Free virtualization tools worth noting

Virtualization freebies are available both from the open source community and from vendors such as Microsoft and VMware

More and more IT shops are validating the benefits of desktop and server virtualization, from energy efficiency to better resource utilization. But if you're still leery of forking over big dollars for the technology, there are some low-cost and no-cost ways to give virtualization a try.

Virtualization freebies are available both from the open source community and from vendors such as Microsoft and VMware. Here's a sampling:

Microsoft Virtual Server 2005 R2

A virtualization environment for Windows Server 2003, Windows Server 2003 Service Pack 1, Windows XP Professional Edition and Windows XP Service Pack 2. It works on x86 servers or workstations and is available in 32- or 64-bit versions.


Linux-based software that lets the IT administrator create secure virtual environments. Each virtual private server can be rebooted independently, co-existing with other virtual private servers.

The open source project is supported by SWsoft, which markets a commercial version called Virtuozzo.


Open source software for running Windows or Linux on a Macintosh. It allows users to switch between guest PCs and restart guest PCs at any point. Q also enables users to exchange files between the host operating system and the guest.

Q is based on the QEMU open source CPU emulator. You need to be careful about using Q -- according to the Web site, it is still alpha software.


A generic and open source machine emulator and virtualization software developed by Fabrice Bellard, the author of a compact C compiler. QEMU can run operating systems and programs developed for one machine on a different machine.

When used as virtualization software, the host and guest machine must use x86-compatible processors. In emulation mode, it supports x86 PFCs, MIPS R4000, Sun SPARC and PowerPC processors.

Technical Architecture Solutions TCO Calculator

Technical Architecture Solutions, a disaster recovery and business continuity consultancy, is offering a TCO Calculator for server virtualization. It is Web-based and allows IT administrators to estimate how much money they will save by using VMware ESX. The calculator consists of a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet and is based on four virtual machines per virtual server.

VMware Server, Player and Converter

VMware Server is VMware's starter kit for Windows and Linux server virtualization. It can host Windows, Linux, NetWare and Solaris as guest operating systems.

VMware Player lets IT administrators run virtual machine instances created by other VMware products. With it, you can download prebuilt virtual machines from the VMware Technology Network or share them with other organizations.

Virtual Iron Single Server Virtualization and Management

Virtual Iron's Single Server Virtualization and Management software creates Linux or Windows virtual servers. It runs in 32- and 64-bit workloads that are stored on iSCSI, storage-area networks or local storage. Virtualized nodes created with Virtual Iron's Single Server software must have Intel Virtualization Technology or AMD Virtualization hardware assist.

Virtual Iron and Provision Networks Virtual Desktop Infrastructure

An alternative to terminal services environments and fat-client desktop implementations. It lets an IT administrator host five individual Windows desktop PCs inside virtual machines running on servers in the data center.


This open source package for x86 server virtualization was developed by the University of Cambridge and commercialized by XenSource. Xen, which runs on Linux, supports Windows and Linux as guest operating systems.

XenSource XenExpress

XenExpress, from XenSource, is a free virtualization package for x86 servers that lets IT administrators host as many as four virtual machines on servers equipped with 4GB of physical RAM or two physical sockets.

It supports Windows Server 2003, Windows XP and Windows 2000 as guest operating systems. It also supports Red Hat, SUSE and Debian Linux guest operating systems.

XenExpress is based on the open source Xen hypervisor.

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Deni Connor

Network World
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