Linux Instability: Running VirtualBox Alongside Other Applications May Cause your System to Crash

VirtualBox is a fantastic piece of software, as it's easy to use and install on my Linux distribution. It even manages to run virtual machines alongside other applications, albeit with a bit of latency involved when switching back and forth. But, it can be prone to crashing the system, leaving the user unable to spawn a new TTY more than once. You have to resort to pressing the power button to power off the system, as I have had to do.

I was running Windows 10 with the CPU execution cap, unfortunately, set to 100 percent. I was also running Google Chrome, and tried to switch the browser from the VM. Unfortunately, it then appeared to 'hang' after which I switched into a TTY, logged in, ran htop and examined the resource usage of the processes; the VM was using most of the CPU time, but when I switched to the tree view, noticed that Chrome had spawned many threads.

Google Chrome, with it's many threads, running alongside (not parallel) with Virtualbox may not be the exact reason for the crash, but it's fair to say that running applications alongside Virtualbox is going to contribute to instability. In the future I'm going to lower the execution cap of my virtual machine to something much lower, because the Linux kernel will happily grant all of your system resources to a thread. I recommend the reader does the same. I can also recommend the 'htop' utility, as it is more user friendly than 'ps', and especially good for examining processes and their child threads.


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