Sun Snags Innotek -- Should I Wince? - InformationWeek

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2/14/2008
11:50 AM
Serdar Yegulalp
Serdar Yegulalp
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Sun Snags Innotek -- Should I Wince?

Sun just made another open source acquisition: Innotek, the makers of the open source VirtualBox virtual machine application.  Unlike MySQL, though, this is one open source acquisition that hits home for me in a major way.

Sun just made another open source acquisition: Innotek, the makers of the open source VirtualBox virtual machine application.  Unlike MySQL, though, this is one open source acquisition that hits home for me in a major way.

I've been using virtual machines as testbeds in one form or another for years.  On a modern and decently equipped PC (multiple cores, more than one hard drive), they're a far more convenient way to do controlled work with software and operating systems than having an entirely separate computer.  I still fall back on that approach when I have to, but for the most part I prefer to use a VM -- it's easier to re-image a VM or use snapshots to restore the state of the system than it is to clean off and restore a whole PC.

At first, probably like most other people, I used VMware; later, I gravitated toward Connectix/Microsoft's Virtual PC.  Finally I settled on VirtualBox -- not least of all because it was open source, but also because it seemed to sport slightly better performance than the others (even without hardware-assisted virtualization) and didn't cost anything for a fully-featured version.

Now comes Sun's purchase of Innotek, which according to Sun's press release is meant to make VirtualBox's technology an extension of Sun's xVM (managed virtualization) platform.  Fine by me -- but does this mean VirtualBox as we know it is going to languish?  I hope not; what we have is too useful and in too many ways to simply become a slice in someone else's pie.  I don't want to fall back on a proprietary solution if I can help it, especially one where I'll be sacrificing features.

Sure, it's possible to fork the project, and maybe have another team take it over.  But if my observations about Sun and MySQL (and other open source acquisitions) are on target, Sun's not just purchasing a pile of code but a development team -- and it's that development team which made VirtualBox something special.  Here's hoping they, or someone of their ilk, will be able to continue a good thing while starting many other new good things.

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