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User Reports/Tips/Tests of Parallels Workstation 2.1b for Intel Based Macs
Reports last Updated: 4/21/2006

(Note: On June 15th they released a non-beta version of Desktop for Mac virtualization software - see the press release with discounted pricing for the first 30 days.)

This page has reader reports, install tips, performance tests, etc. on Parallels Workstation (free) beta/trial software that allows Intel CPU based Macs to run Windows, OS/2, Linux, etc. in a Window under OS X without rebooting. Here's a clip from their web page on a Beta 6 update:

" Major Beta6 Fixes Include:
  • USB fixes (more devices supported: PDA, scanner, etc.)
  • Shared Folders fixes (added support for guest Windows 2000)
  • Network improvements: host-only networking
  • Custom video resolutions support added
  • Image Tool introduced
  • Autoupdate introduced
  • Kernel panic in virtual memory manager fixed
  • Shutdown in fullscreen mode hang fixed
  • Virtual disk sync() problem with Linux guests fixed

    Known Issues:

  • Some USB devices may not work
  • Network doesn't work in Linux guests if bridged to WiFi
  • Resume doesn't work correctly if suspend was made while playing audio inside guest
  • Fullscreen may not work for some custom resolutions

    NB: Please update Parallels Tools for guest Windows NT/2000/XP/2003 installed in previous betas! To do so boot guest OS and click on menu VM->Install Parallels Tools.

    (Under requirements they note)
    Works on any Intel-powered Mac:
    Any Intel Powered Macintosh running OS X 10.4.4 or higher is compatible with Parallels Workstation 2.1. "

  • They also have linked PDF docs/guides there and a FAQ.

    I welcome feedback from Intel based Mac users that try this, let me know what you think. (For better performance, I'd rather use BootCamp to run XP natively, but that doesn't allow both OS's to run simultaneously. Some readers have used the free "Q" emulator to run Windows and OS/2 in the past but some had problems getting Windows to run, most often it seems with virtual PC disk images.)

    User Reports/Tests/Tips: (most recent first)

    Notes on CPU Usage, runaway processes

    (added 4/21/2006)
    "I've run into the 100% (of 200%) processor-consumption thing with Parallels Workstation. It's a runaway process ... sometimes it's "the" workstation process and sometimes it's a duplicate. In the case of the duplicate, you can kill it and continue. In the case of "the" process being in the loop/runaway condition, you're "hung" and when you kill it your Parallels Workstation is gone.

    Here's a report I sent in regarding version 2.1beta4 for Mac OS:
    Problem: Parallels Workstation goes into loop on error dialog

    Host - OS X 10.4.6, MacBook 2 GB w/256 MB allocated to Guest
    Guest- Windows 2000 SP4, Bridged Ethernet and Default CD/DVD both connected

    Steps to Recreate Failure:
    - Create a network share to a folder located on your OS X Desktop and create a folder in that folder

    - open the folder on the network share in Windows

    - rename the folder in OS X

    - in Windows, select the View--> Refresh menu
    (for the renamed folder that's currently open in Windows)

    - receive an error alert/dialog such as:
    (graphic of error dialog snip'd)

    - notice that one processor is now being consumed and that pressing the OK button (on the Windows dialog) has no effect ... the Parallels Workstation is effectively "hung" (presumably stuck in a loop) and consuming 100% of one processor (fans come on, etc.) #;-)): e.g., (graphic showing top listing of processor activity snip'd)

    There are actually many other scenarios, including those involving the CD/DVD ... so this may be related to external connections.

    (There were some other minor issues/suggestions reported, as well)

    I received acknowledgement of (and thanks for) the report within about 4 hours (the report was sent in at 4:46 AM PDT). This was my second report. The issues reported in my first report (for beta3) were all resolved in beta4. Nice ... but then, given that they have over 70,000 people using the beta, I doubt I'm the only one making any given report.

    I've been testing Parallels (beta1, 3 and 4) with Windows 2000 Pro SP4 and Windows XP SP2 and, all in all, it's coming along very well. There are a couple of high-end IBM/Rational products I need to run for my consulting work and it's already handling them nicely ... so nicely that I just did the "vote with my dollars" thing (the 1/4 Scottish part of me just had to save the $10). #;-) I think they deserve our support.
    -Bryan Derman
    Derman Enterprises Incorporated
    The home of LicenseControl, KMremoteControl, ...

