Oracle VM VirtualBox is an industrial-strength open source virtualisation tool that makes it easy to create virtual machines (VMs), simulated computers that run on your PC but act as though they were separate systems. It's a powerful capability that has many different applications.
If you'd like a closer look at Windows 8 before you upgrade, for instance, then you could install Microsoft's latest in a VM, then access it in a window on your XP or Vista desktop.
Or maybe you've upgraded to Windows 8 and find a favourite old app doesn't work any more? Create a Windows XP VM and you might be able to run it again.
VirtualBox can also be a useful security tool: if you download and test apps in a VM, then any malware you might encounter will be isolated from your main system.
And it's the perfect choice if you want to try out another operating system with the minimum of hassle. Right now you can install Google Chrome OS, all the mainstream Linux variants (2.4 and 2.6), OpenBSD, OS/2, ReactOS, SkyOS, DOS, and just about every version of Windows there's ever been. (Of course you'll need to have the system discs to hand.)
VirtualBox 4 included an interface redesign, making it easier to view and manage your virtual machines. VM displays can now be scaled, so you can reduce a window size by half (for instance) and still see everything that's going on. The ability to limit a VM's CPU and IO time means the program will be less of a drain on your system's resources, and there are a host of other performance optimisations and bug fixes available.
What's new in VirtualBox 5.2.10 (see changelog for more)?
- VMM: Fixed missing NULL pointer check in MMIO code
- Storage: fixed having multiple NVMe controllers with ICH9 enabled (5.2.0 regression)
- Network: fixed wireless detection regression when bridging to adapters with unbound IP protocols (bug #17543)
- Network: fixed VERR_INTNET_FLT_IF_NOT_FOUND when bridging to some adapters on Windows hosts (possibly related bugs #15294, #15060, #13481)
- Audio: Fixed interrupt storm in FreeBSD guests with HDA (bug #17219)
- Keyboard: Introduced a small delay to fix old software which expects to be able to read an incoming scan code more than once (bug #17592)
- Windows installer: Removed the "Ignore" action in the case the current VBox installation is still running, as the (successful) update will not work until a host reboot is performed
- NAT: Handle nameserver 0.0.0.0 which is a valid setting (bug #17584)
- BIOS: INT 15h/87h service must disable A20 gate when done
- Linux Guest Additions: fix a hang starting KDE Plasma