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VirtualBox is one of the most popular virtualization programs out there. It comes packed with a lot of powerful features and is a free open source program under the GNU General Public License. But while VirtualBox is fantastic, it isn’t the only virtual machine option out there. Anyone who’s looking for something different should check out these top 5 VirtualBox alternatives for Linux.

Virtual machine software or virtualization is a popular way for businesses and individual users to run different operating systems on their hardware. Many companies use virtualization to save money by being able to run and test different systems on a single computer. The technology is as useful for those at home. For example, people like to use virtualization to test out new software without corrupting the system.

But you can’t install every virtualization program on every operating system (host system). Some of the options listed here aren’t only for Linux. You can run them on macOS or PCs with Windows systems installed as well. But all the options mentioned below will definitely work on Linux.

1. KVM (Kernel-Based Virtual Machine)

KVM is a platform that uses Linux as the host system and can run other Linux distros, Hackintosh, and Windows. This VM is one of the more popular platforms out there right after VirtualBox and offers a stable and reliable substitute. Not only that, but KVM has been around for a long time and hosts an excellent set of features and customizability.

That said, KVM might not be the best option for those looking to tinker around with a virtual machine for the first time. It has a complexity better suited to those in IT or who have worked with VM platforms before.

2. VMware Workstation (Pro or Player)

Next to KVM, VMware is the most recognizable name in machine virtualization. It comes with a comprehensive set of virtualization solutions tailored to Linux, Windows, and Apple Mac.

VMware Workstation comes in two versions: pro and player. The player version is for personal use and is free, but some features are limited. Although most users won’t even notice it. The pro version is for enterprise users and those who want to run restricted VMs.


QEMU is free to use and supports Linux, Windows, and macOS as the host system. It can run a long list of virtual operating systems. It isn’t a complicated platform and relies on CLI inputs to spawn and configure VM clients. But it is a powerful VM and doesn’t need administrator privileges.

This VM is also open source and is easy to install and use. But QEMU is a bit lacking when it comes to supporting documentation. It means it’s better suited to those who have some experience with virtual machines.

4. Xen Project

Xen Project is another free and open-source alternative to VirtualBox. That said, it is a reasonably robust and complicated virtual machine monitor (VMM) intended for large-scale or commercial use. The VMM is accessible for use in advanced virtualization, such as with IaaS applications, hyperscale clouds, and virtualized security. Larger industries, such as in aviation, use The Xen Project for complex applications.

5. Red Hat Virtualization

Yes, Linux does support a Red Hat Enterprise distribution. While Virtualization is built on that as well as KVM, it still works on any Linux distribution. Enterprise comes with a basic version of virtualization that supports up to four VMs on one host. Meanwhile, you can add Red Hat Virtualization to bare-metal installations. It also comes with a host of sophisticated management tools. Virtualization can also spawn almost an unlimited number of VMs.


There are many reasons to run a VM on Linux. People like to test out new systems and servers before deploying them or safely test new software. Some use it for privacy reasons to keep online services from tracking and fingerprinting them.

Keep in mind that while there are security benefits to running virtual machines, they aren’t inherently secure. Those who want privacy on the web while running a VM can’t rely on the fact that they’re running a new separate OS. They should still use a virtual private network like NordVPN to protect their system from ISP spying, threats on public WiFi, man-in-the-middle, and similar attacks.

Safety aside, all these virtual machine options make great alternatives to VirtualBox. Moreover, each brings something unique to the table. If VirtualBox isn’t cutting it anymore, then take a look at these instead to find the right fit.