June 11, 2007

VMware for OSX

Posted in Commentary, OSX Software at 4:09 pm by Michael Sweeney Media

Right now I am having great fun working with the new VMware Fusion beta with a technology called “Unity”. In direct comparison to Parallels, VMware is the winner in my book for several reasons. Unity is much more polished than Coherence in Parallels is. For example, I want to use IE Explorer in a seamless window. No sweat in VMware, just start it up and then click on Unity. Presto, there is a IE on my desktop in seamless format and not a VM session to be seen. Click on it and tell it you want to load on start up and OSX will load and start up Windows for you and then present you with IE. Even something as simple as sharing a USB device in Parallels is problematic with the infamous “device is busy” error. In VMware, you have all the USB widgets lined up on the bottom and you select which one you want to use in the VMware session, no mess, no fuss. Did I mention speed? Even in debug beta mode, VMware is significantly faster than Parallels is.

I just spent two hours connected to my office using the Cisco VPN client on OSX and using Outlook via the VMware Fusion OSX product. Outstanding performance with a pig like Outlook running. I created a new mail box and sync’ed it up which took about 30 minutes but it worked with all 3,000 messages accounted and present. I ran Outlook as a seamless window at the same time I had IE running. My preferred choice of virtual desktop manager which is “YouControl: Desktops” works well Fusion. The snapshot technology is ok, I wish it would let me have multiple levels like VMware workstation will but still, having anything at all is good. I also wish it had an easy way to clone off the virtual system from within VMware.

-UPDATE-

I just installed VMware Fusion on a 1.6Ghz Intel Mini/2Gig RAM and I have to say I am impressed all over again. The install went flawless even though I had already installed a slightly older version of the beta. VMware found the old one and upgraded it without problem. And it did not screw with my existing Windows image. I worked a bit with the full screen today. Works great, completely full screen and it puts the top most menu bar into a “hidden” format so that you just have to mouse over it to get it back. And my virtual desktops work great with the full screen AND it adjusts the screen size properly. Lets be honest, the Mini while cute, really suffers from a lack of video ram and power but in this application, you would never know it. Now, I am not trying games or high res graphics, just plain old business apps which work fine. Everyone in the office was very impressed with the floating screens using Unity. For a beta product, VMWare has really turned up the heat on Parallels to HIGH. The shared folders work very well, even when I have mounted it to my SAN using CIFS. Parallels has always had issues on my Mini trying to keep the local shared folders mounted and it ALWAYS whines about the Intel chip’s virtualization not being set right. Either VMware found a way around the problem or they just dont care because it has never once complained about it. I have not yet tried to see if VMware supports a real disk partition like Parallels does but I just dont have the need for that aspect. My networking works well and it solid, I was able to shift from NAT to bridged without a reboot and a simple ipconfig /release and /renew got my new IP address in Windows without any fuss. It uses my OSX VPN tunnels without batting an eye and the only app that seems to be “Sketchy” in seamless mode is Microsoft’s RDP which is not a big deal since I use the X-Windows version anyways. The sketchy comment comes from the slightly ragged handling of the screen updates for it, the app itself worked fine.

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