When it comes to Linux, there certainly is no shortage of virtualization software. They’re all great programs; however most, if not all of them, are geared toward people who have a complete grasp of the advanced aspects of virtual machines.
Enter Gnome Boxes, a program created to make virtualization easier. Does it have what it takes to beat out programs like Virtualbox or VMware? Find out below!
Where to get Gnome Boxes
For Ubuntu users:
For Fedora users:
Is your distribution not listed above? Don’t worry. Gnome Boxes is probably in your Linux distros’ software repository. Just open up your package manager and search for “gnome-boxes” or something similar and then install it.
If you are using Gnome Shell, chances are it is already installed in your system.
How to set up a virtual machine in Gnome Boxes
Setting up virtual machines in Boxes is fairly simple. The first thing you’ll need to do is obtain an ISO file. The great thing about this program is that the installation process is very hands-off. Just find an ISO (in this example we’ll be using Fedora 22) and paste the direct link inside the “enter URL” box.
Note: it’s also possible to browse for an ISO instead of pasting a URL into the URL box.
After that, Gnome Boxes will go out and obtain an ISO to use. This may take a bit of time.
When the program has finished obtaining the live disc for installation, it will automatically set the ideal settings for the virtual machine you’re looking to create. Don’t bother customizing it unless you’re an expert on virtual machines.
Press the Create button, and your new virtual machine will be created and go to first boot.
Now that your machine has booted up, just go through the standard installation for whatever Linux distribution you’ve selected. When the installation has been completed, reboot your VM.
Once rebooted you’ll be able to use your virtual machine.
Note: you’ll need to eject the live disc after installing it to use your virtual machine.
Why you should consider using Gnome Boxes
Gnome Boxes is a pretty solid virtualization tool. It works great for just about any use case. Want to virtualize a server? Simple! Gnome Boxes uses QEMU, so you’ll be able to take advantage of great virtualization via KVM, a standard for virtualization on Linux.
Boxes aims to make virtualization simple on the Linux platform. For the most part, it succeeds. The program makes it very easy to get a VM going and set up using the very same technology (KVM) that professionals have been using for years now but without the hassle.
Not into servers? Don’t worry. If you’re just looking for a program on Linux that you can run your copy of Windows 7 in, Boxes is perfect. Seeing as how the main goal of this program is its ease of use and simplicity, getting an OS running is a piece of cake.
It’s safe to say, if you’re new to virtualization or maybe you’re just looking to get a machine up and running right away as easily as possible, Gnome Boxes is certainly a good option. It’ll help you get done what you need to. It might not come with the most features, but sometimes that’s exactly what you want.
Why you should consider avoiding Gnome Boxes
Boxes is a great tool for beginners and casual virtual machine users looking to accomplish tasks without much fuss, but make no mistake, it’s just the replacement for something like VMware, Virtualbox, Xenserver or something else along those lines.
The biggest problem is that Boxes is centered around simplicity; it’s a watered down front end to a very powerful set of tools. A lot of features you’ve come to expect will most likely be missing. For example: the ability to control and set CPUs, shared folders, video memory or even turning your VM into a headless server will most likely be absent.
If you’re eager to replace your Virtualbox or VMware instance with a similar setup, you might want to pass on Gnome Boxes and instead check out VirtManager. It uses the same backend that Gnome Boxes does (libvirt and KVM), but it’s packed with a lot more features for advanced users.
Boxes is a great tool and a step in the right direction for making virtualization easier to implement. It’s not the fanciest program on the block, but a solid start nonetheless. Those looking to set up a simple virtual machine on their Linux install, be it server-based or a desktop operating system, should seriously give this program a shot.
What do you think about Gnome Boxes? Do you like it? Do you hate it? Let us know below!