If you only have one physical machine that you want to run other operating systems on, such as Windows and Linux, for various programs and reasons, you can build virtual machines instead of purchasing separate computers for each operating system. Instead of buying another machine as well as another operating system, you can simply use a virtual machine within your existing machines. Virtual machines can run many operating systems, including Windows, Linux, macOS, and more. In this article, we will focus on the concept of a virtual machine in-depth, looking at its benefits, how it works, and why to use it.
What is a virtual machine?
A virtual machine functions inside your computer like a separate physical machine. You can install and run an operating system just like you would on a real computer because it contains its own virtual hardware, including a CPU, GPU, memory, and storage. The best part is that you can run Linux, Windows, and even other operating systems simultaneously on the same physical computer by setting up more than one virtual machine. You can run a Linux operating system inside of a Windows operating system and then run any other operating system in another tab or even run Windows on Linux and then run Linux on top of that if you wish. The possibilities are almost endless.
How do virtual machines work?
Virtual machines work by creating a virtual environment that emulates a physical computer’s hardware. When a virtual machine is created and started, the user allocates the required physical resources, such as CPU power and memory, to the virtual machine. The virtual machine then operates as if it were running on a physical computer using those allocated resources. When the user is done installing the operating system of their choice, the virtual machine can run software applications just as if it were running on a physical machine.
Users should keep in mind that virtual machines can’t use your hardware specs at maximum efficiency, therefore, you should not be expecting great performance when it comes to virtual machines. Inadequate resources, such as CPU, memory, or disk space, can cause a virtual machine to run slowly or even crash. Allocating too many resources to a virtual machine, on the other hand, might result in resource waste and inefficiency. Long story short, virtual machines can never run as well as your own machine.
Types of virtual machines
There are two types of virtual machines, system, and process;
System virtual machines reproduce every aspect of a computer system, including the hardware and software. Cloud computing, software testing, and server consolidation are all common uses for system virtual machines. An example of a system virtual machine would be VMware or VirtualBox.
Instead of simulating an entire computer system, process virtual machines simulate a single process or application. They’re made to run software programs in a versatile, secure environment without interfering with the host operating system. Process virtual machines are frequently employed in software testing and development as well as in the running of outdated programs on modern platforms. An example of a process virtual machine would be the Java Virtual Machine, which permits running Java applications on any operating system.
Virtual machines in cloud computing
In cloud computing, which is the delivery of computing services via the internet, virtual machines are crucial. Virtual machines are created by cloud computing providers and can be rented out to consumers. In cloud computing, virtual machines have many advantages, including flexibility, scalability, cost efficiency, and security. IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS are just a few of the various cloud computing service types that utilize virtual machines. In general, virtual machines give users on-demand, flexible, and affordable access to these resources.
Virtual machine security
Virtual machines are beneficial for security because they provide isolation between the host machine and the guest operating systems and applications. Other benefits of virtual machines regarding security include:
- They can be used for testing and experimentation.
- They can act as sandboxes for running potentially risky applications or code.
- They are much easier to back up and restore.
- They can help prevent DDoS attacks if the network is not attached to the main machine.
Virtual machines do come with their own problems as well. For example, to ensure that only authorized users have access to VMs and cannot be exploited, security measures must be implemented. VMs have to be backed up and updated regularly as they also face the problems regular operating systems face and that can require extra thought and manual labor.
Benefits of virtual machines
For testing new software or running applications that might not be compatible with your current operating system, virtual machines are ideal. Therefore, it is more efficient to use a virtual machine inside of your existing computer instead of buying a separate machine and operating system. Virtual machines can also be optimized to use only the resources they need, which can maximize performance and save power.
For example, if a person’s job requires them to use a Linux operating system but they do not want to change their original one, they can simply run the Linux operating system within their own operating system with the help of a VM.
Sandboxed development environments can also be made using virtual machines, making it simpler to test new programs and applications without harming the system as a whole, helping developers and testers. Users might wish to test applications and programs before getting them on their host system as well.
If you keep your host and your virtual machine’s networks separate, you can have a more secure environment which can reduce the risk of malware infections.
To sum up, a virtual machine is a software-based emulation of a physical computer capable of running multiple operating systems at the same time. It is useful for testing software, running applications that are incompatible with the host operating system, and creating sandboxed development environments. Virtual machines operate by generating a virtual environment that emulates the hardware of a physical computer. There are two types of virtual machines: system virtual machines and process virtual machines. Cloud computing virtual machines provide features such as flexibility, scalability, cost-effectiveness, and security. Virtual machines are also useful for security since they separate the host machine from the guest operating systems and applications. Security procedures, however, must be built to ensure that only authorized users have access to VMs and that they cannot be exploited.