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Fowl

macrumors regular
Original poster
Sep 28, 2018
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I am still running High Sierra on my old computer, because that's as high as it will go. I will be upgrading my machine soon, and will be in the world of 64-bit only. There are a number of 32-bit apps I need and can't replace or upgrade (including Adobe CS5), and am thinking of running them through a virtual machine on Parallels, probably running some slightly older version of macOS (for better compatibility with old apps) as a guest OS.
Is anyone else doing this on a regular basis? What sort of performance penalty does this entail? (I can't find any macOS on macOS benchmarks.) I have used Parallels for running Windows for many years, and it has been reliable. Is it reliable for running macOS guest systems?
 

Stephen.R

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I've got a.. <checks> macOS Sierra VM running in Parallels, to use Billings Pro (the self-hosted version was essentially abandoned without updates by the vendor, and I have zero interest in putting all my companies invoicing information in some unknown 'cloud' to keep using the updated 'client' app)

I actually had the VM for the self-hosted server before there was any issue with the client (around the time Sierra was the current release) because their setup process would "reliably fail" (as in, it always failed) when trying to setup on a new machine, and the process to fix the setup was ridiculous. So I created the VM and just ran it in the background when I needed it (the client App could work 'offline' for time tracking and some other basic tasks but needed the server active to sync, generate invoices, run reports etc).

These days I also have the last version of the client app that's compatible with the self-hosted server running in the same VM. However this is a temporary (albeit drawn-out) process for me, until I can work out a better replacement for my business.

So, to answer your questions after all that: Yes, it seems reasonably reliable. But what I'm doing isn't GPU intensive at all.
 
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Babmo

macrumors newbie
Feb 13, 2019
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Is your Mac recent? Today’s machines should run older macOS just fine. There is a performance hit of course, but since older software had much more modest hardware requirements, it evens itself out. Try to run as old as possible, as new as needed for best results. I could run Snow Leopard at native speed and even faster, with CS4 though. Just try it out :)
 
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MacGizmo

macrumors 68040
Apr 27, 2003
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You can expect about a 5-15% performance hit running a virtual machine – not sure where you would fall in that range, because I think Adobe's latest apps running natively on the latest hardware run sluggish to begin with.
 
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chrfr

macrumors G5
Jul 11, 2009
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I am still running High Sierra on my old computer, because that's as high as it will go. I will be upgrading my machine soon, and will be in the world of 64-bit only. There are a number of 32-bit apps I need and can't replace or upgrade (including Adobe CS5), and am thinking of running them through a virtual machine on Parallels, probably running some slightly older version of macOS (for better compatibility with old apps) as a guest OS.
Is anyone else doing this on a regular basis? What sort of performance penalty does this entail? (I can't find any macOS on macOS benchmarks.) I have used Parallels for running Windows for many years, and it has been reliable. Is it reliable for running macOS guest systems?
Performance varies depending on what applications you're trying to run. There's basically no graphics acceleration when macOS is virtualized so using video apps is going to be an impossibility. Other graphics work may be challenging. The best thing to do is to try a demo.
 
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Wowfunhappy

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Mar 12, 2019
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Having used all three, for virtualizing macOS guests:

VMWare > Parallels > Virtualbox

With a big difference between each one. I find using macOS guests inside of Virtualbox to be super frustrating. Parallels is still a bit painful, but basically usable. With VMWare, there are moments when I could almost forget I'm using a VM.
 
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Stephen.R

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Having used all three, for virtualizing macOS guests:

VMWare > Parallels > Virtualbox

With a big difference between each one. I find using macOS guests inside of Virtualbox to be super frustrating. Parallels is still a bit painful, but basically usable. With VMWare, there are moments when I could almost forget I'm using a VM.
Hmm that's interesting, thanks for the info. I might just try VMware for mine ( I already have it anyway, but parallels is usually the 'default' for most things I virtualise)
 

Wowfunhappy

macrumors 68000
Mar 12, 2019
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Hmm that's interesting, thanks for the info. I might just try VMware for mine ( I already have it anyway, but parallels is usually the 'default' for most things I virtualise)

You absolutely should! Although just to make sure I'm not overselling the experience, "almost" is the operative word in "almost forget". There's still no graphics acceleration, and macOS is really built around that.
 
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Fowl

macrumors regular
Original poster
Sep 28, 2018
129
118
Having used all three, for virtualizing macOS guests:

VMWare > Parallels > Virtualbox

With a big difference between each one. I find using macOS guests inside of Virtualbox to be super frustrating. Parallels is still a bit painful, but basically usable. With VMWare, there are moments when I could almost forget I'm using a VM.

It's very interesting, because for virtualized Windows the benchmarks usually show VMWare and Parallels running pretty close (or with Parallels having a slight advantage). Which versions have you compared? Pretty recent ones? Which guest OS do you use?
 

Wowfunhappy

macrumors 68000
Mar 12, 2019
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It's very interesting, because for virtualized Windows the benchmarks usually show VMWare and Parallels running pretty close (or with Parallels having a slight advantage). Which versions have you compared? Pretty recent ones? Which guest OS do you use?

Parallels Desktop 13 vs VMWare Fusion 10. So, relatively recent albeit not the absolute latest.

This is entirely related to macOS guests. For Windows guests, VMWare and Parallels were basically identical.

Windows is generally far more pleasant to virtualize, because VM vendors have poured a ton of money into it. On Windows you have graphics acceleration and can even run moderately intensive games! Not so with macOS guests.
 
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gilby101

macrumors 68030
Mar 17, 2010
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Parallels Desktop 13 vs VMWare Fusion 10. So, relatively recent albeit not the absolute latest.
This is entirely related to macOS guests. For Windows guests, VMWare and Parallels were basically identical.

Fusion has always been better for macOS (and OS X) guests.

But lack of video acceleration is an issue and some apps (I just recently tried Starry Night 6) will refuse to install because of graphics requirements.
 
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Fowl

macrumors regular
Original poster
Sep 28, 2018
129
118
Parallels Desktop 13 vs VMWare Fusion 10. So, relatively recent albeit not the absolute latest.

This is entirely related to macOS guests. For Windows guests, VMWare and Parallels were basically identical.

Windows is generally far more pleasant to virtualize, because VM vendors have poured a ton of money into it. On Windows you have graphics acceleration and can even run moderately intensive games! Not so with macOS guests.

Thanks for all the detailed info!
Which guest OS version are you using?
Are guest-host file sharing, network sharing etc. working OK?
 

Wowfunhappy

macrumors 68000
Mar 12, 2019
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Thanks for all the detailed info!
Which guest OS version are you using?
Are guest-host file sharing, network sharing etc. working OK?

My host was High Sierra, and I installed Mavericks, Mountain Lion, Snow Leopard, and Tiger guests. Mavericks and Mountain Lion were fine, and Snow Leopard was fine once I installed installed a small hack to make it boot (necessary due to arcane Apple TOS BS). Tiger was very much not fine in that it liked to crash every half hour or so, but it's not really supposed to work in VMWare at all, so I was impressed with how well it did.

File sharing and network sharing all worked great (except in Tiger), the one thing that never worked consistently was dragging-and-dropping files from the host to the guest, which would work sometimes and then abruptly stop working. Since shared folders worked, though, this was really just a minor annoyance.

It's not perfect by any means—not having graphics acceleration sucks. But it was plenty usable.

(I say my host "was" High Sierra because I recently upended my computing life by downgrading to Mavericks. Haven't tested out VMWare Fusion there yet. Not that I imagine you care anyway.)
 
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