1.17. Alternative Front-Ends

As briefly mentioned in Section 1.3, “Features Overview”, Oracle VM VirtualBox has a very flexible internal design that enables you to use multiple interfaces to control the same virtual machines. For example, you can start a virtual machine with the VirtualBox Manager window and then stop it from the command line. With Oracle VM VirtualBox's support for the Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP), you can even run virtual machines remotely on a headless server and have all the graphical output redirected over the network.

The following front-ends are shipped in the standard Oracle VM VirtualBox package:

  • VirtualBox. This is the VirtualBox Manager, a graphical user interface that uses the Qt toolkit. This interface is described throughout this manual. While this is the simplest and easiest front-end to use, some of the more advanced Oracle VM VirtualBox features are not included.

  • VBoxManage. A command-line interface for automated and detailed control of every aspect of Oracle VM VirtualBox. See Chapter 7, VBoxManage.

  • VBoxHeadless. A front-end that produces no visible output on the host at all, but can act as a RDP server if the VirtualBox Remote Desktop Extension (VRDE) is installed and enabled for the VM. As opposed to the other graphical interfaces, the headless front-end requires no graphics support. This is useful, for example, if you want to host your virtual machines on a headless Linux server that has no X Window system installed. See VBoxHeadless, the Remote Desktop Server.

If the above front-ends still do not satisfy your particular needs, it is possible to create yet another front-end to the complex virtualization engine that is the core of Oracle VM VirtualBox, as the Oracle VM VirtualBox core neatly exposes all of its features in a clean API. See Oracle VM VirtualBox Programming Interfaces.