Tag Archives: virtual-machine

Virtual Machines Love Windows 7

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Josh called in last week during live calls to talk with me about Windows 7. His general opinion at first was just that Windows 7 is a “great operating system”. I had to chuckle at that, because I of course agree. As we talked more, we got into a bit of a discussion about how much better Windows 7 runs on our Macs inside of Boot Camp. In my opinion, anyway, Vista never did run well on any type of virtual machine. It just plain stunk.

In a virtual machine environment, such as with VMWare Fusion, Windows 7 just – works. It runs clean, and it runs fast. When I used to try and run Vista in the same environment, with the same hardware and same configuration… it never worked. It was buggy. It would crash. It was slow. Things wouldn’t – work!

Don’t forget that I have an awesome Windows 7 eBook available for only $7.00! It’s filled with 70 excellent tips and tricks, to help you make the transition to Windows 7 even easier.

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Compiz Fusion in Ubuntu Inside a Virtual Machine

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Do you Ubuntu? If not, what’s your excuse? You don’t have to run it as your primary operating system, but all the cool kids are using it! Linux is sorta like ice cream – there are a ton of different flavors! It doesn’t even matter which distro you choose… go with what tastes right to you.

Ubuntu is certainly maturing over time. The latest release has mixed reviews, but are mostly positive. Each generation is more stable, and easier to use. I’ve talked about Linux in the past, especially when it comes to things you can only get inside of Linux… such as Compiz Fusion.

Since Ubuntu is open-source, you may want to give back to that community someday. Who knows? You could be the coder who comes up with the next great advance! But I know that most of you are regular users like I am, and that’s ok!

Now, if you want to run Ubuntu on your desktop, you might want to use virtual machine software. Can you guess which one I’m using? There’s a lot of software out there that can allow you to run an operating system inside of a piece of software. Everyone knows what I’m running now, right? If you were going to guess Parallels or VMWare, you would be incorrect… even though I have coupons for both of them.

What I’m using is VirtualBox from Sun. The same people that brought you Java have now brought you open-source virtualization technology for your desktop. So I’m running an open-source operating system inside of an open-source virtual machine!

Sun has enabled 3D acceleration inside of VirtualBox! So Compiz Fusion is even MORE amazing. It’s insanely smooth – and amazingly cool! I’ve never seen Compiz Fusion running inside a virtual machine before. Not only does it run inside of VirtualBox… it runs very well!

It’s fun to run an operating system like this. Give it a shot… it doesn’t cost you a thing!

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Boot Camp vs VMware or Parallels

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Apparently, Virtual Machines are a hot topic! I’ve had a few calls lately asking about them, the differences, and my recommendations. This caller is buying a Macbook Pro, and is wondering what he should use as far as running Windows programs. He has a copy of Photoshop, and wonders what program he needs on the Macbook in order to use Photoshop to its peak performance. He’s also curious as to whether he should use Rosetta.

What exactly is Rosetta? You’ll never see it, you’ll never configure it, you’ll never have to think about it. It’s built into Mac OS X to ensure that most of your existing applications live a long and fruitful life. Here are all the instructions you’ll need: double-click the application icon. Behind the scenes, Rosetta dynamically translates most of your PowerPC-based applications to work with your Intel-based Mac. There’s no emulation. No second-class status. It looks and feels just like it did before. On a Mac, you’d expect nothing less.

If you want, you could always use Photoshop inside a Virtual Machine, using something such as Parallels or VMware. Or, you could use Boot Camp, which is included with OS X Leopard. Boot Camp supports the most popular 32-bit releases of Windows XP and Windows Vista. When you use either operating system on your Mac, your Windows applications will run at native speed. This is exactly what the caller is looking for! Windows applications have full access to multiple processors and multiple cores, accelerated 3D graphics, and high-speed connections like USB, FireWire, Wi-Fi, and Gigabit Ethernet.


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Parallels or VMware

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I was involved in a conversation on the 888-PIRILLO line the other night, when the talk turned to using Parallels. The caller has been using Parallels, but has been having a lot of troubles with the CD drive not wanting to mount. It has been SO long since I’ve used Parallels. I asked if it’s happening on all builds, or just one Virtual Machine. My first suggestion, of course, is to try a second VM. If it doesn’t connect there, there may be an incompatibility with that drive and Parallels.

