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  1. #1

    Join Date
    Dec 2004
    Location
    Carlingford, Sydney
    Posts
    311

    Default Need Virtualization Advice

    I just started a System Admin course at TAFE and have found it is basically Windows only (OS X & Linux only lightly covered). I can't access the free wireless internet access when at TAFE or the TAFE's online resources (lessons/submit stuff or carry on chat with teachers etc) plus am unable to do class work (with a G4 1.67GB 17" Powerbook) because these resources require Explorer 6+/Windows environment.

    I have decided I need a 17" Mac Book Pro and would like to run virtualization so I can run Windows XP, Linux etc so I can practice everything we cover no matter what platform. On the OS X side I want to run a lot of Pro Apps like Final Cut Pro Studio, CS3 Studio (when released), MS Office plus a pile more processor intensive apps as well as being able to use it for testing XHTML, CSS etc as a development server running PHP, MySQL, Filemaker, Lasso, Ruby on Rails, AJAX etc. Hence the following questions.
    1. Is the MacBook Pro powerful enough to handle this load or would I be better of running my development server environment on a different machine and just use the laptop for OS X and Virtualization only ?
    2. Can you run OS X on the internal drive and run the virtual environment from an external drive (I am worried that the laptop drive won't be big enough to run everything off one internal drive)? If external drive is possible, should I use an external Firewire/USB2 or ESATA interface for best results (speed, system compatibility, ability to boot from etc) ?
    3. What virtualization program/s would people recommend and how well do they work together eg Bootcamp when speed and full functionality is needed, Parallels (sounds best from what I've heard) for general virtualization when I need to share documents /resources between XP and OS X or perhaps VMWare which we use at TAFE on the Windows machines ? Is it possible to run all three virtualization programms either seperately or simultaneously if needed or even just to compare them ?
    4. Are there any tricks/info I should be aware of concerning formatting, file systems or is this just taken care of via a wizard in whatever virtualization software I end up using?
    5. I would appreciate being made aware of any other issues that I may face that I otherwise haven't mentioned or thought of ?
    Thanks in advance.
    Greg Sharp
    President/Webmaster
    Australian Mac Users Group (AUSMUG)

  2. #2

    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    Sydney Metropolitan
    Posts
    2,079

    Default

    1: Macbook Pro is a fine machine. It would seem suitable (with lots of RAM of course).

    2: Virtual Machines just need a place to save the virtual system image. External HDD should be fine. Firewire would be reliable, but USB could manage.

    3: Parallels works for me, but you can encounter problems when a program wants better graphics support. I hear it can use volumes that Boot Camp can boot off. Boot Camp is wonderful for the use of your graphics (I hear) but I have not yet had personal experience with that. VMWare sounds good, but I have no experience and little knowledge about it. For all I know it could be better than Parallels.

    4: NTFS is read only in OSX, so use FAT32 to ensure ability to read and write a Windows/Linux Boot Camp volume.

    5: That's it for now.
    Should/Could/Would

  3. #3

    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    Sydney, Australia
    Posts
    102

    Default

    I have a 17" MBP and have run both BootCamp (for running Windows Vista natively so I can get Aero, etc - but this is mainly for testing this OS) and Parallels (I've got 2 x Windows XP SP2, one Vista and a Solaris 10 VM at the moment).

    I allocated 20GB for the Vista native install under Bootcamp and I have a 160GB internal drive.

    Unless you plan to go completely rediculous with installs of VM's and the software you install under them I think the 160GB internal drive will be plenty. I'm sure you could run VM's off an external drive but I havn't tried that (I do have an external 160GB laptop drive which I use to transport data and for backups, etc).

    I made all my Parallels VM's have notional 32GB drives - however I chose not to preallocate space (this is the default anyway) so the VM grows over time (up to the max) - so at the moment all my VM's actually take up less than 10GB each - so theres plenty of space left on the internal drive - with bootcamp, OS X, the developers tools, the VM's, iTunes library and all the rest of the crap I have on my machine at the moment I still have 65GB of free space left.

