OS X hypervisor for software tests



  • I am setting up an OS X (build and) test environment for a open source project with a big C codebase. It shall be a Mavericks host on a Mac mini, which has a virtual machine with Snow Leopard. Both machines are designated to act as Jenkins build slaves. Nothing else is meant to happen there.

    I'm not sure which hypervisor to chose: VMWare, VirtualBox, Parallels, any other? It shall be both powerful enough to do the jobs in short times, but also affordable. What are your experiences and recommendations?



  • I would go with VirtualBox for a couple of reasons.

    • First, it's free.
    • Second, it integrates incredibly well with Vagrant which allows you to script the provisioning of your build boxes from scratch. Granted, you won't want to reprovision the build boxes often but should something weird happen, you'll be able to get back to a known state very quickly (Vagrant is limited by the complexity of the setup scripts and file I/O speeds.)
    • Third, I believe that VirtualBox has a Python scripting capability though I know about this only tangentially through what I've read of Vagrant. If this capability is there, then you could script up your own VM management processes if Vagrant doesn't do what you want.

    Any VM product you select should have the I/O capabilities that you want. Benchmarks hypervisors are widely available so if performance is a huge concern (over price), you can go look that stuff up.

    A large part of a build time is file I/O. If you haven't invested in an SSD for this Mac Mini of yours, I'd invest. Things are so so so much faster than with spinning media and not terribly expensive these days.



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