3 Virtual Machines for Mac

Virtual Machine on a Mac

I did some testing of Virtual Machines on my Mac. I wanted a VM (Virtual Machine) to run linux. I wrote down my thoughts to share in helping you in your decision. Following is a general overview of my likes and dislikes of each Virtual Machine. I am using a 17″ Mac with a quad core processor and NVidia graphics, 4 gigabytes of memory. My Mac is about one year old as of this writing.

Virtual Machine basics

For those of you who have never used a Virtual Machine, virtual Machines are an interesting piece of software. What they do is allow you to run almost any operating system as a Virtual Machine. This is good if you need to use a program that only runs on another operating system, or like me, you want to use another operating system for other reasons. With enough memory, you can be very exotic with Virtual Machines.

Virtual Machines are versatile

For example, running Windows as a Virtual Machine under MAC OS, which is running Linux inside of another Virtual Machine, which is running MAC OS inside of it. No one I know goes to those lengths, but it can be done. Most common uses are to run a second operating system as Virtual Machine. In the case of my Mac, I wanted a Virtual Machine to run Linux Operating System, and check out Google’s Chrome Operating System.

Virtual Machines for Free

Free is always better. Most people will use a free program is they can and save their money for other things. I am no different. One free Virtual Machine I used before is from Oracle’s VirtualBox.

For running a 32 bit operating system VirtualBox works well. This time around I wanted to run 64 bit Linux and things were quite different when to came to VirtualBox.

There were two stumbling blocks I came up against with VirtualBox. I could not find a 64 bit switch to run 64 bot Linux OS. 64 bit software will run in a 32 bit environment though slower than normal. A bigger problem was screen size of the VirtualBox. The best resolution I could get was 800 x 600 screen size. I wanted at least 1024 x 768 and I could not adjust the screen to a higher resolution. Free is good though, and VirtualBox is excellent for a 32 bit OS, and a smaller screen size. Plus it is free.

VMware is a long time player

VMware has been around in the Windows world for a long time. As far as I am aware they were the second player in Mac OS. I used VMWare in the past and it is a great program under Windows OS. VMware ran every Operating System I wanted to run. I had high expectations for the Mac version of VMware. I went to the website, signed up and downloaded a thirty day trial copy.

The VMware software practically loaded itself. Virtual Machine creation was painless. Setting my preferred screen resolution was painless. Everything worked as advertised, just as it did under Windows. I was very happy with VMWare’s performance under Mac OS. VMWare is geared towards running Windows as a Virtual Machine under Mac OS. That is VMware big selling point. For three days I was happy with VMware running Linux VM under MAC OS.

One small Glitch

I found a switch (setting) for full screen and tried it out. The Virtual Machine made its adjustments and came up full with an escape key to return to normal resolution. Everything ran well and I was impressed with the full screen. When I reduced the screen size to my previous settings, I found a glitch. The screen locked up between full screen and original settings. Linux was frozen as was my Desktop.

I waited some seconds and nothing changed. I retried the full screen escape commands, tried to escape the mouse from the Virtual Machine, and still no response. I had a dark empty screen and no way to give input to either the Virtual machine or Mac OS.

After deliberating some seconds about whether to force my MAC into reboot by turning off power, the Virtual Machine produced a few tremors, paused for a few more seconds, and finally, screen resolution returned.

Third time is the charm

Virtual MachinesIt was time to try Parallels Virtual Machine. Parallels was the first serious Virtual Machine for Mac OS. I was a registered user of the first Virtual Machine release for Mac OS by Parallels. After some months, I no longer needed a Virtual Machine, and it obsoleted itself.

Parallels loaded simply, and went right into setting up a Virtual Machine. Available settings are clear and choices are straightforward. There was little difference between the three Virtual Machine softwares in their setup and operation. Parallels is on its second week, and every option has worked without a glitch for me. One surprise is having Ubuntu and Chrome OS available through Parallels and pulling in and converting a Virtual Machine already on my hard drive.

Windows VM support and Test Drives

I can not comment about Windows as a VM. I have Windows 7 on a laptop only which I rarely use. In wrapping up, if you want to be thrifty, VirtualBox works well and it is free for home use. There is nothing seriously wrong with the two pay for Virtual Machine Software within the limitations I mentioned. Either free, or thirty day trial is available for you, so you can check each one out and put them through their paces yourself.

If you want to run Windows on a Mac Virtual Machine, I read either VMWare or Parallels reportedly work equally well with Windows as a VM. This is their main selling point for Mac users. For me with Lion OS running a Linux Virtual Machine, Parallels was my choice. I think you should happy with any Virtual Machine software packages if they fit your needs.