Friday, December 19, 2008

Review of Parallels Desktop 3 and VMWare Fusion 2

The first Mac software that I bought since I owned my first MacBook Pro is Parallels Desktop 3.0, and that is 1 year ago. I have been using Parallels since then, upgrading to their latest build every now and then, until I try out VMWare Fusion 2 last week.

I have to say I am very impressed by VMWare Fusion 2 so far!

Here is my personal review between Parallels Desktop 3 and VMWare Fusion 2.

Parallels Desktop 3

* This review is based on Parallels Desktop 3. Parallels Desktop version 4 is out and some of the issues that I have with version 3 might have already been fixed.

Thumbs Up

  • Supports wide variety of popular OS and quite easy to create VMs and install OS.
  • Include the Parallels Transporter that allows you to import VMs created by other products into Parallels compatible VMs - note that this does not always work. I tried to import a VMWare image that contains multiple files but failed. However, a single VMWare image with Windows 2000 works.
  • Constant release/build cycle - You will receive update every now and then. Makes me feel like the $ is well spend.
Thumbs Down
  • Slow, slow and slow. I have a VM with Windows XP installed but it takes ages to start up. During startup, it makes my Macbook Pro freeze occasionally (not even switching between different applications). The response is quite sluggish.
  • Network between the VM and the host (MacBook Pro) seems to be problematic. I can access the internet from VM but when it has problem accessing the LAN machines.
  • Printer setting in the VM also problematic. Because of the problem of accessing LAN machines, the VM cannot see the network printer and hence I have to convert to PDF and copy to my Mac and print it from there - how tedious.
  • Coherence mode have the annoying windows start bar at the bottom.

VMWare Fusion 2

Thumbs Up

  • Speed - Starting up a VM is just like starting real OS on the actual machine. The speed is amazing. I have imported the Parallels VM (Windows XP) into VMWare Fusion and the startup time probably around 10 times faster than Paralles. How amazing! This might be something to do with VMWare Fusion can utilise the 2 CPUs on the Mac. Also when starting the VM, the Mac is not frozen (by the way, I have only 2GB of RAM).
  • Seamless network and printer support - The same VM imported from Parallels and run with VMWare Fusion. The network and printer settings do not work in Parallels but magically just work in VMWare Fusion.
  • Unity mode (Coherence mode in Paralles) seems to work much better. The windows just look like normal Mac window (although the icons might be Windows specific).
  • Convert to full screen and back seems pretty quick and snappy.
  • Haven't try it myself - but apparently you can also play most of the 3D games in Windows (with DirectX support).
  • (I can go on and on with the good things....)

Thumbs Down

  • Nothing major so far - besides the price of VMWare Fusion is a bit pricey

Having use both VM tools, I strongly recommend VMWare Fusion for Mac because it just works! With my blog's philosophy, tools that we used should make our life simpler...

Monday, November 24, 2008

How to charge and eject your iPod in Linux

This might be uncommon but I found that most of the time, I cannot wait until my iPod is fully charged before switching off/hibernate my MacBook Pro.

I have a Linux server (Fedora Core 8) that runs 24x7. So how about utilising my server to do the work instead?

Here are the steps to charge your iPod under Linux:

1) Sync my iPod with all the songs from my MacBook Pro.
2) Eject iPod from my MacBook.
3) Connect the USB cable to my Linux server.
4) Determine the drive that iPod is using under Linux. Normally it should be an alphabet greater than all existing mounted drive. Execute the following command:

> mount

It should shows something similar to:

/dev/mapper/VolGroup00-LogVol00 on / type ext3 (rw)
proc on /proc type proc (rw)
sysfs on /sys type sysfs (rw)
devpts on /dev/pts type devpts (rw,gid=5,mode=620)
/dev/mapper/VolGroup00-LogVol03 on /data type ext3 (rw)
/dev/mapper/VolGroup00-LogVol02 on /home type ext3 (rw)
/dev/sda2 on /boot type ext3 (rw)
tmpfs on /dev/shm type tmpfs (rw)
/dev/sdb on /mnt/media type xfs (rw)
none on /proc/sys/fs/binfmt_misc type binfmt_misc (rw)
sunrpc on /var/lib/nfs/rpc_pipefs type rpc_pipefs (rw)

In this case, /dev/sdb seems to be the last of mounted hard disk. So if I tried:

> mount /dev/sdc /mnt/ipod

Once this is successful, you should be able to perform listing on this directory.

> ls /mnt/ipod

5) You might want to umount the ipod to left it charging (we don't need to mount it for it to be charged because we are not syncing the songs).

> umount /mnt/ipod (if mounted before)

6) In order to fully eject the ipod, we need to execute one more command:

> eject /dev/sdc (or the drive that your ipod is connected to).

7) Next enjoy! Once fully charged, just unplugged from the machine.