    Here's the previous report on high cpu usage with 2 (orphan) processes running after the app. crashed:

    (added 4/20/2006)
    "Hi Mike,
    I installed Parallels (Parallels-2.1.1658.42-Mac) on my MacBook Pro 2GHZ/1GB/7200 a few days ago. Since then I noticed that it unusually gets hot and its fan works constantly even at the times that it is not doing anything special.

    (list sorted by real Memory use)
    cpu usage

    I checked the Activity Monitor today for the cause. There were 2 Parallels processes that were using 95% and 97% of CPU even though the Parallels (Workstation) was not running. I forced quit them and deleted parallels and its pieces from my computer. Now it is back to normal. No over heating and constant fan.

    (I wonder what it would have shown if you had rebooted (I've seen even firefox 1.0x here grow to very high CPU usage on my PB G4, but that's when left open for a long time.
    Had you run the software since the last boot/reboot? (when you saw that high CPU usage when it wasn't running). How long had the system been running since the last reboot?-Mike
    No, I hadn't rebooted the computer after the last quit of Parallels. It has been 2 days since Parallels' last use and I hadn't rebooted my computer for 4-5 days. And now it is too late for me to test it since I had deleted it all together. Sorry...
    (he later wrote)
    I remember that Parallels had crashed once when I was using it. Wondering it could be the cause of the (still) running processes?
    Anyway it is something that may happen to lots of people, and should be looked at when using it.
    Best regards, Ilia "

    The crash may have left some orphan processes still running (since it wasn't a normal exit/quit). I don't own an Intel Mac to test this but if anyone else has checked its CPU usage and seen anything like this (or not) let me know. (Also check after a clean reboot - to see if usage creeps.)

    (added 4/7/2006)
    "Hi Mike, I just finished installing and testing Windows XP using the new Parallels VM application on my Intel iMac, and I am a little astounded. Windows XP Pro SP2 installed fully in exactly 20 minutes from start to finish (for reference, installing Windows using Boot Camp takes about 40 just for the Windows portion).

    Rebooting in the VM was even more surprising: 8 seconds from the time the machine reset to the time that the windows desktop loads. Just amazingly fast.

    I ran a quick benchmark (SiSoft Sandra CPU benchmark), and the score was slightly higher than I have been seeing in the native dual-boot mode, 20K MIPS compared with about 18K MIPS native. (some benchmark scores/timing under VM have been questioned - see notes on Cinebench scores below)

    Video performance is not good (user's shouldn't even think about running 3D games in Parallels right now), but for general application use, the early results look extremely (and surprisingly) promising.
    For reference, the test machine was a 20" Intel iMac, 2.0GHz, 2GB RAM, with 420MB allocated to Parallels' VM.
    cheers, Michael F. "

    Rebooting on Wake from Sleep if VM running: (updated w/more replies on this after the first report of it on 4/7)

    (added 4/10/2006)
    "Yep, I see exactly the same bug using a Macbook Pro and Parallel Workstation...
    if the virtual machine is running when the laptop goes to sleep, when you open the lid it doesn't automatically wake up... and if you press a key to wake it up, it will reboot the machine.
    -Matt "

    (added 4/10/2006)
    "I had the same experience with my dual core MacBook Pro. It restarted when it should have just awakened when VM was running.
    -Jeremy "

    (the first report of this follows)

    (added 4/7/2006)
    "Mike, One other issue that just repeated is that my iMac seems to reboot when it wakes up from sleep now. It's happened twice so far and the first time I'm not sure if the VM was running but I suspect it was (my colleague was installing stuff last night when I left and I don't know if he left the app running). The second time the VM was running and the machine went to sleep while I was at lunch. When I got back I clicked the mouse button to wake it up and it rebooted.

    It seems to just be an issue when the VM is running. If I put the iMac to sleep when the VM isn't running then it seems to wake up normally.
    -Dave T. "

    Cinbench Scores under VM Not Accurate: (see note below on a recent update to Cinebench 9.5 for better OS X OpenGL performance.)

    (added 4/7/2006)
    Mike, I've got some Cinebench result from running Cinebench 9.5 on Windows XP running in Parallels' virtual machine. It looks like there's a problem with the timing as the scores are way too high - it recorded 24 seconds (score 830) for the CPU test but it actually took 1:24s. I've included the actual time for the CPU rendering. I didn't retest the Cinema and OpenGL times because they were too slow for me to sit through again. So don't trust any Cinebench scores when run under the Parallels virtual machine, the timing is messed up.

