Stop the Noiz

One OS to Rule Them All

Frank Fox - 2008.10.29 - Tip Jar

Three OS for the Microsoft-kings under the Redmond sky (Microsoft-DOS, Windows NT, Vista),
Seven for the Unix-Lords in their halls of stone (A/UX, AIX, HP-UX, Solaris, BSD, Minix, SunOS, UnixWare),
Nine (or 99) Mortal Linux Brands doomed to die (Mandriva, SuSE, Debian, Lindows, Red Hat, Knoppix, Ubuntu, Gentoo, Slackware),
One for Lord Jobs in his dark shirt and jeans
In the Land of Cupertino where the Shadows lie
One OS to rule them all,
One OS to find them,
One OS to bring them all
and using a VM bind them
In the Land of Cupertino where the Shadows lie.

I just installed VMware Fusion on my Mac Pro, and the ability to install and run a multitude of other OSes is amazing. It feels like I can do anything and still pop back to my Mac with a mouse click. It is as easy as Frodo putting on the One Ring. The thing about Sauron's ring was that it was pure evil, but that didn't stop anyone who touched it from wanting to own it. It had a corruptive influence on the wearer, a combination of great power with feelings of dominance.

I've used emulation software for years, and it has never felt good enough. Sure, years ago you could install it on a fast machine with lots or RAM and hard drive space. Even given all these advantages, it ran at half speed at best.

That is not the problem any more. Linux, Vista, SunOS, etc. can now run in a separate window at what feels like full speed. Emulation was slow, and you only used it when you had to. Now you can run whatever is convenient - or just try a different OS for fun.

By convenient, I mean whatever you happen to own or want to buy. A couple of months ago I tried Crossover to test several PC compatible applications I had sitting around the house. Crossover felt slow and failed to run any of the applications I tried. My test was a little unfair - none of the programs were on their known to work list except Microsoft Office. Still I was hopeful that one would be compatible enough. I repeated the test of these same applications with Vista and Boot Camp, and I got different results.

Let's go back in time a little bit so I can explain all that has happened. After the lack of success with Crossover, I broke down and bought Vista Ultimate off eBay. (Ultimate is normally a total rip-off in price, but I got a good deal on the OEM version.) Using Boot Camp, Vista installs like it normally would on a regular PC computer. Everything appears to be 100% compatible, and it worked fine. I was able to install every test program from before. Everything worked except ACAD 2004 - some missing file error wouldn't let it run. I switched to ACAD 2000, and that worked fine. Even my lame backup copy of Microsoft Office 97 installed and ran. I do get an error message when I run Microsoft Office, but in typical PC fashion, I just ignore it and everything is okay.

If Boot Camp was this good, I had to try out VMware Fusion. This is the icing on the cake, in my opinion. You run the whole Windows environment just like another application. It uses the existing Vista installation from Boot Camp, so I didn't have to keep two copies on my computer. Now I launch Vista when I want to try something, and I quit it when I'm done. Everything I installed using Boot Camp still works.

There is one quirk that I can't explain. I use multiple desktop users on my computer. When run from the main desktop, Vista can use my Internet connection. If I switch users, I can still run Vista, but I have no Internet access. This generally isn't a big deal - since I'm already running Mac OS X, I just use it for Internet.

I will say that I picked Vista because PC virus problems concern me. Using a Mac for years has left me unready to deal with virus problems. When I did my install, I bought a separate hard drive to keep all the Vista/PC stuff away from my more important Mac stuff. This may have been overkill, but for me better safe than sorry. The first application I installed on Vista was a virus checker.

Using VMware Fusion, I have also installed Ubuntu. It is nice. It actually feels very snappy on the Mac Pro. Unfortunately, I have no great need for Linux and no Linux applications. Except for the installing and running a few of the packaged applications (like games), I've mostly ignored Ubuntu.

The person at my house who uses Fusion for Vista the most is my son. Why him? Because of games. He had me download and install a game building program that is only available for Windows. Of all the applications that are missing on the Mac, games are the hardest to find equivalent replacements for. My son is only 11, so we haven't run any of the latest games that are rated M (mature) to really test out the virtual machine performance. I know that in a pinch we could always switch to Boot Camp and get the performance we need. So far he has no complaints and is just glad to be able to game like he wants.

While I think Vista and Linux are nice, now they are just another application that can run on a Mac. I love the power of the One OS. If you try it, I'm sure you'll agree that Mac OS X plus Fusion (or Parallels) is a killer combination with amazing possibilities. LEM

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