Well, Cool (Updated)

April 6th, 2006  |  Published in old and busted  |  1 Comment

I’d link straight to the product page, but it’s in the process of getting the hell hammered out of it by all those rotten … people just like me:

Parallels launches Workstation beta program for Intel MacOS X:

> The solution takes advantage of Apple’s inclusion of Intel Core Duo architected chips into all new Macintosh computer models. Because the Intel Core Duo chipset is x86-compatible, the Parallels virtualization engine can easily virtualize the hardware, thus enabling Macintosh users to build virtual machines running nearly any x86-compatible OS, including Windows 3.1-XP/2003, Linux, FreeBSD, Solaris, OS/2, eComStation, and MS-DOS. …

If it can run IE for Windows at a speed approaching IE running over RDC on my switch, I’m set and I’ll finally get that fileserver I’ve been wanting to make out of my clone.

IE 6 under Parallels VM on an Intel iMac__Update:__ Well, Parallels’ site finally came back up and I managed to download a copy of their Virtual Workstation beta.

Initial impressions: It has a few weird UI bugs during install that cause it to not acknowledge your real CD/DVD unless you make sure there’s some media in the drive. Otherwise, it “just works.”

I set up a VM with 4 GB of hard drive space, 512MB of RAM and a bridged network, popped in my XP install CD, set the VM to boot from physical CD, and away I went. XP installed as quickly as it ever has on a real machine. Everything “just worked.”

WebTrends, which is the source of any desire I have to run a VM at all, didn’t want to work initially because Microsoft doesn’t ship Java with XP, but I downloaded Sun’s JRE and installed it, and that runs fine, too.

It takes a bit for the VM to shut down, during which time the whole system is a little pokey. Since it’s writing to a 4GB file, I can see that making some sense. On the bright side, it does like any good VM product and brings the machine back up to where it was when you paused it, which means if I leave it open on the one thing I care about, that’s what’ll be there when I return to it in a week.

The other things I noticed immediately are that it is willing to operate at decent screen resolutions. I sized it up to something that’ll fit on my second display with a little room around the edges (1280×800 or thereabouts … it’s a widescreen LCD). I got a little more responsiveness out of it by dialing down the display depth to 16bpp and turning off “show contents when dragging Windows,” the menu animations, and some other eyecandy.

I suspect that if I had an extra 512MB in this machine, I wouldn’t notice it if I just minimized the VM to the dock. With just 1GB, I feel more comfortable loading the VM, using it, then shutting it down to free up the resources.

As Gretchin pointed out in previous comments, it’s not a gaming thing. But it is responsive enough that it’ll make a great IE sandbox and anything that doesn’t need accelerated video or other media stuff.

Compared to my last serious foray into a VM product, which was Win98 under VMWare five years ago, on an AMD Duron 800, this is a pretty serious step up in usability.

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