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Is there much performance difference between Xen and virtual box?

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up vote 7 down vote accepted

The difference between Xen and Virtualbox is their usage or application. Virtualbox is meant to be used as a desktop virtualization layer. So Virtualbox expects you to have an OS (Windows, Mac, Linux) already installed. In other words, Virtualbox can add virtualization to a desktop host OS.

Xen is quite the opposite. It can be thought of as the host OS even though you wouldn't use it like a desktop environment. In terms of performance, Xen will probably edge out VirtualBox as it is a "bare-metal" hypervisor since the host OS is for Xen is tuned more for virtualization tasks rather than desktop duties.

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VirtualBox is not designed to run on a headless server. For your workstation it is beautiful. It provides snapshots and a lovely interface. Xen is used by to provide their EC2 service. It's still the most popular tech for providing Virtual Private Servers. It's also a breeze to install on Debian 6 (Squeeze). Ubuntu dropped support for Xen a while ago but I think they'll realise their mistake. – Mike Bailey Jul 8 '11 at 16:15
I have run VirtualBox on headless servers with no problem. Starting my vm's from the command line is as easy as: vboxheadless -startvm "win2k3" – portforwardpodcast Aug 25 '11 at 17:05
That's fine if you so choose to do so, but virtualbox is really meant to be used for the desktop. If you just want headless servers, your resources would be better served with a bare-metal hypervisor by removing the overhead of the desktop OS, not something like virtualbox which runs on top of an OS like Windows/Mac. Just because you can run a server on virtualbox doesn't mean it's the ideal choice. – osij2is Aug 25 '11 at 19:17

Unless I've misread the Xen web site that product is a "bare metal" virtualisation layer, whereas Virtualbox sits atop an OS. As such, Virtualbox could not be expected to perform as well as Xen.

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Isn't this kind of a revisit of this question on Serverfault?

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