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Top 10 things you can do with VMware Fusion and your Mac






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When you think of Macs and virtualization, what pops to mind?

  • What the hell is virtualization? (A: The ability to run another operating system in a virtual machine (VM) while still running Mac OS X)
  • Oh, right, that’s what Parallels does. (Yes, but read on…)
  • Wasn’t there an old Virtual PC product from Microsoft that they never ported over to Intel Macs? (You are truly old-skool. Fasten your seat belt – this is a rocket ship compared to older emulation products.)

Vmware_fusion_icon
Well regardless of what you think, there’s a new kid on the Mac virtualization block: VMware Fusion. And “new kid” isn’t exactly the right term. VMware pioneered x86 virtualization and has been doing virtualization for nine years now.  With Apple’s switch to Intel processors, all that experience can now be brought to your Mac.

Hold on to your mighty mouse, because when the granddaddy of virtualization turns its attention to your favorite MacBook Pro, you can do some crazy things.

These are some of our favorites:

  • SWITCH! Want to leverage the digital lifestyle of your Mac but have one or two Windows applications that you can’t live without?  You don’t have to be locked in anymore.  Outlook, Windows Media Player, Microsoft Project, AutoCAD, Solidworks…you name it.  They all can run in a Windows virtual machine on VMware Fusion.  Bring your USB peripherals with you as you switch too; they still work.

  • Walk and chew gum at the same time. With virtualization you are running, in effect, two computers at the same time when you run Windows on your Mac.  That can take some horsepower.  VMware Fusion’s mature technology means much less CPU overhead.  As Walt Mossberg of the Wall Street Journal noticed, “VMware Fusion has a much smaller impact on the Mac’s overall performance [than Parallels.]”  With VMware Fusion, Outlook in your Windows virtual machine doesn’t slow down your Safari session running on Mac OS X.

  • Use the full strength of your Mac hardware. VMware Fusion’s virtual SMP lets you assign up to two CPUs to a single VM.  Up to 8 GB of RAM too in a VM.  Want to test run the latest Oracle database in a 64-bit Linux VM, with 4 GB RAM and 2 cores?  Want to test SQL Server 2007 on Windows Server 2003 64-bit edition? You can do it.  Though you should probably be doing something else on your Saturday night.

  • Reduce, reuse, recycle…your RAM. VMware pioneered memory page file sharing.  So running a VM in VMware Fusion takes up much less of your Mac’s memory than other virtualization products.  And it gets better the more VMs you’re running at once.  Five Windows XP virtual machines at a time doesn’t mean 5x the memory of a single XP virtual machine.  By sharing the sections of memory that are common between the VMs—like with common OSs— you can “over commit” memory.

  • Run those Windows apps as if they were Mac apps. VMware Fusion’s Unity feature your Mac treats Windows applications like its own.  Windows applications show up in the Dock on launch and you can even minimize Windows apps down to the Dock too.  They fly around in Exposé, sport drop shadows around their edges, you name it.  As far your Mac is concerned, they’re native apps.

  • Don’t lose your head (or your way) with USB 2.0 support. Got a GPS unit that doesn’t support Mac?  With VMware Fusion, just load the software in Windows and plug the USB cable into your Mac.  Blackberry, USB VOIP softphones, webcams, scanners, printers, all of the above.  You can still use them with a Windows VM.  Just because you want to switch, doesn’t mean you should have to say goodbye to near and dear peripherals.

  • Bring that Mac into the enterprise. Usually there are a handful of applications that are absolute must-haves in the enterprise that are tying you to that PC.  VMware Fusion lets you run those in a Mac.  And VMware Fusion USB support means that the Crackberry monkey will still be on your back. VMware Fusion’s stability, and the amazing support network provided by VMware’s forums, make it a business-class solution. 

  • Run over sixty x86 compliant operating systems on your Mac.  Linux, Solaris, Windows from 3.1 through Vista Ultimate x64.  32-bit or 64-bit.  VMware Fusion can run it.  In fact, VMware Fusion can run over 60 operating systems on your Mac.  Sure, Mac OS X is great, but why not learn some Linux, FreeBSD, or even turn back the clock to Windows 3.1. You can even drag and drop files between Linux and your Mac or Windows and your Mac.