    Bottom line:
    WinXP running in Parallels VM:
    Rendering: 1:24s (score 830 -- score is obviously wrong)

    Mac OS X:
    Rendering: 1:19s (score 283)
    Rendering MP: 0:41s (score 533)

    These are very good results as it shows that the actual (rendering) performance hit when running under the virtual machine is very small.
    Dave T.
    Software Engineer"

    Note: On April 7th, 2006 CineBench 9.5 was revised and Maxton notes: "CINEBENCH 9.5 adapted to the latest Mac OSX OpenGL implementation." The revised Cinebench show significantly higher OS X OpenGL Scores in OS X than those from before the update. (Dave must have used the April 7th release as his OS X OpenGL scores (listed on the Bootcamp reports page here) were much better than previous ones.) For more info on Cinbench or to download it, see www.cinebench.com.
    (BTW - On new macs w/Tiger if Spotlight is still indexing the drive that takes a hit on performance. You can temporarily disable it using the System Prefs/Privacy option for Spotlight.)

    (added 4/7/2006)
    "Long time reader, first time emailer...
    I just installed beta 2.1 of the Parallels Virtualization (beta). I installed Windows 2000 as my guest OS and I must say it is stunning how fast it is. I am running it on a Intel 20" imac with 1.5GB ram OS 10.4.6. I have allotted 600 MB ram to the software. WOW is it fast. The software comes with all the video, sound and network drives to make this one sweet option. I'm amazed!!!

    After installing all the updates and from a fresh start I can get windows 2000 to boot from a stand still to desktop in 16 seconds. That's stunning. All while running garage band and iphoto in the background. No dual boot for this boy!!! This is the way to go!

    I'm downloading cinebench 9.5 as we speak to see how that works... I'll follow up with more feedback once that completes
    -Thomas C."

    (added 4/7/2006)
    "I wrote to you about the virtualization software (earlier report below) and managed to get cpu-z on the virtual system. You wouldn't believe what I had to do to get it on there (since my keyboard doesn't work right): Make an ISO image of the cpu-z software with toast, burn it, make a disk image of it with disk utility then change it with the command line tool to an ISO from DMG:

    hdiutil convert cdtest.dmg -format UDTO -o cdtest.iso

    Then set it as the CD I wanted to use in the virtualization software.

    I also got Apple's drivers CD to show up but it refused to install any drivers.

    I ran CPU-Z and it came back with expected results:

    I will try and get more programs into Parallel's software to test it.
    -Charlie "

    (added 4/7/2006)
    " Installed Parallels Workstation yesterday morning; far and away the longest part of the install was installing XP <g>.
    There were a few odd alerts during Parallel install, but I clicked through them (Hey, Parallel, on the Mac the OK button is on the _right_) and everything seems fine. One little tip -- make sure the XP install CD is in the Mac's drive before you launch the Virtual Machine. (Same tip was posted here earlier)

    Visually, it's running well, aside from some small graphics artifacts, as though the screen redraw behind the cursor lags a bit. The speed is amazing, especially for someone used to Virtual PC. I haven't done much more than run IE, but QVGA streaming video trailers played without a stutter. Since all I need this for is web testing, this is a stunning solution, and much more flexible than Boot Camp. Oh, and no audio yet. I'm not sure if it's something I've configured incorrectly or a bug in the software, but I haven't spent much time troubleshooting.

    This is a beautiful piece of work, and one that I think will be far more useful than Boot Camp to the general user.
    -Charlie M.
    P.S. For those who don't finish the manuals, make sure to Install Parallel Tools (under the VM menu). This enables clipboard sharing and frees the cursor to move between environments, among other benefits. "

    (added 4/7/2006)
    " Parallels Workstation 2.1b - Cinebench 9.5 testing Machine: Intel iMac 1.83ghz DuoCore 512MB RAm with OS X 10.4.6 and Windows XP:

    Cinema Shading: 758 (see note above about inaccurate scores/timing)
    OpenGL SW-L: 518
    OpenGL HW-L: 363
    Rendering: 332 (Parallels Workstation does not recognize the DuoCore, so this is probably the MP Rendering) (you mean single CPU render-Mike)

    The OpenGL Performance isn't that good but I guess this is normal for a virtual machine. The rendering and Shading is very impressive though. Parallels Workstation has a really impressive performance for a virtual machine and is also really easy to setup. I'm looking forward to the final version.
    with best regards
    Tobias L "

    Note: there was an update to Cinbench 9.5 on April 7th that significantly improved OpenGL scores for OS X. (Scores now appear to be on par with WinXP native when running on the same Mac - see Bootcamp reports page.)