You might also try downloading a trial of VMware. They not only are one of our sponsors, they have an excellent product. Parallels has gotten a lot better lately. Some people swear by it, and some swear by VMware. I think either one is a fantastic product. I give more attention to VMware for a couple of reasons. One is that it can support two processors, instead of just one. The second reason is that it has been around as long as I can remember, much longer than Parallels. To me, longevity shows that a company knows what they are doing.

You can find Parallels Coupons and VMWare Coupons at Coupons.Lockergnome.com.

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Virtual Machine Speed Tips

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The last time you used a Virtual Machine for anything, how frustrated did you get over how slow everything is? Did it make you curse, or want to give up? Well, here are some tips from a reader to help you speed up the state of your VM, and make you a much happier Geek.

  • Store Virtual machines on separate drive. One of the biggest performance bottlenecks in VMs is the Disk I/O rate. You can greatly improve vm performance by storing your virtual machines on a separate hard drive other than your boot drive. Sorry storing your VMs on the same drive on a different partition wont do it.
  • Don’t pay for anything you can get for free. Alot of VM software costs a good bit of money. Microsoft offers their Virtual PC 2007 as a free download, as does innotek who offers virtual box as a free download. VMware is the leader in VM technology, they offer VMware Server for free, it is kind of a half way between VMware workstation and VMware ESX. VMware server is available for windows and Linux Operating Systems.
  • Test new software on a Virtual Machine. Instead of trying new software on your primary computer, create a virtual machine and test it on that. VMware server offers a snapshot feature that lets you create rollback points that you can use to restore your Test VM in case something goes wrong or you don’t like the software. if you have a lot of extra hard drive space you can also convert your operating environment to virtual and use that to test with. if not next time you reformat you can always use vmware converter to create a clean version of your system in VMware. Symantec ghost also allows you to convert a ghost image to a virtual machine.
  • Always install Virtual Tools. The Virtual Tools make working with vm machines a lot easier. They provide special drivers for input, video, network , and other system devices that improve performance. it also allows you to move your cursor back and forth between your host and virtual machine with out having to manually change focus.
  • Run resource heavy development servers in Vmware. If you are a developer who likes having a test environment (LAMP, Oracle DB, Tomcat JSP,etc) on there primary machine, but don’t want to have it drag down your system when your not using it. try setting it up in a vm, with networking and only turn it on when needed. And then FTP, SSH,or HTTP into it to do what you need to. and then shut it down when you don’t need it.

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Is Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard Faster on a G4?

Guglielmo Plain has a question I don’t have an answer for:

My question is mainly about older computers not related to the new Intel based computer. I personally own a 1.5ghz G4 PB 17″ and I remember back in the day when I updated my OS from 10.3 to 10.4 that I got a considerable hit in performance or at least that’s what it felt like (I don’t have any tangible number or data to back it up). I remember that I once visited a repair person who specialized in Apple repairs and I mentioned that I felt that 10.4 was slower and he agreed with me and said that if I wanted to get the most out of my computer downgrading to 10.3 would be a good idea. I did not take his advice mainly because there were a few features in 10.4 mainly Spotlight that made my life a lot easier.

I have a feeling that 10.5 is slightly snappier than 10.4. Are my impressions being clouded by the hype and bling of the new OS or is it in fact faster and more efficient? Have you heard anyone else who thinks this or maybe that thinks the opposite and that it is in fact slower. Have you as a user of the newer MBP felt it to be faster/slower.

Well, I can tell you that the same apps on Leopard appear to be faster than they were in Tiger – most notably, VMware Fusion. Given that the minimum requirements for Leopard have been raised a bit, I’m assuming that you may not find the speed boosts that others are seeing.

Buy Leopard and Parallels

Are you ready to upgrade to the latest version of OS X, Leopard? Great. Here are the versions available to you today. Select carefully, as only one of them is right for you:

And if you plan on installing Mac OS X on more than one computer in your house, you better be even more careful about which edition you decide to purchase. I would recommend the following for those of you with more than one Mac in need of a Leopard upgrade:

If you still want to run Windows or Linux applications on OS X, you’re out of luck. Unless, of course, there’s some kind of magical software out there which would allow you to run those programs in Parallel. Gee, wouldn’t that be awesome? Yeah, and maybe pigs will fly out of my PC’s floppy drive.