  • Go shopping for some appliances to match your pretty Mac.  There are over 550 virtual appliances available in the Virtual Appliance Marketplace, including pre-staged anti-spam and security appliances, demo software, you name it.  Pull one down, fire it up on VMware Fusion, and you’re up and running.  No install discs, .ISOs, or anything.  You can use those CDs for coasters, if you want.

  • Frag some baddies.  Experimental 3D graphics support allows you to play select DirectX 8.1 games in a Windows XP SP2 virtual machine.  If you’re jonesing for some Duke Nukem or Tony Hawk, fire up VMware Fusion.  Doesn’t help you with the latest and greatest in 3D video games, but c’mon, you should be working anyway.

So with those top ten things in your back pocket, come learn more about VMware Fusion or…

Download the 30-day Free Trial of VMware Fusion!

And, of course, here’s the famous video demo of the Unity feature of VMware Fusion:






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57 thoughts on “Top 10 things you can do with VMware Fusion and your Mac

  1. GFahey

    OK, I am excited about this. Ordering a new MacBook Pro next week and this has me drooling. Personally, I can’t wait to run Debian Etch along with OSX. Windows? There a few apps I do miss so….
    But, what about the virus issue? Do you have to run a AV program? I would imagine so for Windows. Right? THat can be a resource hog that concerns me although AVG Free would probably be the one I choose. VMware Fusion here I come!

  2. Francky

    “Use the full strength of your Mac hardware.” Wrong.
    You say you can assign two CPU’s but all you can do is assign two CORES, so using it on a Mac pro, you are left with a very slow emulation. Having a 8 core Mac pro myself, I’m left with a virtualization that it 4 Times too slow.
    Having bought Final Cut, I was excited that this product would allow me to work in my windows 3d app and edit withouth the need of a reboot, but with this flaw, it’s only practical if I need to do small tweaks and not do CPU intensive tasks.
    It was stated in your forum, that you would NEVER support more than 2 cores, so I can only hope that you will at least come out with a Pro Version, one that supports ALL cores (not just 8, as the Mac will evolve :p) and Also support OpenGL.
    All I can hope is that you do release a Version that truly allows us to use the Full strenght of our macs…

  3. Lauri K

    Francky, you’re insane if you’re trying to claim two cores is not enough to perform CPU intensive tasks.
    Spiffy video clip you guys have going, there.

  4. Kris

    Lauri, you’re insane if you’re trying to say two cores is enough to perform CPU intensive tasks.

  5. Matthew

    Guys like Francky just want us to think that the work they’re doing is SOOOO important and huge that whatever you offer just isn’t enough. Get some sunlight, dude, while we try to catch up with your huge brain.

  6. John

    Duke Nukem? Are you joking or retarded?
    It’s an 11 year old MS-DOS game. It’s hardly going to take advantage of DirectX, what with it running in a friggin DOS window and all.
    Also, there are native OS X, Linux, and other ports available. Why would I virtualize when I can run native? Would you virtualize a Windows WoW session rather than go native? I doubt it could run it virtualized anyhow, it likely needs better directx support.
    Before commenting on this products gaming capabilities, perhaps you could catch up to at least the early 2000′s, when windows-based directx games actually existed.
    I recently purchased Fusion and was quite disappointed by this article, which I’d sum up as “hey get it and you can virtualize stuff”. Duh. How about some actual fun top-10 things to do with it?

  7. Jesse

    You all have to keep in mind that while some of the CPU intensive tasks could be accomplished using only 2 cores they won’t be accomplished in an acceptable time frame.
    The only reason that people in the industry spend so much on the “big” hardware is because it is worth their time to do so.

