ivoras’ FreeBSD blog

July 31, 2008


Filed under: FreeBSD — ivoras @ 12:47 am

VirtualBox was mentioned at Slashdot so I gave it another try. The last time I tried it I had problems with FreeBSD as a guest, but the new version (1.6.2) seems to solve those problems. It’s noticeably faster than VMWare so far:

UnixBench results of running FreeBSD 7.0-RELEASE in VirtualBox (i386) on Windows XP host are:


Dhrystone 2 using register variables 116700.0 6484818.8 555.7
Double-Precision Whetstone 55.0 1644.1 298.9
Execl Throughput 43.0 271.3 63.1
File Copy 1024 bufsize 2000 maxblocks 3960.0 101938.0 257.4
File Copy 256 bufsize 500 maxblocks 1655.0 48434.0 292.7
File Copy 4096 bufsize 8000 maxblocks 5800.0 150300.0 259.1
Pipe Throughput 12440.0 908613.9 730.4
Pipe-based Context Switching 4000.0 15755.6 39.4
Process Creation 126.0 670.0 53.2
Shell Scripts (8 concurrent) 6.0 79.5 132.5
System Call Overhead 15000.0 714570.9 476.4

This is too good to be true, compared to what I got on the same hardware in VMWare previously (in short: a score of 70). The results above (and all other unixbench results) should really be analyzed line by line instead of just looking at the final score. For example, notice that the “shell scripts” score is 133 on VirtualBox and 1.7 in VMWare. Context switching has always been VMWare’s weak point and it looks like it doesn’t really have to be that way.

Now I only have to figure out if it can be used “headless” (without the GUI console). VMWare’s network support is much better because it can to “bridged” networking, putting the VM directly on the network, but setting up routing or bridging for VirtualBox is simple enough (like qemu).

Update: buildkernel finishes without problems but it takes 40 minutes – I think this is way too slow but will investigate tomorrow.


  1. [...] in VirtualBox Ivan Voras reports that FreeBSD 7 (as guest) runs a lot faster in VirtualBox (on WinXP) than before, and a lot more [...]

    Pingback by FreeBSD news ‘n links leftovers - week 31 | FreeBSD - the unknown Giant — August 2, 2008 @ 10:02 pm

  2. Have you run csup/portsnap or built world successfully in the VM? Both these things manage to crash the VM in some way or another for me.

    Comment by Rob — August 4, 2008 @ 2:22 am

  3. I have successfully run cvsup (both on src and ports) and buildkernel. Didn’t try buildworld yet since I didn’t need it. I had problems with VirtualBox 1.5 where it crashed but not yet on 1.6. My host is WinXP and guest is FreeBSD 8-CURRENT. The only tuning I did was to reduce kern.hz to 75.

    Comment by ivoras — August 4, 2008 @ 2:40 am

  4. I had HZ = 100 in my 7.0-RELEASE guest (also on XP host), I’ve dropped it to 75 but still get those pesky “sigreturn: eflags = 0×080207″ errors. Shame no-one in the VirtualBox forums has an answer for this.

    Comment by Rob — August 6, 2008 @ 5:18 am

  5. Hmm. The eflags error is what I got with VirtualBox 1.5 and 7.x.

    Comment by ivoras — August 6, 2008 @ 8:34 am

  6. I have just installed FreeBSD 8 STABLE inti Virtual Box and did just about nothing for it to work.
    Honest – not often it does what it says on the tin !!

    Downloaded the iso file into my XP Host Docs directory – nearly 2G.
    Downloaded VirtualBox 3.1.4.
    Install Vbox.
    Started VBox and created my first FreeBSD, but soem bits are not obvious:-
    Make sure to choose BSD system and not XP.
    The iso file needs to be attached to the devices, you have to think of it as a PC Bios menu, then I could work it out.
    Gave the Guset 12G of default settings and set the entwork card to Bridge-only, defaults to NAT.
    Started the new FreeBSD
    I installed everything I could see.
    The Network setting are not obvious, and need a little attention and gave it an IP of
    Added myself as a user.
    Password for root.

    Finished the install then chabge the boot sequence in the VBox system tab to the HD as the first one, It defualts to the OLD PC floppy|CD|hd order.

    Restarted the new system and BINGO, I have FreeBSD_8

    I wanted Apache and SSL working, so edited using root, /etc/rc.conf to

    executed `shutdown -r now` and a bigger BINGO.

    For file access to the new server I download & installed http://www.winscp.net using
    I used http://www.putty.org as my main access to the server.

    I never plan to have Internet access to this server – So I was happy finish here.
    One more step was to use cpan::Mini to create a Cpan mirror to `install Bundle::RT`
    Needs 1.5G, which I put onto a Stick fro future updates.
    RT does need quite a bit of effort and the instructions are many and varied from google, but the main sequence is in the README file and is donkey years old !!

    Now I have what I wanted, and environment to run RT (www.bestpractical.com)


    Comment by Ian Pellew — March 30, 2010 @ 8:32 am

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