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As the title says, is there? I'm a student, I'd love to play around with this technology without the fear of my licence disappearing the day I graduate from college (as it might with the Microsoft Virtual Server licence from Dream Spark.

Anyone any suggestions?

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I have not tried Xen. However, it seems I am using VirtualBox more as time passes. My understanding is that virtualization works best when your CPU/hardware supports it. – irrational John May 14 '12 at 18:27
What functionality of Microsoft Virtual Server do you use? There are plenty of open-source virtual machine platforms; some of them may or may not be suitable depending on what your needs are. – Gilles May 14 '12 at 23:09
I currently don't have a machine running Microsoft server. But I want to learn the technology. I was thinking about the possibility of running a number of virtual machines from one computer. A home media server, a small email server and a small web server for my own website. Is this feasible? I intend to buy a reasonably powerful machine to run it all on, but I'm just scouting to see if there are some free options I could use instead of MS Virtual Server where I won't be forced to pay or take everything offline when I leave college. – bot_bot May 15 '12 at 13:06
up vote 11 down vote accepted

The closest equivalents that I can think of are VirtualBox or Xen. Wikipedia has a list of virtual machine softwares.

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A quick scan and it looks like Xen will allow me to run several virtual machines on one actual machine. Thanks. – bot_bot May 14 '12 at 19:04
In my memory, Xen is more complex to set up, whereas VirtualBox is really straightforward. It has to do with Xen choosing for a slightly different technology which requires a special guest kernel. Choice is up to you. – jippie May 14 '12 at 20:09
@jippie The last time I was looking into this, Xen no longer required a special guest kernel (the necessary stuff was in place in the vanilla kernels for most major OSes) as long as you were on a fairly modern processor. – Hank Gay May 15 '12 at 14:28

Currently VirtualBox is free of charge for personal use - including professional personal use. The latter has changed (to inclusion of professional personal use) when Oracle aquired Sun. It may change back any time.

Microsoft Virtual PC is still free - but I am not sure if it runs on Windows 7 or higher.

OpenSource is Linux-KVM. Not really OpenSource (just some Versions) is XEN. Most free OpenSource Linux distributions now include KVM (e.g. Ubuntu LTS).

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Actually VirtualBox is opensource... so it can't change (in worst case there will be opensource fork) – Maciek Sawicki May 16 '12 at 8:57
@MaciekSawicki as far as I remember the OpenSource-variant does not contain some features of the binary version - like USB and sound support. – Nils May 16 '12 at 20:31
No, they change they approach. There is one VirtualBox version with plugins. Some plugins are closed source. Yes usb sounds scary, but You should notice that USB mause and keyboard are supported with out USB plugin. Source: virtualbox.org/wiki/Editions – Maciek Sawicki May 16 '12 at 21:32

Try Proxmox. It's special linux distribution dedicated for crating virtualization hosts. It's based on Debian and Supports KVM and OpenVZ. It has awesome web GUI that allows easy virtual machines managment.

I used it in my company for few months and I love it.

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This is OpenSource, but you need a licence to update patches? – Nils May 16 '12 at 20:45
No you don't need any licences. Updates are also free. I recently updated my machine from 2.0 to 2.1 with out any problems. This product is both free and open source. They have commercial mail gateway (different product) and it sometimes confuse people. – Maciek Sawicki May 16 '12 at 20:54
But if you need support you have to pay for that? I saw the lowest price was for access to "community support"? – Nils May 18 '12 at 19:46
Yes, they offer premium support, but is't only useful in production environment (if you have some critical services that mast have 99,99999999% uptime). Community support (mailing list and forum) is grate. You usually get answers for proxmox developers but response time is not guaranteed. In commercial (closed source) you also usually have to pay for support. Official license statement: pve.proxmox.com/wiki/Open_Source – Maciek Sawicki May 20 '12 at 15:13

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