Windows Experience Index – Parallels vs. Fusion: How Do They Stack Up?

Posted 4 CommentsPosted in Mac, Virtualization

Since the release of Parallels 5 I have been a huge fan.  Previous to that, I really liked VMware Fusion as the product was much more mature and seemed more stable.  I really had no means to measure performance other than to gauge it by my perception over regular use.

Earlier this week, VMware announced their VMware Fusion 3.1 beta, which I had to run out and try.  I like to keep tabs on both of these products and am always curious when either of them releases an update.

That being said, I downloaded the beta ad built up a new Windows 7 virtual machine, installed the machine additions and played around a little bit.

In the past I’ve done things like measure the boot time for the operating system on each product and in most cases Parallels topped Fusion.  Especially after Parallels released version 5, the gap between those numbers seemed to grow especially when it came to the amount of time it takes to come back on a resume.

As part of my test I also built a new Parallels virtual machine with Windows 7 installed.  I thought an equal way to measure the differences would be by running the tests that provide the results of the Windows Experience Index.  The scale of the Windows Experience Index ranges from 1.0 to 5.9. A higher base score generally means that your computer will perform better and faster than a computer with a lower base score, especially when performing more advanced and resource-intensive tasks.

This host hardware was an iMac with a Core 2 Duo 2.8 GHz processor and equipped with 4 GB of RAM.  Each virtual machine (although not ran simultaneously) had 1 GB of RAM allocated to it.

So, how did each virtual machine fair?  I was actually very surprised.  As VMware has touted lots of improvements around its graphics driver and performance, it actually seemed slower than the 3.0 release.

Here’s how the numbers stacked up:

VMware Fusion Results:

fusion

Parallels Desktop Results:

fusion

Interestingly enough, it seems that Parallels does a better job in more of the categories than not.  Parallels implementation and support of Aero in Windows 7 seems to be more solid as well.

What has your experience been with these products?  Have you found the optimal virtual machine configuration on your Mac?

Create a Disk Image Installer on the Mac

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Mac

I was working on a project for my father-in-law where he wanted to distribute his yearly catalog via CD instead of the traditional printed method.

I wanted to design a CD image that would work on both Windows and Mac.  I was able to solve the PC side of it pretty quickly, but needed some guidance on creating a DMG on the Mac.  They can get pretty fancy.

My wife designed the background art for the DMG when it is opened and with some guidance from a few different sites, I was on my way.

Peter Ahe’s Blog was helpful in getting me going on the right direction and understanding what was required to get the disk image installer created.

Some other good resources:

How to Create a Hybrid CD on the Mac
http://www.sonsothunder.com/devres/revolution/tips/disk006.htm

How to Create a Custom DMG Installer
http://www.ploem.be/blog/?page_id=26

Are The Technology Gaps Ever Filled?

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Mac, Mobile Devices, Windows

First and foremost, I am a Windows user. I have been forever. I was a “blue badge” so I was very much a “fanboy” of Microsoft from the platform to desktop apps to mobile devices and still pretty much am. I have also opened my eyes to other computing technologies like the Mac and iPhone.

I used to try to make my Microsoft software work the way I wanted in every case. There really wasn’t any other solution. I have moved away from that thought process, and accepted that some other technologies do the job better.

Take Windows Mobile for example. I owned no less than 10 devices in a matter of less than five years because I thought that the issue had to be the device, not the platform. Last year, I finally purchased an iPhone. I absolutely love this device and it will take me a long time to go back to Windows Mobile. Perhaps if Microsoft controlled the hardware platform for Windows Mobile devices, they might share the same success that Apple has had.

