Parallels to VMware – Conversion Notes

November 16th, 2007  |  Published in etc

As previously Twittered, Parallels was making me nutty: I’d start it up when I needed it, but I’d sit through the most incredibly long launch times. It got to the point that if I wanted the machine to behave responsively, I’d start it up 15 or 20 minutes before needing it. And it took a performance toll, too, sometimes beachballing the whole computer. At that point, I’m into “Why not just use Bootcamp?” territory.

So I gave the VMWare Fusion trial a look and liked what I saw enough to cough up for the license. It launches more quickly, seems to operate more smoothly once launched, and it’s polite to everything else on the system. It feels like a much better citizen on my computer.

The one regret I had switching was that the Windows install I had running on my Parallels VM was going to be left behind, and that’s a hassle. I’d gone to all the trouble of getting it current on patches, installing the stuff I wanted, etc. etc. But just a few days after getting my VMWare license, the company released a beta of VMWare Importer, which converts Parallels VMs to VMWare.

Some things worth knowing if you’re going to use it:

  1. Give the Importer time to run and expect your system to run slow while it’s running. It’s a pretty disk-intensive operation and it took a while (more than 10, less than 30 minutes) to import a fairly small (~7GB) disk image.

  2. If you let Parallels set up shared folders (which allow your VM’s desktop and documents folders to mirror those on your Mac) you should boot into Parallels one last time and turn that feature off. The VMWare Importer tries to check those imaginary (network) locations for available space then fails out when it can’t. Since I’d already uninstalled Parallels, I opted to fire up regedit and hunt down all the occurrences of “.pcf,” removing the ones that referenced those bogus locations. That worked.

  3. Have your WinXP install disc handy. The newly VMWare-ized VM will find new hardware and it will want the XP disc to install it.

  4. There’s some complaining in the newly VMWare-ized VM about the ethernet interface being in promiscuous mode. That’s addressed in the release notes and it seems to be a function of Parallels’ installation of Kaspersky security software, which puts the interface in promiscuous mode.

  5. Install VMWare Tools quickly. Until you do the mouse acts horribly and transitioning from a full-screen VM to another display is choppy in a “mouse is suddenly 50 pixels west of where I last saw it” kind of way.

  6. There are some odd but minor video corruption glitches in the imported VM. They take the form of misdrawn menus most of the time. I don’t get them in the VM I create in VMWare. I haven’t taken a very close look at the settings on the two VMs to see if I need to tweak something, though.

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