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.


The Big Migration – Consolidating my accounts – Execution

Original Image: -

Original Image: –

As described in The Big Migration – Consolidating my accounts – Preparation, I am moving my @gmail account to my @gapps account. The main reason is to provide me with only one account to sign in to.

Just to refresh everyone’s memory, here is the list of stuff that I want to transfer:

Google Tools:

  • AdSense
  • Analytics
  • Android (i.e.: Play Store)
  • Calendar
  • Chrome
  • Contacts
  • Drive
  • Gmail (naturally)
  • Finance
  • Google+
  • Google Now
  • Hangouts
  • Maps
  • Picasa
  • Web history
  • Webmaster Tools

Connected Tools:

  • Chrome Remote Desktop
  • Feedly
  • WordPress (to be able to get my posts to Google+)
  • WordPress – Google Analytics Dashboard for WP (to get my Analytics data to the dashboard on my site)


The Big Migration – Consolidating my accounts – Preparation 1

migrate-to-cloudAs described in“The ancient way” – or why I am still using Thunderbird for mail, I am still using a client, Thunderbird, to access my Gmail accounts. This has both its advantages and disadvantages, an example of the latter being that I am always dependent on a connection to my server (in the setup that I am running, which is not optimal, to say the least).

One of the reasons why I have not yet moved to the online model, is that I like having an overview of everything in one view, something that Thunderbird provides me with. However, this is also possible in Gmail, if you set up some forwarding and import rules, so basically, consolidating everything into one account.

This has the added advantage that Google Now (which I use a lot) will be able to also show me information on orders that I placed at stores, travel details, and so on.

Unfortunately, there is no button to press to get everything done magically, so I will have to manually move everything from my Gmail account (@gmail) to my Google Apps account (@gapps). Then again: maybe there are tools that I can use. Let us dive a bit deeper.


“The ancient way” – or why I am still using Thunderbird for mail 1

thunderbird_gmailIn  the olden days, when one was looking for an email client, you either ended up with Outlook Express (as it was included with Windows) or Outlook, as it was included in pretty much all Office versions.

Back in those days, pretty much all email you received in your client would be transferred via POP, or the Post Office Protocol. As user mailboxes were not that big at the time, I believe it was 20MB at most ISPs in the Netherlands, POP would download your mail into your client and then delete it from the server.

When the first free email providers started, Hotmail (which apparently started with only 2MB) and Yahoo! Mail, you started to get the ability to save more and more mails in your mailbox, but occasionally, you would still have to delete items to free up space. It must be mentioned, that emails back then were also a lot smaller than the ones we have now.

When Gmail was first launched, in 2004, it provided users with a whopping 1GB of mail. Hotmail and Yahoo followed suit and also started offering more storage space.


Tools, tools, tools

There are many online tools these days, which you can use for just about anything. Apart from the usual suspects, like Facebook, Twitter and Google (of which the first two are not necessarily tools), there are a number of other tools, which aim to increase your productivity. I have mentioned a number of these in another post, To cloud or not to cloud. Of course, not all tools mentioned there are ones that I use.

As you start looking around to improve your own productivity, you start to try tools, and stick with them, or not. At the moment, the tools I use most extensively are Evernote, Wunderlist, TrelloGoogle Calendar, and Dropbox.

I think that I have written enough about Evernote, but for this article, let’s just keep it at that I use it as my digital filing cabinet. Wunderlist is a to-do-list app, which you can use to keep track of your to-do’s and share them with others as well. Trello is more of a project management application, based on a Kanban Board, I am using it to see if it useful for planning projects. Google Calendar, well, that is basically what the name says: a calendar. It has my appointments in it, and such, which is what it is made for. Dropbox is well-known, I would assume, but just in case someone does not know it yet, it is a file-syncing service, which puts your files in the cloud and makes them (readily) available on every device you have installed Dropbox on. (more…)


PC-view-1024x449In addition to Ninite, which I have described in an earlier post, another useful tool that I ran into some time ago is Soluto. First brought to my attention in this article on Lifehacker, the additional linked article, albeit a bit old, got me thinking about possible use-cases.

Soluto is basically PC-monitoring software with cloud access. A small application is installed that monitors your PC’s boot-time, if there are Windows updates available, if you have a firewall and antivirus installed, detects application crashes and things like how much free space there is left and temperature readings for the hardware.

On a free account, which you can use for personal use, you get access to five slots for devices, which means, in my case, that I can use Soluto to keep an eye on my dad’s computer, my mom’s laptop and Evelien’s computer. It cuts down on maintenance, because I can make sure that Windows updates are installed and applications are updated.

Every week, you can get a report in your mail that shows you some information on a machine, which, I assume, is picked randomly in the free version. If you start paying for the service, there are more options available, and you can manage more than five machines.

Additionally, and this is why it is relevant to me as well, you can keep a number of applications up-to-date. To be able to do this, Soluto teamed up with Ninite, yes, that Ninite. Although it is not possible to install/update all applications Ninite provides, just having the ability to do so, is great, and it would be even better if they would expand upon that.

And that pretty much sums it up, it is not the best tool in the world, but it helps me, so I thought I’d share.

Ninite – Automating Windows software installations

NiniteAh, Ninite, how you have made my life easier!

In the olden days, when still using Windows XP, I used to fiddle around with my PC a lot, and, consequently, probably averaged one reinstall of Windows every three months, if not more. Add to that the fact that I was also the “PC-maintenance-guy” for my family, and some friends, and the average of installs per month might come up to one.

However, one install usually took me about a day, from putting the Windows XP Install Disc in the drive, to having everything up and running again to my liking, or to the liking of the person that I was doing the installation for. So, after having done this a multitude of times, I figured it was time to try and automate the whole process. That’s how I ended up on the MSFN Forums and the Unattended Installation Guide.

I will spare you all the (technical) details and how it was put together, but it suffices to say that you would start the installation of Windows XP, wait until the T-12 stage (=the moment where the setup would say “12 minutes remaining”), then you would be able to select which user to create, which programs to install, and some registry tweaks. After you hit the OK button, you could go do some other stuff, and when you’d come back, Windows XP would be up and running and, after restoring some files from backup, you would be ready to roll.

Fast-forward to present day, and we have Windows 7, which installs a whole lot faster, and with less choices to make during the install, than Windows XP does. I researched an automated installation for Windows 7, but, the process seems more complex and I could not really find the motivation to do it anymore. This was helped by the fact that Windows 7 is rock-solid and, generally, an installation lasts for more than a year, usually.

However, I was still a bit annoyed by the fact of having to install all programs every time after an installation. Not just because of the time it takes, but mostly because you need to find the latest version, download it, etc, so you are stuck spending most part of your day installing all your programs again.

That is: until a colleague pointed out Ninite to me. It’s as easy as selecting the programs you want on the site, click the big green “Get Installer” button, download the installer and run it. And if you are even more lazy, you copy the link to somewhere safe, so you are able to download it again, or make adjustments without having to select everything again.

Ninite also makes sure to unselect all the toolbar-options in the installers, so your browser is not laden with toolbars and/or plugins. And if you feel that some of your programs are in need of an update, just run the Ninite installer again, and your programs are updated.

So go out there and use Ninite if you are on Windows, because it is a huge timesaver!