Living With Parallels On Desktop, Server And iPhone - InformationWeek
IoT
IoT
Mobile // Mobile Devices
Commentary
12/26/2008
02:06 PM
Joe Hernick
Joe Hernick
Commentary
Connect Directly
LinkedIn
Twitter
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Living With Parallels On Desktop, Server And iPhone

I spend 80% of my work life in a 100% Mac shop. I've used VM solutions from Sun, VMware, and Parallels on Apple hardware for InformationWeek. We've been a Parallels shop at my day job 'cause, frankly, it was first out with desktop and server solutions. We're much happier with the latest rev of Desktop.

I spend 80% of my work life in a 100% Mac shop. While I've used VM solutions from Sun, VMware, and Parallels on Apple hardware for InformationWeek, we've been a Parallels shop at my day job 'cause, frankly, the company was first top market with Mac desktop and server offerings. We're much happier with this latest rev of Desktop.I spent a bunch of time talking with the Parallels team around the launch of Desktop 4 earlier this fall; I wanted to get a little distance under the wheels before writing on topic. Coincidentally, I received a very pleasant auto-generated e-mail providing updated license codes for a Parallels Desktop five-pack we picked up earlier this fall the day after my last chat with the Parallels team.

Rather than posting a formal review (please check out Mitch's mid-November write-up for a deep dive) I have a few observations, one month post-upgrade.

Conversion of existing VMs from v3's format to the latest rev is required as part of the upgrade. This is a somewhat lengthy process for larger images. It works. Eventually. I had a couple false starts where a conversion was not viable upon boot; XP wouldn't get past a safe-mode start, VM tools didn't load, etc. Rather than spending hours digging into root cause, I followed the general trend of advice on the discussion boards and reconverted the original VM. The second convert seemed to do the trick; two problem XP guests, both resolved with a second conversion attempt. One additional pain: an interim upgrade required an additional VM conversion to match the upgrade rev 4.0.3540. No problems that time around.

My Debian instances all run just fine in v4, by the way.

USB connections are well managed in the new version. Very well managed. We finally got rid of our last XP laptop last week; we had retained a 5-year-old Dell for a few site-specific tasks. The XP machine was lugged around to control a number of ancient serial-connected devices around campus. Thanks to Parallels, we rounded up a handful of DB9 to USB converters to rig all the gear and had no issues with Windows drivers for our aged converters nor with Parallels' ability to recognize the devices, route USB connections, and remember preferences per external device to the appropriate Windows session on a workhorse MacBook Pro. Such a simple thing, but much joy can come from simple things.

While I still love Coherence mode, Modality mode does nothing for me. I dislike having XP's taskbar items cluttering the top of my OS X UI. Heck, that's why I like Coherence mode (or Unity mode in VMware Fusion) -- I only tend to run one XP session on top of my Mac desktop, and I like mixing and matching apps and interfaces as required. I can see where Modality works for developers or folks running many, many VM instances; it displays translucent mini-VM windows on top of your Mac desktop. Heck, I'd like to see it added to Parallels Server ... but that's another post.

The iPhone Gimmick. Yes, I've installed the Parallels iPhone app. Yes, I have used it to start and shut down VMs. From the magic of my 802.1x Wi-Fi network. Yes, the app lets me see a (small) snapshot of the VM's desktop. Yes, this is a gimmick. But I'd really like to see it working with Parallels Server in combo with VPN. And speaking of Parallels Server, stay tuned for a post or two as we wind up to a full write up as part of our Rolling Review series on VM hosts.

And finally: faster, better, stronger. Support for Pixel Shader 2, Direct X9 and hardware acceleration that takes advantage (up to 256 MB worth) of my MacBook Pro's 512MB GeForce 8600M GT may not be that useful to a nongamer, but it's nice to have if needed. Half-hour snapshot increments are useful for paranoid users with lots of drive space. And, bottom line, general performance vs. the current version of Fusion is better -- VM startup and resume times are noticeably faster, and processor intensive tasks are dramatically improved. Like most VM products running on a single-disk system, disk I/O for both products is adequate. For those who've jumped ship based on v3's somewhat rocky performance, check out the latest rev of Parallels.I spend 80% of my work life in a 100% Mac shop. I've used VM solutions from Sun, VMware, and Parallels on Apple hardware for InformationWeek. We've been a Parallels shop at my day job 'cause, frankly, it was first out with desktop and server solutions. We're much happier with the latest rev of Desktop.

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
How Enterprises Are Attacking the IT Security Enterprise
How Enterprises Are Attacking the IT Security Enterprise
To learn more about what organizations are doing to tackle attacks and threats we surveyed a group of 300 IT and infosec professionals to find out what their biggest IT security challenges are and what they're doing to defend against today's threats. Download the report to see what they're saying.
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
White Papers
Current Issue
2017 State of IT Report
In today's technology-driven world, "innovation" has become a basic expectation. IT leaders are tasked with making technical magic, improving customer experience, and boosting the bottom line -- yet often without any increase to the IT budget. How are organizations striking the balance between new initiatives and cost control? Download our report to learn about the biggest challenges and how savvy IT executives are overcoming them.
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
Sponsored Live Streaming Video
Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.
Flash Poll