pls recommend a virtual machine software

Discussion in 'sandboxing & virtualization' started by ysatis, Apr 12, 2010.

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  1. ysatis

    ysatis Registered Member

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    ok my 1st post so sorry if not in right place.

    My laptop keeps getting messed up since I try different software to learn. someone recently told me that why don't a virtual machine. I did a search on google (though i do not trust google but do not know any other search engine which is equally good) and the name deepfreeze came up. Then i searched a bit more and looks like i used to be a good software in the past.

    What is a good virtual machine software that I can use in the pc environment. i want something which will give me the look and feel of windows xp. also please tell if you are recommending a freeware or a shareware. I do not know anything more about virtual machine yet but assume they are very easy to install and use.

    Also, will there be any problem if I install a VM and use norton ghost to take a image of my laptop.

    btw what other search engine options are available (which do not track each and every activity like google does)
     
  2. Triple Helix

    Triple Helix Webroot Product Advisor

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    Last edited: Apr 12, 2010
  3. JRViejo

    JRViejo Global Moderator

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  4. Triple Helix

    Triple Helix Webroot Product Advisor

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  5. Peter2150

    Peter2150 Global Moderator

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    Since I like to be able to do serious testing I use the Vmware Workstation. Not cheap but powerful.

    Two major considerations.

    1. The host has to have adequate resources to build a good vm machine.

    2. Licenses. You do have to have the OS licenses.

    Pete
     
  6. whitedragon551

    whitedragon551 Registered Member

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    VMWare Workstation is what I use at home. I like the ability to create snap shots.

    Peter number 2 only applies with Windows and Mac. If you are using a Linux distro it doesnt matter.
     
  7. chinook9

    chinook9 Registered Member

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    I highly recommend the free VMWare Player 3. I have tried VirtualBox which many recommend but, to me, it seems to be more complex and I have never had success with it.

    To get the feel of VMWare Player and its use, start out easy and download a Linux Mint appliance. This will start very easily and it will give you a chance to learn to use the VMWare Player before you start trying to install your own OS on it.

    When you're ready to install your WinXP on it, do so and don't worry about activation of the XP for a while. You have a month to play around and you can activate it just the way you normally would.

    Once you have a pristine, clean, activated WinXP install with SP2 and SP3, duplicate the whole XP folder, open the new one as a virtual environment, give it a new name, and save one of the files as your master.

    After this you play around with one of the environments until its full of crap, delete it, and start on a new pristine one. I have 5 copies of pristine XP SP3 environments on my machine just ready to go when I want to try out software.

    If you decide you must have VMWare Tools, do a search and figure out how to get them. It was very easy for me to do this the first time, but it was convoluted the second time....had to install trial of vmware workstation and copy the VMWare Tools out of it.

    Now, after I've said all this, I'm not sure a laptop can handle the virtual environment, but it won't hurt to try.

    Good luck!
     
  8. pajenn

    pajenn Registered Member

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    I have VMware Workstation installed on my laptop, so that's not a problem, except in that virtual machines take lots of space. I only keep a relatively slim virtual WinXP/SP2 on a local hard drive (not on C: partition), and another one on an external USB hard drive.

    Virtual Box is fine too, but unlike VMware it doesn't support dragging and dropping from real desktop to virtual machine (makes moving files to it a lot less convenient). If you do decide to try it, you first need to create a new machine (Machine -> New from menu), which is done by directing vbox to your WinXP source CD (or an iso of it), and installing it like you'd normally install windows, except it will be virtual. When that's done, boot your new machine and choose install 'Guest Additions' from the menu (that makes everything else easier). The next step is to add a shared folder (Devices -> Shared Folders...), but it won't show up on the virtual machine until you add it from My Computer -> Tools -> Map Network Drive... (on the virtual machine). You now use that folder to transfer files between your real and virtual computer. After that just activate and update your new virtual XP, configure it as you like (basic settings/programs only), and last step is to take a snapshot of this new fresh machine so you can always return to that clean state. One last thing, Virtual Box saves the snapshots to some folder on your C: drive by default, and they can take up a lot of space and be tricky to move later on, so it's best to specify a custom snapshot location on a different partition (Machine -> Settings -> Advanced -> Snapshot Folder) before you take any snapshots.
     
