I’ve used VMware products literally for years. Without them, it would have been a lot harder to run my business. So when I ended up buying a MacBook Pro as my main machine, the first program I bought for it was VMware’s Mac offering, Fusion.
It worked, mostly. And over the last couple years, it has gotten better, but I’ve always gotten the impression that it was something of a red-headed stepchild for VMware. They’re very slow to release updates compatible with new versions of operating systems, and with a new version of Ubuntu out every six months now, that’s kind of important. Worse, they have never supported any Linux compositor, so I can only use more recent versions of Ubuntu in “classic” mode… I’d never even seen the new Unity interface in action, let alone used it.
VMware Fusion has other failings too, minor but very annoying:
- Several versions ago, it started telling the VM that the system is almost always plugged in, regardless of whether it is or not.
- When I’m away from my external mouse and have to use the trackpad, trackpad taps have always gotten “stuck” in the Linux VM. The system notices that you’ve tapped only after you move the mouse cursor a bit, which leads to some very annoying problems.
- VMware does not support IPv6 on virtual machines. Not too important right now, but it will be, and I’d like to start playing with it as soon as I can.
- The big one: hard drive accesses are REALLY slow, and I still get a lot of “IOwait” even after making this change. This might not be entirely VMware’s fault, but I have no way of proving or disproving that right now.
My current 20GB virtual hard drive is also getting full, and I wanted to rebuild the virtual machine anyway, so it was time to look at alternatives.
The first thing I noticed yesterday, when I started, was that VMware Fusion v4 had just been released the day before. I eagerly perused its features and changes, only to find that it had only two things that I wanted: full OS X “Lion” compatibility and “Time Machine-compatible snapshots.” Whoopti-do. Sorry, that is not worth upgrading for. Worse, it seemed rushed, because there were lots of reports of problems with it.
Then I checked out Parallels. From various forums I’d already heard that they updated it for new OS versions very quickly, and that it fully supported Ubuntu’s compositor and newer Unity interface, so it started out with an instant bonus. I discovered that they’d just recently released a new version too, v7 (likely why VMware Fusion v4 was rushed into release too early), and there’s a special offer for “cross-grading” from VMware Fusion for only $30 right now. I also discovered that their virtual machines fully support IPv6, and that they provide much better support on their forums than VMware does. Even better, they offer a free two-week trial, which I jumped at.
I haven’t fully finished setting up my first virtual machine yet, but so far I’ve proven that it does fully support Ubuntu’s new Unity interface. (I’m not sure I like the new interface, but it does apparently eliminate the memory leak problem in XOrg that I’d been battling for a while now, by eliminating X itself. 🙂 ) So far it also seems much faster, I’ve seen very few “IOwait” indications in the System Load Indicator applet.
We’ll see if it remains that way after I’ve used it for a couple weeks. If so, I think we’ve got a winner.