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VirtualBox Seamless Mode: The only way to virtualize

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I’ve been putting off writing about VirtualBox for a while now (mostly because other topics have come to the front of my mental queue.) But when I finally started poking around at some of the nuances of this tool I realized that I had to bring it up here on Techrepublic. One of those “nuances” (if you can actually call it that) is Seamless Mode. To sum it up, Seamless Mode is amazing. If you’ve not tried it (or VirtualBox) you are missing out on a feature that can help to make the guest operating system seem, well, seamless within the host.

But seamless isn’t something new. VMWare started it with their “Unity” mode (which in turn is a direct copy of the “Coherance” feature in OS X’s Parellels Desktop.) But VirtualBox does all of this under the GPL 2 (If you’re using VirtualBox OSE) and for free.

I have used plenty of virtualization tools. I started using VMWare back when it was first released. I had to do this when working in an environment that required I use a certain template for documents that I had trouble using in Linux. With the help of VMWare I was able to use this template in a guest Windows operating system on a Red Hat host. Back then there was no “Unity”, “Seamless”, or “Coherance” (heck there wasn’t an OS X at that point.) so I was always working in a window within a window within a desktop. When other users would see this it would confuse them…very common reaction to new users trying to work with virtual machines. The very concept of VMs escape them. Imaging having to explain to an new user they are working on a “program in an operating system within an operating system”. For the average user this is too much information. And that’s why the VirtualBox seamless mode is a perfect solution for a problem that could easily plague admins.

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