Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Virtual Computers in Mac OS X? Enter Parallel's Desktop for Mac

Ever since I have moved to the Mac, I have gathered a lot of interest, and even a small following. The Mac performs well, doesn't give me any trouble, and let's me run my Unix Apps without any trouble.

The problem is, I can't use it well in an office environment as most offices require Windows. They don't require Windows for network integration mostly, just for application integration. That's the killer, and it's annoying as all get out.

Add to that the fact that I need a Linux box in order to prepare and maintain my Linux edge, and I'm in a world of hurt. I don't want to have more than one system, but as it sits it looks like I would need to.

Then the advent of the Intel Macs came, and changed the rules. Now you can have Windows on a Mac, but only Windows XP. And you have to reboot the system to get to Windows, which is just a pain in and of itself. But the processor also supports virtual computers, if you have software that will enable that. VMWare doesn't have a Mac OS X client for their Player as of yet, and all other options I see are very complicated to compile.

Enter Parallel's Desktop for Mac. While Parallel advertizes it as a way to run Windows on the Intel Mac without rebooting, it's much more than that. It creates virtual computers, much like VMWare, and let's you install any Intel-based operating system. Have a copy of OS/2 sitting around? Run it in Parallel! Need to take screenshots of the installation of an OS? Do it through Parallel!

Needless to say, I'm excited about this. But there are some problems that I have heard from a lot of reviews: Don't expect to run Quake 4 or Half-Life 2 in Windows.. The system just can't take it. The virtual computers are built to run basic apps like Word, Excel, Outlook, etc. and will not be able to handle 3D rendering at this point. And, be sure your computer can handle it. You can't run a Windows virtual machine and use all the resources of your system. It will crash the Mac OS (with no resources to use), and therefore crash the virtual machine.

What do I intend to use it for? Well, I need Windows to run the Office apps that I will be teaching. I also need to have a Linux box that will let me play around with it, break it, and recreate it without having to constantly reinstall. This is perfect, because it does everything that I need from a Windows machine, and yet will let my run all my important and favorite apps from a Macintosh. Also, because I only need one machine for it in my office (which does have a door, if no windows), the heat released will be minimal.

When I finally get the setup placed, I will post a review on how well it does. But until then, I'll be biting at the bit!

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