Should I switch to VirtualBox?
Posted by Harald van Breederode on March 22, 2009
Over the last two weeks several students advised me to switch from VMware Server to VirtualBox mainly because of better performance. So far I wasn’t unsatisfied by the performance of VMware, but if there is something freely available that is better I would be stupid to not give it a try.
Being a trainer I learned that reading documentation isn’t going to hurt you thus I first downloaded the manual, and after converting the PDF file to a Word document for better accessibility, I read through it and I was quite happy about the features I read about. Thus my first impression was very positive.
So yesterday I decided to give it a try and downloaded the software. After making a backup of my laptop I installed it. This went without any accessibility issues because the usage of a standard Windows installer which is quite accessible. During the installation the network was brought down, which was announced by the installer, but it failed to come up afterwards. Therefore the required registration process failed also. After a reboot things turned back to normal and I managed to finish the registration process although buttons were announced as edit fields. This raised my doubts about the accessibility.
Next I tried to build a new virtual machine using the GUI interface and this is where I gave up because this thing is almost totally inaccessible! Just as in the registration wizard buttons are announced as edit fields and many other GUI elements are not read at all by my screen reader. Also the menus in the menu bar don’t read as they should and multi-page dialogs don’t seem to respond to control+tab. Lucky enough the de-installation process ran smooth without screwing things up ;-)
So the answer to my question “Should I switch to VirtualBox?” is NO! I can’t verify if the performance is indeed better, but I do know that the accessibility of VMware is way better (although not perfect) than VirtualBox and that is the #1 feature I need. I know that VirtualBox can be managed using a command line interface, but overall I consider this less optimal than my current VMware environment. I rather have something slower but accessible than something quicker but inaccessible.