VirtualBox, VirtualPC and Crashes

I take advantage of both VirtualBox and VirtualPC as core parts of my development environment. I keep several sets of Virtual Machines around on both platforms that I use for core development (writing code) and testing on different platforms.

Because of this, I’m constantly switching between the two, depending on which VM I need to use to try something. I’m finding myself using VirtualBox a lot lately because of the need to run a couple of VMs at the same time, which is something that it does quite a bit better than VirtualPC.

I don’t try to run both of them at the same time, nor do I need them to. I take advantage of hardware virtualization support in my desktop machine (which has an Intel Q6600 processor) in both platforms, which can speed things quite a bit.

The problem, however, is that both tools seem to pretty much assume that they are the only ones that will try to probe the processor virtualization support.

Occasionally, I’ll make a mistake and click on the wrong icon in the Quick Launch toolbar and end up starting the wrong application. Sometimes I end up starting VPC when I’m already working on VBox, and sometimes I’ll end up starting VBox when I’ve already got a VM in VPC open.

The end result is almost always the same: Windows crashing right away with a Blue Screen of Death (BSOD), usually with a fault in vmm.sys.

Again, I have no need to use both tools at the same time, but it sure would be nice if accidentally clicking the wrong icon didn’t force me to spend 10 minutes while my machine comes back up and I can setup my environment as it was before the crash, and probably lose some recent work, as well!

5 Comments

  1. zdeslav

    I also run this combo on an Q6600 and find this issue so annoying that I decided to switch off virtualization on whichever tool I use less (currently its VPC, due to ‘seamless window’ feature and provided COM API which make VirtualBox better choice for my needs).

  2. Ruiyi Zhang

    Writing one or two Powershell functions to conditionally launch these apps may just be the answer to your issue.

  3. Eric L

    i’m a long time VMWare user, but i wanted to look at the alternatives for home (virtaulbox and window vrtual pc….ie free stuff). so i crashed my system twice (by running them at the same time)

    however, in my quick/dirty comparison, Virtualbox seems to be way better then windows virtaul pc (and i dont plan on running windows xp mode); faster, snapshots, linux support, better mouse/keyboard integration.

    I’m sure I’m missing something, what are the features of window virtual pc that are better then virtualbox.

  4. Luigi Bruno

    I’ve recently installed Virtual PC 2007 on my Windows Vista Ultimate x64 machine, because I needed Virtual Network Driver provided by VPC to develop and test .NET Compact Framework applications.
    When I turned on hardware virtualization support in my BIOS I experimented a BSOD on VMM.SYS, but I can’t find the reason.

  5. Gonz

    Eric L — the one thing that’s really nice about Virtual PC is that you can drag+drop files between the host and guest systems using Windows Explorer, which is really convenient compared to setting up shared folders. Also, although VirtualBox seems to run faster in general, VirtualBox seems to be significantly slower when first installing an application/OS. For this reason, I prefer VirtualPC where it makes sense.

    On the other hand, VirtualBox has USB redirection and the ability to run a 64-bit guest on a 32-bit host OS, which is really awesome.

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