I can't get virtualbox to work on 5.8 SOHO ~ are there any other options?
You could try QEMU. It's slightly nasty to set up (all command line, rather obscure commands and options) but with the kqemu kernel accelerator it does a good job. I have Win 98SE set up in a QEMU virtual machine under VL 5.8 Standard and it's very nice. I haven't tried any later Windows, such as W2K or XP. QEMU doesn't have as many options as VMware Workstation, so it depends on what you need. I'm not a gamer and have never tried running a game in a virtual machine.
VMware Player has a Linux version that's free to download. It lacks some of the important features of the full VMware, such as the tools. I don't know if you could use the tools you have from VMware Workstation.
I think Parallels (commercial, you have to buy it) has a Linux version. I know very little about it.
I'm writing this in a VirtualBox VL 5.8 Standard virtual machine under Windows XP. It runs very well, but it sure does suck up the computer power. I also have a VirtualBox vm with 5.8 Standard under Vista on my laptop. In both XP and Vista, when I run VirtualBox the computer is using a bit over 1 gig of physical RAM (I have 3 gigs on the desktop and 2 gigs on the laptop). Both of these computers have dual-core processors. On the laptop CPU usage is about 50% when the virtual machine is running. One of the cores is at about 20% and the other is at about 80%. On the desktop total CPU usage is about 25-30% with one core at about 50% and the other much lower. I have enough power to spare that I don't notice any "hit" on the rest of the system. I've assigned 512 megs of RAM to the virtual machine, which is okay for Standard. For Windows 9x 256 to 384 megs assigned to the vm would be enough, 512 megs would be okay for XP, for Vista--forget about it!
Describe your problems with VirtualBox. Maybe someone can help with that.
One thing I discovered was that VirtualBox does very poorly with Windows 9x. In fact, only the NT series (W2K, XP, maybe NT4) is supported on VirtualBox. I did get 98SE installed, but it ran so slowly that it was unusable and there were no Guest Additions for it, so I was stuck at 640x480 and 16 colors and couldn't set up Shared Folders. I wanted a 98SE virtual machine on my Vista and XP computers because I have a couple of important programs that lose some functionality under XP but work fine under 98SE. I wound up installing Microsoft Virtual PC 2007 (free download) and installed 98SE under that, where it works quite well. There is no Linux version of Virtual PC (surprise, surprise!