I had been using vmware workstation for a long while. It’s pretty good in terms of performance and ease of use– I ran vmware on WinNT and Win2K with several VMs concurrently, each of them with a different OS: redhat, freeBSD, Gentoo and Debian. The network config is easy and straight forward– there are virtual NICs installed on your host, the guess can talk to the host via diffrent methods such as bridge, NAT … the downside is that it’s not free– several hundred bucks is not cheap.
Before I used VMWare several years ago , I looked to the open source community– at that monent there were the Bochs (http://bochs.sourceforge.net/) project and the Plex86 project. Bochs was not built for performance but aimed at providing IA-32 emulation across different hardware platforms. it’s very slow. Plex86 was aimed at being a vmware-like virtual machine but at that moment the project seemed to be dead.
Recently I checked plex86 project page again and found that the project seemed to have been reactivated– but overall it is still in its early stage.
qemu seems very good except for network configurations– I installed Suse linux as the guest OS successfully. I tried to setup the network connection with host with no luck and the documentation does not provide helpful info… but overall it’s much faster than bochs and perhaps can compete with VMWare someday.
COLinux, unlike others, is dedicated to running linux as the guest OS on windows PCs. For me it’s enough since linux is the major guest OS i need. CoLinux does its job very well–I installed debian very quickly, no problem with network at all and i can always use the apt-get command. Although it can not run the GUI from inside the VM, it does not bother me at all– I can either run VNCServer and use UltraVNC to control the desktop, or use a PC X server such as Cygwin-X. And the speed is awesome, it feels like I am running linux natively– at the end of the day, finally I can use an open source software to run linux on my Windows PC!
I may take a look at the PearPC (http://pearpc.sourceforge.net/)project as well– If only i have a copy of Max OSX :(, to try out things from Mac world.