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Spacecrab's Journal
LB in SF
The Iron Lantern 
2nd-Mar-2008 03:37 pm
I'm discovering that Parallels Desktop 3.0 for Macintosh is an impressive piece of software. Once you install it, your computer works like a superhero from Amalgam Comics.

Is it DC or Marvel, Windows or OSX? It doesn't actually matter, anymore. You get the best from both universes. You can run programs and open documents from both operating systems in their own windows, launching from either the OSX Dock or the Windows Taskbar. Parallels appears to provide practically seamless cut and paste, network connectivy, etc.

To add to the splendid geeky weirdness of it all, there's also this element to consider in the configuration linked to above.

Comments 
3rd-Mar-2008 02:17 am (UTC)
Very geeky indeed. You just need to add a Linux virtual machine and your transcendence will be complete.

I'm personally enjoying VMWare Fusion. Is there anything notably better about Parallels?
3rd-Mar-2008 04:45 am (UTC)
I haven't tested VMWare Fusion, so I can't provide a reliable first-hand comparision.

Internet chatter seems to be divided, with advocates for both solutions. VMWare Fusion has support tools for more Linux variants. Parallels has a feature called "Smart Select" that permits Mac and Windows apps to interchangeably open data files in and out of the virtual machine. I couldn't tell from googling whether VMWF gives Mac applications transparent access to documents in the Windows virtual machine.

With a little hacking around, Parallels can be made to recognize multiple existing Windows partitions in a single Boot Camp virtual machine. I found this to be useful in my unorthodox configuration, which starts out with multiple Windows partitions. I don't know whether VMWF can do that or whether you'd have to make images of the extra partitions to get them recognized in the Boot Camp VM -- using up more disk space. (Parallels isn't smart enough to dual boot Vista and XP from within the same Boot Camp virtual machine with XP on a Windows extended partition. It will apparenty only boot an OS that's located a primary partition.)


Here are benchmarks from a bunch of known PC-heads:
http://crave.cnet.com/8301-1_105-9760910-1.html

It looks like VMWare Fusion is faster for standard Windows applications, but Parallels has the edge on 3-D and gaming support.
3rd-Mar-2008 05:01 am (UTC)
Thanks, that's very useful. I'm pretty sure VMWF doesn't have anything as smooth as "Smart Select." By default, it mounts your OS X home directory as a networked drive, and it's trivial to add other folders (or mounted disks) as additional "drives", but I don't see any obvious way for Mac apps to directly open files inside the Windows XP virtual machine.

On the other hand, I'm not storing files inside the Windows XP virtual machine. And I care 1000% more about standard Windows app speed than about any kind of gaming. So of the virtualization packages, I suspect I'm using the right one...
3rd-Mar-2008 06:05 am (UTC)
It's kind of confusing in the benchmark world. Here's another set of tests from Mac heads that say Parallels is faster running XP apps, but VMWare Fusion is faster running Vista: http://www.mactech.com/articles/mactech/Vol.24/24.02/VirtualizationBenchmark/

All I can personally confirm is that XP runs a lot faster than Vista in a Parallels virtual machine. On the 2.0GHz Core Duo machine I'm using (with 2GB of RAM), the lag in XP performance in a virtual machine is slight compared to native mode. The lag in Vista performance is much more noticeable, maybe as much as 30% performance degradation.
7th-Apr-2008 06:53 pm (UTC)
One thing to note - Parallels needs a fair amount of ram to operate windows smoothly. At least my experience task switching between OS X and a Server 2003 guest was painful; a long, long pause while the OS thought things over and then -lurch- into Windows.

Then I doubled my ram to 2GB and It Just Works.

Now my only problem is that when I launch Outlook the windows guest BSODs . . .
7th-Apr-2008 06:55 pm (UTC)
Forgot to add that the task-switch lurch did specifically not happen for other guests - I've had FreeBSD, Solaris x86, Ubuntu all running there at one point or another.
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