VirtualBox 3.0.0 BETA2 Improvements

VirtualBox has been my favorite desktop virtualization tool for a couple years now.  I love it so much because it supports variety of host and client OSes, USB support, and shared folder with the host.  The fact that VirtualBox application itself and virtual machine images are portable between my Windows environment and Linux environment is the greatest feature for me.

However, there have been some issues that annoyed me a lot.

First issue was when you run multiple guests, sometimes it get frozen and you need to hard-reset your computer.  This happened quite often and it was very annoying.

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Windows 7 XP Mode

The primary reason that I installed Windows 7 RC on my desktop was to try out what is called XP Mode. I read some articles about XP Mode and it looked like it is just a virtual machine created with Virtual PC; however, some things sounded a lot better that my understanding about Virtual PC.

I immediately see about 3 problems running a Windows XP virtual machine on top of Windows 7. First of all, system requirement for running a vm. Some systems may have enough power to run, some may not, considering vms need their own security suites/antivirus/antispyware software. Second, XP license for virtual machine activation. Third, file/desktop sharing between host and guest system because this may be very confusing for non-technical users when there are 2 different desktops.

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Slow guest OS installation and poor integration support in Hyper-V

I have been trying out various OSes in Hyper-V environment but one thing that I am noticing is its slow installation process.  Even installling Windows guest OSes takes a long time.  However, once intergration service is installed on Windows guest OSes, performance improves.

However, linux in Hyper-V is out of question yet.  I tried to install 32, 64 bit Debian, Ubuntu Desktop/Server but Debian is the only distribution that I was able to be patient enough to complete the installation.  Debian base installation without GUI took a couple hours, where text frame buffer was horrible, almost unbareable, I had to wait about 10 seconds for each page to come up.  All other distributions, I waited about a couple hours too but it did not even get into the installation screen so I gave up.

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How to enable VT in XPS 600 temporarily

I have a very powerful XPS 600 from Dell and I still love it very much.  However, I had only one complaint which is its VT capapility switch in BIOS.  CPU has VT capability but BIOS does not offer VT enable switch in BIOS.  I have contacted Dell a few times before but it does not seem that it will be supported.  So I started looking for a way to get around it.

The following information is what I found online.  The feature control Machine Specific Register (MSR) for VT has two bits.  The first bit is a lock bit and the second bit is a on and off bit.  If the lock bit is locked then you do not really have a choice.  However, if the lock bit is clear then you can enable the second bit from OS temporarily. 

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