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11 Virtual Machine Solutions To Ease Your Cross-Platform Checks

Sean P Aune

At one time or another, just about every designer and developer has wished that they could have more than one operating system (OS) at their disposal, but not all of us can afford multiple computers due to money constraints or physical space restrictions.

That is where virtual machines come in handy as they allow you to run more than one OS on your current desktop at a fraction of the cost, and sometimes even for free, without having to buy a separate machine. We’ve gathered up 11 solutions that should cover all of your bases.

Virtual Machines For Running Multiple Operating Systems

Bochs: Bochs is a handy virtual machine that can run on numerous systems down to ARM-based IPAQs. The guest operating systems are too numerous to list, but they includes all of the usual suspects including some off-the-wall entries like OS/2 and QNX.

Parallels: Parallels is probably the best known virtual machine out there simply because it is one of the easiest to use, and got the most attention for it being the first Mac host to work with the Intel chips to bring Windows to the Apple systems. While it is best known for its ability to run Windows, Parallels is also capable of supporting Linux, FreeBSD, OS/2 and more.

Parallels Desktop: While Parallels is most associated with Macs, there is a version for Windows and Linux systems. With Parallels Desktop you can run Windows, Linux, FreeBSD, OS/2, eComStation, MS-DOS and Solaris on your systems.

VirtualBox: VirtualBox is an x86 virtualization solution from Sun Microsystems that is free and open source. It can run on Windows, Linux, Macintosh and OpenSolaris hosts. Guest operating systems include DOS, just about every flavor of Windows, Linux, Solaris, OpenSolaris, OpenBSD and more.

Virtual Machine Manager: Virt Manager, as it is more commonly known, is a virtual machine manager that allows you to run both local and remote virtual machines with multiple operating systems on your Red Hat Linux install.

VMWare: VMWare as a company is considered an industry leader in the system virtualization market, and as such the company makes so many different solutions for OS virtual machines that it would almost be impossible to list them all. Suffice it to say, if you have one OS, they probably have a solution for you to run another one on your system.

Xen: Xen runs on NetBSD, Linux and Solaris systems to emulate FreeBSD, NetBSD, Linux, Solaris, Windows XP, Windows 2003 Server and more. The program is released under the GPL license.

Virtual Machines For Running Microsoft Operating Systems

Boot Camp: Boot Camp is an included utility in the past few versions of Mac OS X that allows Intel-based Macs to run Windows XP, Vista or Windows 7 inside of the Macintosh environment or to reboot the system into.

DOSBox: DOSBox is built around running DOS games, but some people have had success with getting Windows 3.1 to run inside of it. Due to the architecture of the program, DOSBox has been ported to many different operating systems including Windows, BeOS, Linux, Mac OS X and more.

Internet Explorer Application Compatibility VPC Images: Ever wondered what your new design looks like in Internet Explorer 6 running on Windows XP SP3? Don’t have that installed? No problem! Microsoft provides you with numerous images that let you see how things look in various versions of Internet Explorer running on Windows XP and Vista. Should be quite handy with Windows 7 coming at us at full speed.

Microsoft Virtual PC: Formerly known as Virtual PC, Microsoft Virtual PC is a new feature in Windows 7 that will allow you to run a licensed version of Windows XP SP3 in a new feature called “Windows XP Mode.” Older versions of the program on various system configurations are capable of running numerous versions of Windows, and in some cases you can even convince it to run Linux.