Virtualization Explained - GoTechTalk

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Saturday, July 21, 2018

Virtualization Explained



As much as many of us would like to escape our routine lives for some more imagination, but the concept of Virtual Reality which is still some little ways away from completely fooling our brains into thinking we're actually in Middle-earth or whatever, but for your computer it's pretty simple to fool it into thinking that a fake virtual environment is a real deal.

I'm talking of course about Virtualization which has become a really useful tool for home users and IT pros alike, but what exactly it? well in a general sense it means putting layers of software between your computer's hardware and some other software that you're trying to run, but more commonly it means running one operating system on top of another one on top of another one, usually it's one layer and then more operating systems so you've probably seen this in the form of running one version of Windows as a virtual machine or a VM inside a window in a newer version, this has all sorts of real-world applications but before we get into this it helps to understand something about how your computer achieves this.

You see your computer grants different pieces of software different privileges depending on what they are your, operating system has a lot more privileges than regular programs like being able to directly access hardware like your memory or your CPU, the idea being to stop malicious applications from attacking your system or crashing it, because of this early virtualization software that was forced to run as a regular program without privileged access to Hardware directly had to translate the actual instruction set of the processor, so that the virtual OS could actually make any use of it or as an alternative you can install a small program called a hypervisor as the main OS on the computer then virtualize your main OS like Linux or Windows or whatever else on top of that to actually run programs, but because of the overhead involved with translating instructions this resulted in some serious slowdowns in terms of performance, but in the mid-2000s both AMD and Intel started making processors that natively supported virtual machines allowing a hypervisor to run below the layer where an OS would usually be which means that the system wouldn't have to spend time translating instructions enabling much faster near native performance.

Ok, so that's a lot of technical talk about hypervisors and layers and onions or whatever else but what does that mean for me can I actually use this stuff,  well yeah actually if you have older games you still love that just won't play nicely on your modern 64-bit operating system you can run an old 32-bit version of Windows in a virtual machine and play to your heart's content cool right VMs are also useful for testing new software or even like a website that you're not sure whether it contains malware or not because you can just delete the entire virtual machine without touching any of the important data on your main OS or even your network if you quarantine it effectively and speaking of your main operating system if you're thinking about switching to something else completely different you can actually try your new OS in a virtual machine without destroying your existing hard drive and your existing OS, not to mention compatibility between operating systems remember parallels that I mentioned before Windows applications on the Mac that's right and if you have important data that you can't lose VMs are also a very easy way to back up most VM software can take snapshots of the entire virtual system at a given point in time kind of like a System Restore, this capability has made it very popular on servers which often need redundancy and backups to ensure constant operation not to mention the fact that running multiple virtual machines on one server can put all of that processing power to better use as modern server hardware is notoriously underutilized especially if the workloads don't natively take advantage of many processing threads at a time but if you want to do something really cool you can virtualize is your gaming rig and turn one beastly PC into three virtual machines a NAS and then two gaming boxes that two players can use at once. 



Alright, guys, that's the end of the blog, thanks for reading the whole way through if you enjoyed this blog please share it with someone who would be interested and leave a comment, Thanks for reading guys.

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