Some applications have only been developed for a specific operating system. This can be inconvenient when choosing the tool we need to work with. However, there is a simple solution: create a virtual machine on our computer to simulate the operating system we need.
With the constant competition between software houses and the alliances that exist to develop tools in a certain operating system (Linux, Mac, Windows, etc), sometimes users come into conflict to use the applications they need. In the best of cases, a person can acquire two computers, but perhaps the most practical solution is to “simulate” two computers in one . That is, in a very basic definition, a virtual machine.
In other words, it is like mounting several operating systems on the same hardware, to have them available when required. Thus, you can have a Windows virtual machine on a Mac computer and vice versa, to mention something.
The reasons for using a virtual PC can range from developing applications on the computer that will run on a tablet, a mobile phone, or on a computer with another operating system, to testing security, playing video game titles or using old applications , among others..
In terms of resources, what are the implications of a virtual machine?
You can have as many operating systems as you want on the same computer, as long as the hardware requirements are met :
- memory capacity
- processor capacity
We must take into account that each operating system must be stored locally, so more disk capacity will be needed. In addition, this will put more effort on the processor.
If when reading the requirements you wonder what happens if I don’t have a powerful computer? Don’t worry, there are free virtual machines in the cloud, which could also be a solution for your project.
How is a Virtual Machine made?
Previously, creating virtual machines involved logically “partitioning” the hard drive and learning some complex processes. Fortunately, this is much easier today and you only need to install an application. She will be in charge of creating the virtual machine and managing it. The rise of this type of emulation has been such that Windows itself offers the option of doing it, with its Virtual PC software.
Now, there are other developer houses that have joined this growing need to simulate processes. Thanks to this, today names such as VMWare or VirtualBox stand out among the options to simulate original operating system environments and exploit all the potential that this implies for the benefit of users.
Without dwelling further, we are going to learn about the most outstanding free applications and hypervisors, as well as their main features.
From the experience of this application, it is considered one of the best. Also, it works fine with older hardware.
In short, its advantages include running two or even more operating systems at the same time on your computer (although the limitation comes from the actual hardware). Also, you can work with 64 and 32 bit systems.
VirtualBox or Virtual Box (as it is also known by some) is perhaps the most popular application among those that we will mention. The reason? It is a cross-platform tool, so you can use it on different computers. Thus, you can use it in an environment with Windows, Linux and even MacOS. In addition, you can emulate certain hardware and connect two virtual machines on a network with VirtualBox, to easily exchange files between them.
It is considered a general purpose application, focused on x86 hardware, and is also considered very feature rich. It also offers good performance, so the processes run smoothly without causing problems. Also, because it is an open source technology, we can guess that, in the future, it will continue to have improvements. Now, if they ask you, you already know what VirtualBox is.
Parallels lets you switch from MacOS to Windows, without having to reboot. Something that users appreciate. Therefore, it supports having two operating systems at the same time and facilitates the bidirectional exchange of files between the virtual and the real computer.
It is estimated that, to date, this option has around 7 million users and, among its best attributes, is the fast initialization of the emulation and a friendly interface for easy use. You can download Parallels for free in its trial version and evaluate if it is the best for your projects.
It is also an application that supports different platforms. Thus, you can use it to create a virtual machine on Mac, Windows and Linux, although it is one of the preferred options for the penguin’s operating system.
One thing that makes Qemu very powerful is that it emphasizes performance and flexibility.
It is more of a visualization application, developed by Microsoft, that allows you to create virtual machines on your Windows computer, to simulate systems such as Linux and MacOS.
Also known as Kernel-based Virtual Machine, KVM is the result of the research of many people, since it is open source, something common in Linux systems.
Among its main attributes is performance, although it is also very useful to be able to create a virtual machine simply, as if it were just another process. Also, virtual hardware can be configured, to make the environment as close to what is desired. In this sense, it is very powerful for developers.
If you need to run a process with a Linux or Windows environment, but from a computer with MacOS, this may be the best choice. In the same way, other systems such as Debian and Ubuntu can be emulated, as well as sharing files from the two systems that are running.
In order to emulate a different version of Windows itself, Sandbox allows a “wrapped” environment to run and test any suspicious application. In this way, if everything collapses, the equipment will not be put at risk. So, if you want to download something from the Internet and install it on your computer, but you are not entirely convinced about the reliability of the application, this may be your best option to test it in a safe environment.
Online virtual machines
For those who do not want to install software on their computer, for whatever reason, we leave you with a list of 3 options to create an online virtual machine.
- IBM Cloud
- Google Compute Engine
- Amazon WorkSpaces
After analyzing what a virtual machine is and some of the best options to emulate other operating systems on your computer, you will now have more alternatives, among other things, to play that video title that is only available for X or Y platform. And the best, without having to invest money.