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Is it possible to install any virtual machine software as non-root user and run it ?

Which VM's are possible to be installed with out need of root access ?

If it is not possible what would be the most light weight virtual machine to use for a few VM's running windows xp sp3 ?

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up vote 6 down vote accepted

Any real virtualization needs low-level access to the CPU, and thus root must install it. Once installed you don't need to be root to run it. You could probably install and run an emulator as non-root, such as bochs, or an adapter such as wine. If you have a specific Windows app in mind you could just run it under wine (maybe).

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possible could but I would have to request an application to be converted to mono in order for it to work as well which would be a lot of trouble actually not even know if they would actually do it, thanks for the answer. Would you happen to know what are the most light VM's to simple run window xp sp3 with 2 really small memory usage apps ? – Prix Jun 1 '11 at 19:48
Probably your best bet would be VMware player. It's free from VMware. – Keith Jun 1 '11 at 20:24

For KVM, you need access to the device /dev/kvm. If your user can read/write to this device, then you can run KVM-based virtual machines as your user.

For most other accelerated technologies, you will need kernel modules loaded (this includes virtualbox and VMWare). This almost certainly requires root-level access.

You can run non-accelerated virtualisation technologies as any user. For example, qemu in non-accelerated mode. Be aware it will be very slow compared to accelerated virtualisation.

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thaks the non-accelerated information was usefull ;) – Prix Jun 1 '11 at 19:49

User mode Linux is a Linux virtualization solution that runs entirely in userspace - no root privileges required.

However, it can only run a Linux guest within a Linux host, so it's not suitable if you want to run anything else.

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A virtual machine needs quite low-level access to the processor (and other hardware) to be efficient. Therefore you won't see any well-performing VM software that can be installed non-root.

As for lightweight virtual machines, the lightness is achieved by only including needed features. This requires some knowledge about the OS that will be run, and so open-source lightweight VMs (Plex86, LilyVM) only support open-source operating systems. By this logic, it might be that Microsoft Virtual PC is more lightweight than VirtualBox/VMWare/etc. but I really don't know. VirtualBox is available in open-source, is quite usable and has always been sufficient for my purposes (but I've tried others).

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Virtualbox 4.0.8 needs to be installed as root offcourse, but afterwards you can let users make there own VM's. You just have to be a member of the group vboxusers

usermod -G vboxusers USERNAME

Have a look at this link, nice article how to run it headless, straight from the shell. I also really dig that it supports the RDP protocol, meaning you can just use rdesktop to connect.

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QEmu is able to do that. I've done it several times. Not extremely performant though

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