  8. Matt

    I’ve been running vmware fusion since beta 4 on my core duo macbook pro. Fusion is extremely stable and allows me to do all of the MIDI composition I could do back in the Windows days. Unity is perfect and even more, it barely taxes the system. I can switch between Windows applications are OS X applications like butter. (of course i have 2gb of ram)
    I’d say give it a shot. Best $40 I’ve ever spent.

  9. ed

    VMWare Fusion rocks.
    I am a PC -> Mac convert, and Fusion has made it super easy for me to use all of my Windows apps that are required for current projects.
    For example, I run a complete Visual Studio Studio 2005 environment inside Fusion, on a MacBook Pro. That includes SQL Server 2005 Enterprise and a variety of required tools and plugins.
    I imaged my old Windows laptop (with VMWare Converter), restored it in Fusion. Done. No hassles. All my preferences saved. Everything just as when I left the PC.
    Kudos to VMWare for having such superior products.

  10. Gerard Braad

    Don’t forget to mention;
    VMware Virtual Machines do not suffer from crashing or having to go in suspend mode when you close the lid of your MacBook. This means you can quickly resume working!

  11. Crank

    After seeing and using this software, I can finally switch back to a Mac. The last Mac I owned ran System 7. I abandoned it for Windows because Mac stuff was of little use in my job as a programmer in a corporate IT environment. I’ve used virtualized Windows and DB servers for years. VMWare has proven to be a rock-solid solution.
    I NEED Visual Studio and other Windows apps to do my job. I wanted another Mac but could not justify purchasing something I didn’t need. I’m not a gamer so I could give a squat about DirectX and OpenGL.
    This product will sell Macs. I looked at Parallels but it did not impress me enough to make me purchase a Mac. I looked at Fusion last week. I ordered a new iMac yesterday.

  12. Nitish Jha

    Do you guys have any plans of adding the Unity feature to Linux , it would be wonderful addition.

  13. pmedia

    I love the software, but one problem on Macbook Pros… the VMware software creates a process “airport” that consumes up to 99% of the CPUs of one processor. It significantly slows your machine, and it makes these already hot machines run SCORCHING.
    Once you uninstall VMware Fusion, the process disappears and you don’t have the CPU consumed or the heat anymore. It’s completely reproducable… install it, watch the CPU pin in Activity Monitor, uninstall, watch the process disappear and the CPU resume normal activity. There’s even discussions about this on the Apple site boards.
    This process “airport” is not, in fact, the process that runs your wireless card. You have full wireless connectivity even after the process disappears and you continue using the machine via wifi.

  14. jtroyer

    @pmedia: this evidently can happen even without Fusion installed, but Fusion appears to exacerbate the problem. Some people have found workarounds. I believe the engineering and support teams are aware of the issue. See this thread for more info.

  15. rob

    Thanks, but I’ll stick with Parallels. ZOMG, VMWare Unity = Parallels Coherence! Parallels does USB, OMGWTFBBQ!

  16. peted

    Re: “what value does it add that Parallel is not”
    Disclaimer: I’ve only used Parallels, so this is all based on other comments I’ve read about Fusion.
    One reviewer wrote that Fusion does a better job of integrating guest applications with native Mac applications, and that overall Fusion’s UI is nicer.
    They also were the first to have any sort of 3D acceleration support.
    Many of these things have since been addressed by Parallels. But it’s important to note that without competition on the market, it’s entirely possible that Parallels wouldn’t have those features now.
    And of course, both Parallels and Fusion do not have full 3D acceleration support (they are both described as “experimental”), and I have every expectation that both will eventually fully support at least DX9.
    The thing I am most interested in at this point is whether Fusion can do a better job not sucking down CPU time when it’s doing nothing. My MacBook Pro already has a marginal battery lifetime, at 3 hours, and when Parallels is hosting Windows, that drops to 1.5-2 hours, with Parallels consuming a consistent 12% of the CPU time (seen via Activity Monitor), and of course more than that if anything’s actually going on in the guest OS (Windows XP SP2 in my case). Even when Parallels is running but not hosting anything, it uses 6% of the CPU. It should use basically NO CPU time in that situation, whatever other issues might exist.
    Fusion’s promo materials specifically say it has the lowest resource consumption of the market (which as near as I can tell really is only Parallels and Fusion, when it comes to really usable virtualization), and I’m looking forward to testing it myself and seeing if I can get away from Parallels CPU-hogging habits.
    Finally, one thing that VMWare could not possibly do worse on is customer support. The only replies I’ve ever received from numerous support request messages to Parallels are in answer to an issue I resolved on my own in the first week or so after I sent my message, and both replies were sent more than two months after the message for which they were responding was sent.
    I’ve not one single time received an actual resolution for any of the support requests I’ve made to Parallels support staff. If VMWare has any customer support at all (and all indications are that they do), then that’s another area in which Fusion would be a better choice.
    So, at least from my point of view, I see great potential for Fusion offering more value than Parallels. I can’t say for sure that it does, and the fact is that Parallels is not a bad product and so it’s hard to say that clearly one product is better than the other. But I’ve had my share of specific-but-annoying issues with Parallels and I’m looking forward to seeing if their competition can do better.

