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VMware Fusion for Mac


VMwware has released a public beta of Fusion, their Mac OS X virtualization product. I wasted a few hours this morning mucking around with it, and my advice to you is to not bother with it quite yet: at this point it's just not quite ready. Stick with Parallels for now.

That's a little harsh, isn't it? Maybe so, but remember that VMware isn't moving into undefended territory here: Parallels has a darn good product right now, and this VMware beta release isn't even as functional as the beta Parallel releases that came out earlier this year. Right off the bat my eyebrows went up as the very first screen warned me that Fusion would run slowly because it has debugging and extra logging turned on and.. small drumroll.. you can't turn it off. Can't turn it off? What on earth are they thinking? Sure, they want to collect data, so I understand enabling heavy debugging, but it's more than a little arrogant to not allow it to be shut off. Strike one..

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See more recent review of Fusion 2.0.

Things went downhill from there. I downloaded the MultiBrowser Appliance from VMware's appliance download site. That's a packaged VM that let's you test your websites on different browsers, including older Microsoft Explorer versions. That sounds like a handy thing to have, but it didn't work: although ifconfig showed that it had acquired a dhcp address, and it had the correct default route, and /etc/resolv.conf was correct also, it couldn't resolve names. There are a bunch of network caveats in the release notes, so I guess this might not be a big surprise. Strike two.

Oh well, maybe that particular appliance is troublesome.. I'll just fire up a Live CD. Let's see, how do you point Fusion at a CD iso image? Hmmm.. you don't. Apparently the beta only allows access to the real CD? The release notes imply otherwise, but I didn't see how to reassign the CD device. Already in a bad mood , I shut it down and ran the uninstaller.. that didn't work completely either; I had to log out and return to clean up the remnants.

It turns out that you can choose an ISO image at installation.. I just missed that (it's under Advanced Options).

This beta is much too beta for me. If I had nothing to compare it to, I'd shrug and wait patiently, but that's not the case: Parallels is a very good product today. It may very well be that Fusion will be the better virtualization product eventually, but this beta is pretty sad. Yes, beta's often are disappointing, but when you are coming in against an established competitor, you need to be much more polished than you would otherwise: the bar is simply higher.

VMware probably isn't accustomed to being in second place, but over here in Mac-land, they definitely are for now. No doubt they'll improve this, and I'll certainly look again when they do, but right now VMware Fusion is of no interest to me.

If you want a great guide to learning Fusion, consider Joe Kissel's Take Control of VMware Fusion 3, a $10.00 PDF E-book that will teach you everything you need to know.

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Sat Dec 23 12:06:56 2006: 2776   anonymous

To be fair, you can't generally offer the option of "turning off" debugging in an application-- the developer usually has to choose at compile time whether it's on or off.

Sat Dec 23 13:27:25 2006: 2777   TonyLawrence

Nonsense. It's trivial to write debugging that can be turned on and off on demand. Hundreds , maybe thousands of apps do that.

I guess you must be thinking of compiler debugging flags that let you use debuggers and see source code. That isn't likely to affect performance; see (link) for example,

What they've done here is *add* debugging and logging code. You can see the logs in any VM directory you have created:

$ ls -l
total 563408
-rw-------   1 apl  apl         8684 Dec 23 05:35 SUSE Linux.nvram
-rw-------   1 apl  apl      1638400 Dec 23 05:35 SUSE Linux.vmdk
-rw-------   1 apl  apl    268435456 Dec 23 05:34 SUSE Linux.vmem
-rw-------   1 apl  apl            0 Dec 23 05:32 SUSE Linux.vmsd
-rw-------   1 apl  apl     18209830 Dec 23 05:35 SUSE Linux.vmss
-rwxr-xr-x   1 apl  apl         1385 Dec 23 05:35 SUSE Linux.vmx
-rw-r--r--   1 apl  apl          596 Dec 23 05:34 stats32
-rw-r--r--   1 apl  apl          596 Dec 23 05:32 stats32-0
-rw-r--r--   1 apl  wheel      76697 Dec 23 05:34 vmware-0.log
-rw-r--r--   1 apl  wheel      74082 Dec 23 05:35 vmware.log

THAT kind of logging obviously could allow itself to be shutoff.

Sat Dec 23 18:37:00 2006: 2778   TonyLawrence

Stubbornly, I downloaded this again and this time tried installing SCO 5.0.7 on it - that's something that I haven't been able to do with Parallels. It installed, but the mouse is impossible in X and networking doesn't work there either..

Mon Dec 25 11:55:23 2006: 2781   anonymous

VMWare Fusion is superior to Parallels in my opinion.. I only use it for my Garmin devices, and Parallels wont let me do that, at least not yet. Parallels need better USB support to fit my needs

Mon Dec 25 12:11:45 2006: 2782   TonyLawrence

I can certainly agree that they probably will be superior someday, but I think they are far away from it now.

For example, why doesn't networking work on my MacBook Pro? I saw the notes about wireless in the release notes so I shut that off and hooked up physically - but no machine I tried worked although all had acquired correct info from DHCP.

Also, I wasn't able to install Solaris 10 - Parallels can't either; they both hang trying to configure networking.. maybe I'm just too impatient..

Now Fusion WAS able to install SCO, which so far has not been possible with Parallels, but again networking doesn't work.

I also feel the documentation is poor, and it's utterly ridiculous that I have to register to even *view* forum posts.

Again, my best guess is that VMware will probably eventually supercede Parallels and may even put them out of business. They have much more experience and resources to throw at this; it would be surprising if they couldn't rise to the top. But they sure need to do better than this.

Fri Sep 21 10:13:17 2007: 3144   TonyLawrence

This article on converting Parallels to Fusion might be useful someday:


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