This is going to be the hot topic of 2006. Virtualisation (he writes, doggedly employing a British spelling which won’t do him any good on Google) is a technology that creates a complete ‘virtual’ computer as an application on your existing computer. Within that virtual machine you can run a complete operating system and applications, which may or may not be the same as the one you’re running on the machine itself.
It’s been around for a very long time, but things are moving very fast at present. VMware, the leaders in this space, have started making more and more of their (excellent) products freely available. Microsoft’s Virtual Server is also now free. Much of this is probably driven by the high regard in which Xen is held, an Open Source virtualisation technology created by a research group at the Cambridge University Computer Lab (a group I used to be part of, a very long time ago…)
There’s no shortage of rumours that Apple are also getting into this space – in fact, I think it may have been a key part of the move to Intel processors. And hot on the heels of the various announcements about official and unofficial ways to dual-boot Macs into Windows comes the announcement of Parallels Workstation, a Mac virtual machine product that lets you do the same without rebooting…
I’ll have to try this, partly because I think it would just be too wacky to run Wordperfect 5.1 for DOS on my Mac… I’m actually more interested in running virtual Ubuntu Linux machines than I am Windows ones, having just been around the world carrying two laptops so I had a Linux box on which to demo Ndiyo systems.