Alternative to Parallels/VMware

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by Freyqq, Dec 27, 2014.

  1. Freyqq macrumors 68040

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    #1
    I've come across an interesting alternative to parallels/vmware that uses very little CPU/memory. If you are like me and was contemplating parallels simply to use MS office, there is an alternative. I'm posting it here because it might help someone else too. This all works using my 15" rmbp late 2013.

    If you have an old PC running windows 7 ultimate/business or windows 8 pro, you can use microsoft remote desktop to control that computer from your mac. You can use it in fullscreen or set a scaled custom resolution of half the screen and use it in a window. You can then run ms office on the remote machine and you have a full copy of ms office on your mac.

    If your old PC is not running one of the pricer versions of windows, you can use VNC. I tried tightvnc on the PC as a server and realvnc viewer on the mac. It works just as well as the above method. I'm running this on a dell venue 8 pro, which is a couple hundred dollar windows 8.1 tablet that comes free with the full 2013 office home and student.

    The downside is that this method will only work well on a local network. However, that is fine for my purposes. To open local files on the mac, you can share your drive to the PC and allow the PC to open files on your mac.

    The upside is that this method uses very low resources on your mac, so you will get good battery life and the fans won't run very hard. It also uses almost no HD space. This method is free, so no yearly fees to parallels/vmware.
     
  2. dyt1983, Dec 27, 2014
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2015

    dyt1983 macrumors 65816

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    #2
    edit: To remove personally identifying info not relevant to the conversation.
     
  3. Freyqq thread starter macrumors 68040

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    the built in vnc viewer does not support copy/paste with tightvnc in windows. No idea why, but it's greyed out. Shame because the built-in vnc viewer is pretty nice.

    My first solution I tried was virtualbox, but it is so slow. It also requires heavy cpu utilization and the fans were going crazy. This is on a pretty decked out rmbp. Not sure what I was doing wrong.
     
  4. dyt1983, Dec 27, 2014
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2015

    dyt1983 macrumors 65816

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    edit: To remove personally identifying info not relevant to the conversation.
     
  5. maflynn Moderator

    maflynn

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    #5
    I found VirtualBox to be slower then Parallels and VMware. Parallels is the fastest, then Vmware, then VB.
     
  6. yjchua95 macrumors 604

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    In raw computational power, I disagree.

    VMware remains the king of the hill in raw computational power. Same goes for security.

    But for the average consumer, Parallels will feel smoother.

    VMware is normally deployed in enterprise environments instead.
     
  7. maflynn Moderator

    maflynn

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    #7
    All I can say is in my experience, I didn't run exhaustive benchmarks. Over the preceding years, of trying them all out, I found that VB to be the slowest, VMWare to be better but still slower then parallels. On the flip side, Vmware is much more stable and has better support which is why I use that.
     
  8. yjchua95 macrumors 604

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    #8
    In graphics benchmarks, VMware lags far behind Parallels, but VMware never really put much effort into improving graphics since the company aims their products at the enterprise sector, and most corporate needs don't really need graphics in virtualization.

    And yes, I agree that VMware is much more stable, but the main reasons for me using VMware is:
    1. Security. You can set expiry timers on individual VMs.
    2. Raw computational power (I've done several Geekbench 3 tests between Fusion and Parallels)
    3. Compatibility with other VMware products that I use (vSphere and vCenter).

    VBox is largely aimed at people who just want a basic VM environment that gets basic stuff done. And since it's free...you get what you pay for :)
     
  9. grahamperrin macrumors 601

    grahamperrin

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    #9
    CrossOver, VirtualBox on Mac hosts

    With Microsoft Office for Windows in the opening post, it's worth mentioning Codeweavers CrossOver.

    VirtualBox on Mac hosts

    What type of physical storage did you use for the virtual storage?

    Additional information about the environment will be helpful – host memory, guest memory, guest OS and so on.
     
  10. dyt1983, Dec 28, 2014
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2015

    dyt1983 macrumors 65816

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    #10
    edit: To remove personally identifying info not relevant to the conversation.
     
  11. Freyqq thread starter macrumors 68040

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    #11
    I am a fan of crossover and tried it. Office 2007 ran ok, but certain features like adding hyperlinks resulted in a crash. Office 2010 crashed even more often. I'm not sure it'll ever be as stable as a vm or vnc.

    In virtualbox, it was incredibly slow. I tried every CPU core and memory config to see if a different combo would work better. I settled on 4 of 8 cores to the vm and 4 gb of ram. Vm was on the ssd. I have 16gb of ram and 4 physical 4 virtual cores for CPU. When I finally got it to be usefully fast, but still slow, it would idle at 20% CPU utilization. That was with nothing running in the vm.
     
  12. grahamperrin macrumors 601

    grahamperrin

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    #12
    CrossOver, Microsoft Windows in a VirtualBoxVM

    CrossOver

    Which version of CrossOver; which version of OS X, and which browser is preferred in the guest?

    Here (CrossOver 14.0.3 (14.0.3.28476) on OS X 10.9.5, Safari 7.x preferred) I can't crash Outlook 2007 or Word 2007 with use of hyperlinks, but the symptom is vaguely familiar. A font preference, in the guest, maybe …

    VirtualBoxVM

    Windows 7, 64 bit, yes?

    For the simple Microsoft Office use case I would have tried:
    • the .vdi on a sparse bundle disk image, maybe with more than 8 MB for each band
    • no more than one virtual CPU
    • as little as 2 GB memory given to the VirtualBoxVM, although the 4 GB that you settled on is probably a better balance
    • more than the default/minimum for video memory – to a 32 bit Windows 7, I give 64 MB.

    More nebulously: if an installation of Windows is relatively old (not recent) and well-used, I sense that the slowness that comes with age is more noticeable in a VirtualBoxVM than with Windows on a physical machine. I sometimes use GParted to shrink (then expand) the size of the file system, just a little … seems to be beneficial in some cases, although that may be wishful thinking.

    2009 MacBookPro5,2 with 8 GB memory and solid state hybrid drive here. That's considerably different from your MacBook Pro, so obviously YMMV.
     

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