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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?" :)

Introduction and question about switching


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steps

 
Member Since: Aug 16, 2011
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Hi everybody!

I just registered with this forum, hoping to find answers to some questions I have. So: hi!

My questions are closely related to who I am, so this is also my introduction, I guess.

I am a software programmer, currently finishing my Master's thesis and hoping to be working for a software company (well, that is quite obvious) soon. I'd really like to switch to a MacBook Pro (15'') as my work machine (currently I use Linux and Windows side by side). I plan on getting the 2.2 Ghz model (i7), 4 GB RAM, 500 GB HDD (7.200 RPM), AMD Radeon 6750M. I also plan on switching to MacOS for everyday computer usage such as office stuff, webbrowsing and so on.

But: what's really important to me is that I need to be able to run certain tools that are only available for Windows, including Microsoft's Visual Studio 2010. From my experience with virtual machines (Virtualbox in this case), I can tell that it is not that easy. To be precise, I was never able to run it on Virtualbox.

I know that there are some means of virtualization, like Parallels Desktop and/or VMWare, but I never got to try them. So here are my questions:
  • Will I be able to run MS Visual Studio 2010? And, quite important: how will it perform?
  • How seamless is the VM integration with MacOS? Most of the "seamless" modes I came across have been...let's just say...not as seamless as announced.
  • Which virtualization software (if any) do you recommend?
  • Should I just install MacOS and Windows 7 side-by-side to be able to switch whenever I need to? I'd rather not, but if it's the best solution, I will.

In general: there are some tools (some with higher requirements, some are just small tools) made for Windows only that I need to be able to work. I guess what I really want to know is: how well do virtualizations integrate and how is their overall performance? In all the virtualization environments I have tried so far, I always noticed a huge difference in the feeling of the guest system. It seemes so much slower all the time.

To finish this: is there any additional advice you can give me as a Linux/Windows-user that might come in handy to help me decide to actually buy the MacBook? Or speak against it, of course?

Hope I could make myself clear here (English is not my native language)

I am really looking forward to your answers!


Greets and thanks in advance - steps
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chscag

 
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Welcome to the Mac Forums.

For someone who is not a native English speaker, your command of the language is better than some of us who are.

Quote:
Will I be able to run MS Visual Studio 2010? And, quite important: how will it perform?
Visual Studio will perform best when run natively from Windows which means setting up a dual boot scenario on your new Mac. The new models (yours) only support Windows 7. If you have XP or Vista, they can not be used.

Quote:
How seamless is the VM integration with MacOS? Most of the "seamless" modes I came across have been...let's just say...not as seamless as announced.
VMWare Fusion and Parallels both have a good seamless mode and run the VM well. However, the problem with virtual software (even the newer versions) is that they don't provide you with the full graphics power and speed the machine is capable of.

Quote:
Which virtualization software (if any) do you recommend?
I recommend and use VMWare Fusion. They (VMWare) have been around a lot longer than Parallels. Fusion just seems to be more polished, less troublesome than Parallels. And has better support. My opinion of course.

Quote:
Should I just install MacOS and Windows 7 side-by-side to be able to switch whenever I need to? I'd rather not, but if it's the best solution, I will.
That would be my recommendation for the time being. Later on you can install Fusion or Parallels and use your Boot Camp partition as a virtual machine. Both applications support virtualization of the BC partition. That gives you the best of both worlds.
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steps

 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chscag View Post
Welcome to the Mac Forums.

For someone who is not a native English speaker, your command of the language is better than some of us who are.
Thanks, I really appreciate that!

Quote:
Originally Posted by chscag View Post
Visual Studio will perform best when run natively from Windows which means setting up a dual boot scenario on your new Mac. The new models (yours) only support Windows 7. If you have XP or Vista, they can not be used.
I have Windows 7, so that won't be a problem

Quote:
Originally Posted by chscag View Post
I recommend and use VMWare Fusion.
I just remembered an internship I did several years ago. They used VMWare, too. I thought that it worked very well, so: VMWare it is!

Quote:
Originally Posted by chscag View Post
Later on you can install Fusion or Parallels and use your Boot Camp partition as a virtual machine. Both applications support virtualization of the BC partition. That gives you the best of both worlds.
If I understand you correctly, that means that I can simply install Windows 7 alongside MacOS and LATER ON use VMWare to virtualize the REAL Windows partition? That is exactly what I need , but I never thought that it was possible (I tried that with my old Windows 7 partition in Virtual Box some time ago and ended up killing the partition...).
I guess I will still be able to decide whether or not I want to run the "real" Windows or boot to MacOS and use VMWare to boot it? Then I could just use the real one for programs that are demanding a lot of power and use the virtual machine for everday tasks!

chscag, you just made my day! Thank you so very much!


