For a while it appeared development on Oracle's virtualisation product, VirtualBox, had all but ceased. The start of April however has seen it given a new lease on life, with the company releasing a beta version of 5.0, packed with new features and improvements.
Image via Wikimedia Commons / Oracle
Oracle's Frank Mehnert details the changes 5.0 brings on VirtualBox's official forums and though its tempting to update immediately, Mehnert warns that the new version is not ready for production and "should be considered a bleeding-edge release meant for early evaluation and testing purposes".
The big ticket items are paravirtualisation for Windows and Linux guests, USB 3.0, support for drag-and-drop operations between Windows, Linux and Solaris guests and disk encryption. A complete list can be found below:
- Make more instruction set extensions available to the guest when running with hardware-assisted virtualization and nested paging. Among others this includes: SSE 4.1, SSE4.2, AES-NI, POPCNT, RDRAND and RDSEED
- xHCI Controller to support USB 3 devices (requires the Extension Pack)
- Drag and drop support (bidirectional) for Windows, Linux and Solaris guests
- Disk image encryption (requires the Extension Pack)
- GUI: Detach mode: Terminate the GUI but keep the VM running and re-attach to a running VM process (see here).
- GUI: VM guest-content scaling support (including 3D acceleration)
- GUI: New User Interface settings page for customizing status-bar, menu-bar and guest-content scaling
- GUI: New Encryption settings tab for customizing encryption options for disk images
- GUI: HiDPI support including application icons and optional unscaled HiDPI output on Mac OS X (including 3D acceleration)
- GUI: Hotplugging support for SATA disks
- New, modular audio architecture for providing a better abstraction of the host audio backends
- USB hard disks
- Support for the NDIS6 networking framework on Windows (default on Vista and later)
- In addition, the following items were fixed and/or added:
- VMM: improved timing on Solaris hosts with older VT-x hosts without preemption timers
- VBoxManage: when exporting an appliance, support the suppression of MAC addresses, which means they will be always recreated on import, avoiding duplicate MAC addresses for VMs which are imported several times
- USB: added USB traffic capturing
- Made resizing X11 guests work more reliably
- API: block the removal of the current snapshot if it has child snapshots (only relevant for VMs without snapshottable hard disks, their presence always prevented removal), which resulted in VM config corruption
- API: mark VM configs with snapshots but without current snapshot as inaccessible, as this combination is nonsense
- API: fix information for some automatically generated events (only with XPCOM, Windows host was not affected), which caused errors when getting some of the attributes over the webservice (bug #12379)
- API: fix crashes in Java API clients using the XPCOM binding, happened with output parameters only (bug #11232)
- API: a number of settings (e.g. network settings) can now also be changed when the VM is in saved state
It's fair to say there's nothing astounding about the update, but that said, it's good to see Oracle is keeping VirtualBox competitive with other offerings.