Vista Rants

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http://live.pirillo.com/ – Last night, I tried to install a Beta of SP1 for Vista. To put it mildly, it didn’t go so well. Coincidentally, two viewers have written in to ask me how I feel about Vista.

Okay then. Here we go.

First and foremost, I do NOT base my opinion on Vista solely on the failed upgrade using the beta of SP1. That was just the second straw that broke the camel’s back. Yes, it’s beta code – but I’ve long contended that Vista itself is still very much acting like a beta. If you have watched any of my previous videos about Vista, you’ll see that I’ve had issues and concerns from the beginning. Why should you listen to my opinion? It’s not necessarily an opinion. It’s based on facts – and with plenty of supporting evidence.

So I install the service pack. The machine reboots a couple of times during the install… and suddenly I’m at a black screen, with nothing other than my mouse cursor on it. O-kayyyy. Reboot a couple of times. Nothing. Reboot into safe mode. Oh! That worked. Tried rebooting normally… black screen of nothing. Repeat this process several times.

Fine, whatever. Get out the Vista disc and go into the recovery console. Great! I can roll back to yesterday, before I began this mess. So, I tell the machine to do so! Uhm… what do you mean there is no space left on my HD to perform this operation? That’s not a Vista beta problem – that’s a Vista final shipping version problem.

Boot into XP, which was already residing on this machine. Delete some useless files to free up space. Go back into recovery console. Holy hell you’re kidding me!!!! Going into XP deleted all the restore points in Vista!

I am now left with a crippled and useless Vista. Did I reinstall it? Absolutely not. I am running Windows XP again now. Yes, I miss the look of Vista, and maybe the way the desktop is handled. But… XP is running. It’s faster. It WORKS!!

Do I recommend Windows Vista [for everyone]? Not a snowball’s chance in… I’m waiting on Apple to release Mac OS X Leopard. As far as I’m concerned at this point, Microsoft is taking a huge hit. The future of Windows, in my opinion, is inside a Virtual Machine or Boot Camp on a Mac. Understand, too, that I’m still in love with my Xbox 360 (and I think they’re doing amazing things with Popfly) – so this rant should not be taken as an all-out Microsoft-bashing diatribe.

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Thank you for all of your emails, videos, and comments. Let me address some of those now.

From the beginning, Vista has had issues. In many instances, we’re not talking minor problems. Driver incompatibility, hardware incompatibility, software not running, programs or the computer itself randomly crashing… all just the tip of the iceberg. For many people, the software incompatibility issue was a nightmare. They installed Vista, only to find a very long list of programs that simply would not work. For other people, they simply did not have the proper hardware to run Vista. Upgrading your hardware can be quite expensive, as you well know.

Some of the feedback I have received today has been phenomenal. It’s interesting to see what other people are saying… and finding it to be much of the same things, over and over again.

From schagg311:

The EXTREME lack of x64 driver support for a multitude of things. For example, I have a Belkin N1 wireless desktop card (F5D8001 v1.0). They (Belkin) tout their products as ‘vista compatible’ yet this is misleading because there are NO Vista 64-bit drivers for ANY of their products. Although I’m only concerned about the one I have. There are two things that really bother me about this.

  1. Vista was supposed to include so many drivers (native support) for a great many things but this apparently doesn’t include Vista x64. and
  2. )not only is it misleading for a company like Belkin to say they’re ‘vista compatible’ when that’s not completely true (false advertising anyone?) but for MS to allow companies to say that when it’s not entirely true is just as bad.

From PyroPictures:

Another minor irritation is that I have 2 MS Mouse 3000 input devices and both are Vista certified/approved/whatever. About twice a day Vista loses track of my input devices. I have 3 USB ports, so it’s not the port. I have 2 mice, so that’s not it either. I’m big on re-booting to maintain contiguous blocks of free memory but twice a day is a bit too much, particularly since I have 4 GB.

From Akula:

i bought vista home premium, my scanner, fax and printer do not work, my Ethernet wireless does not work and also i am having problems with my laser printer!

From hardasfeth:

upgraded to vista from XP nothing but problems mainly with drivers freezing or vista telling me not compatible when they are all vista approved drivers and programs.

