It’s been a month or so since I posted about my experiences with the Parallels and VMWare Fusion demos. Since then I’ve installed Vista on a Bootcamp partition and that seems to run nicely (though logging in takes for ever) and had a chance to use the demos to access Vista off the Bootcamp partition (though it seems to be either Bootcamp + Parallels or Bootcamp + VMWare not Bootcamp + Parallels + VMWare (obviously not running the virtual machine systems at the same time).
Both Fusion and Parallels worked nicely with the Bootcamp partition and installed their helper applications for sharing data etc. just fine. I tested out the Direct X support – useful for games and for other software that uses that graphics support – and found Parallels 3 was not good, and VMWare stuttered sometimes. The upgrade to Parallels 4 demo produced some nicer Direct X behaviour though.
At the end of the day either system – Parallels or VMWare – would do the job for me (like running Camtasia to make training videos showing how to access eLearning resources under Window). Parallels seemed to have the more integrated interface with MacOSX but did seem to suck resources out of the computer. VMWare seemed a little less integrated but felt (subjectively) less resource hungry and more snappy at installing operating systems etc. If push came to shove I’d probably go the VMWare route for my needs. (However I’ll need to run that past the people who control my budget). Bootcamp works, but there’s been a few times recently where I’d want to have Entourage and NetNewsWire running while doing Windows stuff too.
A couple of useful links that passed across my screen this week.
The first notes several sources of (free) software for plaining Windows media files of various types. It doesn’t link through to VLC, but the links there are useful too. See Play Windows media files on your Mac | Playlist | Macworld
The second is a piece of software that prevents your Mac from automatically going to sleep, dimming the screen or starting screen savers. Useful for quickly changing settings for presentation mode. See Lighthead – Caffeine.
So I’ve been trying our different options for virtual machines on the MacBook Pro with varying degrees of success. So far I’ve played around with the Parallels 3 demo, the VMWare Fusion demo, Crossover and VirtualBox.
Given I don’t have a spare Windows XP or Vista licence lying around at the moment (something I’ll fix in the next few days) I’ve been playing around with Windows 98 and Ubuntu distributions to see how easy it is install and run the different virtual machines.
Firstly, Crossover which effectively attempts to run Windows applications (using a WINE base) without you having to install a Window OS in a virtual machine. A nice idea but it didn’t really do the job with the apps I tried. Plus I want to record what the Windows setup looks like with something like Camtasia and having the familiar Windows Desktop helps there.
Secondly, Parallels. Easy install and worked well mostly. With Windows 98 it wouldn’t find the CD drive properly (disk image or real CD) which meant it couldn’t install the extras nor additional drivers it needed to run smoothly (like for sound and networking). Ubuntu installed too, but again the extras wouldn’t install either, though it ran just fine without them for testing purposes. Perhaps XP and Vista would work better, but it’s had a couple of strikes against it. YMMV.
Thirdly, VMWare Fusion. Again easy to install and the install of the OSs seemed to work well. It did a better job on Win98 (which is useful because I need to test course CD-ROMs etc. on old browsers and OSs. A lot of our students seem to have second-hand/hand-me-down hardware) but I couldn’t for the life of me get the soundcard to work. The appropriate drivers just gave a blue screen of death on install, though the CDROM worked. Latest Ubuntu (8.10) installed like a charm, with the extras. So, if this one plays well with XP/Vista it could be the one to pick.
Lastly, VirtualBox. Installed Win98 fine but only in basic mode – no sound etc and lo-res graphics. Ubuntu fared better and installed smoothly. If all I wanted to do was run the latter for testing then maybe that would be the way to go.
Next step is to set up a Bootcamp partition with Vista and then see how the virtual machines like Fusion play with that. In a less than perfect world I’d go with that by default, but I’d like to be testing and documenting the Windows and Linux experiences for students at the same time as the Mac experience. So far Fusion looks like it might do the job best, but we’ll wait and see.
Both VMWare Fusion or Parallels Desktop are a similar price but which to choose? I know VMWare has the edge (perhaps) for performance, but Parallels is (perhaps) better for integration.
Has anyone had a play with the new Mac OS X friendly OpenOffice 3? I’m going to pull it down the wire but would be interested to know what other experiences people have had.
www.OpenOffice.org – The Free and Open Productivity Suite
Someone has way too much time on their hands.
Anyway, this is pretty much what I want. Smaller and more robust than a MacBook, but bigger and more capable than an iPhone, but still running Mac OS X. Desktop at work for most of the grunty work and then throw something like this in the backpack for word processing, web and email.
Full article at Run Mac OS X on an Eee PC – Wired How-To Wiki including a video of it working.
While I won’t be owning an iPhone in the near future I was interested to stumble across this Flickr app for it created by my ‘cousin-in-law’ : Mobile Flickr, coming to an iPhone near you — Sneak.
Videos of it working over at Mobile Flickr | Apple iPhone School
Being an old UNIX programmer I love the idea of assembling your own set of small, powerful applications doing one task well rather than monolithic applications that try to do too much and fail at doing everything well. I don’t use Flickr but I like the look of this small app.