  17. Taylor

    Dude I have a Dual Core Macbook and when using even one app with Unity it kills my machine. CPU goes right off the cliff, temp gets up to 160′s (fan goes crazy of course), and responsiveness slows. I am using build 1.0 (51348) and eval ends in a week or so. I love the product but if using Outlook with Unity is going to kill my machine it might not be worth $80.

  18. peted

    Previously I wrote: “Disclaimer: I’ve only used Parallels, so this is all based on other comments I’ve read about Fusion.”
    I’ve fixed that discrepancy!
    Granted, I’ve only been using Fusion for a couple of days now, but that’s been enough time to note some specific differences/issues.

    • Performance. This was my primary motivation for checking out Fusion, since Parallels otherwise works pretty well for me. I can confirm that indeed, Fusion uses much less CPU than Parallels for equivalent operations (and is idle as expected when it’s not hosting any OS).
    • Co-existence. Fusion and Parallels get along, sort of. They don’t interfere with each other per se, but because of Microsoft’s product activation there are some oddities if you use them to virtualize the same Boot Camp installation. You will need to activate Windows XP multiple times in each of Boot Camp, Parallels, and Fusion. However, my experience was that once each had a chance to activate, they were all finally happy. Unfortunately, Parallels and Fusion consistently interfere with each other with respect to Office 2007 activation (this is even after applying the work-around to ensure that the network adapter always has the same MAC address). In addition, I still continue to see one or the other putting up the Windows product activation alert, so I’m not entirely sure they even work nicely together in that respect.

      If you’re not using Microsoft software, obviously this isn’t actually an issue. It’s really the stupid “Product Activation” issue that’s the problem here, even if one should be able to expect the virtual machines to emulate the real hardware consistently enough for the Product Activation to be happy.

    • Configuration. Speaking of ensuring that the network adapter always has the same MAC address, Parallels makes this very easy. Fusion makes this very hard. If the network is in bridged mode, it’s not too bad: you just configure the adapter in Windows itself and it works. But in NAT mode, you have to edit a text config file (in a folder that requires admin rights to access, naturally) and you have to restart Fusion’s network daemon processes, which you can only do by restarting the computer or doing it manually via a command prompt shell as the root user. In Parallels, it’s just a text field in the network configuration panel.
    • Coherence/Unity. Nominally, Fusion’s Unity is nicer than Coherence, because each Windows application acts as an independent Mac application for the purpose of task-switching; Parallels treats them all as existing under a single process, which makes for some frustrating task-switching as you try to get the one that will actually bring up the application you want. However, in spite of this Coherence winds up being more useful, as it doesn’t wind up hiding the Windows task bar from you in Coherence mode. Fusion does offer a Mac menu that includes the things that are in the Programs menu, but it’s not an exact replacement for the task bar.
    • Full Screen. One of the biggest annoyances I had with Fusion was the inability to get it to stay in full-screen mode when task-switching. Parallels handles this fine, but Fusion seems to forget it was in full-screen mode some of the time and revert back to windowed. You’d think this would be a minor point, but it sure is annoying. It also makes me wonder what other more insidious bugs exist; while I’ve had my issues with Parallels too (earlier releases used to crash occasionally, and I even had to run the Windows chkdsk to repair the file system once), on the whole it pretty much just works.
    • Mouse capturing. Another area where Parallels and Fusion differ is the way they capture the mouse for input. Fusion always requires you to click in the guest OS window before it will receive mouse input. Parallels has a very nice feature where the mouse cursor moves seamlessly between the host and guest OS, which really enhances the whole “who cares which OS the application is running in” vibe of Coherence.

