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sine-nomine

macrumors regular
Original poster
Jul 25, 2007
222
1
Finer stores everywhere.
Hello!

I have been assigned an introduction to programming course using C++ over the next few weeks. I haven't had a need to bother with Windows in any substantial way in a long, long time, but my students will be using Windows 7 PCs in our lab.

My thinking is I'd like to pick up a copy of Windows 7 Professional and install it on my MacBook so that I can work with exactly the software they'll be using. In particular, I would like to install NetBeans with the C/C++ plugins, Cygwin, gcc, g++, gdb, and make sure I know the process and am comfortable troubleshooting just in case the students or the IT departments run into any difficulties.

Ideally, I'd like to install Windows via Boot Camp and have access to it in a virtual machine, too.

For reference, I am using a 2.0GHz late-2008 unibody MacBook with 8GB of RAM, running OS X 10.8.4

This brings me to my questions:
1.) I've read conflicting accounts on whether Windows 7 Professional 64-bit can be successfully installed and used on my computer via Boot Camp. I know that Apple doesn't officially list it as a supported model, yet according to Apple my machine only supports 4GB of RAM, so...

2.) Without getting into a general debate about the relative merits of all the various virtualization software, which among Parallels, VMWare Fusion, and Virtual Box would be most suited to the intended use of my Windows install? Namely, I will be installing Cygwin and compiling and running simple C++ exercises using the NetBeans IDE to test for any issues before "going live" in the class.

When class begins, I will most likely be running the Windows VM with my laptop hooked up a projector so I can demonstrate whatever needs to be in the same environment the students are using.

If anyone has experience they'd like to share or advice, I would be most appreciative. Thanks in advance!
 
Last edited:

Stooby Mcdoobie

macrumors 6502a
Jun 26, 2012
833
40
1.) I've read conflicting accounts on whether Windows 7 Professional 64-bit can be successfully installed and used on my computer via Boot Camp. I know that Apple doesn't officially list it as a supported model, yet according to Apple my machine only supports 4GB of RAM, so...

Follow this to determine whether or not you have a 64-bit machine. If not, you won't be able to run Windows 7 Professional 64-bit (or any other 64-bit OS for that matter) in either Boot Camp or VM.

2.) Without getting into a general debate about the relative merits of all the various virtualization software, which among Parallels, VMWare Fusion, and Virtual Box would be most suited to the intended use of my Windows install? Namely, I will be installing Cygwin and compiling and running simple C++ exercises using the NetBeans IDE to test for any issues before "going live" in the class.

Going by the criterion that you want to use the Windows installation in both Boot Camp and as a VM, you can rule out VirtualBox right away - only Parallels and VMware support this.

Parallels and VMware are essentially the same and have all the same features; it really comes down to personal preference here. I prefer VMware, but have used Parallels for many years and would use it over VirtualBox if given the choice. I believe both have a one week/month trial, so try them both before you buy.

If you can get over not being able to virtualize your Boot Camp partition, VirtualBox is a nice (free) alternative.
 

sine-nomine

macrumors regular
Original poster
Jul 25, 2007
222
1
Finer stores everywhere.
Thanks, Stoobie, I appreciate your feedback.

The problem I'm having with question 1 is that, while my machine is 64-bit, it is listed variously as not supported for installation of Windows 7 64-bit, yet I've read here and there that people have gotten it running - some say it worked easily while others suggest it took fiddling and never quite worked right. None of the information I found was terribly recent, which is why I was hoping someone might comment on their personal experience setting it up on their machine before I go spend the money on a copy of Windows 7.

On the second question, VitrualBox can be made to use a Boot Cap partition, though it requires a little more work on the command line than the other two. While using Ubuntu in VirtualBox, my CPU pretty much stays at 100%...while I won't be compiling large programs, compilation is still a CPU-intensive task. This just had me wondering if VMWare Fusion or Parallels were any better in the CPU usage department.
 

Stooby Mcdoobie

macrumors 6502a
Jun 26, 2012
833
40
Thanks, Stoobie, I appreciate your feedback.

The problem I'm having with question 1 is that, while my machine is 64-bit, it is listed variously as not supported for installation of Windows 7 64-bit, yet I've read here and there that people have gotten it running - some say it worked easily while others suggest it took fiddling and never quite worked right. None of the information I found was terribly recent, which is why I was hoping someone might comment on their personal experience setting it up on their machine before I go spend the money on a copy of Windows 7.

Only one way to know for sure - try it. Grab the correct ISO from here and burn it to a DVD/restore it to a flash drive. You have 30 days from installation to activate Windows with a product key, so you can essentially use it as a free trial. Would be the perfect opportunity to test it along with the VM software before spending a good chunk of money.

On the second question, VitrualBox can be made to use a Boot Cap partition, though it requires a little more work on the command line than the other two.

I wasn't aware of this; thanks for bringing it to my attention. I'll try this out when I get some free time.

While using Ubuntu in VirtualBox, my CPU pretty much stays at 100%...while I won't be compiling large programs, compilation is still a CPU-intensive task. This just had me wondering if VMWare Fusion or Parallels were any better in the CPU usage department.

I wouldn't imagine you'd need a lot of computing power if you're just compiling small programs, but it might be best to just boot into Windows natively if you find that virtualization is slowing everything down.
 
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