    For everything other than 3D accelerated graphics Parallels seems to basically run at native speed (one core) so speed doesn't seem to be an issue. You can install and run all three technologies but obviously you can't run all three simultaneously as BootCamp requires you to natively boot into it. I also run VMware on windows machines but for Windows XP/Vista VM's I find Parallels is very slick (Coherence, braindead easy drag and drop, cut/copy/paste, file sharing between the native and guest OS - just the simple fact you don't have to click in the VM window and then do the Ctrl-Alt release thing to go back to the native OS is awesome in Parallels). NB: all those seamless integration goodies only work for XPSP2 and Vista VM's - for my Solaris 10 VM (and all the others) you're back to a more VMWare like experience.

    No tricks required with formatting (at least under Parallels) - it creates a virtual drive and the OS installs over that (and formats it's own required filesystem).

    I think the main thing to ensure if you go the virtualisation path is to ensure you have enough memory in your MBP - I went the 3GB route specifically for this reason.
    iPhone 3GS 32GB | MBP Unibody 17" 2.66Ghz 4GB | MBP 17" 2.33Ghz 3GB | MSi Wind 1.6GHz 2GB | EyeTV Diversity | Airport Extreme
    XboxZone

  4. #4

    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    Sydney
    Posts
    5,960

    Default

    VMware Fusion is currently in Beta 2 if you haven't heard and in recent publications it was mentioned by a high VMware employee (director or something) that they expect the Final product to be available in US Summer (not sure if that means at the beginning or sometime in the US Summer).

    Unfortunately VMware Fusion being in a beta still means the application is a debug build, thus it has some extra overhead until its actually released.

    I prefer VMware, only cause I can drop my VMware virtual machines from other VMware products directly between all the platforms I run them on. Of course I try to stick to level they all understand, incase a VMware 5.x virtual machine.

  5. #5

    Join Date
    Dec 2004
    Location
    Carlingford, Sydney
    Posts
    311

    Default

    Thanks for the tips guys. I just bid on and won a 17" Core2Duo Mac Book Pro on eBay and payed via PayPal less than an hour ago. It should arrive in the next 2-3 days hopefully. I guess I'll be going up to the local computer markets in the morning and pick up a copy of XP Pro + order a copy of Parallels online + download the Bootcamp Beta. I've already got some Umbutu CD's that arrived by mail last week. Hopefully I'll be up and running before weeks end.
    Greg Sharp
    President/Webmaster
    Australian Mac Users Group (AUSMUG)

  6. #6

    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    Sydney
    Posts
    5,960

    Default

    Cool, I am in the middle of doing a couple of reinstalls on my VMware Workstation 6 install on Windows. As I needed to recreate a few virtual machines. This time I will make a snapshot to save reinstalling after having issues with them.

  7. #7

    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Location
    Brisbane
    Posts
    454

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by AUSMUG View Post
    Thanks for the tips guys. I just bid on and won a 17" Core2Duo Mac Book Pro on eBay and payed via PayPal less than an hour ago. It should arrive in the next 2-3 days hopefully. I guess I'll be going up to the local computer markets in the morning and pick up a copy of XP Pro + order a copy of Parallels online + download the Bootcamp Beta. I've already got some Umbutu CD's that arrived by mail last week. Hopefully I'll be up and running before weeks end.
    As everyone has been saying be sure that you have plenty of ram in this machine that you've won. If you are going to be using parallels you want at least 2gb of ram in my opinion and if you can afford it go for 3gb for the sort of stuff you want to be doing!

    theov

  8. #8

    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Portland, Oregon (was Perth)
    Posts
    98

    Default

    1. Yes a Macbook Pro is fine. I have a 15" (v1) w/ 2GB of RAM and things seem to run smoothely for me.

    2. Yes it can run from an external drive. Either should work.

    3. Since it appears you need a fix ASAP for now I highly recommend Parallel's. Parallel's is a pretty good piece of software. However, I personally prefer VMware. I've used both VMware ESX and VMware Server for some time now on the Windows side and quite fond of it. However there currently is only a Beta version of it for OS X and thus is limited in features. If the final product has the same features as the VMware Server then I'd definitely go with VMware over Parallel's. Boot camp doesn't even make the list for me.

    4. For Parallel's and VMware you won't have to worry about this, its handled in the software.

    5. Can't think of any right now.

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