  9. s23

    s23 Registered Member

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    Well... first i think you need know that exist 2 types of alternatives:

    1- System Virtualization: this englobe the type of software that virtualize your system. SO after you enable the protection, all changes made will be redirected and not committed to the hard drive. AFter restart, all changes will be gone. IN this category, we have:
    Deep Freeze (paid)
    Shadow Defender (Have the option to virtualize more than one partition - the others softwares virtualize only the system partition. Paid - lifetime license).
    Returnil (have a free version, come with AV that can be disabled).
    If you use Windows XP or Vista you can use Windows steady state (free). Not sure if it works in Windows x64.
    In this cases, you cannot test softwares that need a restart, because after restart all changes are gone. The advantage is that you virtualize your system, so you not need a "good machine" in terms of system resources.

    2- Virtual Machines
    This type of software "take" part of your hardware (you determine) and "create" a new computer, so you install the Operating system in it (because of this Peter mentioned the issue with licenses) and can use it to do whatever you want, like in a common computer. The negative part is: you need a computer with resources enough to run 2 operating systems (hard disk space, RAM and CPU) or whenever quantity of virtual machines you wanna run. In this category we have Virtualbox and vmware player, both free, but if I'm not wrong, only virtualbox can take snapshots of the system (snapshots work like backups, so after changes you can rollback your Virtual machine to the point you take the snapshots - For me is one of the most important features).
    Vmware workstation (paid) have alot of good features, but is not cheap.

    Hope this can help you understand better the options.

    Take care.
     
  10. Triple Helix

    Triple Helix Webroot Product Advisor

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    And full clones also :thumb:

    TH
     
  11. ratwing

    ratwing Guest

    If you go the system virtualization route,you would be well served with
    Returnil 2010 Home Lux,Returnil 2010 classic or ShadowDefender.

    If you go the full virtual machine route,my only experience has been with
    VirtualBox,and it has been excellent.

    Just remember,you will need a separate and registrable copy of XP to load in your VirtualBox.

    I have 1 gig of Ram,and due to a highly tweaked system,with a lot of unneeded services turned off,on both my real, and virtual machine,I am able to get by very well running XP Sp3 as guest in Virtual Box,on my system with the same XP Sp3.

    But it is good to remember you need the RAM and CPU to run TWO systems.
    I allocate 300 m to my Virtual XP,but most would say you need at least 512 Ram to run one instance of XP,so a Gig or more is needed to run XP on a Virtual Box with XP as host.


    I have used system virtualization for a good while,and love it.
    I have never found a solution that protects me from malware,and my
    own incompetence as well as it has.
    Virtual Machines are new to me,but if you do go with one,they are really handy,and as my signature says: FUN!!

    good luck!!
    rat
     
  12. wat0114

    wat0114 Guest

    Sun's Virtualbox is freeware and works very well. Snapshots can be created easily.
     
  13. ysatis

    ysatis Registered Member

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    Hello every. Just want to share a brief update with you all. It's not that i posted and then ran away. The response from has really rich & useful but with my little knowledge and slow learning abilities I need time to digest all the information. So i am very much thankful to everyone for sharing, guiding, and helping me learn. BTW, I have not finalized or installed any tool yet :doubt:

    In addition to trying to digest the information (the replies in this post and useful link shared by JRViejo), i googled and found Sandboxie. I notice that some of posters are or already have used that but have recommended a different solution. That is confusing o_O

    BTW, i looked at Sandboxie's website and the size of the file is unbelievable. Can such a small file really do an effective job? :doubt:

    Anyway, it looks good (from the description on their website). Can I use Sandboxie as a starting point and while I continue my research to eventually select a final VM. At least something will be better than nothing but at the same time I hope it will not mess up my machine. Are there any tips you can kindly share. I know I will read their website and forum too later.

