Review: Vista-intosh: VMware Gone Fusion

operating systems OS

VMware Fusion is desktop virtualization which allows Mac users to seamlessly run Windows and Linux on OS X machines. The application runs on Intel-based Macs. A Windows or Linux session can be called from inside Mac, without need of a reboot.

For review, VMWare Fusion was installed on a Mac-mini running OS 10.5, with 1.83 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo (PowerMac G5) and 1 GB RAM.

VMware Fusion install was a straightforward install with no problems. The first virtual machine reviewers created was a Vista one. Install seemed to go through fine until the process was halted midway. After restarting the Vista VM, and continuing the installation of Vista, the VM was unable to recognize the CD- ROM drive as the installation source (puzzling, because initially, install did recognize the CD-ROM). A second Vista install was initiated, this time without stopping midway and the VM was created, albeit slowly (install took about half an hour).

It was smooth sailing from there.

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This product creates a truly integrated environment. File copying can be done via drag-and-drop between the guest OS (in this case, Vista) and the host (Mac OS). Copy and paste worked from WordPad to Writer and vice-versa. There were some latency issues doing a copy and paste on Writer's side; the application would freeze for a couple of seconds when loading it from the Dock. VMware Fusion has a feature known as Unity, which in a nutshell, treats virtualized Windows apps like native Mac ones; Windows programs can be minimized to the Dock, can take advantage of Mac's expose feature and can pretty much do all the things a Mac program can do.

Functionality is a nice thing. Functionality without any detriment in performance is even nicer. Performance bench marks were done on the Mac-mini without a VM running using XBench. Averaged results were 110, slightly higher than average score when compared with other benchmark results for this same machine. XBench was launched for a second round, this time with the Windows VM running -- averaged results were 106. There appears to be very little overhead with running a VM in this setup.

Virtual machines in VMware Fusion are of course not just limited to Vista. The program supports Windows 3.1 to Vista and a variety of Linux flavors. There has been some debate as to how many virtual machines the application can handle, but the consensus seems to be that system resources will exhaust before that number is reached, though many say two VMs are optimal.

Even if there is a limited number of VMs that can efficiently run in this type of environment, there is no question that VMware Fusion can provide OS and application flexibility without sacrificing performance.