Swimming with the Razorfishes

Saturday, December 02, 2006


After getting settled in with my new Core 2 Duo MacBook Pro (can I pleeeease just call it a PowerBook), I wanted to play with some of the VM / virtualization software out there.

I thought that VMWare would be out of (non-public) beta by the time I got the MacBook, but it wasn't, leaving me with Parallels Desktop for Mac. Parallels has been around for a while, selling a workstation product that allows either Windows or Linux to serve as host OSs for Windows, Linux, or FreeBSD. Soon after Apple released Intel-based computers, Parallels released a MacOS version of its workstation product.

I downloaded a copy and have had generally a generally good experience. I haven't figured out how to have two VMs share access to the CD drive; I assume there is a way to do this. One nice thing about running these OSs in a VM is that features set in the MacOS seem to bubble down. For instance, clicking with two fingers on the trackpad triggers a right mouse click in both the MacOS and Linux.

Fedora Core 6

Initially refused to install from ISOs. It seems that one artifact of the hardware emulation done by Parallels is that Fedora panics if more than 512 meg of RAM is allocated to the VM.

Once I dropped the RAM to 512 meg, FC 6 installed without any other complications. The installer didn't recognize the display's native resolution (which is an odd 1440x900), though I was able to change the resolution without dropping to the command line.

Other than that, network (detected as an ne2k pci) and peripheral (CD, USB, etc...) seem to work fine.

Debian sid

Debian is also subject to the 512 meg issue. Other than that, installation was flawless. Everything was correctly detected, including the display resolution.

Sid seems to start up with the network disconnected. Once connected via the network manager applet, everything was ducky.

Ubuntu 6.1

Installing Ubuntu was the easiest of the three Linux distributions. From the time I booted the live CD, I think the installation was complete and I was listening to a radio station streamed over the web in about ten minutes.

Very easy, but Ubuntu seemed to think that my display was only capable of 1024x768, and it seems that the only way to add additional resolutions is to hack the X.org configuration. Ubuntu users, please correct me if I'm wrong.

FreeBSD 6.1

FreeBSD worked well on Parallels Desktop build 1970. However, build 3036 (beta) was recently released which seems to break BSD compatibility.


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