Wait, back up. What’s that you said? You are having driver issues with Vista-approved drivers? You’re not alone, unfortunately. from Mark Kaelin:

Drivers seem to be the most pressing problem for Windows Vista right now. If you are lucky enough to have equipment and peripherals that have updated drivers or old drivers that don’t cause problems you are probably wondering what all the fuss is about. But for those of us with problem drivers, this is just not acceptable. Vista has been coming for five years – make the darn drivers for it already.

I have already blogged about the SP1 features, as written by Microsoft. My question is, why are these issues being resolved in a service pack? Many of these issues should have been addressed long before Vista was released. You knew this was coming for five years, Microsoft. Why release an operating system that truly wasn’t ready to be unleashed on much of the computing public? Larry Dignan made an excellent post surrounding Vista SP1. He says it best:

When you look at the sheer volume of additions / fixes / etc. in SP1, you’d be a dunce not to wait for it before pondering Vista. In some corners, the SP1 is an indictment of the first Vista, which you could argue wasn’t ready for prime time in the first place.

There you have it in a nutshell. THIS is why I’m fed up with Windows… and I’m not alone. Microsoft dropped the ball in a very big way when they released something they never should have. They left themselves wide open to losing a very large number of people. I stand by my earlier opinion… the future of Windows… at least in MY house… is likely to be inside of a Virtual Machine.

Every OS has its problems – OS X had problems when it started, too (as did Windows XP). But this is 2007, and consumers demand more from their experiences (and rightfully so). This is why Apple mindshare continues to expand… which is more an indication of Microsoft Windows failures than Apple’s successes, I believe. Are we supposed to sit idly by and wait… and wait… and continue to wait after we wait some more?

Sure. Whatever.

Let’s play the blame game, instead? Let’s blame the user, let’s blame the OEMs, let’s blame the hardware vendors, let’s bl… why does it matter who is to blame? At the end of the day, we’re still left wrestling with a cavalcade of quirks and a questionable future. We still get the runaround.

Microsoft can succeed with the next version of Windows, provided they…

  • Shove backwards compatibility for software into virtual machines.
  • Make those quality seals and “compatible” labels mean something FOR ONCE.
  • Come back to a single Windows SKU for consumers.
  • Hire a marketing team that understands the product they’re pitching.
  • Listen to their most passionate users instead of giving them the middle finger.
  • Abandon the notion that UI doesn’t matter.
  • Pay as much attention to average consumers as they do the enterprise market.

Ed Bott wanted less whining, and more complaining – but that line is incredibly fine. These issues aren’t petty, and our decisions aren’t always based on logic. Human beings are emotional, and it’s okay for them to be upset about being handed a product that… well, here’s what Microsoft claims Vista does:

The computer stops responding or restarts unexpectedly when you play video games or perform desktop operations.

Case closed.

VMware vs Virtual PC

I say VMware, no contest. Tony Ring is pulling for Virtual PC:

First off, I last saw you way back in the TechTV days – the Screensavers with Kate and Leo. Sadly, TechTV jumped the shark for me when that show morphed out of existence. Tonight I was cruising the net looking for help with Vista problems and ran into you on YouTube, watched some of your videos on Vista, and wound up here.

I have a suggestion for your scanner and fax problems under Vista. Microsoft Virtual PC 2007. I believe that they give it away for just this reason. So, you might be thinking that it’s crazy for them to expect you to use some other product to work around the issues Vista DOES have, etc. etc.

Let me digress. I am an independent software consultant. I make my bucks doing implementation and configuration work for fat monsters like Oracle PeopleSoft. It keeps me traveling and my wife on a perpetual shopping spree, so all is good I suppose.

The nature of what I do means I deal with multiple large clients that each have private networks with BIG IT BOSS GUY security schemes. They give me access to do my thing, but it quickly became impossible for me to reconfigure my laptop to each different network environment every time I visited a client. Because of this I was forced into using Microsoft Virtual PC 2004 and now 2007.

I set up completely independent virtual environments for each client with all their domain crap, Novell crap, and you name it crap. When I get to their site I fire up the virtual machine I have for them and literally pick up where I left off when last working there. As a side benefit, I’ve gravitated toward keeping all of my files related to that client in their virtual machine instance. It’s really awesome and I can’t think of life without it.

