I’m using LMDE5 (a Debian 11 derivative), which has the Cinnamon desktop. I want to create a few VMs to do some linux testing of other distros. I’m not creating any Windows VMs, just Linux.
I want an easy-to-install, easy-to-use desktop VM solution. I want to:
easily create VMs in a GUI (not some arcane text file which I edit, and defines a VM that I want created)
easily install the guest additions necessary to get faster hardware performance - especially disk - inside the VMs. Having said this, do I need a Desktop environment inside those guest VMs? No, not necessarily. I’m content to use the CLI within the guest VMs. So that simplifies things.
back them up, while they’re offline (just by copying a single folder)
I have past experience with Oracle Virtualbox, and VMware Workstation, and disliked both of them. Last time I tried Gnome “Boxes”, it was really immature.
Are there any good VM apps satisfying the above that you’d recommend?
I gave it a try (virt-manager 3.2.0-3, spice-client-gtk 0.39-1, these are normal Debian 11 packages). When creating a new VM, it was difficult to comprehend how to attach a debian install .iso as a Virtual CD drive.
I found a tutorial here, which solved it:
PS: when the tutorial urged me to start manually editing /etc/network/interfaces, that’s where I quit following the tutorial. I noticed that a new network interface “virbr0” does get created earlier on. I cleverly used that interface name, when setting up bridged networking for my VM. An average user would certainly have a hard time knowing to find that “virbr0” interface and specifying it for the network interface (of type “Bridged”).
Definitely not very user-friendly, but I got by.
Thanks for the tips. I guess for free software, you get what you get.
I use qemu-desktop with KVM, and libvirt to manage the Virtual machines. I use virt-manager as a GUI frontend for libvirt and I’ve always been able to use these with no hitches (at least no memorable ones).
The best is Virtualbox and I use it since 2009. It is easy to use, it has an good performance especially, since it uses the vmware 3d video drivers. Official up-to-date drivers for Windows and Linux guests are part of the Virtualbox package. I run Linux games like SuperTuxKart and Extreme Tux Racer in a VM with ~75% load on the iGPU (1080p; 60Hz). It boots the Xubuntu VM in 5.5 seconds, the average for Linux VMs is 8 to 10 seconds. The bloated Windows 11 Pro VM boots the first time in ~40 seconds and afterwards in 22 seconds according to IObit Advanced SystemCare.
I tried virt-manager a few times, but some options do not work and the video performance is bad, last time I tried it 3D video did not work on my PC. I tried Boxes and I like it, in combination with virt-manager it might be useful. Probably I will not convert my ~70 VMs too much hassle and no real advantages.
My system is the 2nd slowest Ryzen CPU available; the Ryzen 3 2200G (4C4T, 3.7GHz OC); 16GB DDR4 (3000MHz); 512GB Silicon Power nvme (3400/2300MB/s). The Host runs a minimal install of Ubuntu 22.04 LTS using OpenZFS with a 4GB L1ARC (memory cache). Note that storage and caches are lz4 compressed. My L1ARC hit rate is 99%.
Now that I’ve spent a couple of weeks getting to know virt-manager, I’m happy with it, and will very likely never return to Virtualbox or VMware.
That initial learning curve - with attaching the installation .iso and configuring the virtual networking - those were the only difficulties to speak of.
I was happy with how snapshots worked, and used that quite a few times (creating, rolling back, deleting, editing notes). The snapshots worked like a charm. The UI for managing them was very well designed. That’s a feature which means a lot to me.