Virtualized Windows and Linux performance on a Macbook or Macbook Pro

Discussion in 'Windows, Linux & Others on the Mac' started by dylpkls91, Feb 21, 2009.

  1. dylpkls91 macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2009
    #1
    Hi all,

    I am a high school senior. Next year I will be going to college and majoring in Computer Science. I am going to purchase a laptop for school, and I'm sure that you can all relate to the fact that there is simply no way that I am going to drop a grand or two on a Dell or Sony; a Macbook or a Macbook Pro is definitely in my future (actually, I've wanted an Apple computer for about five years now).

    However, due to the nature of university computer science work, it is inevitable that I will need to run both Windows and Linux to complete research, assignments, and projects. Because I will need to use these two operating systems on a daily basis along with OS X for personal use, I have decided that virtualization, not Boot Camp, is the right option for me. I think I will use VMWare Fusion, but let me know if you think Parallels is much better.

    I am trying to decide whether I need/want a Macbook or a Macbook Pro. I have weighed many factors, such as price, portability, expandability, etc., but my question is this: for day-to-day virtualization of Windows and Linux, is a Macbook Pro necessary for acceptable performance, or would a Macbook do almost as well? If Windows XP or Vista or 7 on Parallels or VMWare on a Macbook will drive me nuts with lag, a jittery cursor, etc., then a Macbook Pro would be a justified purchase.

    One of the main differentiations between the Macbook and the Macbook Pro is the graphics chipset; it is important to note for this discussion that I have little interest and requirement for working with video games or 3D graphics. I might have to run a few small OpenGL programs here and there for programming exercises, but this will be rare.

    Thank you all for your help!

    Dylan
     
  2. GreatDrok macrumors 6502a

    GreatDrok

    Joined:
    May 1, 2006
    Location:
    New Zealand
    #2
    The only important thing is to have enough memory. Basically, 2GB is enough if you just need to do some light Windows XP work but you might be better getting an upgrade to 4GB just to make sure you have plenty of RAM for the various OSs. As for MB v MBP, these days there isn't enough difference between them for this to be an issue. It just comes down to price and how happy you are with the 13" screen. The graphics card in the MB is pretty quick these days.

    FYI, I run a 2GB MBP (max memory it will take as it is old) and use Parallels to run Windows 2000 and Ubuntu. XP runs well too but you really need 512MB dedicated to the virtual machine whereas 2K will run in 128MB. Ubuntu gets 512MB and with this setup I can run Windows, Linux and OS X all at the same time. I also have Crossover for Mac which gives me even more flexibility to run Windows apps without chewing into my available RAM so much by running an unnecessary OS. As for Linux, the vast majority of stuff you need to do on Linux you can do natively on the Mac anyway. I only use it to test Linux builds of our software which is the same reason I run Windows.
     
  3. dylpkls91 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2009
    #3
    Thanks for the reply!

    Yes, I will probably go for the 4GB memory upgrade regardless of which model I choose.

    So... do you think if I had a midrange aluminum Macbook and ran OS X in one Space and XP, Vista, or 7 in another Space without heavy multitasking, I would have plenty of performance for everyday work? I just don't want to be caught with either OS lagging at all. Do you think this would be usable enough to rely on every day?

    One last question-- why Parallels over Fusion? (Though I'm guessing you got Parallels before Fusion was a mature product.)
     
  4. GreatDrok macrumors 6502a

    GreatDrok

    Joined:
    May 1, 2006
    Location:
    New Zealand
    #4
    I don't see why there would be any lag if you had 4GB of RAM. You choice of Windows OS may cause things to be a little sluggish when you start it up as Windows does a lot of disc thrashing when waking from sleep but once it settles down it will be perfectly useable. You don't need to run Windows in a separate space, just use coherence mode in Parallels (or the equivalent feature of Fusion) and run Windows and OS X apps together. With this setup heavy multitasking won't be a problem unless you have multiple apps trying to do excessive disc I/O.

    I chose Parallels because Fusion wasn't even announced at the time I got my Intel Mac. Previously, I had used Virtual PC on my G4 but MS had stated that they weren't going to do the port. I had also tried QEmu but that was dog slow. These days you can also use VirtualBox from SUN which is free but doesn't support coherence type display.
     

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