The Collaborative Virtual Machine (also known as CollabVM, Collab VM, or collab-vm) is an open source project which allows users to collaboratively control a virtual machine, typically for around 18 seconds per person. The twist is that anyone can hop in and use any of the available 9* official/unofficial virtual machines at any given moment, and do whatever they want.
The current concept and project was inspired by the website socket.computer, but the CollabVM project adds many more features on top of the existing features such as a chat room, an administrator panel, logs, and more. The website was created by Dartz, and the software was coded and written by Cosmic Sans, Dartz and Geodude.
What it is
The site allows users to control a virtual machine. The site runs several virtual machines. The list are as follows: (updated sometimes)
- Windows Vista Ultimate Anarchy x64
- Windows 7 Ultimate SP1 x64
- Windows XP Professional SP3 x86
- Lubuntu 22.04 x64
- Windows 8.1 Pro x64
- Windows 10 21H2 Pro x64
- Windows 11 Pro 22000.556 x64
- Install Any OS (Modern OSes) x86-64
- Install Any OS (Old OSes) x86
There are other sites running the CollabVM software that also run other operating systems, like MS-DOS, Windows 98, Debian, etc, and soon, users will be able to host their own VMs with their own operating systems (this has been already done). The site is powered by Guacamole and collab-vm-server. The site features a chatroom, where users are able to type messages to each other. The purpose of the chat is to share ideas on what to do on the virtual machine, although it can be used for pretty much anything. When you login to the website, you are given a generic, anonymous guest name (typically guest(string of 4-6 numbers)). Server owners can recompile the server with a different name, so it may be different depending on the CollabVM site you're using. You can change your name if you so desire (by clicking the "Change Username" button) or you can leave it as the default guest name.
To take control of the virtual machine, first, either press the Take Turn button or click on the screen. You will then be assigned a place in line. You will either get control of the virtual machine, or you may have to wait until another users turn is finished before you can take control. To check who is currently taking a turn, you can scroll to the user list and look for any blue / yellow names. If their name has a blue background, that means they are currently in control of the virtual machine. If their name has a yellow background, this means they are currently waiting to take control of the virtual machine. If they have no color, that means they aren't doing anything. When you press the Take Turn button or click the screen, if someone is also taking a turn, you will receive a timer which indicates how long you have to wait.
Please note: While the site is not explicitly for 18 and up, if you are under the age of 18, you need permission from your guardian, (or parent) as anyone can do anything on this virtual machine, and that includes opening pornography and other NSFW things. There is a warning blur which blurs out the screen before you can see it.
The invention of the concept of a public collaborative virtual machine that others could use through the internet is hard to pinpoint. This concept seems to have existed as early as mid 2004, with a user of a forum posting an IP address and a password for a VNC server, claiming it was "open for anyone to use". The concept of collaborating with people through a virtual machine can be traced back to 2010, and the concept of users taking turns to collaborate with a VM online can be traced back to April 2014, the official release date of socket.computer.
CollabVM was inspired by the website Manymo, which allowed users to run an Android virtual machine in a web browser, but is no longer available.
July 11, 2014 - February 18, 2015
CollabVM 0.01 (originally named "Browser Computer") started in July 2014, as a fun experiment. Instead of a virtual machine, it ran in an actual, physical machine running Windows 95, with a basic node.js script to simply connect to a VNC Server that was running with no password. This version did not have turns - if there were more than 2 users on the VM at once, they would have to use the chat to collaborate or try and fight for control. The page in question was also not hosted on Computernewb. The project was later reconfigured to connect to a remote QEMU session due to people constantly turning the machine off, closing the VNC Server, or destroying the machine. It was fairly unpopular, with only around 5-6 unique people controlling it every 2* weeks or so. The project was closed off in November 2014, but would later be reborn in February 2015.