better desktop emulation, but we aren't using it yet.