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Parallels Desktop for Mac, Take 1

Next week I will be on the road taking some training. Normally when I travel, I bring two or sometimes three laptops. Given all the issues with travelling lately, and the fact I’d like to travel just a wee bit lighter, I’ve decided to only take one laptop with me. I’d rather it be my MacBook because it’s a lighter, sexier machine. Problem is, I may need access to Windows while I’m gone. The CRM system we use at work relies on Internet Explorer on Windows. Fat chance using that under Mac OS X.

Not exactly. I can run an instance of Windows under an emulator. I’ve messed with qemu many times before on Linux. I used it on the Mac and it works, but it’s slow. There are also issues installing Win2k SP4 and WinXP SP2–one of which would be desirable to run. Forget that.

I know a lot of people have talked about Parallels, which uses a virtualization technique on the Intel-based Macs and is supposed to be amazingly fast for non-gaming activities. Since I don’t have a whole lot of time to mess around this weekend and I’m pretty sure this will work, I figured I’d give it a try. Being adventurous, I figured I’d try the latest beta. I ordered up a 15-day trial license, installed it, and was off to the races installing Windows 2000 SP4. Yes, I could have loaded XP, but Windows 2000 requires less resources and doesn’t require mucking about with Product Activation.

I did have some issues loading Windows 2000 SP4. I think what happens is if I take the mouse focus away from Parallels during a critical portion of the installation process, the installation process crashes and the virtual machine reboots. I left the mouse inside the Parallels window on the third time and the install proceeded without a hitch.

What I’ve noticed so far is that Windows 2000 boots lightning fast. Of course, this is before I’ve installed all the crap on it. Right now I am loading up all the latest security patches from Microsoft and installing appropriate anti-virus and firewall software. That seems to be going much quicker than when I do it on one of my real PCs here. The fact I can copy and paste between the Mac and Windows is also very cool.

Now that I’ve gotten my Win2k installation “more or less” the way I want it, I’m making a backup copy of that image now just in case something happens.

More will come later as I play with the software and try out various things.

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