But as I opened this topic, I just want to get back to one of my questions, maybe you've got something else for me?

Quote:
is there any additional advice you can give me as a Linux/Windows-user that might come in handy to help me decide to actually buy the MacBook? Or speak against it, of course?


Greets - steps
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chscag

 
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Well, the purchase of a Mac portable is of course your decision. Some folks might say "They're too expensive!" or, "You can buy two Windows notebooks for the price of one MacBook Pro". Actually, both statements are really not true.

A comparable Windows notebook would cost just as much, and you don't get Mac OS X with a Windows notebook! OS X is based on FreeBSD and Unix, mostly Unix. I've worked with Unix over the years both professionally and for myself. It's rock stable and practically indestructible. Add to that the beauty of OS X and what it gives you in ease and trouble free performance, it can't be beat.

I still have several Windows machines that I have to keep running in our business but am hoping some day to get everything running on Macs and get rid of the Win boxes.
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steps

 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chscag View Post
Well, the purchase of a Mac portable is of course your decision. Some folks might say "They're too expensive!" or, "You can buy two Windows notebooks for the price of one MacBook Pro". Actually, both statements are really not true.
Well, they are a bit more expensive (in my opinion), but there's always value and price. And from what I've seen (and from my little, almost tiny, bit of experience), I can say that the price is very high, but the value is exactly as high.

Quote:
Originally Posted by chscag
A comparable Windows notebook would cost just as much, and you don't get Mac OS X with a Windows notebook!
No arguments here

Quote:
Originally Posted by chscag
OS X is based on FreeBSD and Unix, mostly Unix. I've worked with Unix over the years both professionally and for myself. It's rock stable and practically indestructible. Add to that the beauty of OS X and what it gives you in ease and trouble free performance, it can't be beat.
Jepp, I know that (I wasn't aware of the FreeBSD roots, though). That's one of the main reasons I want to switch. I love that you can go deep (shell, etc.) but you don't have to. In Windows, I really miss a nice shell (and don't get me started on Powershell...), and in Linux, I sometimes just wish for a more sophisticated out-of-the-box experience. It's not that I don't know how to do things, it's just that I simply do not want to be forced to do them (the lack of certain programs is also quite annoying). So I guess that is another thumbs up for MacOS, then.

Quote:
Originally Posted by chscag
I still have several Windows machines that I have to keep running in our business but am hoping some day to get everything running on Macs and get rid of the Win boxes.
Well, I plan on keeping my old stationary PC as a gaming machine for a while. Maybe one day it will also be replaced by an iMac

Oh, and just BTW and FYI: Your postings just eradicated any last doubt. It is final, I will buy myself a MacBook Pro! Maybe it will even motivate me to work harder on my thesis (less than a month left...quite OT, but it's almost all I think about in the moment).

Thanks a lot again!

Greets - steps
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steps

 
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Sorry for the double posting, but I just remembered one thing that is really important to me that I forgot to include in my original post.

I searched the forums a bit, but that got me even more confused as there are so many different possibilities out there for this.

Here's the thing: as the MBP is supposed to replace my current stationary PC which has two monitors attached to it (Samsung Syncmaster 24'', 1920x1200 and Samsung Syncmaster 19'', 1280x1024), I'd like to use two monitors at home with the MBP as well (using some sort of docking station, recommendations, anyone?).

I read that it is somehow possible to do it, but I never got to know how it is done exactly. The solutions I found that got into details always used 2 identical monitors and stretched the desktop across them both. I'm willing to buy another 24'' Samsung (or any other brand) with the same resolution, but I definitively do not want to stretch the desktop across both of them. Instead, I want my "main" desktop on the left monitor and an "empty" one on the right (meaning that when I maximize a window on one screen, it will fill only that screen, not both; any panels are supposed to be on the left screen only).

Is this possible? If it is, do I have to get another 24'' monitor to make it work or is it even possible to do it with two different screens?

I know that this question is asked very often and has probably been answered many times before, but as I said before, reading all the answers (that are mostly not exactly what I'm searching for) got me even more confused about the whole topic.


I'd love to get some hints or maybe a link to an answer already in existence.


