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Parallels Workstation for Mac OS X

© April 2006 Anthony Lawrence

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.

Learn all about Virtualization on Intel Macs - Parallells, Fusion, Virtual box and more.
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.

Installing Windows

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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-> Parallels Workstation for Mac OS X


Inexpensive and informative Apple related e-books:

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iOS 8: A Take Control Crash Course

Take Control of Apple Mail, Third Edition

Take Control of Upgrading to El Capitan

El Capitan: A Take Control Crash Course

More Articles by © Anthony Lawrence

Fri Apr 7 17:51:31 2006: 1872   TonyLawrence

Right now I'm installing Fedora Core 5.. looks fine so far..

Fri Apr 7 22:21:16 2006: 1873   TonyLawrence

FC5 works great, though one rather startling event happened: I "paused" the VM, and when I chose "Continue", my entire MacBook rebooted..

Beta software is such fun :-)

Sat Apr 8 08:26:30 2006: 1874   TonyLawrence

When I opened up my MacBook this morning, it rebooted again.

It's certainly possible that it's nothing to do with Parallels, but it does seem suspiciously coincidental.

Sat Apr 8 09:24:44 2006: 1875   TonyLawrence

Another glitch I noticed this morning: I couldn't type a "|" symbol in FC5's terminal window. Same thing is true in RedHat, but not in Windows..

Sun Apr 9 13:29:40 2006: 1882   TonyLawrence

I installed Centos (no issues except that "|" problem).

However: prior to the upgrade, I could (for example) ssh from my Mac to the Fedora VM.

Since the upgrade, I can't do that. I still can ssh between two virtual machines however, and access the web, etc, so it's not that networking is broken entirely.

Remember, this is still beta software. I think it's really fantastic (and have bought the ful license) but there is still work to do.

Even with the small glitches, it is great to have all these OSes available instantly without switching machines or rebooting - I am loving it!

Wed Apr 12 21:27:56 2006: 1894   TonyLawrence

Most of these problems have been fixed in the Beta3 release..

Thu Apr 13 16:41:47 2006: 1902   bruceg2004

This program is exactly what I would need. I use Virtual PC right now on my G4 PB, and it is pretty slow. For what I use it for, it is fine, but it would be nice to not have to see the hourglass so much. When the MacBook pro add's a better DVD burner, I will consider it. I do a lot of DL DVD burning, and it is a great feature for a laptop. I really wish they could have done it with the MacBook Pro. I am sure it will be included in the next rev. By next year at this time, I should be considering one, and hopefully it will have that feature.

- Bruce

Fri Apr 14 21:32:20 2006: 1919   TonyLawrence

By next year, VMware will almost certainly be available and Apple may have their own VM scheme built in to the OS. If they do, I hope that they do it as Linux is planning: documented hooks for any hypervisor to use ( (link) )

Sat May 27 03:29:53 2006: 2050   bryancn

What do you think the prospects of installing Openserver 5.0.4 in a VM would be? The idea of moving an aging 5.0.4 server to a VM on a Mac Mini is very attractive. Backup and recovery of the entire server would be a breeze.

Sat May 27 10:15:09 2006: 2052   TonyLawrence

There are a number of articles here about running OpenServer under VMWare (search VmWare in the box at the top). I've had no luck so far under Parallels - but then again I haven't tried real hard.

Thu Jan 25 20:13:05 2007: 2832   anonymous

Why use FD5 and pay for a license fee when you can get everything free always using Ubuntu OS (Dapper Drake)?????? Linux is Open Source and is meant to be free..........................??

Thu Jan 25 20:32:25 2007: 2833   TonyLawrence

FC5 is every bit as free as Ubuntu.. don't know what you are getting at..


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