Comparing VirtualBox and VMware Workstation Player

Virtual Shootout

Article from Issue 204/2017

VirtualBox and VMware Workstation Player are popular virtualization options that won't cost you a penny. Which is best for you?

For many users, virtualization is a daily part of the computing experience. Test an application? Switch to a different OS without shutting down? Run a program that only works in Windows? The possibilities are endless.

Several popular options exist for supporting virtualization on a Linux workstation; two of the most popular alternatives are VirtualBox and VMware. The common conception is that VirtualBox is a free tool and VMware is a commercial solution with a price tag. The reality is a bit more complicated. VMware does make a no-cost version of their VMware Workstation solution called VMware Workstation Player [1]. VMware Workstation Player is only free for non-commercial uses; if you want to use it for business, you'll need to buy a license.

VirtualBox [2] is indeed a free and open source virtualization solution, but certain advanced features are collected into an extension pack that you'll need to install separately [3]. You can use the extensions without cost for non-commercial purposes. The project website is a little vague on what to do if you want to use the VirtualBox extensions for commercial purposes, but the answer appears to be the VM VirtualBox package from VirtualBox parent company Oracle [4].


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