5 Best Free VDI Solutions for Developers in 2019

Aaron Walker
Aaron Walker  |  December 4, 2018

Enabling access to remote desktops, laptops, and operating systems is one of the best ways to remain secure within a network.

This process is called virtualization and is possible through the use of virtual desktop infrastructure software, also known as VDI.

But despite the security benefits, VDI software isn’t necessarily known for its affordability.

For developers looking for virtualization on a budget, we compiled an in-depth analysis of the best free VDI solutions to look for in 2019.

The products listed above are either free versions of enterprise offerings or open-source solutions to host yourself. Either way, let’s get into each VDI solution in more detail.

Free VDI software 2019

Each of the five solutions below are listed based on customer reviews and ratings on G2 Crowd, features, operating systems, and more.

Don’t want to scroll through the list? Jump to one of the five free VDIs on this list that piques your interest:

  1. Xen
  2. flexVDI
  3. Amazon WorkSpaces
  4. Hyper-V
  5. FOSS-Cloud

1. Xen

Xen serves as the basis for many commercial server virtualization, desktop, and embedded products as well as hardware appliances and cloud solutions.

The project began at the University of Cambridge more than a decade ago. Now, it powers the core of many enterprise-grade virtualization such as Citrix XenDesktop.

Features: Xen typically hosts Linux guests, but there are drivers for additional operating systems. It boasts consumer-grade simplicity through a Windows Continuum experience on any device, consistent user experiences, rich support for ChromeOS, automated client config plus selection of best path, and Web-based self-service password reset.

What users are saying: G2 Crowd users have said it’s simple, effortless to set up, flexible, and powerful. XenDesktop is a commercial application but does have overwhelming support visible through its many reviews.

Read Xen Reviews

2. flexVDI

flexVDI is an open-source solution developed in Zaragoza, Spain. It powers VDI for major European entities such as BBVA and the Spanish government. Keep in mind, only some components of the flexVDI ecosystem are free and open-source, so be cautious when evaluating costs.

Features: flexVDI supports Microsoft Windows operating systems and “all flavors” of Linux distributions. It boasts an improved version of the fully open-source protocol named SPICE, flexibility across many devices, developer friendliness via JSON API, and transparency through its public repositories on GitHub.

What users are saying: G2 Crowd users have said it’s simple and affordable compared to other options. flexVDI is also renowned by users for its ease-of-use when configuring and starting up the product.

Read flexVDI Reviews

3. Amazon WorkSpaces

Amazon WorkSpaces is a secure desktop computing service that runs on the powerful AWS cloud. Fortunately for users, there is a free version of this VDI solution – granting two bundled workspaces with a usage of 40 hours per month.

It’s worth noting that this offering only lasts for the first two months. So if you find it helpful, you can upgrade and continue using at the scale you desire.

Features: Amazon WorkSpaces allows provision cloud-based virtual desktops and provides users access to the documents, applications, and resources needed from any supported device. This includes Windows and Mac computers, Chromebooks, iPads, Fire tablets, and Android tablets. The two workspaces come in the form of a fully managed desktop-as-a-service (DaaS) solution running on AWS.

What users are saying: G2 Crowd users have said it’s arguably the best solution for those who travel frequently or are always on-the-go. The flexibility of devices is also a major plus, according to users.

Read Amazon WorkSpaces Reviews

4. Hyper-V

Hyper-V, surprisingly, features a free tiered VDI solution which allows users to build fully functioning Hyper-V host servers without paying licensing fees.

It’s worth noting that if you want to avoid paying licensing fees, you won’t be able to host Microsoft Windows accounts, but you could run Linux Guest.

Features: Hyper-V has a wide range of features. This includes nested virtualization for testing purposes, host resource protection to prevent CPU and RAM from being taken up by one virtual machine, PowerShell direct for admins, storage replica for volume replication, and much more.

What users are saying: G2 Crowd users have agreed Hyper-V is one of the most stable VDI solutions out there with a user-friendly setup and configuration. Others state it’s a phenomenal alternative to VMware.

Read Hyper-V Reviews

5. FOSS-Cloud

FOSS-Cloud is another free, open-source solution to building all kinds of virtualized IT components. In addition to VDI, the solution provides capabilities to build your own IaaS, PaaS, and software as a service (SaaS) offerings and storage clouds.

Features: FOSS-Cloud advertises 40 percent savings compared to commercial virtualization solutions since FOSS-Cloud has no licensing fees. Additional features include integration into existing environments, desktop publishing capabilities, application streaming, and a web-based management console.

What users are saying: There are no reviews of FOSS-Cloud on G2 Crowd, however, it does have a robust developer community on its website.

Get your VDI tool today

Some VDI tools are more scalable than others, some have different integration capabilities. Some VDI tools are built for specific operating systems, and some are optimized for mobile use.

However you plan on using a VDI, we recommend choosing a solution that fits your needs as a developer.


To learn more about virtual desktop infrastructure and its various problem-solving benefits, checkout our extensive breakdown on VDI software.

Aaron Walker
Author

Aaron Walker

Aaron is a Senior Research Specialist who focuses on cybersecurity, information technology and software development. He began at G2 Crowd in 2016 after graduating from The University of Iowa. Aaron has written for The Daily Herald, Tribune Media, and The Daily Iowan, among other media outlets. In his free time, Aaron enjoys shooting film photography and fine-tuning his illustration skills.