7 Dec 2007

On Leopard, Parallels, and Fusion

Author: q | Filed under: Leopard, Mac, Parallels, VMWare

This is a long post. You have been warned.

Today is my day to try and get caught up on Leopard. I haven”t been able to fully move over to Leopard on my main work machine for several reasons, which will become clearer shortly. I have Leopard up and running on my PowerBook, and I”m really, really liking the interface, so I”m really wanting to get it going on my main work machine. Which means I have to tackle either Parallels or Fusion to get my Windows stuff working properly. Let me explain.

I”ve been running Parallels version 3.0 build 4128 for quite a while, mostly because I had display problems in the latest public build 5510. I”d gone back and forth with the Parallels support team, but they had not been able to replicate my display issues (Coherence mode just flat broke in 5510, making Parallels practically useless for me in a production sense), so I stuck with running 4128 until the next update was released.

When Leopard released, I cloned my disk to an external drive, ran the upgrade on that, and promptly broke Parallels. I again went round and round with the Parallels support folks,and they released a couple of beta builds that I tried,but still had problems with Coherence, making Parallels again all but useless, and since I could not get build 4128 to run AT ALL on Leopard, I went back to Tiger, where I”ve been since.

All that changed today, or at least that was the plan. I had received a note from VMWare that Fusion had finally gone production (and I could get $20 off by ordering now), so I decided to give Fusion a try under Leopard and see how that worked. I”ve previously documented my experiences with Parallels versus Fusion when it comes to their desktop integration (Coherence for Parallels, Unity for Fusion), and how I believed that Parallels was the more useful (for me) and mature product. Well, today I purchased, downloaded, and installed Fusion. While downloading Fusion, I checked back on the Parallels forum and lo and behold saw the note that they”ve released build 5582 to address Leopard issues, so I downloaded the latest Parallels build and got ready to start the Leopard update.

I booted from my external drive loaded with Leopard (after making sure I had installed the 10.5.1 update from Apple which addresses some of the security issues noted in the initial release) and installed Fusion. Fusion launched right away, and I opted to use the “Easy Install” method and install Vista Ultimate (I”ve been running XP under Parallels, and I really need to see if Vista is “all that and a bag of chips” or not for me) and within about 30 minutes, I had a basic Vista install running under Fusion under Leopard. I joined the Vista machine to my SBS server using the Connect Computer wizard, and then installed Office 2007. I kicked the VM into Unity mode, and other than the Windows taskbar showing underneath the Dock, it seemed to work OK. %^@&# annoying to have to either move the Dock or move the taskbar to get access to both, tho. Maybe there”s a setting for that, but I didn”t take the time to look.

Seeing that Fusion/Vista was behaving as expected, I started to take a look at Parallels. I uninstalled the previous build of Parallels and installed the latest update, per recommendations on the site. I was able to launch my existing Windows XP VM without problem, but I did get a report about the trial version key expiring. It took me a bit of work to track down my licensed keys, but I was able to get Parallels back running with my original keys.

The performance with Coherence is definitely improved in this build, but it”s still not 100% where it had been (or where it should be). I have had to enable the “Group All Windows” setting for Coherence (which can only be modified when the VM is stopped, by the way) and even with that, I”m still not seeing exactly what I”m expecting to see with Parallels.

Bottom line, I”m back in production again with Parallels on top of Leopard. Next step will be to move the Leopard install from the external drive back to the internal drive and hopefully regain a bit of system performace. Leopard is definitely running faster on my PowerBook than Tiger was, and I”m hopeful that I”ll see that same performance improvement once I get the system set up the way I want.

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