VMs- Practical Useage Scenarios

Discussion in 'sandboxing & virtualization' started by chrome_sturmen, Feb 29, 2016.

  1. chrome_sturmen

    chrome_sturmen Registered Member

    Apr 29, 2006
    Those of you who run virtual machines, can you tell me what OSs you run virtualized and what purpose(s) it serves for you?
    Also what host OS, and why you choose this host?
    Related thoughts welcome
  2. Peter2150

    Peter2150 Global Moderator

    Sep 20, 2003
    Well I run Win 7 x64 Pro, so that by default is the host. For VM I run VMware Workstation Pro(12). I have two vm's one a win 7 one and one Win 10. I use the Win 7 one for testing things I am not certain about in terms of conflicts. I also use this machine for looking at dodgy stuff that well may be malware. I primarily use the win 10 one to see how my security setup plays on the latest win 10 Fast RIng builds.
  3. WildByDesign

    WildByDesign Registered Member

    Sep 24, 2013
    Toronto, Canada
    My main testing host OS is generally Windows 10 Pro 64-bit. Guest OS is generally Windows 7 SP1 32-bit and also some Windows 8 32-bit from time to time. I do some driver testing on the older Windows OS's to ensure compatibility but also quite a bit of malware testing lately. Additionally, some recent Guest OS testing of the latest beta release of Remix OS for curiosity. On the main Host OS, I generally switch between both VMware Workstation Player 12 and VirtualBox just to play around with features of both. Virtual machines, without a doubt, make my life easier.
  4. Aura

    Aura Registered Member

    Mar 19, 2015
    Québec, Canada
    Too many.

    Windows 7 Pro SP1 x64
    Windows 7 Pro SP1 x86
    Windows 7 Pro SP1 x64 with Internet Explorer 10
    Windows 7 Pro x64
    Windows 8 Pro x64
    Windows 8 Pro x86
    Windows 8.1 Pro x64
    Windows 8.1 Pro x86
    Windows XP SP3 (I think)
    Windows 7 Pro SP1 x64 - Malware Analysis

    Now that I list them, I realize that I should add at least 2-3 more for different purposes. I use them mostly to download suspicious files, malware analysis, testing new programs and a lot to source system and Windows Update files for Windows Update troubleshooting. And even there, sometimes I cannot find what I'm looking for.

    Edit: Forgot to add the host, Windows 10 Pro x64. And the most up-to-date version of Windows because I'm a technician and I need to stay up-to-date when it comes to technology, and also because I like new versions of Windows, programs and they always represent a security improvement.
  5. MisterB

    MisterB Registered Member

    May 31, 2013
    Southern Rocky Mountains USA
    I have VMs for every version of Windows but versions older than Xp are Virtual PC VMs from years ago that are rarely used. Currently are in use are Virtualbox VMs for Xp, Vista Business, Window 7 Pro, Windows 8 home, Windows 10, Linux Mint 17.2 and Fedora 23.

    The two laptops I use for Virtualbox both multiboot Windows 7, 10 and Ubuntu and Mint Linux respecively as host OSes. Linux is far better as a host for Virtualbox. VMs are noticeably faster and there are advantages such as better firewalling and network monitoring among others. In general, you want the host OS to be as light as possible and Linux in any flavor is much lighter on system resources than Windows. Guests should also be light on virtual hardware because any hardware requires drivers and services to be loaded that are going to affect performance. Windows 7 has been a bit better host than 10 with Virtualbox but I haven't tried slimming either down for better VM performance. Until the latest version of Virtualbox came out, there were some serious problems with Windows 10 as a host and I really just test it now and then, to see how it compares. Ubuntu is the best host I'm currently using by far. Windows 10 also has its built in Hyper-V virtualization which I intend to try at some point.

    VMs are very good for security. Restoring a snapshot if something goes wrong is much easier than restoring an image. On one of my work systems, I intend to move to full time VMs with the current OSes when I upgrade the hardware. A lot of my VMs are virtualized versions of real systems that I used in the past. I use Paragon Go Virtual to make the copies. This is quite convenient and lets me continue to use systems and software that I've already set up in a virtual environment that is more secure and often much faster than the original hardware.
  6. J_L

    J_L Registered Member

    Nov 6, 2009
    Not much use these days, but I do have Windows 7 for trying some software, and so I don't forget how to use it (just in case I need to service someone else's computer or something). And XP because it's much faster than Windows 7, and is better for (legacy?) programs I want to keep in the virtual machine for whatever reason. And finally Ubuntu, just to get a taste of Linux proper (not Chrome OS or Android).
  7. Balthazar

    Balthazar Registered Member

    Nov 8, 2013
    That is the main reason for me as well. Learning about what and how to do something with regard to security and privacy was the prime reason to register to this forum.

