Virt-manager does not offer all the fancy download or desktop integration features Boxes does — but it’s considerably more capable and reliable.
A virt-manager VM won’t automatically hibernate itself when its console window is closed. It also won’t resize its desktop resolution to fit the window, or automatically feed a dropped file into a magic download. Seen from a sysadmin’s perspective, this lack is a feature, not a bug — it means that the guest is properly isolated , exposing it and the host to the minimum of weirdness (let alone security problems) from one another.
Virt-manager also offers nearly effortless administration of multiple physical VM hosts. The view you see in the gallery above gives you some idea — in addition to the two hosts running in my home network, sharp eyes can spot five more hosts with hostnames ending in .wg, which in my case means they’re on the other side of a WireGuard tunnel.
A single virt-manager instance on a workstation can easily manage tens or even hundreds of separate hosts, connected by SSH tunnels using shared-key authentication. A double-click pops a graphical console window into the local or remote VM, using either Spice or VNC as the remote-control protocol. In the toolbar of a virt-manager console window, a simple set of start, pause, and power icons do exactly that — another offers the ability to create and manage snapshots (which Boxes failed at), and the Info button gives acce ss to inspect and modify the VM’s virtual hardware and related settings. Conclusions ()
No, we did not download the latest bleeding-edge version of Boxes from Flathub — but our Focal Fossa package is only a single minor point-release out of date.
Jim Salter I like the idea of Boxes, and I think there’s a definite market for it. The allure of incredibly safe, simple, and easy distro-hopping isn’t lost on me — and I particularly liked the integrated download mechanism.
Unfortunately, I don’t think Boxes is ready for prime time yet. The number of sharp edges I encountered even with a very modern Linux guest OS running a Gnome3 desktop outweighed Boxes’ simplicity — let alone the completely broken install environment for OpenBSD, as compared to a “just works” experience on virt-manager. (The good)
(Easy, dynamic search of available distros to install and play with Dynamic resolution changes to fit host window
Simple drag-and-drop operations to get files from host to guest — if the desktop environment in the guest supports it
(The bad) Extreme lack of configurability Broken environments in distros that ” just work “on virt-manager Broken QEMU snapshot management (default allocation of) (all) host CPU threads to the guest