    (added 4/7/2006)
    " I have both Apple's BootCamp and Parallel's Virtualization software installed with WinXP SP2 running in both on a MacBook Pro 2.0Ghz. I couldn't get the virtualization software to use the CD-ROM natively so everything had to be done through virtual disks. (Note: - see a reader's install tips below.-Mike) The same goes for the Hard Drive. I was hoping to boot the partition Apple made, and that did not seem not possible as far as I could tell, so I reinstalled XP again for the Parallel software. I made an image of the WinXP SP2 CD and pointed the virtual software to that as its CD-ROM to boot from.

    Hardware Profile in XP says there are no video drivers. I was going to try installing the drivers Apple supplied with BootCamp, but even after making a disk image of BootCamp drivers the virtualization software would not recognize it. The interface feels old and very unpolished (but it is beta so I imagine it will get better). The keyboard does not function properly (for instance "m" instantly minimizes the window) which makes trying to download any speed testing software, type anything, or debug things rather difficult.

    Positive things: The install was very fast, I was surprised. For some reason XP installed faster on the virtual system than on the Mac booting from the windows CD-ROM in BootCamp mode. The obvious feature over BootCamp is there is no dual booting, you just open the application. It allows you to pause, restart, etc like Virtual PC, and lets you control amount of used ram (defaults to 256MB). It was easy as clicking from OS X to XP window to switch to it. I have yet to have it crash despite fiddling with the various preferences.

    I took some screen shots if you care. Feel free to copy them, modify, and/or repost on your site.

    Install Tips:

    (added 4/7/2006)
    " Make sure you have your Windows install disc already in the drive before you launch the Parallels app, or it won't recognize your drive, and it won't allow you to switch from an image to the real drive either.

    To use the F keys (F8 to agree to install Windows), you have to hold down function.

    My macbook pro locked up requiring a reboot during windows XP install, but I think it may have been due to the machine trying to go to sleep from inactivity. Other than that, the Windows install went as fast as I've seen it go on any laptop yet.
    -Cancerman "

    (added 4/7/2006)
    " Hi Mike
    Here's a link showing the speed of Parallels running with XP (Firefox, surfing, and rebooting. Running on Intel iMac 2.0 Ghz (256 MB VRAM, 1.5 GB RAM, 512 MB given to XP)
    -Pollux "

    Mike M. sent a link to his article/guide at

    (added 4/7/2006)
    " I downloaded the Parallels program last night and got started trying to install Win2000 on my iMac. Windows started the install process but I got a kernal panic during the "looking for devices" part twice and decided to wait for a revision.
    -Peter P. "

    (added 4/7/2006)
    " installed parallels today on 1.83Ghz MacBook pro (with 1.5Gb ram). It's extremely fast. Loads up as if on the Dell my colleague uses, and installations of software on XP Pro were quick and painless. I used to use VPC 6.0 on my G4 Powerbook, VPC 7 on my iMac G5s (which needed constant restarting of VPC as it would slow down over a couple of hours-- memory addressing problems according to Microsoft). Q on the intel mac was faster than the VPCs but limited by screen resolution and I couldn't get connected to my LAN fileserver.

    I have no benchmarks, but I use industry standard Cad software, including 3d models, and I've found Parallels to work very well so far. The only downside is the video driver, which makes the mouse move sluggishly. It seems from forums and press releases Parallels are working on this issue. The only discernable difference between running XP via Boot Camp and Parallels is the video driver, at least for my uses.
    -J "

    (added 4/7/2006)
    " I installed the beta version on my intel mini core duo, all went fine, but am not able to read off my mac's cd drive.
    I must say it runs very fast. I have run into some kernel panics ... actually quite a few since I installed this beta. Also I keep getting this message:

      "unable to open device /file/dev/rdisk4s0"

    Am having a hard time getting it to read from my cd drive.
    I installed the additions but still no luck. also, how do I share my drives via this program.
    -B. Adjodha
    Intel mac mini core duo, 2GB RAM "

    (added 4/7/2006)
    " Works pretty smoothly. Was able to install XP without reading the manual; everything is pretty intuitive. It automatically recognized the MacBook's wireless internet connection so from that aspect, it was easier to set up than a native install using Boot Camp.

