Here in Unix and Linux Stack Exchange I used the tag and it was changed to automatically.

A virtual computing machine is a machine, a virtual operating system is a VIRTUAL-VIRTUAL machine, a virtual keyboard is a machine and so forth.

Is virtualization always a virtual machine?
Perhaps a better question would be - what might be virtual and is not a machine?

  • Network virtualization, storage virtualization, others I currently don't remember. Mar 1, 2021 at 22:04
  • Virtual RAM, I.e. swap.
    – jsbillings
    Mar 2, 2021 at 1:32
  • 1
    We don't need tags for every minute detail of a concept - that defeats the purpose of tags. So tags that broadly cover the same field get synonymised
    – muru
    Mar 2, 2021 at 1:49
  • I didn't say such tags are needed...
    – timesharer
    Mar 2, 2021 at 2:08
  • 1
    That synonym has been previously discussed, though it seems to have been implemented the other way round (and now the info for "virtualization" is a bit harder to find).
    – fra-san
    Mar 2, 2021 at 11:59

1 Answer 1


In the Linux/Unix community I find people use the terms interchangeably when people talk about virtualization they are normally talking about virtualization of complete machines ie. (vm's) there are for sure things that are virtual that are not machines ie. virtual hdd, virtual networks, virtual gpu (vGPU) and others but most people use the terms interchangeably.

  • Thanks, but are you sure that a virtual gpu is not a machine?...
    – timesharer
    Mar 2, 2021 at 0:48
  • This is where you get into semantics the generally agreed upon definition of a virtual machine is "A software program that emulates a hardware system." but as previously stated these terms are used interchangeably. Mar 2, 2021 at 1:04
  • The virtualization of any hardware is a 'virtual-machine'.
    – Shōgun8
    May 23, 2021 at 2:30
  • @Shōgun8 not true. Commonly in computing a virtual machine is a complete system. You can have drivers emulating hardware loaded in to a "bare metal" operating system and neither the whole system nor any individual part of it would commonly be described as a "virtual machine". Jun 3, 2021 at 21:11
  • @ Philip Couling, you're wrong; but what makes your unqualified statement more correct than mine? Perhaps you should qualify your unauthoritative contradiction with a reference. Let me give you an example; it seems that you've confused 'driver emulation' with 'process virtualization' en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virtual_machine (you can see that I've provided a reference to validate my statement).
    – Shōgun8
    Jun 4, 2021 at 8:09

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