    On one of my laptops I run Qubes OS with several so called template VMs (like Arch Linux, Whonix and Win7).
  8. Krysis

    Krysis Registered Member

    Dec 28, 2012
    VMs running in Virtualbox:

    Linux Mint 17.2 > mainly familiarity with using an alternate OS.
    Ubuntu14.04 > as above
    Windows 10 Pro (upgraded from 8 Pro) > just to keep up with the latest – but also for testing new programs, etc.
    Host OS > Windows 7 (x64) > because it was already the main OS.

    I don't change too much in my host – however, almost anything goes in a VM (takes mere seconds to revert back to a 'clean' fully configured system) ;)
  9. tortum

    tortum Registered Member

    Mar 4, 2016
    I'm currently using VMLite Workstation, host = Windows 7 Pro 64bit with same as guest. Endless issues and no support anywhere, it has never been updated since 2010.
    If I use a legitimate Windows 7 Pro 64bit iso will MS register/activate it? With VMLite that was no problem and I could download all security patches (1.5 GB) easily.
    I see Virtualbox now at v5.0.14.

  10. tortum

    tortum Registered Member

    Mar 4, 2016
    Installed Virtualbox 5.0.16 w/o any hiccups, installed guest and all options just work, select and it's done! Amazing.
    VMLite Workstation should be removed by the author, really of no use anymore. I know it's a fork of Virtualbox but it stood still and now very outdated.
    BTW I was even banned for life from a forum when I placed a question about it.
    Very happy I landed on this thread, now a very content user of Virtualbox :thumb:
  11. TS4H

    TS4H Registered Member

    Nov 5, 2013
    Currently I dual boot W10 and Linux Mint XFCE. Both have VMware. A virtual machine setup in one OS is easily transferred to the other OS, and all Guests are located on a separate drive so they never need to be backed up. Vmware runs much smoother on linux as potentially I have more RAM available therefore I can allocate more resources to the guest.

    As for virtual machines I have;

    Ubuntu mate 16.04
    Linux Mint Cinnamon
    and soon to have Debian, Fedora and OpenSUSE

    Reason for all these;

    1) Try different OS and desktop environments as im still learning linux, however I get the feeling you dont ever stop. Maybe thats why I like it. You never get bored of it.
    2) I manage several machines for family and friends, so knowing how different security setups and software play with one another is important especially if their needs are totally different to mine, troubleshooting as well.
    3) Playing with malware and in combination with different security software, and testing native OS defences.
    4) Trying and testing new software as well as beta software on different platforms

  12. Cactus5

    Cactus5 Registered Member

    Jan 17, 2015
    Southwest USA
    I'm currently using VMware Workstation 12 Pro on Windows 7 x64 with the following VMs:
    Windows 8.1
    Windows 10 for testing new Insiders builds on fast ring
    CentOS 6.7
    CentOS 7.2

    Windows 10 using Hyper-V with a Windows 7 VM

    HP Proliant server running CentOS 7.2 using KVM for VMs running CentOS 7.2 and 6.7.

    I use all of this for testing software, different settings, security testing and most of all learning, like @TS4H, constant learning of new things.
  13. chrome_sturmen

    chrome_sturmen Registered Member

    Apr 29, 2006
    I've been giving some thought to different approaches - do any of you keep your host computer totally clean except for basics, then have a dedicated vm for internet surfing? Then I suppose another vm for non internet-related tools? This possibly could be seen as going overboard. Or maybe, non internet-related tools on the host, then have a vm for internet facing programs?

    The main reasons I seem to be seeing for vm use is building familiarity with OSes, testing configs etc - how do vms factor in to your security approach? Or do they? I mean, if you set up a vm for internet use, you still have to secure it, else you risk hosing the vm, which took you time to set up, and will take time to build yet again - the host system beneath may be clean, but you still lost your time.
    I suppose one benefit is that if you lose a vm to malware, you still have a clean host on which to run other vms, can carry on and get some work done etc- whereas if you lost a plain host system, you're completely down until you reinstall an OS.

    I can see the benefit to using vms for learning new OSes or maintaing familiarity with them, and for testing configs, but I am struggling to understand the benefits for using them for other reasons, my thinking seems to be looping back around to where I started.

    Rant over/thoughts appreciated *puppy*
  14. Umbra

    Umbra Registered Member

    Feb 10, 2011
    when i can counter-troll
    Host: Virtual Box , free and can create unlimited snapshots
    Guest OS : Win7U x64 , most malwares works flawlessly on it, good Pen-testing OS.
    Purpose: toying with malwares mostly.

    for testing software i have Rollback Rx.
  15. Minimalist

    Minimalist Registered Member

    Jan 6, 2014
    I use VirtualBox for my virtual machines. I usually take snapshots every now and then so I can revert to previous state if problems occur. If you have snapshot of your clean system, you don't have to rebuild your guest system. You just revert to that clean snapshot and you're done.
  16. TheWindBringeth

    TheWindBringeth Registered Member

    Feb 29, 2012
    Compartmentalization for security/privacy purposes.
  17. ChrisFerro3

    ChrisFerro3 Registered Member

    Nov 15, 2015
    Actually I have been thinking of doing video editing using a VM, it actually works, somethings are slow, but its still fast with Windows 7 as the VM.