I downloaded Parallels Workstation 2.1 Beta for Mac OS X the moment I saw the announcement. Installation and activation was simple - typical Mac package install.
I created a new virtual machine and installed RedHat 9 on it, using iso images rather than CD's. The documentation is a little vague on this: it's easy enough to point the VM at the frst CD iso image, but what do you do when the install asks for the second? No mention of that in the docs, but it's actually easy: click CTRL-ALT (to free your mouse), click Devices->CD-DVD/ROM-1 and choose Connect Image. Select your next iso from the browse window, then click back into the VM window and continue the install.
Take Control of Running Windows on a Mac, Third Edition - $10 eBook
My first RedHat install aborted saying there wasn't enough disk space. That seemed odd, but I had selected "Install Everything" on a 4GB virtual disk (the disk actually isn't 4GB but it can expand to that size). So I tried again with a Workstation install. This complained that it couldn't find any disk.
Remembering that this is beta software, I shut everything down and started over. This time RedHat couldn't find a monitor. I was getting a little frustrated but just restarted the machine and happily everything went through fine this time. Probably some minor timing issue.
After the RedHat was up and running, I opened a new window to install Windows XP. Everything crashed, and I couldn't get Parallels to start up again until I logged off and on again. After that, it started up fine. I reopened RedHat, created a new window, and started the Windows XP install from the physical CD.
If you need to use a function key (you will during a Windows install), you do have to press and hold "fn" first. The Windows install took much longer than the RedHat - doesn't it always? However, it wasn't overly painful; probably a little more than an hour overall. I should have kept track, but I was multitasking as usual.
During the Windows install, the screen momentarily garbled after I entered the product key. The next screen was fine. As you'll see later, there may have been a more sinister reason for that glitch.
Of course after Windows was installed I had to do Windows Updates; that took a while. But again, it always does. I also installed Parallel's Workstation tools, which improve graphics, synchronize the clipboards (.bmp's only) and add other features to make the Windows VM more usable. For example, once these are installed, you no longer have to use CTL-ALT to release your mouse.
Up and running, this doesn't feel slow. In fact, it doesn't feel any less responsive than my wife's Intel laptop. Network access is just slightly slower than the Mac itself, but screen painting is crisp and the keyboard isn't sluggish. I installed the Poker software that I regularly use; I couldn't discern any difference.
One issue I did run into was piracy. I've mentioned before that I have some unused, legal copies of XP around here somewhere, but I can't find them right now. Therefore I went on-line and bought a new copy. I'm not ging to mention the company, but they looked legitimate. Unfortunately, the product I got was not. I called Microsoft (1-800-RU-LEGIT) and turned the s.o.b.'s in. I may not like Microsoft, but theft is theft and I'm not going to let that pass. The folks at Microsoft were very nice; they asked me to send them the CD and the email invoice I had received. I'll do that, even though the Microsoft rep explained that the company would probably refund my money if I threatened them with this and returned the software to them. The heck with the money: I'd rather turn 'em in.
I'll have to dig more in the boxes we brought from the old house; legit copies are here somewhere. In the meantime, with some trepidation, I'll use this for a few days to test performance. Somehow it bypasses Microsoft's security to get updates, so it could easily have trojans built in too (that's yet another risk to illegal software). Because I have it in a VM I'm not too worried about it harming me, but there is some nagging doubt so I'll be looking for those boxes right away.
Here's a screenshot showing both Windows and RedHat 9 running on my MacBook Pro.
Remember, this is a beta release, so I don't expect perfection.
This looks very, very good so far. I'm ready to buy.
If you want a great guide to learning about running Windows on your Mac, consider Joe Kissel's Take Control of Running Windows on a Mac, Third Edition, a $10.00 PDF E-book that will teach you everything you need to know.
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