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Mac VM software updates

September 4, 2008 Leave a comment

Two updates to report today in the Macintosh VM market. First, VMware Fusion 2.0 sees the release of RC1. Lots of bug fixes in the update, as well as the addition of McAfee VirusScan Plus for Windows. I tried this yesterday and found it easy to install from a menubar option. This is a sensible addition given the risks attached to accessing the internet on an unprotected Windows machine. Other improvements include Spanish and Italian language support, Unity 2 and multiple snapshots. Full details at the Vmware web site.

The other update is Virtualbox, which has today seen the release of version 2. Again, a lot of updates which are listed at the Virtualbox web site. I haven’t had a chance to try this yet, so it’s next on the install list. It’s nice to see the free option progressing well along with the comercial offerings, and I’m wondering how long it will be before Parallels has a big announcent.

Hackintosh video card upgrades

August 14, 2008 7 comments

Things aren’t looking too good at the moment for those wanting a reasonable priced video card to use with a hackintosh and Windows. My system has an Nvidia 7300GT that works well with Mac OS 10.5.4, and performs ok under Windows XP. I only really use Windows for games, and have recently been playing through Half Life 2 again. I tried using Crossover Games to install it on OSX but the performance was choppy, so I’m rebooting into Windows whenever I want to play. The original game is fine at 1680×1050, and Episode 1 ran just as well. Episode 2 is the stumbling block, with a big drop in smoothness unless the video options are turned all the way down or resolution dropped. Episode 3 doesn’t have a release date yet but is sure to up the hardware requirements even more.

So what are the upgrade options? The Nvidia 9600GT is unsupported and doesn’t appear to be working yet, and neither are the newer 260 and 280. There are several options lower in the range, but how much of an improvement these would give is debatable. The best option from Nvidia looks to still be an 8800GT. On the ATI side the latest 4850/4870 are reported as working, as are the 3850/3870 that preceded them. Aria have a 3870 512Mb for £82.19 and a  4850 512Mb for £123.26. The problem here is going to be noise. My current Sparkle 7300GT is passively cooled so is silent. Looks like much research ahead, just as soon as Insanelymac starts working again.

Windows Vista: Not that bad

June 27, 2008 Leave a comment

If ever there’s been a case of damning with faint praise it’s an article on Gizmodo titled ‘Ten reasons why Vista isn’t that bad’. From the title that suggests it’s only slightly bad, to some of the weakest excuses I’ve heard yet, it’s one of the funniest things I’ve read in a while. Here’s the list of ‘reasons’ Read more…

firefox 3 now available

June 17, 2008 Leave a comment

Firefox 3 was due to hit the download sites at 6pm UK time but it’s just appeared at mozilla.com. Download the version for your OS here or choose an OS and language here. Spreadfirefox.com appears to be down at the moment, so hopefully this won’t interfere with the world record attempt.

Windows 7 previewed at D6

May 28, 2008 Leave a comment

Biggest news today is that Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer last night previewed Windows 7 at the All Things Digital conference. From the details revealed, the future of Windows is multi-touch in a big way. Full details of the interview and video can be found at engadget (and here), osnews and allthingsdigital.

While it looks very impressive, I’m a bit puzzled at the big focus on multi-touch interfaces. While they work great for a handheld device, or a tablet PC, they’re not so great for a desktop PC where lifting your arms to the screen constantly would quickly become tiring for a lot of users. Tablet PC’s have so far met little success, so does this mean they will become the focus again for Windows 7? I can’t see big business adopting multi-touch interfaces any time soon, where home users are more likely to embrace a tactile interface. Hopefully someone is developing a fingerprint resistant screen to go with this. Read more…

VMware Fusion 2.0 Beta 1

A while back I compared the three biggest Virtualisation products for the Mac. Parallels, VMware Fusion and VirtualBox are all impressive products that performed equally, and I used the free Virtualbox for my occasional Windows needs. Parallels was part of the recent MacUpdate bundle which I bought, so I’ve been using that most recently. It’s been running well and seems more responsive than the previous versions I tried.

The reason for this recap is that VMware Fusion 2 beta 1 has been released, and adds some interesting new features. Multi display support will please some users, even if support for eight monitors is very niche. Importing Parallels and Virtual PC machines is a useful if late addition. DirectX 9.0 Shader Model 2 is perhaps the most interesting, and I’m wondering how well this will work on my hackintosh. Perhaps the biggest improvement is that version 2 allows any printer attached to your Mac to be used direct from Windows without installing drivers.

Also new is an updated version 1.6 of Virtualbox. It’s now out of beta, although there are a few things still not supported:

Currently, we are aware of the following restrictions:
•    No support for Host Interface Networking
•    No support for Internal Networking
•    No support for audio input
•    No support for VT-x/AMD-V (rarely required)
•    No support for raw disk access
•    The numlock emulation isn’t implemented yet
•    The VirtualBox kernel extension is currently accessible from all user accounts
Note that we are planning to address all known issues.

Things are certainly moving on in the Mac virtualisation market, so I’ll be trying all three products again this week with some updated results to follow.

Multi OS comparison by opinions

April 9, 2008 Leave a comment

Not quite as objective as my recent comparison of Linux/Mac OS/XP/Vista, Computerworld has a piece titled ‘OS Smackdown: Linux vs. Mac OS X vs. Windows Vista vs. Windows XP’. There’s no numbers involved, just the opinions of four computer journalists. It’s an interesting read if only for the way some of the writers manipulate or ignore the facts about the other operating systems.

Leopard vs XP vs Vista vs Linux part 1

Leopard vs XP vs Vista vs Linux part 2

Modular Windows

April 8, 2008 Leave a comment

When details of the next version of Microsoft Windows first started appearing, there was much talk of it being a lot more modular in nature. There were even Microsoft demo’s’ of a bare bones ‘MinWin’ that removed the many layers of Vista and gave a fast and compact core that used 40Mb or Ram and 25Mb of disk space. For once it sounded like Microsoft’s engineers were leading the development of Windows 7 instead of the marketing teams.

Unfortunately thing don’t seem to be going the way I had hoped. Arstechnica has an article titled ‘Why modular Windows will suck for Microsoft and suck for you’ that makes a good argument for why it’s not a good idea. It’s all about the way in which Windows will become modular, using software or services that are bought individually or subscribed to. If you want the full Windows package you end up paying more for it, or users who want to strip out the bits they don’t use could get a cheaper deal. Read more…

Leopard vs XP vs Vista vs Linux part 2

March 25, 2008 Leave a comment

operating systems challengeIn part 1 I looked at results from Geekbench, Photoshop and VLC to see how much of an impact the operating system has on application speed. For part 2 I used two more cross platform test, the first person shooter Doom 3 and 3D modeller and renderer Blender. Read more…

Leopard vs XP vs Vista vs Linux part 1

March 22, 2008 5 comments

operating systems challengeI’ve wanted to compare different operating systems on the same hardware for several months, to see how much of an impact the OS has. Now that I have been using my hackintosh daily for over a month with no major issues I felt it was time to start doing some comparisons. One of the benefits of using generic hardware to run Mac OS is that it will happily run any other x86 operating system you care to try. The difficult bit seems to be getting them to co-exist without conflicting. Read more…