Digressing further – you may wonder how I get away with all these “different” copies of XP? Well, I think this is legal so I will explain. Virtual PC has a thing called a Differencing Disk. It works like this. You create a base virtual machine and load your one licensed copy of XP on it and activate it. Then you configure another virtual machine as a Differencing Disk off of the base virtual machine. You can then customize the differencing instance as much as you like without changing the base disk in any way. Need to set up a second special instance? Just create a new differencing disk and customize it for the new client. You can effectively set up the same XP instance a dozen different ways. So long as I don’t use more than one instance at a time I’m pretty sure it’s legal. The nice thing is that when you’re done with a differencing disk – like you tried some new software and decided you really don’t want it – you just delete the disk and set up a new one. Nice and clean. You never have to reinstall XP again. Great stuff.

Well, this started out as a tip for you, so I guess I better get there.

I too have problems with my scanner at home and MUST have it to scan my weekly receipts and bill my clients. Vista choked on it. What did I do? I set up a differencing disk virtual machine running XP and installed my scanner on it. I also installed everything I need to make it a nice place to go and do my weekly billing. All in one package. I fire it up, do my work, shut it down and go back to wrestling with Vista and enjoying every minute of it.

In this way it’s easy for me to keep Vista.

Why do all this to keep Vista?

I’ve only been running Vista Business for a month or so now, but I can tell you the networking seems much more secure for someone who is on the road a lot. It is much, much better at handling rapidly changing network environments. My fingers would wear down if I tried to explain all the issues I used to run into with XP. My best guess is that some of the environments I used to hook into would push firewall rules or something into XP that would then cripple my ability to connect to other network environments. It was maddening. Vista is, thankfully, completely immune to this so far. What a relief!

I have other problems with Vista, and I’m just learning it. I was watching your video and realized the virtual pc route might save Vista for you.

Virtual PC may be free, but VMware is still better (for all the reasons I’ve previously explained). If all you want to do is test software, then I suppose Virtual PC is perfect – but if you’re looking for full power and compatibility, you have to look far beyond what Microsoft is handing out.

Is a Mac a PC?

I get this question far too often…

Dear Chris, I’m in the market for a new computer and I can’t seem to decide between Mac and Windows. I myself am gamer and I’m kinda leaning towards Windows because I know PC’s can run waaaaaaaayy more games than Mac can. I know that Mac can run other OS’s, although I heard a rumor that the emulator software used to do this somewhat limits the Mac’s hardware while running Windows. Is this True? If I were doing this, would these limitations effect higher-end games? Is there any other way to run Windows on a Mac that does not involve an emulator (or erasing OS 10 altogether)?

Let’s try to clarify a few things here, Edward – you’re not the only person who is beyond confused with a situation that’s only getting more confusing:

  • Your computer needs two things to be functional: hardware and software.
  • PC stands for “personal computer,” but has become interchangeable / synonymous with “Computer that comes with Microsoft Windows.”
  • Microsoft licenses its operating system software (Windows) to OEMs (original equipment manufacturers, like Dell or HP). Microsoft has been doing this since the dawn of DOS. Microsoft doesn’t actually build computer hardware, and likely never will.
  • Unlike Microsoft, Apple designs both the computer hardware and the software experience (operating system). They control the entire ecosystem.
  • Apple doesn’t license its operating system software (OS X) to anybody, nor does it allow OEMs to build computers with OS X. You can only run OS X is on a Mac computer.
  • Newer Macs can run Microsoft Windows natively, outside of OS X, thanks to Apple’s “Boot Camp” product and recent shift to Intel hardware. Boot Camp is NOT emulation software – it turns a Mac into a full-on “Windows computer.”
  • Virtual machine software will let you run a full-blown installation of Windows on either Windows itself or OS X. This is how I fixed my problems in Windows Vista with VMware. While you can run virtual machines on OS X, you can’t run OS X inside a virtual machine.
  • Emulation software is NOT virtual machine software. Emulation software merely imitates hardware in a software layer (so it can be EXTREMELY slow). Virtual machine software taps directly into your hardware (though performance varies from vendor to vendor, it’s largely faster than emulation software).
  • You should be able to play your “Windows games” fine on a Mac, so long as you’ve installed Windows through Boot Camp. Playing “Windows games” through virtual machine software is going to be hit-or-miss.
  • You can buy a Mac and never run OS X at all (as many of my friends have done, choosing instead to use it as a Vista machine).

Start thinking of Macs as PCs – because they pretty much already are, and then some.