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Saturday, 22 June 2013

All about Emulation and Virtualisation

All about Emulation and Virtualisation

As computers are become more and more powerful by the date, they have easily reached a level when we can run multiple OSes at the same time! One would ask “How’s that beneficial?”. Well, the answer varies from person to person, but the basic sum up is this: Running multiple OSes allows you to be productive. You can test your under-work website on that crappy Internet Explorer ( Yea, some still people use it! Don’t ask me why! ) when you are using OS X/Ubuntu/Any other Linux.

There are multiple ways to do it, One is Virtualisation, another is Emulation, and the last one is emulating the OS’ APIs. Emulation is like making a virtual computer inside a computer, Yea that’s kinda fuzzy! This means the “real” computer is totally safe from any malfuntion in the “virtual” one. Sounds promising, but most of the emulating softwares are extremely slow. FYI emulators aren’t just for emulating computers, there are varied types of emulators, some for even emulating gaming consoles!
Here is a (not so) long list of emulators:
  • JPC (Java PC) Probably the most impressive on the list, this emulator can run on any system that supports Java, Yea that includes your mobile phone too! It can run some Linux distros such as Damn Small Linux and Feather Linux, and partially run some of the older days windows. Its worth a try out especially when you can run it as an applet in your browser only! Go, give it a try!
  • Palm OS Simulator This one emulates HP’s no longer existent Palm OS on any x86 architecture (that is your computer).
  • WINE Dubbed as a recursive name “Wine is not an Emulator”, this one has been grabbing headlines from quite some time. It emulates the Windows API on Linux and Mac systems. That means you can run your favorite windows app ( not all, there is a compatibility list, see here )  , you can run it on your non supported system. There are derivatives like PlayOnLinux and Crossover Linux which make this Command Line Interface much more easy to use with a Graphical Interface!
  • PCSX As some of you might have guessed, this one emulates PS and PS2 on your windows/linux/mac system.
Above I highlighted some of the coolest Emulators, A complete but obtrusive list is present on the Wikipedia here.
When it comes to virtualisation, the big players are VMware and Parallels, here’s a list of some impressive virtualisation options:
Some of these like Bochs are available for mobile OSes like Android.