    From what I have read, some people seem to use more than 1 VM. That is confusing but maybe in due time i will learn the hard way.

    Look forward to your further help. thanks :)
     
  14. ratwing

    ratwing Guest

    ysatis:

    Yes,maybe there is some confusion.
    We covered System Virtualization.
    That is products such as Returnil,ShadowDefender,Deep Freeze,Windows Steady State.

    And we covered full virtual machines,products such as Virtual Box,VMWare.

    Sandboxie on the other hand is Application Virtualization.
    On the surface,many people never get beyond its ability to isolate and virtualize your browser.

    It can do much,much,more,and it is probably a failure of our advice that we did not suggest this as your FIRST line of research.

    I doubt that many people use more than one virtual machine,but many use more than one virtualization software.

    I use VirtualBox as a full virtual machine.
    ShadowDefender,as system Virtualization,
    and Sandboxie as application virtualization.

    I hope someone with a less convoluted,muddy writing style than myself will pitch in here.

    It is a different paradigm from Anti-Virus,Firewall,on demand scanners,but if you stick with your research,you will begin to see not only the power,but the simplicity of virtualization.

    respect,
    rat
     
  15. ysatis

    ysatis Registered Member

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    System Virtualization vs. Application Virtualization :eek: :argh: what's that

    On a serious note, thank you ratwing for your reply. I know this is not going to be easy in the start but the good thing is that I am learning (though slowly).

    thank you again.
     
  16. ratwing

    ratwing Guest

    Sorry.
    System virtualization is a program that you can boot into,and everything you do,with any program you use,will be "removed" with reboot (unless you choose to save it,in the payed versions).
    If you choose, while in the protected mode, of this program, to delete half your installed programs,they will "return" at reboot.

    "Application Virtualization" concerns only the programs you run under its protection.

    Say, in Sandboxie, for example,you decide to run your PDF viewer,(Adobe,or Foxit,whatever,)and open an infected PDF..

    the PDF and its "bad" payload, are confined to that sandbox,and can not infect your "real" "non-Virtualized" system.

    You are so right!! Baby steps,the words of the day,are "Baby Steps"!!

    Thank you for your interest!!
    rat
     
  17. pajenn

    pajenn Registered Member

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    I started with Sanboxie several years ago - it was so small that I thought what the hell... I was amazed how well it worked. I mostly used it to run installers (i'd install programs into the sandbox to see if they were virus free and what changes they would make to my system). For me Sandboxie has worked 100% in terms of keeping programs contained, but only about 85% of them install and run successfully. (Programs that require reboots generally don't work).

    Note: Sandboxie itself is small, but if you install a 100 MB program into the Sandbox and download another 100 MB of files into it, then obviously that's how much space the sandbox will take. You can delete (clean out) the box with one click of the mouse, but if you defrag your system frequently, then it may be a good idea to setup the sandbox on a non-system partition. i.e. keep test programs out of the way.

    Next I tried Returnil 2008 Free which rocked, although I later switched to ShadowDefender because Returnil got bundled with an antivirus program that I didn't need or want. This way I could install anything for testing until reboot. (Obviously applications that require a reboot were still out).

    The last step was to try virtualbox and vmware workstation. The former is free and slimmer, while the later is slicker and more user-friendly. With virtual machines you can install almost anything on them (rebooting is no problem either). For example, if I'm making a BartPE recovery boot cd (or testing a new plugin to one), it's faster to try booting a virtual machine to it than my real computer (especially if you are just testing to see if your boot disk even succeeds to load). I can also test defraggers (see how they defrag), I can test backup programs (create and restore backups) - something I'd rather not do on my actual machine just to see if a restore works (I mean, if it doesn't and leaves the system wrecked!!!) - or recently I installed Rollback Rx to several virtual machines and then I messed with it to see what the limits were and what would wreck my computer were I to install it for real... Finally, I also use ThinApp to make portable virtual apps to run off a USB or when I intend to use the app rarely and don't want it add crap to my real registry. (ThinApp requires a fresh (virtual) test machine).