    My final assessment: I would not expect to use both Fusion and Parallels on the same computer if you need to run Microsoft products with “Product Activation”. Pick one and stick with it.
    As far as which one to pick, the fact is that Fusion works very nicely, and there are some things about it that I think are marginally nicer than in Parallels. But, there seem to be problems with some of the implementation, even if the ideas are better, and Parallels offers the more seamless integration of the host and guest OS as well as a more consistently-behaved interface and more usable configuration options.
    As far as the performance advantage Fusion has, Parallels claims to have resolved that in their more recent version.
    So in the end, looks like I’ll be sticking with Parallels for the time being. Frankly, I’m a bit disappointed, since I really still hate Parallels for their sucky customer service. But in the end, it’s the tool that gets the job done best that I want to use on a regular basis. And for now, for me, that seems to be Parallels.

  19. Boris

    Top 1 thing I _can’t_ do in VMware Fusion: multiple snapshots. Please introduce a Workstation-like product for us developers on Mac OS. Fusion is really _not_ enough.

  20. Derman

    General questions that I hope I don’t get flamed for…
    We’re 100% windows-based – it’s a work thing – and my boss wants an iMac for a home machine, which I support…how does the networking/vpn/terminal server stuff on the windows side flow with Fusion? I’m trying to get him to use the iMac for personal and the windows for business, but he’ll be using the network connectivity off-site as a primary component of his usage.
    Any experience – good or bad – would be much appreciated.

  21. chris from UK

    I have macbook with 2gig ram, vmware is a joy as it means I can use publisher and access for my customer’s needs as well as CS3 for mine. My problem is sharing a usb epson 915 printer and a usb digital card reader. Neither vmware or the apple recognise them any more (they did once). Other usb devices work ok.

  22. Reid Rosefelt

    I have some questions.
    I run a lot of memory/processor-heavy music programs together, and so system resources and RAM are a big deal to me. (I have a 2.66 Core Duo Mac Pro with 3GB Ram)
    It seems logical that Fusion will take system resources and ram if I use Windows too, but what if I don’t? Does it use up system resources anyway just because it’s installed?
    Would it be better for me to use Boot Camp for those situations? (Unfortunately, I don’t have that option, as Apple isn’t allowing downloads of Boot Camp any more–only upgrades.)
    Thanks for your help.

  23. Peter Kazanjy

    Reid: Fusion only uses a meaningful amount of resources if you have a virtual machine up and running. If Fusion is just sitting in your dock, unlaunched, it doesn’t use any RAM.

  24. Luther

    My HP pcs 2210 all-in-one works fine on the imac, but I can’t get it to print my quickbooks reports. What do I need to do?

  25. Peetz

    Question 1: let’s say I dedicate 1 GB of my available 2.5 GB for Fusion. Does that 1GB only get used when running Fusion, or does OSX lose that 1GB even when Fusion is not running?
    Question 2: after installing, and stipulating that Fusion gets 1GB, can I later change that memory division, to increase or decrease, or am I stuck with it. I tried the demo, and couldn’t see how to later on alter the memory allocation.

  26. Patrick Sweeney

    Re Andy’s questions:
    1) The memory is only used while Fusion is running. One very handy app to watch that sort of thing is MenuMeters. Google for “menumeters download” or if you’re the trusting sort, just go here:
    http://www.ragingmenace.com/software/menumeters/
    2) To change memory allocation after you’ve created a VM, stop the VM, go to VirtualMachine, then Settings (or the handy Settings icon in the GUI). You’ll find the memory adjustment in the System Hardware section. If the VM is running, you can only view the settings, not change them.
    Hope that helps.

