VMware Fusion 3 is a great piece of software, but it has some very annoying quirks.

My Linux virtual machine was getting some very annoying delays at times that it shouldn’t have. Compiling a fairly small project resulted in a ridiculous amount of “iowait” time. Even switching folders in my current e-mail program could take twenty seconds or more. For months, I’d thought it was just a slow hard drive on the host machine, but I couldn’t figure out why — the data being requested by the programs when the problem happened wasn’t ridiculously large, and the specs of the drive were reasonably fast. I’d looked into upgrading to a solid-state drive, but I couldn’t justify spending the money for the size I needed to replace this one, nearly half the original cost of the definitely-not-cheap machine.

Yesterday morning I’d finally had enough of it. I had to know why it was happening, even if I couldn’t do anything about it immediately. What else could be causing it? Perhaps some interaction between the disk format and VMware Fusion, that could be remedied with a different disk format?

A web search didn’t turn up anything about that, but did produce some interesting information on “iowait” problems with VMware Fusion, including a setting in the VMX file to try (“useNamedFile=false”, with an intriguing explanation here). I tried it, and it worked!

Now comes the exasperating part.

I knew I had made another entry about VMware Fusion settings that helped the speed, so I wanted to add this to it. It didn’t take me long to find it… or to find that this setting is already listed there. 🙁 I’d had to rebuild my virtual machine since then (wiping out those changes, which I didn’t reapply because the original problem didn’t seem to come up), and I didn’t think to try the settings there because the problem didn’t exhibit any of the other symptoms from that entry.

Oh well, live and learn.