I also have a MacBook Pro, which runs virtualization software so I can run Windows. Since most enterprise companies still use Windows as a primary platform, I too still use Windows for 95% of my work-related business. I have had few issues with the Windows platform for the most part; I was even a fan of Vista. I didn’t see all of the same issues that caused droves of people to jump on the anti-Vista bandwagon. I still prefer Vista to Windows XP, a sentiment that isn’t shared by many. But at the end of the day, I run it on my MacBook. I do most of my blogging from a Mac now, I get all of my newsfeeds on the Mac, and Twitter too! Bottom line, a lot of Mac apps offer better stability and robustness compared to their Windows counterparts. Whether this is related to the platform or just bad coding, that’s a topic for a different day. Microsoft wins at a lot of battles – I favor Visual Studio and Office 2007. Those have been solid, just as a lot of the server apps like Exchange, SQL, and SharePoint.

Since I have had my Mac I have looked for ways to synchronize files and folders. Between my Macs would be fine, but across platforms would be even better. Apple’s MobileMe is a nice solution, although I don’t believe $99/year is worth what it gives me. Yesterday I was searching around for file sync tools on the Mac again and came across Microsoft Live Sync. I’ve used Live Sync for file storage on the PC side, but I was surprised to find that a Mac client was available. I installed it on both of my Macs, as well as my Vista laptop and work laptop too. I started syncing folders and they appeared across the platforms. Amazing! (and free too).

Looking further, I started digging into Microsoft Live Mesh which bridges the gap for connected devices allowing them to sync files and access their desktops all over the Internet. This provides the ability to access applications on one system that might not be available on another. Better yet, Mesh incorporates mobile devices and Macs. File synchronization is great across platform, but I wish I had the ability to remote control my Mac from one of my Live Mesh PCs. Since the remote control uses an ActiveX control in the browser, this is not possible on the Mac, but bringing a Java applet into the mix might take away this barrier.

I would say that in the last 2-3 months, Microsoft has introduced some very interesting technologies like Bing and Live Mesh (beta). Bing is closing in on it’s Google competition, and I have even started using it as my primary search engine. We’ll see how the landscape changes when Google finishes their open source OS.

So, with all this being said, it’s really not about being an Apple Fanboy or a Microsoft Fanboy, but more-so about who delivers the best solution for the problems at hand.


MacFUSE and NTFS-3G

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Mac, Windows

I was looking for a creative way to be able to share my USB hard drive that I had formatted for the Mac with my PC.  HFS Explorer, worked fine, but required me to extract files instead of being able to expose the volume as a drive letter.  I decided I would search for something that would allow my Mac to not only read (which OS X does by default), but also write to an NTFS partition.  I was going to reformat my USB hard drive as NTFS since I now primarily use it with my PCs.

My search turned up an app called MacFUSE.  MacFUSE, as the website indicated, “implements a mechanism that makes it possible to implement a fully functional file system in a user-space program on Mac OS X (10.4 and above). It provides multiple APIs, one of which is a superset of the FUSE (File-system in USEr space) API that originated on Linux. Therefore, many existing FUSE file systems become readily usable on Mac OS X.”

Next, my search turned up NTFS-3G, a driver that sits on top of MacFUSE and enables full read and write capabilities of NTFS under the Mac OS.  I installed MacFUSE, and then NTFS-3G.  After a reboot, I was on my way to copying files from the Mac to a USB hard drive, now formatted as NTFS.  Well, kinda.

What I figured out is that the NTFS-3G driver seemed to cause a lot of problems with my Mac OS.  Any time file access was taking place, whether it be on an HFS or NTFS file system, things seemed to “konk” out after a while.  For example, I was copying a few ISOs over, and half way through the copy would error out, but it seem to hang the entire operating system.  I tried several different files, large and smaller, with the same result.

I quickly removed MacFUSE and NTFS-3G and my problems relating to file system operations seemed to go away.  Not sure what was happening there.  For now I have decided to copy files through my virtual machine to the external drive.  It adds a layer of abstraction, and seems to hinder the performance somewhat, but the copy operations do finish successfully.

Have you used MacFUSE or NTFS-3G and had a different experience?