29 July 2012

Virtual Hosting on a Mac

UPDATE 06/12/2013
After some months of trying VMWare I took the advice of a collegue and tried out Parallels. I use the virtual for software development so they get pushed pretty hard. With VMWare I had a number of problems with it just hanging, or the fan going crazy. With Parallels it just works, and there is no noise from my fans!

Original post follows...

I have been using Virtualbox for a while to host a Windows machine on a Mac (posts here and here) but I have had some problems with reliability: although able to run it headless I often struggled to get MS Remote Desktop for Mac or TightVNC to connect to it. From what I have read online there seems to be an issue with the VirtualBox network adapter. It also made my machine run really hot, even if it was the only thing running, and running in fullscreen, so I looked for an alternative. Lifehacker did a piece on various options.

After a brief attempt with QEMU which reminded me why Open Source projects are often very frustrating (lack of documentation) I decided to go with VMWare as it supports an open format hard disk image (VMDK), meaning I could use the VM with another VMHost if I needed to (e.g. VirtualBox). This is in spite of the fact that Parallels came out best in reviews from more than one source (here and here). I guess it depends what's more important to you.

I decided to try the OpenSource offering QEMU first. I like the fact that it is open source but also "When used as a virtualizer, QEMU achieves near native performances by executing the guest code directly on the host CPU." However after trying it QEMU seems to be mostly a Linux development and the Mac port didn't natively support the latest Windows hosts so it wasn't suited to me but anyway here are my short notes on the install:
  1. Download the Mac port of QEMU
  2. Install it. I recieved a message "Q can't be opened because it is from an unidentified developer.". You can override this message for each installer or apply a setting in the System Preferences to allow applications downloaded from anywhere to run.
VMWare Fusion
I downloaded an evaluation copy some time ago but never got around to trying it before it expired. Why doesn't the expiry run from when you installed it I wonder? The registration form is soooo long and I don't feel I should need to give them all my information just to try their software.

Also requires registration, and they annoyingly phoned me after I had registered, for a pointless converstation confirming what I had already entered on the form...

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