VirtualBox vs KVM

virtualization_iconWorking in IT, it is often useful to be able to test software and try out stuff in a clean environment, to make sure you do not, inadvertently, destroy your work-laptop. Personally, I have been using VirtualBox for this for quite some time. However, one of my friends, and co-worker, (hi Maarten!) has been nagging me continuously over the past year about why I am still using VirtualBox and why I would not switch to KVM. Especially since I am running Fedora on my laptop, his argument is that using the de facto built-in way for virtualization on Linux is better (and faster) than using VirtualBox, which, admittedly, does have its quirks. Annoyingly, performance comparisons over time, seem to support his claim.

So, after trying KVM out a few times, reluctantly and not really open-minded, and failing in accomplishing what I want, I thought it was time to go ahead and REALLY figure out what is holding me back from using KVM, and if I would be able to switch from VirtualBox to KVM as my go-to virtualization software. Also, it makes for blog-post, which is always a good thing 🙂

As is the case with any kind of switch like this, it is important to define what my requirements are for the virtual machine provider, and of course, as it is a comparison, I will be comparing everything KVM does to VirtualBox, for better or worse. I might even put in some screenshots here and there.


HiDPI screens and apps 2

HiDPiAs said in the post about Fedora 20 and the Dell M3800, I would come back to elaborate on using a HiDPI screen with certain applications. As said in that post, things have improved generally since I have switched to Gnome 3.12. So, all the default applications scale well, and do their work correctly.

Now, just to set the perspective: the resolution on my laptop is 3200×1800 on a 15 inch screen. Most laptop displays currently available run 1366×768 on 15 inch (which is really bad) or 1920×1080. So, in essence, whenever I do a remote desktop from my laptop to my pc at home, which runs at 1600×1050, well, you can probably guess what happens: the Remote Desktop takes up about a quarter of my display, with all text scaled to this proportion. This can be solved by using programs such as Remmina, which is capable of doing scaling.

However, there are also programs which are not able, yet (I hope), to scale properly on a HiDPI screen… And the programs I am referring to are not obscure programs that hardly anyone uses… The most annoying one is Chrome, Google Chrome. Why it cannot handle a HiDPI screen I cannot, for the life of me, understand.

If you look at the screenshot, which will be scaled to your display, probably, you can see the difference between Firefox (upper-left) and Chrome (lower-left). See the difference between the tabs and the address bar? Also, have a look at Spotify (lower-right), Steam (Middle-right), and DropBox (upper-right). Compare those to the Calculator (to the left of DropBox), the Terminal (upper-middle) and the file-browser (lower-middle).

This should all get better eventually, I hope, but for now, I guess I’ll just have to live with squinting every now and then…

Dell Precision M3800 and Fedora 20 1

M3800 - fullI am the proud owner of a Dell Precision M3800 laptop, and when I say owner, I naturally mean user, as the laptop is officially owned by the company I work for. It is a very nice machine with very good specs, which is useful when you need to run a lot of VM’s on your machine.

The laptop has Windows 8 pre-installed, however, for my work I like to use Linux, more specifically Fedora, as it gives a bit more options here and there, and it’s less hungry on the resources. So, this post is basically about the things I encountered while installing and using Fedora 20 (the latest version), and I’ll make a new post when Fedora 21 has been released and I installed it on the laptop.

The first thing of note, is to disable UEFI boot in the BIOS and set it to Legacy BIOS boot mode. Fedora 20 should be able to work with UEFI, but I could not figure out how it worked, and after 4 tries I gave up and moved on.

When I was still working at my previous employer, I made a number of scripts to be able to reinstall my laptop quickly, so that I would be able to be up and running again pretty fast after a new version of Fedora had been released. Naturally, things break when using these kinds of scripts, even between version, so I usually test them on a VM (and sometimes I get other people to test-drive them, right, Maarten? 😉 )