VirtualBox Supported Host and Guest Operating Systems
xVM VirtualBox supports a wide range of host platforms and guest operating systems. In this chapter, the concepts of host and guest operating systems will be explained, followed by lists of currently supported operating systems within each category.
 Definition of a Host Operating System
In the chapter entitled An Overview of VirtualBox 2 the fact that VirtualBox runs on top of a host operating system was explained. In the context of VirtualBox, therefore, a supported host operating system is an operating system running directly on the hardware of the host computer which is officially supported by Sun Microsystems for running the VirtualBox virtualization environment.
It is important to understand the distinction between a supported and unsupported host operating system. Just because an operating system is not listed as a supported host operating system does not necessarily mean VirtualBox will not run on that platform. It does mean, however, that if any problems are encountered using the operating system, there will be no help offered from the authors to resolve the problem.
 Definition of a Guest Operating System
Guest operating systems are the operating systems which run within VirtualBox virtual machines. The list of supported guest operating systems is much larger than the list of supported host operating systems. As with host operating systems, just because an operating systems is not listed as a supported guest does not necessarily mean it will not run. In fact, in the case of guest operating systems there is a good chance that even unsupported guest operating systems will still run within a virtual machine. There are, of course, limitations to this rule. It is not possible, for example, to run MacOS X in a virtual machine for the simple reason that MacOS X relies on proprietary Apple hardware and firmware which is not available in a VirtualBox virtual machine.
 Running 64-bit VirtualBox Guest Operating Systems
Before looking at the supported guest and host operating systems it is important to first cover some requirements related to running 64-bit guest operating systems in VirtualBox virtual machines.
Firstly, 64-bit guests require that the host hardware support hardware virtualization in the form of AMD-V or Intel-VT capable CPUs (see An Overview of VirtualBox 2 for more information on hardware virtualization).
In addition, if a 64-bit guest operating system is to run within a virtual machine on a 32-bit host (a feature now supported by VirtualBox), the option to install a 64-bit guest must be specifically selected for the target virtual machine.
 Supported VirtualBox Host Operating Systems
The following table lists operating systems which are supported by Sun Microsystems as host platforms for running VirtualBox:
|Windows XP||All service packs. 32-bit and 64-bit.|
|Windows Server 2003||All service packs. All editions. 32-bit only.|
|Windows Vista||All service packs. 32-bit and 64-bit.|
|Windows Server 2008||All service packs. All editions. 32-bit and 64-bit.|
|Debian GNU/Linux||3.1 (Sarge), 4.0 (Etch) and 5.0 (Lenny). 32-bit and 64-bit.|
|Fedora Core||4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10. 32-bit and 64-bit.|
|Red Hat Enterprise Linux||4.x, 5.x. 32-bit and 64-bit.|
|CentOS Enterprise Linux||4.x, 5.x. 32-bit and 64-bit.|
|SUSE Enterprise Linux||9 and 10. 32-bit and 64-bit.|
|openSUSE Linux||10.2, 11.0, 11.1. 32-bit and 64-bit.|
|Ubuntu Linux||6.06 (Dapper Drake), 6.10 (Edgy Eft), 7.04 (Feisty Fawn), 7.10 (Gutsy Gibbon), 8.04 (Hardy Heron), 8.10 (Intrepid Ibex). 32-bit and 64-bit.|
|Madriva Linux||2007.1 and 2008.0. 32-bit and 64-bit.|
|Mac OS X||Intel only.|
|Solaris 10||u4 and newer. 32-bit and 64-bit.|
|openSolaris||2008.05 and newer. 32-bit and 64-bit.|
|Windows NT 4.0||All editions and service packs (pack 6a recommended).|
|Windows 2000||All editions and service packs.|
|Windows XP||All editions and service packs.|
|Windows Server 2003||All editions and service packs.|
|Windows Server 2008||All editions and service packs.|
|Windows Vista||All editions and service packs.|
|Windows ME||Known to run but limited testing performed.|
|Windows 98||Known to run but limited testing performed.|
|Windows 95||Known to run but limited testing performed.|
|Windows 3.x||Known to run but limited testing performed.|
|Linux (2.4 Kernel)||Limited support.|
|Linux (2.6.x Kernel)||All distributions supported though some known problems exist with kernel versions older than 2.6.19.|
|Solaris 10||Fully supported.|
|OpenBSD||Versions 3.7 and 3.8 supported.|
|OS/2 Warp 4.5||MCP2 only supported. Requires hardware virtualization.|