There have been many reviews on the internet performing competitive comparisons between Mac virtualisation tools, but they generally compare features and performance with consumer based OSs like Windows 7, and gaming performance.
I'm not really interested in one-off VMs, and if I want to run games I'll reboot under Bootcamp or use a PC. But what I do want to do is run up a few Windows Server machines to mess about with different tools, such as Exchange, OCS, SQL, Forefront, etc. Normally you'd configure a PC to run Hyper-V or ESXi and sit it in the corner somewhere.
Being a Mac person, I don't have spare PC hardware laying about and can't justify going out and buying equipment to build a PC that will do justice to a decent virtualisation platform. However I do have a Mac, and TechNet subscription so why not use virtualisation software for OS X for the same job!
Parallels and VMWare have generously provide me with 'Not-For-Resale' serial numbers for their respective products to review here on AuTechHeads - Parallels Desktop 6, and VMWare Fusion 3.1. Thanks very much to those companies. You can even follow them on Twitter at @ParallelsMac
Now that I have the software licenses (virtualisation tools, and TechNet), all I need is some hardware that can handle the load without paging too much. Until I can find someone who wants to lend a me some decent Apple hardware, I'll be doing the tests on the following :
* Apple Mac mini
- 2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo, 4Gb DDR3 RAM
- nVidia GeForce 9400 chipset and graphics
- 120Gb Fujitsu 5400rpm 2.5" drive
Part 1 - Using Parallels Desktop 6 to Easy Install Windows Server 2008 R2 Enterprise
After a standard Mac application installation (Download, double click, Next, Finish), Parallels displays the following screens :
I selected "New Windows Installation", and I wanted it to work "Like a PC" (i.e. in a Window). I inserted the Windows Server 2008 R2 installation DVD and clicked continue, then gave the VM a name and selected where I wanted the VM file to be saved. Clicked "Create" and off it went.
30 minutes later it was sitting at the "You must now change your password screen"! Hooray. By default, the Virtual Machine Assistant had created a 64Gb hard drive and a 1Gb RAM machine with 1 processor. After a quick install of the Parallels VM Tools, here is the finished virtual server with all drivers, and working network. A little under 45 minutes from clicking "New". Nice clean, easy install.
The virtual machine .pvm file on disk was taking up about 9.5Gb after running Windows Update, and physical memory use on the Mac was a little over 1Gb.
Next : I'll follow the same procedure using VMWare Fusion 3.1, then see how easy it is to create snapshots, replicate machines, and run concurrent VMs. If anyone has anything in particular you'd like to see, leave a comment!
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