Today Oracle has announced the availability of VirtualBox 4.0.0 Beta 1. This is the first release since VirtualBox 3.2, which was released around six months ago. The new release brings a number of new features, bug fixes and some changes to the packaging which may disappoint some.
With 4.0, Oracle has removed certain features from the core VirtualBox package and they are made available as external packages. Oracle has not provided any reason for doing this - your guess is as good as mine right now. However, if I were to take a guess, I would think they are trying to monetize it by selling the external packages. Right now, the only external package available is PUEL which adds support for USB 2.0, RDP server and the PXE bootloader with E1000 support.
Now coming to the new features that VirtualBox 4.0 Beta 1 brings, there are a lot of them. Some major ones include:
- support more than 1.5/2 GB guest RAM on 32-bit hosts
- Intel HD Audio is now available as guest hardware
- added support for limiting a VM's CPU time and IO bandwidth.
- support for resizing VDI and VHD images
- support for copying files into the guest file system
There are a number of bug fixes as well. A number of the bug fixes has to go with the GUI, 3D support and Shared Folders.
Being a beta, this is not yet ready for use in production machines. If you want to test it you can download it from the link below. Packages are available for most of the major Linux distros including Ubuntu, Debian and Fedora.