    Haven't done speed tests but I'm sure it's slower than booting directly into XP (Parallels says it is 'near native' performance.) Now the ultimate would be to have a single XP installation that could do both native boot and operate in an OS X window depending on the need for performance.
    -Robert "

    (added 4/7/2006)
    "Bootcamp feedback, observations. And Linux on iMac.
    Like everyone else, tried Bootcamp as soon as I saw it, and worked as it should. (My first thought was "So you CAN dynamically partition, and even when booted into GUI mode". I've not been able to do so even in single user mode (pdisk being my util of choice), and in the past had to resort to old versions of LinuxPPC.) XP install was relatively painless if a bit odd, seeing it on the mac hardware. (I did manage get it to bluescreen within a few minutes of booting by clicking on the "Camera" icon - should have taken a picture.) I did the usual 26 patch dance, installed my normal selection of utils, browsers and AV/ AS software, etc. I had fun trying the KungFu demo game from steam, etc. I didn't register XP, as I wasn't sure my client would want to pay for a license, you have 30 days, so no problem. Booted it yesterday to show them XP running, and immediately got the "You must Register" message. Odd, but okay...click on register and you get the desktop background, and nothing else...booting into safe mode works, I'll play with system restore, didn't think to install recovery console yet. Now in someone's article this morning I saw that the clock on the XP side gets reset on each session? So that might be part of the issue, but I saw no mention of that on either xlr8yourmac or macfixit. I had also imaged the NTFS drive using Disk Util, so I have a backup, will see if X will allow me to restore it. (Ideally I could even restore to a different sized partition, but I'm not too hopeful.) I would have tried using partimage (or even DD) under linux, if I could. (See below.)

    Also note that the headphone jack doesn't work under XP. Apparently it's not a normal jack that actually breaks the audio circuit to the speakers...

    I didn't try it before the firmware update (figured it would require mucking about w/ EFI) but was able to boot a Knoppix 4 CD. It showed up in the OSX startup disk panel as "Other Operating System" (or possibly "Unknown Operating System") and booted right up! (Used "knoppix dma" and it was rather fast, as well.) Aspect ratio of the desktop is a bit stretched, even when specifying the proper screen res. Sadly, both networking interfaces, the HD and sound were not detected properly. (And knoppix usually has the best HW detection.) I was pretty sure the newest version of Knoppix would have SATA support, one or all of the devices may simply not have been detected properly, and can be initialized using the modprobe command - I'll have to look up the chipsets/models for those devices and see if the drivers are included. It's also possible more devices are supported on the DVD version, but my DVD is not nearby, and net connection too slow to DL atm...

    Also still getting used to having to check apps for Universal Binary status - as others have stated, Rosetta normally works pretty seamlessly, but really wants RAM. I tried to go grab a bunch of game demos to test/play with while I have this machine, but even of the games that have universal patches, most of the demos are still PPC, ironically making XP the best way to play them...
    -Matthew P "

    This mail comments on other virtualization software from Altris:

    (added 4/7/2006)
    " While dual booting is nice. Virtualization is nicer.. ;-)
    Try Software Virtualization Services atop of your virutal server. or atop your XP installation.
    Software virtualization Service Personal edition is free from Altiris.
    Spyware go away forever.. (see explanation below)
    Since software applications are installed in a virtual wrapper.. All attribs written to the sytem and or application i.e. spyware will disappear when you turn off the virtual software.
    You turn sofware on/off to install /deinstall it.
    sure you need to package your software in the virtualized wrapper.. but once you do it is sweet!
    so some possible combinations:
    dual boot via bootcamp
    run XP then SVS personal edition to avoid viruses/spyware
    osx and virutal machines (then) SVS atop of that!
    eitherway SVS would be really beneficial.
    -Vuong P. "

    A reader that asked not to be named replied to the above:

    " The virtualization Vuong speaks of has to do with how the software is installed. In Altiris' case, Altiris' software abstracts the Windows registry on a per-application basis, so that a given application really can't infect the host's Windows registry with spyware and such - any such installations/changes would be virtualized. 

    Imagine VPC7 on the Mac. If you have 5 installs of XP (5 separate VPC sessions / 5 separate installs of XP) running, and you install an application on one of them, the other 4 remain untouched. Altiris' software does that same feature, but it does that to the host PC's Windows registry, not a virtual machine.

    So imagine you 'package' and install, say, Internet Explorer 7 and distribute it to all of your customers in your enterprise. The moment they stop running MSIE7 (note: not uninstall it - they just stop running it) all registry entries that were changed revert back to the way they were prior to the installation of MSIE7. Depending on the sophistication of the virtual product (whether from Altiris, or others) a single area in the registry might be changed (one particular location, and all packaged applications "know" to look there for application information & make changes only there) or the changes the program normally makes to the registry are make elsewhere. There are many different methods to do this.

    This is a gross oversimplication, and Altiris' software offers much, much more than this in a far more full-featured manner than what I've described, but that should explain the gist of it. "

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