Virtual Machines Unveiled: Revolutionizing Computing for the Modern Era

Introduction

It is a well-known fact that in recent years, we have experienced a dramatic increase in the demand for computer resources. Therefore, alternative ways of accessing computer resources and testing operating systems and applications , has lead to the creation of virtual machines. A virtual machine is software that emulates a physical computer system using a host computer system and a guest operating system. In this blog post, we’ll dive into the basics of virtual machines, as well as the benefits and the drawbacks of using them.

The Host Operating System

The Host OS is the operating system that is actually controlling the physical hardware. In addition, the VM software runs on the Host OS.

The Guest Operating System

The Guest OS is an operating system running in a virtual machine. It is the OS responsible for controlling the virtual hardware. The Guest OS is running under the Host OS.

Role of the virtual machine software

The virtual machine software is responsible for a variety of tasks and is essential for the successful communication between the Host OS and the Guest OS. The VM software:

  • Creates, deletes and manages the virtual machine
  • Translates instructions used by guest operating system to that required by the host operating system
  • Executes the hardware emulation
  • Protects each virtual machine so instances of applications can be tested together

What happens when the guest OS receives data request from an application?

When the guest OS receives a data request, it handles the request as if it were running on its own physical machine. If and input/output request is transmitted, then the following steps occur:

  • The I/O request is translated by the virtual machine software into instructions executed by host OS
  • Host OS retrieves the data needed
  • Host OS passes the data to the virtual machine software, then to the guest OS and finally the data is passed on to the application which requested it.

Benefits of virtual machines

It is obvious by now that there are several advantages of using virtual machines:

  • Multiple guest operating systems can be used on the same computer.
  • Different instruction set architectures can be emulated on a single computer.
  • A virtual machine can crash without affecting the host machine as VM provides protection to other software.
  • There are security benefits; Trying a piece of suspicious software and if it is a virus, it will only infect the virtual machine.
  • Can run legacy applications that are currently incompatible.
  • New system can be tried on different virtual hardware without need to purchase the hardware

Drawbacks of virtual machines

Despite the numerous benefits of VMs, there are some drawbacks of using them:

  • A virtual machine is less efficient and has poorer performance than real machines because of extra load on the host computer
  • Performance of the guest system cannot be adequately measured.
  • A virtual machine may be affected by any weaknesses of the host machine.
  • Costly and complex to maintain, implement and manage.
  • Virtual machines may not be able to emulate the new hardware because this hardware may have been developed since the virtual machine was developed
  • Use of a virtual machine increases the maintenance overheads because both host system and the virtual machine must be maintained

Conclusion

To sum up, a virtual machine allows multiple guest operating systems to run on one computer using a host operating system. Despite all the disadvantages, the efficient use of VMs can prove to be highly beneficial. As we delve into the virtual realm and unlock the immense potential of virtual machines, we stand at the precipice of a computing revolution, where boundaries are shattered, possibilities are limitless, and a new era of innovation awaits us!

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