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Switcher Hangout The place for switchers to discuss their new machines, and how to work with OS X. General support can be had here for newbie stuff, like "How do I restart my new iMac?" :)

Help my company switch! Virtualisation and Macs.


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scotartt

 
Member Since: Sep 30, 2006
Location: auchenflower, qld
Posts: 16
scotartt is on a distinguished road
Mac Specs: macbook pro unibody 15", 2.66GHz Core 2 Duo, 4GB 1067 MHz DDR3

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I am a 5-year Mac user, a Java developer who has used Macs for dev tasks for all that time, and Linux before that. I still use Linux on the desktop at work. My company is thinking of switching to Macbook Pros - the i5 version - for consultant's laptops. They are very price competitive with the Dell version.

"Productivity" applications on the base OS are not really an issue because we are moving to the Google platform in the coming months. All the basic developer tools we use (Subversion, Maven, Ant, Eclipse, etc) are available on the Mac already and of course, the /bin/sh prompt makes it much better for development than anything you get on a Windows install. ;-)

The kicker is that we need to run Virtualised environments on the machines as well as the base OS. What matters for us is being able to have pre-built virtualised server environments for development on client site. These usually need to be Centos or Redhat based Linuxes with things like Oracle SOA Suite installed in them.

We need to move to this sort of virtualised environment anyway for these apps. We use XEN on our own servers, but these images are different to the sort of thing we'd expect to run on a laptop. Therefore other virtualisation products are in play. What I'm interested in hearing about are thoughts about which virtualisation environment we should pick.

As we are not going ALL Mac straight away we need to be able to the virtualisation images to be run on any OS, e.g. Mac, Windows, and Linux (Ubuntu is the usual Linux desktop here). I am talking about using the Mac as a HOST system and virtualising Linux images which must also be able to run on Linux and Windows hosts. We are not trying to virtualise the OSX, I mean to discuss virtualisation on a Mac host.

My understanding is that this rules out Parallels because we can't get a version for Windows or Linux hosts.

I have used VMWare Fusion for at least a couple of years on my own Mac and its fine to use but I've since discovered that it cannot export its images to use under VMWare Player on a Linux box (curse you VMWare). But can it import a standard image created on VMWare Player? If that's so, it still might fly for us.

Free is better of course, so VirtualBox is also under consideration. I've only used it a little, and not a Mac. Does anyone have any solid experience with it on a Mac and wish to share anything? Is it reliable on a Mac?

Thankyou for your thoughts and observations.
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Nethfel

 
Member Since: Feb 25, 2009
Posts: 2,109
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Mac Specs: Late 2013 rMBP, i7, 750m gpu, OSX versions 10.9.3, 10.10

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Here's a thought with regard to VMWare Fusion - you can use VMWare Converter to convert a VMWare Fusion machine to VMWare Player/Server/ESX/GSX, etc. - as you already have fusion, it wouldn't take much to whip up a small VM (even a stripped down linux or dos VM) and then try out using Converter on it and use Player on a desktop to see how the transition works.

Myself, I use Fusion at home on my Mac Pro but VirtualBox on my Macs (VB seems to be a bit less resource intensive compared to VM Fusion) My one gripe with VB in the past is they in some releases had trouble with their NAT for networking - the performance was TERRIBLE - bridged worked fine. The latest version of VB seems to work better tho for NAT connections between guest and host. I like Fusions Unity mode better tho. VMWare also has more powerful server class options (ESX/GSX/etc.) compared to VB.

My Macs: Late 2013 rMBP w/ 750m; Mac mini G4, 1.25 GHz, 512m ram (server); Late 2011 11" MBA, 1.8GHz i7, 4Gig Ram, 256Gig SSD, HD3000; Powerbook 12" G4 1.33GHz running Debian as a server; Apple TV (1080p version)
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scotartt

 
Member Since: Sep 30, 2006
Location: auchenflower, qld
Posts: 16
scotartt is on a distinguished road
Mac Specs: macbook pro unibody 15", 2.66GHz Core 2 Duo, 4GB 1067 MHz DDR3

scotartt is offline
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nethfel View Post
Here's a thought with regard to VMWare Fusion - you can use VMWare Converter to convert a VMWare Fusion machine to VMWare Player/Server/ESX/GSX, etc. - as you already have fusion, it wouldn't take much to whip up a small VM (even a stripped down linux or dos VM) and then try out using Converter on it and use Player on a desktop to see how the transition works.

Myself, I use Fusion at home on my Mac Pro but VirtualBox on my Macs (VB seems to be a bit less resource intensive compared to VM Fusion) My one gripe with VB in the past is they in some releases had trouble with their NAT for networking - the performance was TERRIBLE - bridged worked fine. The latest version of VB seems to work better tho for NAT connections between guest and host. I like Fusions Unity mode better tho. VMWare also has more powerful server class options (ESX/GSX/etc.) compared to VB.
Nethfel thanks for that useful information. I'll have a look at that VMWare Converter, I didn't know it existed. Quite possibly for us things like like Unity are not so important because we are using this really to deploy servers for development purposes on our consultant's laptops ... which generally means we also don't care so much for the server-class virtualisation offerings because they'll be built manually anyway (and not inherit our crappy development configurations). I am not sure if we care too much about NAT either ... it's possibly a choice between host-only or bridged.

For example I have a JeOS headless Linux install that runs OracleXE in host-only mode so I can deploy small Oracle-based databases for development on my Mac. On my Linux machine I can of course just install XE directly. But if I needed SOA Suite then I'd do it in a VM even on my Linux desktop. That would be the sort of thing (SOA Suite and the like can't be headless, they need a desktop to install, but potentially will run in host-only anyway).

It's the sort of thing I think we'd be looking at doing even if we went down the Windows laptop environment anyway. Once you put something like SOA Suite or Oracle Webcenter on a machine it gets it's claws into it everywhere and it becomes super-painful to wipe it away or drastically alter its configuration. So virtualisation of development servers on the developer's local machine makes sense for us in general; we can set up any number of standardised server images which can be started or stopped or re-imaged as needed for particular development tasks. I think the "powers that be" just need to be reassured that we can interchange these development images between Windows, Mac and Linux desktop hosts.

And VMWare Converter looks the go for that, thanks.
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