Greets and thank you in advance - steps
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chas_m

 
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I have a setup like you are describing: my MacBook plus an external monitor, and the "extended desktop" on Macs works *exactly* the way you describe you want it to work. In fact, the MacBook's screen becomes the secondary monitor when I have the bigger one plugged in. It couldn't be easier to setup.

I don't have a formal "docking station" for it, because I actually only take the MacBook "on the road" with me maybe four or five times a month, so for me it's easy to just unplug the external monitor connector, the FW connector and the USB connector and I'm good to go (I have a second powerplug so I just leave the "original" one at home).
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chas_m View Post
I have a setup like you are describing: my MacBook plus an external monitor, and the "extended desktop" on Macs works *exactly* the way you describe you want it to work. In fact, the MacBook's screen becomes the secondary monitor when I have the bigger one plugged in. It couldn't be easier to setup.
Well, actually that setup is quite different from the one I am planning. I do not plan to use the MBPs screen at home, but two external monitors instead. Any hints on that? But it's very nice to know that I could have two monitors (including one external and the MBP's) out of the box (is DVI a problem? I reckon there are adapters necessary?).

Quote:
Originally Posted by chas_m
I don't have a formal "docking station" for it, because I actually only take the MacBook "on the road" with me maybe four or five times a month [...]
If all goes as planned, I will be taking the MBP to work five times a week, so I guess I need a docking station

Alright, anyone using two external monitors?


Greets - steps
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There are, I believe, two ways to accomplish what you want to accomplish with two external monitors AND a docking station.

First, here's the docking station you want:



That's from Henge Docks (.com).

Now, personally at this point I'd suggest rather than two monitors, you just use one big one like the 27" Cinema Display. BUT seeing as how the 27" Cinema Display (which is bloody pricey but AWESOME) features Thunderbolt, you COULD plug in two of them with no additional cost beyond the cost of the monitors and a pair of TB cables.

Eventually (a few years), TB will be the preferred way to hook up extra monitors since you can daisy-chain them and it's drop-dead easy. BUT at the moment Apple's more or less it and it's expensive.

So if you *haven't* won the lottery and want to do this a bit cheaper, here's the practical solution at the moment:

Multiple Monitors for Laptops | Multi-monitors

It's essentially an extra video card in a breakout box, giving your two full extended desktops. You CAN go with USB video adapters but trust me, THEY SUCK and will not be acceptable.
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@steps I have a 2008 MacBook Pro with two external monitors attached. The difference is that I use the MacBooks screen as a third display. You don't really have to that just works nicely for me.

Instead of the device that chad mentioned I am using one of the USB dongles. It works nicely for general computing with a 24" SyncMaster attached to the computer and a 19" attached to the usb dongle.

Although I don't do serious gaming the biggest problem I have noticed is that programs requiring Open GL support do not run properly on that monitor. I discuss workarounds in more detail in the review ATPM 15.08 - Review: OWC USB 2.0 Display Adapter

With the model that I reviewed I used to get an occasional crash if the computer went to sleep for an extended period of time. The computer would be running but they display would be frozen. The problem seems to be fixed with the beta driver released for Lion.

Sylvester Roque Former Contributing Editor About This Particular Macintosh

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Sylvester's answer covers much of what I mean about USB video extenders sucking. They're also not much use for video editing or gaming -- anything that taxes the video card ... it's more data than the USB port is capable of handling so you get (admittedly momentary but annoying) issues.
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Hey guys,

thanks for the helpful replies! I don't like the idea of USB video cards, especially because the second monitor is often used to display videos while I work on the left one. I imagine that the bandwidth of a USB port would lead to the videos getting stuck or something.

Additionally, there seems to be a problem with the Matrox DualHead2Go:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Matrox.com
Spans taskbar across monitors for easy access to all your open applications
That is exactly not what I want. I attached a screenshot of my current desktop. As you can see, the left monitor contains the "taskbar", while the right one is completely empty (well, I cleaned it up a bit yesterday, usually it contains notes and things alike).

Maybe the Matrox website is not very clear about it: do I HAVE to stretch the taskbar across both monitors? Or is this just a feature that I COULD use?

@chas_m: I recently stumbled upon exactly the same docking station! Just love it, thank you!

Regarding the Cinema Display: that is currently not an option for me, the MBP will drain most of my savings as it is. I know that there are other displays of this size, but they all cost a lot of money (and none but the Apple display can be connected via TB).


Thanks again and greets - steps
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You'll have to check with Matrox about that, I think it would be optional. The default setup for dual monitors from Apple is as you describe.
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