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Vanderpool, Intel Dual Core VT and Intel Macs

I (and a few others) been blabbering about this for a while but it seems that very few people are really aware of what is about to happen here. These new Intel dual core cpu's are going to change our computing world, and Apple is sitting in the catbird seat.

Intel put virtualization support into its latest cpu's. Originally, they called this "Vanderpool", but have unfortunately dropped that nomenclature and are now just referring to it as "Intel Virtualisation Technology" or "VT". That's unfortunate, because it makes it much more diffficult to Google. Maybe that's why this stuff sometimes seems like a well kept secret?

The simple fact is that whether it's Vanderpool or Intel VT, these new processors will make it much easier to build virtual machines. Companies like Xen will be taking advantage of that, as will VMWare and no doubt a host of others.

So your new Dell with a Dual Core CPU will be able to run multiple OSes easily. That's great, but it's much more important that the new Intel Macs have this also. Forget dual booting. Forget Virtual PC. Those are totally unimportant now. Intel Macs will only need VM software to run Windows, Linux, BSD, or just about any hobby OS. And if Apple plays it smart, their machines will be the only machines that can do it all: Windows, OS X, Linux et al.

Oh, yeah, I know: Google will show you plenty of matches for pirating OS X onto plain old PC's. That's true, but remember that use will always be at least unsanctioned and probably in violation of OS X licensing. It may also be somewhat buggy. Only a real Apple Intel Mac will be sure to run OS X.

But will Windows run well under a virtual machine on OS X? Really, it has to: Microsoft can't do anything to jeopardize vm's success, and why would they care anyway? Microsoft doesn't sell hardware, and is just as happy to sell Windows for installation into a virtual machine as into a Dell PC. Maybe even happier, because that market might not have to be discounted as much.

So that immediately sets up Intel Macs as the obvious platform of choice for developers and support people. Many businesses now have Macs in the Art Department and PC's everywhere else; the Intel Macs make it possible and desirable to standardize on one platform. The wave builds, doesn't it?

The "pirate" OS X installs will do nothing but help this along. If people are able to run an unauthorized copy of OS X in a virtual machine on their Dell PC and they like what they see, why wouldn't they buy a real Intel Mac when upgrade time comes around? They will.

The possible flaw here is Apple's need to support vm's also. At the moment, that need may not be as strong as it is for Microsoft, but it does exist, so that may leave Apple entirely dependent on licensing to keep OS X off non-Apple hardware. If popularity builds as I think it will, Apple could find itself in a tough position where it has even more pressure to stop building hardware and switch to a os provider only.

Who knows, maybe somebody like Google comes along with an OS that is nothing but a browser, email and media center machine as sold, but that has strong support for virtual machines. Maybe Google buys Apple just for that reason. Maybe our whole computing world is about to change radically.



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Tue Jan 17 19:07:29 2006: 1515   bruceg


Another reson why OSX on run of the mill hardware will fail is because it will be unsupported and probably not work in some situations. That could leave a sour taste in ones mouth, if they used a hacked version of OSX on their home built PC, and say something like: "OSX is very buggy, and crashes a lot". This is, of course, because Apple has much more control about the hardware OSX runs on, and does not have to test it with hundreds, if not thousands, of different hardware combinations.

Apple really needs to come out with a "bargain" PC, to entice even more people to switch. Sure, there is the Mac Mini, but they really need to come out with a machine to compete in the $299 - $399 range. Despite my Mother in law buying a Gateway about 2 months ago, after I begged her to get a Mac Mini, it was a pricing issue. She got the Gateway for next to nothing. It is too bad, since I already spent part of my x-mas break, fixing it. She has been on the phone with tech support several times already. I have yet to call Apple for anything. Consumer reports even rate them as the PC with the best repair record. But, that price point is huge for a lot of potential switchers, since they are entering unknown territory, and for some reason, Windows gives them a false sense of security. How ironic is that?

I really hope more applications get ported to OSX, or at least will run at near native Windows speeds, since I have two other people sitting on the fence, and really need AutoCAD to run on OSX.

Personally, I would love to ditch all the Windows boxes we have at work, and have a complete OSX shop, instead of just our Art department. We only really have one Windows application left, and that is an ADP application for payroll. All of our other apps are Web Based, and run just fine in OSX. I have already given ADP an ear full about making their app. web based, and hopefully with the new AJAX method of web development, we will see more apps being ported to a web based environment.

I am not sure with what kind of cool-aid Apple is serving these days, but I have been slurping up every cup they have served me, and smiling, waiting for the next fill.

- Bruce




Tue Jan 17 19:54:06 2006: 1516   drag


Hardware support for OS X is going to be very bad.

For instance Linux supports more hardware on more platforms then any other operating system in existance. It supports more hardware then OS X, more hardware then Windows 2000 or XP. There are multitudes of machines were installing XP is very painfull, but a knoppix cd can boot it up and have it running in under 40 seconds.

Linux still has a reputation for crappy hardware support due to the fact that it takes a while to get support for newest hardware and wireless support isn't very good.