  27. Dennis David

    When I run VMWare Fusion and XP it always wants to install new hardware, namely a battery but it never knows where to find the software. How do I stop this from happening?

  28. rick

    I tried to run Solidworks 2007 on my new mpb under fusion. It does run. All of the basic operations are about 4x faster than my Dell M70. The display card is not well used and the components of the solidworks assembly become blocky and jerky. The file sharing to the mac side is excellent. The poor graphics helped me decide to return the mbp. I am looking forward to better graphics driver to use under fusion.

  29. Ed

    lol, first thing I try with VMWare Fusion is speedfan 4.33 so I can see heat conditions of my laptop while running Leo/XP–my Vista 64 bit would not load on VMWare. I downloaded and installed speedfan on the XP side and since it scans hardware ports it did not show any results. Gives killer app new meaning.

  30. Super Dave Osbourne

    The company I brought parallels to was excited about virtualization. Then I found VMWare 1.0 as good and better in all ways. We paid for Parallels, and 3 months later switched over company wide to VMWare due to mostly superior support, superior product and momentum. VMWare has what can and does back company wide deployment. Sadly, parallels is now forgotten already.
    BTW, we do 4-8 virtualized users on each of a bank of mac minis. In all, VMWare gives us 2-4 times savings in hardware depending on what we and our cilents are doing. In one instance, small deployment in our own labs, we saved about 17000 USD by spending less than 400 in software and roughly 20 hours of setup, re/configuration time and design. At 100 an hour, that comes to 2400 vs 17000, or just over 85% savings. Thank you VMWare.

  31. Wayne

    I love that you can use your boot camp partition as a virtual machine. BUT my only problem is I’m trying to use my Mac to VM XP sp2 to connect to a terminal server at work..this dosn’t appear to work…I have to boot into windows to connect to my works terminal server

  32. Dwight Hartley

    How do I partation another hd for windows. When i initially installed I only configured a 20gb Cdrive for windows, now I need more and there is space avaible on the MAC HD?

  33. mothy

    I have recently purchased a MBP and run Fusion. I am very happy with the solution.
    I develop PHP + MySql natively in OS X (obviously no problem)
    I develop PHP in IIS running in a VM. No problem
    I develop PHP running in IIS talking to MySql runnning on my host OS X. No problem.
    Browser (OS X Host) -> PHP in IIS (on VM) -> MySql (OS X Host).
    No problem
    I develop C++/C# in Visual Studio talking to SQLServer on the same host. No Problem
    I have not tried running C++/C# in one VM talking to SQLServer running in another VM. But I do plan to.
    I have not had one crash/glitch/burp or any other problem. As you may be able to tell, most of my work utilizes a VM as a server. And I do not use Unity for the IDE work.
    I am a OS X and VMWare convert, supporter and evangelist now. Good work VMWare… because of Fusion I am sure Apple are going to sell more notebooks to developers/engineers.
    I now play ‘The Why’ game with fellow engineers.
    Why do you still use a PC?

    mothy
    http://www.mothsystems.com

  34. justin

    i’m using VMW Server for two clustered Oracle instances. i want to do same on Mac w Fusion, w the tabbed interface on Win. am i missing something that Fusion has to do this?

  35. Tom

    I use Acronis Home V11 to backup PC’s disk. With VM Fusion, can I create the VM session/partition, load the Acronis Recovery CD and simply install the entire drive onto the Virtual drive?

  36. Dreams

    Hello. I am using vmware server on my win xp and the win server 2003 i installed on it is working fine. The only problem: i can’t see the usb drives from the win server 2003….please help!!!

  37. leo

    just got a macbook, installed xp on bootc?amp, sold on fusion 3. Have plenty of activation key issue. as usual, now start reading the manual. What is the best option to do. delete the boot camp, intall xp on fusion 3 of leave the windows xp on boot camp partition?

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