Topics include: programming, Apple, Unix, gadgets, large-scale web sites and other nerdy stuff.

WinXP Home under Parallels VM on Mac Pro

2006-10-20 19:52:59

Parallels, the popular virtual machine software that is available for Intel Macs, recently came out with a stable patch that works on 64-bit Intel Macs. I downloaded it, found it no longer panicked my Mac (quad-core 2.66 xeon, 3GB RAM), and decided to buy it.

I then installed Ubuntu on it. It works fine.

Then I downloaded the beta version of Windows Vista, just to see what it was like. It's very shiny, a very hungry memory hog and kind of slow. I attributed a lot of the slowness to the fact that it was running in the VM. Vista boots in about 2-3 minutes, and everything is very sluggish to start up.

But then I got a copy of Windows XP Home, and installed that under Parallels*. Holy crap, the thing boots in 6.5 seconds. 6.5 SECONDS!!! FireFox running in XP in that VM starts INSTANTLY, like in zero seconds. If I run FireFox "natively" it takes 3-4 seconds to start. That blows!

This leads me to leap to several wildly unsubstantiated conclusions:

1. Vista is a huge, ugly (but shiny) pig, and I'm not going to buy it for playing computer games until the standard $1000 PC is a quad-core 4 Ghz 64 bit xeon with 8GB RAM. Probably around 2008?

2. An old, old OS like Win XP (from 2001, right?) runs pretty fast on the latest hardware, five years later.

3. Mac OS X Tiger is a lot more bloated and sluggish than it should be. How can a basic app like FF start so slowly?

*You might ask "Why would you want to run Windows XP on your Mac?" There is only one reason: so I can test running IE6 and IE7 against the web site at work. It doesn't happen often, but occasionally I'll make a change where it looks OK on FireFox, but bad on IE.