Virtualization is a great way to improve reliability, take advantage of hardware and scale. For example Mozilla’s build team uses it to manage all the build instances that used to be on individual machines. These servers essentially compile code all day long. One problem with virtualization and cross platform building is that Mac OS X doesn’t run in any virtualization environment (because of Apple’s interest in selling hardware). This means while you can run Windows and Linux on the same boxes, you still need to have and maintain separate Xserve’s for the purpose of compiling for Mac OS X. Looks like Mac OS X Server 10.5 (and only server edition) now has a license that permits running virtual. While great, this makes it pretty expensive to do things like a build farm. You can’t just buy a Mac OS X client, even though that’s all you really need. You need to buy server.
Currently, there’s nothing other than PearPC that can run it (and PearPC is worthlessly slow). Hopefully VMWare will update at some point to support it. At that point, things can get interesting.
Today I decided to give Parallels Workstation for Windows a try, they have a 15 day trial on their site, so I gave it a go. I’ve heard so many good things about it on Mac OS X for Intel (I don’t have an Intel Mac, so never used it), I figured it was worth a try. I figured it had to be better than Virtual PC (which died when Microsoft bought it, and now free, but ancient and worthless), but could it beat VMWare?
Well, I installed Ubuntu without any incident, and it runs extremely fast. As in, “I don’t care that it’s virtual” fast. The fact that even sound worked was also rather impressive, and unlike VMWare Server (free btw) there aren’t 15 services running in the background. The only thing I totally didn’t get was the “visually stunning user interface”. I must have missed it. Don’t get me wrong, the interface is minimal, as it should be (since it’s hosting an OS with it’s own massive interface), but it’s still not “stunning”, it’s barely “visual”! Maybe I missed something, I don’t know.
I think I may have to purchase a license at some point. It’s really impressive software. VMWare better figure out a plan, or they may be in trouble.
About Robert Accettura
Robert Accettura is a web developer, Mozilla contributor, open source advocate, tech enthusiast and occasional trouble maker. more »
You can follow this blog via RSS or follow me on any of the social sites below.