    So why do I still have Sandboxie and ShadowDefender? Well, if I just want to run a browser virtualized or install a small program to see what files it includes and what registry changes it wants to make, then powering up a full virtual machine is overkill. And if I want to see how a program interacts with my actual system (say a previous version of the same program), then I need to install it with Sandboxie or ShadowDefender. The former is lighter and sandboxes only the specific application (e.g. web browser), while the latter virtualizes the whole system so if Sandboxie fails to install a program I try to run it in Shadow mode (ShadowDefender), or if there's a problem that requires deleting files and registry values to track down, then I can do that safely in shadow mode (without deleting anything permanently).

    In summary, Sandboxie, ShadowDefender/Returnil and Virtualbox/VMware all serve slightly different purposes, but Sandboxie is an excellent place to start.
     
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2010
  18. ysatis

    ysatis Registered Member

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    Thank you (each and everyone)for your for replies and guidance.

    ratwin and pajenn: i thankful for your recent replies and they are big help. thanks you for that.

    I think i will take the baby steps :) and try sandbox one of these days and in parallel learn read more about virtualbox and wmware and then try one of them. At this time there is so much information to digest. thank you to all of you for that ;) It's just that I am little confused about the license thing that peter mentioned. I have a licensed xp but did peter mean that I will need another license if i use Wmware (oh this is not easy but i am learning) :)

    thanks all.
     
  19. zx81

    zx81 Registered Member

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    maybe you'd be better off with macrium reflect (full image restore from external source) or even comodo timemachine, snapshot restore

    they are both free, macrium reflect has a paid version which adds features

    (If OS is within your reach, windows 7 ultimate has included virtual PC (XP mode) to which you can set up and image and then backit up/transfer it between machines; only problem is its XP SP3, if you like win7)
     
  20. ratwing

    ratwing Guest

    Hello ysatis:

    Yes,if you use a virtual machine such as VMware or Virtualbox,
    you will need another registrable copy of Windows.

    Even though there is only one physical machine,Microsoft counts the
    the virtual box as another install.

    respect,
    rat
     
  21. Chuck57

    Chuck57 Registered Member

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    I use XP Home on virtualbox. It's an old copy I've had laying around unused for 3 or 4 yrs. It registered without a problem.

    I'm installing vmware player on my laptop, just to see the difference between it and vb. I'll use an older version of XP Pro on it. xp pro was on a long dead computer 5 or 6 yrs ago. It should register.

    I think, not sure, after 3 yrs you can re-register xp and it'll work without having to call and lie to the microsoft about what you're doing.
     
  22. ratwing

    ratwing Guest

    Thanks Chuck 57!!
    I know when I tried to use the same disk,and key code in my virtualBox,instal of XP pro,that I have on my real,or host system,it accepted the code,no problem,but then refused to allow me to register Windows,and started to count down the days.

    Dealing with Microsoft "Mano-a-Mano" scares the hell out of me,so I came up with a registrable copy of XP pro,and everything was copasetic.

    The three year thing is definitly worth knowing!!

    rat
     
  23. Franklin

    Franklin Registered Member

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    Virtual PC 2007 user here and it seems to do everything I need.

    Easy to setup and use with being able to drag and drop from host to vm and back being one of the main points I prefer it over VB.

    I save and run my VM's/VHD's from another partition rather than C drive.
     
  24. soccerfan

    soccerfan Registered Member

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    I use portable virtualbox (currently 3.1.6) off and on (not OFFICIALY supported by sun) ~ Removed Link ~
    @Franklin: Nice to see BSA in your sig now!
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 22, 2010
  25. Chuck57

    Chuck57 Registered Member

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    I've only dealt with the little MS gnomes once. It took me 10 minutes to convince them that I wasn't trying to steal their precious OS (which I was) for the first and only computer I built, around 5 yrs ago. I think I wore them down, but they gave in and I'm using XP Pro on that old desktop. That's the disc I had that I used today when I installed VMware player on this laptop . It registered okay.
     
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