After the upgrade to Mac OS 10.5 I decided not to use Boot Camp any longer and switch entirely to a virtualization solution. Mainly because Boot Camp is limited to the primary (internal) hard drive and occupies a lot of disk space which I want to use for some other things now. A virtual machine I can run from an external hard drive too and move it to wherever I want.
My copy of Parallels Desktop (aff link) transfered the existing Windows XP installation from the Boot Camp partition to a new virtual disk image flawlessly. Problems started later when I tried to start the image for the 2nd time. The disk image apparently corrupted and I had to install everything from scratch again. After hours of Windows and ArcGIS installations, the disk image corrupted again when I tried to restart the virtual machine. I wasn’t able to find out what caused the problem, wasn’t in the mood to spend another couple of hours with basic set ups either and started looking for alternative virtualization solutions.
Their website lists all new features and enhancements. From my point of view – not doing any benchmarks, just trying to complete basic ArcGIS tasks in Windows – it feels snappy enough and has useful features like unity mode, snapshots, mirrored and shared folders, which you can add to the virtual machine while it’s running.
I didn’t encounter any problems setting up and running ArcGIS in VMware Fusion. Whereas I didn’t do any geoprocessing tasks yet. Geoprocessing worked well in Parallels and I expect it to do so in VMware Fusion too. If not, I’ll post it here.
However, while working with grids I noticed an issue: my ArcGIS workspace was a subfolder within the mirrored Documents directory in Mac OS X. In that environment, an ESRI grid file I was working with wasn’t fully accessible in ArcGIS. After I copied the entire workspace inside the virtual machine, everything worked fine again. Maybe it’s related to HFS, the Mac OS filesystem.
Steven and Roman brought my attention to Sun’s open source virtualization solution called Virtualbox. I tried that one too – it does a fairly good job, not as advanced as VMware Fusion though, but well documented and highly customizable. If you own a Mac, need Windows (or Solaris, Linux, FreeBSD, etc.) and prefer open source, go with VirtualBox.
Another interesting detail is that VMware Fusion is pretty active on Twitter. At least they are scanning Twitter for Tweets about their products and they even respond to those tweets – clever marketing I guess. Though I don’t how far it goes and if you can use Twitter for quick support questions. Would be very convenient.