Apple does not have anywere near the resources aviable to get it working on all the million different combinations of hardware it has. A large part of it's 'ease of use' has that Apple has only had to support a dozen or so hardware combinations. Trying to make it so that it will support PC hardware in a superior way to XP would be a disaster.

The way it looks now Apple will have the first OS that uses 'Trustworthy Computing' to make it tied directly to to hardware. The beta versions don't have these features and the testing workstations that Apple sent it out with don't have these features either. I am not sure of all the technical stuff, but it has to do with the Intel EFI stuff, I beleive.

Otherwise I've been looking forward to the VT features for Intel proccessors (and their equivelent for AMD). This should make it much easier for people that are forced to use Windows applications for whatever reason to use Linux and other OSes as their primary desktop system.

The latest Suse and Fedora Core 5 should support Xen out of the box. All then you'd have to do is have a machine with Windows XP Pro (home isn't going to support this) on one partition, install Linux with Xen 3 support and use the excellent rdesktop tool to access the Windows XP's desktop on your local computer.

I am using Xen 2.x series right now and other then troubles with TLS libraries with it it has been fairly nice. Running a half dozen servers on a single workstation has made testing things out and experimenting with things much easier. Rebooting machines take seconds, installs take only a few minutes. No need to run cabling around or deal with multiple hardware issues on various machines. Very nice.

If you combine that with things like LVM mirroring, Tripwire file system checksums, Snort, hardware monitoring and such then having a secure 'local access only' OSes host another OS that serves as the actual server then that is going to be handy. Also being able to migrate OSes from one machine to another while they are running is potentionally damn handy also. At a local Lug a fellow gave a talk on Xen were they moved a 500 (I beleive) machine datacenter from one geographical location to another to avoid the hurricanes with no downtime.

Having this virtualization stuff aviable and ubiquious should open up all sorts of possiblities.

If I remember correctly Microsoft initially supported Xen and had XP ported to run on it.. but MS cancelled it's support and the patches are unaviable due to licensing restrictions. With the new VT-stuff then there is no need to port OSes, but I think that being ported will help with performance.

I could imagine Apple implimenting 'Windows Application' support with remote desktop and Window XP Pro in a similar fasion to what they did with 'Classic Mode' for OS 9. You can even drag-n-drop files over Window's remote desktop if you have support for the newer versions of it.



Wed Jan 18 10:19:55 2006: 1519   TonyLawrence

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Hardware support for OS X is going to be very bad.

For instance Linux supports more hardware on more platforms then any other operating system in existance. It supports more hardware then OS X, more hardware then Windows 2000 or XP. There are multitudes of machines were installing XP is very painfull, but a knoppix cd can boot it up and have it running in under 40 seconds.

Linux still has a reputation for crappy hardware support due to the fact that it takes a while to get support for newest hardware and wireless support isn't very good.

Apple does not have anywere near the resources aviable to get it working on all the million different combinations of hardware it has. A large part of it's 'ease of use' has that Apple has only had to support a dozen or so hardware combinations. Trying to make it so that it will support PC hardware in a superior way to XP would be a disaster.


Right now, at least, it's to Apples advantage to be tied to their own hardware, and it would be foolish for them to do otherwise. On the other hand, it's fine if OS X can be cajoled to run on X86 - that's the "Visicalc effect" (where stolen copies of the software did a lot to help advance its sales).

VM's like Xen are the obvious future. It's amazing how many people just don't see that yet and are still talking about dual booting. While Drag's Xen setup may be unusual now, in a few years it will be hard to find machines that aren't running multiple OS instances.

The need comes up all the time. Just yesterday I was at a business where they wanted to keep an old copy of an application running. That can be hard to do in Windows with some apps because the new version and the old can conflict in the registry - but if you had virtual os installs, it is easy. There's also the matter of viruses and other screwups - nas Drag said, reinstall the vm in an instant, pristine and ready to go.

But as I said, Apple is in a unique position here: the only place you'll be able to smoothly run everything (OS X *and* averything else) will be on a Mac.









Sat Jan 28 07:13:38 2006: 1583   drag


Well your right about that I suppose. After all I do own a Ibook for that very reason I can run both Linux and OS X equally well on it.

It was either buy a laptop with Windows XP home or get a laptop with OS X. To me the choice was obvious since I have no dependance on Windows apps.











Thu Feb 9 13:29:43 2006: 1617   TonyLawrence

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A petition to VMware asking them to make a MacOSX version: (link)

Actually, my bet is they don't need encouragement..







Sat Feb 11 15:11:47 2006: 1623   TonyLawrence

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This just in: (link)

The comments are interesting - some say "so what?" but some see it.

I am wondering why he says "Intel would have to release new Core Duo CPUs that have VT support " - everything else I've read says these cpu's DO have VT now.. maybe he knows something the rest of us don't?



Sat Feb 11 16:06:45 2006: 1626   TonyLawrence

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For example, I found this: (link)

which says the Intel Dual Cores definitely support VT..

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