KVM vs VirtualBox

KVM (Kernel-based Virtual Machine) and VirtualBox are two virtualization software used to create and run virtual machines.

Virtualization means creating a virtual version of something like computer hardware, storage devices, and network resources, etc. It allows you to create multiple simulated environments from a single physical hardware system.

In this article, we will compare the two VM software KVM and VirtualBox.

KVM (Kernel-based Virtual Machine)

Kernel-based virtual machine or KVM is a virtualization module in the Linux Kernel which turns the Linux kernel into a hypervisor.

KVM requires hardware with virtualization extensions like Intel-VT or AMD-V to provide hardware-assisted virtualization. It also provides paravirtualization support for Linux, FreeBSD, OpenBSD, Windows, etc using VirtIO API.

The Key features of KVM

  • Supports hot plug vCPUs
  • Dynamic memory management
  • Live migration of virtual machines
  • Enhanced VM security because it uses a combination of SELinux and secures virtualization (sVirt)

Oracle VirtualBox

Oracle VM Virtualbox is free and open-source virtualization software developed by Oracle. You can install it on various platforms including Windows, Linux, macOS, and Solaris. Originally it was developed by Innotek GmbH which was later acquired by Oracle.

The Key features of VirtualBox

  • Great hardware support
  • Remote machine display
  • No hardware virtualization required for instance Intel VT-x or AMD-V so you can use it on older machines
  • Multigeneration branched snapshot

Comparison: KVM vs VirtualBox

The comparison between KVM and VirtualBox is given based on some criteria.

Performance

This is one of the most important areas to consider is how the hypervisor’s performance will impact your infrastructure. KVM is a type 1 hypervisor while VirtualBox is a Type 2 hypervisor, which means KVM should outperform VirtualBox.

VirtualBox generally requires more time to create and start a server than KVM while KVM runs applications at near-native speeds, faster than other industry hypervisors, according to the SPECvirt_sc2013 benchmark. Although the difference may be insignificant for typical loads.

Hypervisor management

Both of the given applications can be managed through GUI and CUI. Virtualbox comparatively has better GUI but the current GUI of KVM makes its management easier than ever before.”

If you prefer a command-line, then there are all kinds of command-line options in KVM. Virtualbox also provides a command-line interface but it is not as comprehensive as KVM virsh. You can not directly launch a Virtualbox VM from bash.

Scalability

KVM inherits the performance of Linux, scaling to match demand load if the number of guest machines and requests increases. KVM allows the most demanding application workloads to be virtualized and is the basis for many enterprise virtualization setups, such as data centers and private clouds.

VirtualBox can present up to 32 virtual CPUs to each VM, irrespective of how many CPU cores are physically present on a host. Can also provide support for hosts with up to 1024 CPUs.

Security

KVM provides enhanced security as it uses a combination of SELinux and secures virtualization (sVirt). VirtualBox can perform a secure live migration of virtual machines and disk image encryption. It also includes Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) authentication and an SDK for creating further authentication requirements to help boost security. You can see a list of security features of Virtualbox on this page.

Cost and pricing

The KVM is an open-source, free platform with paid support from vendors like Red Hat. While Virtualbox is free within limitations. Once you go over a certain level of usage you have to license the product.

Support

For KVM, you will need to rely on support from the open-source community and your own IT organization, or a supported vendor like Red Hat. Oracle is actively developing Virtualbox and you can get any support on this from them.

Conclusion

On the basis of these differences, you can decide which one you want to use for the virtualization solution. Now if you have a query then write us in the comments below.

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