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Currently, my work environment has only RHEL 5.4. I'd like to try some other Linux distributions, such as Ubuntu, with virtual machines.

Is there any free virtual machine software applicable to linux?

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For Desktop enviromemnt you can use VirtualBox, for the server virtualization i suggest KVM+libvirtd+virt-manager that work very well.

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I just read an article in the Dutch Linux Magazine. For Servers, they said that Xen is the best and most mature solution. Xen has been used longer by all main distro's except Ubuntu and they said that's only because Ubuntu never got a stable Xen Hypervisor in their releases (if I remember correctly).

They also said that KVM is less mature and not really used in (large) enterprises.

Our colocator (second largest in The Netherlands) also prefers Xen, but then Citrix Xenserver, which is not open source.

And in my experience; I have one box with KVM on Debian Lenny, and now and then, the virtual machine crashes. And, which is the biggest fail of KVM on Debian, no provision has been made to shutdown the VM's when you shut down the host; they're not shut down and therefore killed when the machine powers down. This is unforgivable to me.

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There are scripts out there to have VMs get shutdown first. KVM is the 'official' hypervisor for the Linux ecosystem. Of course, you can use whichever one you like! KVM will continue to mature rapidly; it's already doing quite well, with many enterprise features. – Luke has no name Jul 26 '10 at 15:35
I agree that right now Xen is the better solution but KVM is walking very fast into toppling it. Just remember to use the paravirtualized drivers with KVM or performance will crawl. – coredump Jul 26 '10 at 15:59
about the shutdown scripts; I obtained one from the Debian bug tracker which a user wrote. I had to e-mail him to get it. And I believe this bug report is still open. Not really a sign of maturity... At least not on Debian. Ubuntu probably does it better. – Halfgaar Jul 26 '10 at 19:46 <- is very good

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I've not tried all of them - but had no problems using virtualBox. IIRC Xen still requires the kernel compiled with the Xen hypervisor - which can be a pain.

Some more opinions here

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For some reason I can not comment, so I posted it as an another answer:

Is the future of VirtualBox in jeopardy because of the Sun-Oracle acquisition?

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You can comment when you earn enough reputation . – Halfgaar Jul 26 '10 at 19:46

I'm sure that there are more options for specialized needs, but for my general use Virtual Box has been fantastic.

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After a summer evaluating a dozen or so platforms, I settled on Proxmox. Basically a minimal Debian-based bare-metal hypervisor with KVM, QEMU & OpenVZ containers.

It uses a non-C++ implementation of libvirt to keep it lightweight. Licensing & stability are non-issues. Performance is very good.

Virtualbox is good for a desktop-based host, for occasional use.

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