For a while I’ve been debating whether I should buy a copy of VMWare Fusion for my Mac or to stick with the free version of VirtualBox. For my needs, they compare nearly identically. The deciding factor ended up being the KVM switch I use on my Linux and Windows machines. Crazy, right?
For all platforms except Mac OS X, VMWare provides VMWare Server for free. Server is a pretty solid VM platform for lightweight purposes. Version 2 switched to a web-based interface which has advantages and disadvantages. The main advantage is that it is very easy to connect to a VMWare server instance running on a different machine just by connecting to the address in a web browser. The big problem I had with Server is that every time my mouse would leave the VM window, it would trigger my KVM switch (TrendNet TK-407K if you’re interested) to switch to the next computer.
Now the main reason I bought this particular switch was because it was very cheap. It doesn’t have a whole lot of fancy features, it just lets me share a single set of interfaces across 4 machines, which is all I really need it to do. The problem is, there doesn’t seem to be any way to turn off this automatic changing of machine. Since I want to use my VM for actual work, having my keyboard mouse and monitor switch to a different computer every time I leave the VM is quite a hassle. I found a few suggestions via Google, but none of them seemed to help.
After installing VirtualBox, I tried to get it to reproduce this problem. It could not. Since VirtualBox is free and available on Windows, Mac, and Linux, it really became an easy decision. All thanks to a $60 KVM.