Virtualbox or VMware Workstation

I haven’t played around with Linux for several years and while it has been awhile I would say I’m fairly competent moving in and around Linux. There are numerous applications that I need windows for so I plan on installing Windows as VM.

I have a Razer Laptop that I plan on installing Linux on I am either going to use Virtualbox or VMware Workstation Pro. I am a student so I can get and use VMware Workstation Pro for free. The last time I used VMware was for work back in 2010 so it has been a very long time since I have used it.

My question is which program would you recommend, Virtualbox or VMware Workstation Pro. I’m open to other suggestions as well.

Most people here seem to use kvm (potentially with GPU passthrew, depends on what youŕe doing wether or not you need that) as opposed to the other two options.

Wendell has a lot of video guides on his youtube channel too about that. Iḿ sure you can find something there.

Otherwise I’d say VMWare. VirtualBox on Windows already is not that amazing (but at least it works and is free) and on Linux it’s the same, except with more occasional bugs that break it when you update it, from my experience.

At Work I have VMWare Workstation for my test machines, it is very solid, but not free
i also have tested Hyper-V which is free with Windows10 pro or enterprise (but no copy paste between UI’s)

At home i use VMWare player ( free but no snapshots ) for my i-still-need-some-windows-apps stuff and my other linux test or windows machine

Virtualbox works, i just have more experience with VMWare, qemu can be fun to run some old 16bit os stuff (DOS etc…), no recent experience with KVM on my side

i recently did a test of unraid (not free but trial is), that was not bad at all (it is mostly KVM under the hood i think)

So for me VMware



I’ve run both.

VMware Workstation is worth the money for me. It is more slick than virtualbox, performance is better, it talks to vCenter and ESXi servers.

However if you’re a student, i’d do the following (the below in order of user friendliness from less to most):

  • try KVM+virt-manager, see if it will do the job. KVM is included with most distros now. KVM is pretty powerful and can do stuff like hardware passthrough, etc. but user friendliness is not a strong point IMHO.
  • try Virtualbox
  • try VMware Workstation (time limited trial available)

Then make your choice.

I agree with @maximal for the most part. It really depends if you have the cash for Workstation, but IMHO it is worth it. Virtualbox is a bit more clunky, a little less performance, etc. But it may be “good enough” and can’t argue with the price.

VMware is good for templates, thin clones of said templates, etc. I use it for cloning heaps of VMs from sysprepped windows images for testing purposes.

Just saw you can get workstation for free.

No brainer. Get workstation.

Workstation pro user here- you can get it for free, no brainier

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I would check out KVM / QEMU. It’s very good since your under linux. With Virtual Machine Manager, you have a very flexible GUI to setup VM’s under linux.

I do use Virtualbox as well. I have an itunes VM that pass’s through my iPhone to backup etc.

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If it’s mostly to use Windows as a guest I’d say go with VMWare. It’s more of a turnkey solution where as KVM requires some work depending on your setup.

If you do on the other hand arn’t afraid of tackling some problems and want to learn different tech then go with an option that lets you do that.

EDIT: Actually, never mind this post. Somehow I thought someone made a statement as in Workstation Pro is actually free (for everyone) in some way shape or form. Just got something wrong somehow. Don´t know how. xD

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I saw that as well and didnt bother asking because I use Fedora and static stuff can break. Virtualbox modules are in the kernel now. Which is good because Ive had Virtualbox break till I fixed it I think 2 times in 2 years…In the USB pass through I need from it.

I guess a few versions ago VMware removed the Unity feature. That sucks; I really wanted to utilize that feature.

Afaik, they never removed it.

They just did not yet (or maybe never) implement it for Windows 8/10.
If you want it to work, use Windows 7.

They didnt remove unity. According to this you need kde. I would recommend Vmware workstation. The last time i used virtualbox it was pure trash.

Workstation does need to be reinstalled occasionally to fix kernel stuff, but if you care about performance at all, in some situations Workstation is WAY faster than virtualbox. PXE boot for one is (last i tested, which admittedly was a long time ago) 10x plus faster than Virtualbox. I’m not joking. PXE in virtualbox when i was messing with it took like 30 minutes to boot an SCCM boot image. Very much a niche use case I suspect, but that’s why i suspect it is still an issue - its a low priority use case on a free product = more important things to fix.

Workstation seems to be easier to integrate with things like GNS3, works with vCenter and ESXi hosts, etc.

Virtualbox is a great product for free, but if the OP can get workstation for “free” (via school/work/whatever) virtualbox just isn’t even close really.

If cost was a concern though - i have and still do recommend virtualbox to most people looking to just run windows for some niche purpose.


According to multiple VMware devs on the forums and in their patch notes they did remove it.

Here is the link where it says,

The following features have reached end of life in Workstation 12 Pro and have been removed:

  1. Unity mode on Linux guest and host operating systems
  2. Integrated Virtual Debugger Visual Studio
  3. Connection to the VMware vCloud Air subscription service (The VMware vCloud Air OnDemand service is still fully supported)

Workstation 12 Release Notes

Id agree as in only using QEMU vs Virtualbox…
Virtualbox windows VM’s are glacial speed but work for their task. I have an itunes machine and an old Iphone that’s perfectly fine and working.
I respect it all still runs 7 years later. While everything else loses support after 3-4 years.

When it’s full on professional services running in a VM.
It’s a new world where the money is flowing and the risk is extreme. I think businesses need to invest more time into the security of there app’s and services they use than actually moving there databases forward.

I’ve used Virtualbox on Ubuntu 16.04 on my HP laptop for about 18 months now to run a virtual Windows 7 machine for various work things and it’s been great. Performance has been perfect and setting up was extremely easy.

Unity works with windows 10 for me as the host and guest.

When I try to turn on unity with linux as a guest or host Vmware says this feature isnt avaible for linux as guest and host. I guess I could install an earlier version; however my school only gives me free access to the latest version

oh did not know that. I dont use unity all that much and when i do its on windows.