random memes }

VirtualBox as free software

File this under "Missing the Obvious".

I bought VMware Workstation several years back. Used virtual machines quite a lot in developing and testing software. The company I work for licensed the enterprise version of VMware, at least in part due to developer experience using VMware. A few of the VMs currently hosted under the enterprise version of VMware started out running under VMware on my desktop.

A few years back - well after EMC acquired VMware - I got the distinct impression that the desktop version of VMware was somewhat neglected. I was losing increasing amounts of time to locked-up VMs, messed up keymaps, and even main desktop lockup. This provided an incentive to try Sun's VirtualBox, which proved more reliable for my usage.

Oracle gained ownership of the VirtualBox software with the Sun acquisition. Is there any strong reason for Oracle to offer and develop the "free" version of VirtualBox, or will the desktop version of VirtualBox suffer the same apparent neglect as did the the desktop version of VMware?

Of late I was reviewing the documentation we sent to our customers with the last software release, as we are rolling up to a small update in the near future, and a larger release a bit later. In the documentation we send to customers, we have a prominent declaration of support for running under VMware. This was an easy declaration to make, as developers used VMware heavily in development and testing. We knew our product ran under VMware.

Now this is somewhat less true. Certainly the more elaborate test setups (mine) are all run under VirtualBox. I expect things all still work under VMware, but I personally no longer have a basis to make that assertion. For the next release, we will likely add an statement of support for VirtualBox.

As to the obvious bit I had missed:

Many of our customers are still not using virtualization software. Generally customers move from a physical machine to a VM at the time of a major version upgrade. At the next major version upgrade, we will offer a recommendation for VirtualBox.

Oh. Right. I had forgotten about that multiplier. Selling enterprise virtualization to our customers represents many more opportunities than any in-house usage at our development outfit. Nevermind my misgivings - offering free software to developers is about the best advertising Oracle could buy.

Does Oracle know this?