Monday, March 29, 2010

Virtualization on the Mac

Since Apple moved the Mac to the Intel Platform we as Mac users can now run just about any software we want. From software for OS X, Unix Programs, even Windows Programs. Let’s see a Windows computer do that quickly and easily. However with these new options comes a number of choices for how to run Windows software on the Mac. We have a range a prices and easy of use.

Yes I know we actually could run Windows on the Mac in the Power PC days using an emulator but emulators were much slower than their real hardware counter parts. For those who remember way back at one point Apple even made a DOS card that could be installed in some 68k Macs and was a PC on card and you could run a Mac program to execute programs on your PC on card but I digress.

Today our leading pay options for Virtualization on the Mac is Parallels and VMWare Fusion. The leading free options are Sun’s Virtual Box and Apple’s Boot Camp. You can also run Windows applications without installing Windows at all by using WINE or CrossOver. We will look at each of these options in turn.

In a recent MacTech Magazine article they compared the performance of VMWare to Parallels. Parallels won in nearly every performance benchmark. Now in order to use VMWare, Parallels, or Sun Virtual Box you have to own a copy of Windows to install. These applications provide a virtual computer to load an OS and your applications into. Parallels and VMWare both have good technical support and the ability to import other virtual machines into them. Today there are a variety of free and for purchase virtual machines you can get on the Internet and install into your Virtualization software. If you want to setup a Web Server on a virtual machine just download one with Linux and Apache pre-setup boot it and you are ready to go. It is great for testing products without impacting the machine you use on a daily basis.

Sun’s Virtual Box has come a long way and is close to being real competition for VMWare and Parallels. It started off as a very basic Virtual Machine lacking even support for external USB hard drives. Now it is a solid performer runs on Mac, Windows, and Linux as much better driver support in version 3 and while still not on par performance wise with VMWare and Parallels it is a fine choice for someone who doesn’t use a Virtual Machine on a regular basis or just wants to run some applications where performance isn’t a huge concern.

WINE and it’s commercial counterpart CrossOver have been around since before Apple went to Intel. Originally WINE which stands for (Wine Is Not an Emulator) was developed for Unix and Linux users to run Windows based apps on their machines without Windows being installed. WINE is a freeware application that is developed and supported by the community. This option is not for the technical novice or the faint at heart. It can be tough to configure and not all applications are supported. There is a commercial version of the software put out by CodeWeavers called CrossOver that is a company supported version of WINE. I didn’t have a lot of luck with it myself when I tired it out in 2007 but it may have progressed since then. I will look at it in a future blog post.

Putty for Mac
Putty for Mac

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Bordeaux ported to StormOS

We are pleased to announce that Bordeaux now runs on StormOS and Nexenta systems, over the past couple weeks the StormOS team has successfully completed the first initial port. And work can now be focused on the UI changes that are coming in our next release.

In the coming weeks we will be working together to rewrite the Bordeaux UI so its more user friendly and allows the user to configure and manage both supported and unsupported Cellars in a more intuitive manner.

The new UI will be included in the upcoming Bordeaux 2.2 release for Linux, Mac OS X, FreeBSD, PC-BSD, OpenSolaris, StormOS, and Nexenta systems.

StormOS post about the Bordeaux port :

As part of our new license agreement with The Bordeaux Technology group Bordeaux has been ported to StormOS. The full version will be included with the next StormOS release for no charge and packages will be added to the StormOS APT repository.

Putty for Mac
Putty for Mac

Saturday, March 20, 2010

CrossOver Linux 9 review

One of the most common reasons given for remaining wedded to Microsoft Windows is the absence of a key Windows program on alternative operating systems. But that needn't be the case when you can run Windows programs without the Windows OS.

Codeweavers CrossOver Linux 9 (codenamed Snow Mallard) and its Mac brother, CrossOver Mac 9, let you run many popular Windows applications on Linux or Mac OS X.
Supported Windows applications include Microsoft Office (from Office 97 to Office 2007), Internet Explorer 6 and 7, Outlook 2002 to 2007, all current versions of Quicken up to 2010 and QuickBooks up to 2004, along with some versions of Photoshop and Photoshop CS.
Based on our experience with CrossOver, which goes back more than a decade, we'd say this new version supports about 20% more applications (at a level that most users would find usable) than the last one.

Codeweavers CrossOver Linux 9 is based on the open-source Wine project, an implementation of the Windows API on top of the family of Unix/Linux operating system. Wine is a mature project involving almost 17 years of work to get Windows applications to run on Unix and Linux systems.
Actually, you don't need Codeweavers CrossOver Linux 9 to run Windows applications on Linux. You can do it with Wine alone, if you know exactly what you're doing.

What Codeweavers CrossOver Linux 9 brings to the table is automated installation of Windows applications, and technical support. And in this latest version, the CrossOver interface has been improved so it's easier than ever to install and manage Windows applications.

Installing CrossOver

To see how well Codeweavers CrossOver Linux 9 does its job, we tested it on two systems. The first was a Dell Inspiron 530S powered by a 2.2GHz Intel Pentium E2200 dual-core processor with an 800MHz front-side bus.
The machine had 4GB of RAM, a 500GB SATA drive and an integrated Intel GMA 3100 graphics chipset. It was running the Debian-based MEPIS 8 desktop Linux distribution.
We also tried Codeweavers CrossOver Linux 9 on an older Gateway 503GR with a 3GHz Pentium 4 CPU, 2GB of RAM, an ATI Radeon 250 graphics card and 300GB SATA drive. This machine was running Ubuntu 9.10.
Both systems had more than enough horsepower to run multiple Windows and Linux applications simultaneously. In fact, CodeWeavers claims that any 32-bit system that runs at 200MHz can run CrossOver.
(The program will run on a 64-bit system, but only if it has the 32-bit compatibility library installed. So even the 64-bit version is really a 32-bit application platform.)
Codeweavers CrossOver Linux 9 also requires that your Linux include Glibc 2.3.x or greater and X11R6 3.3 or greater. XFree86 4 with XRender and FreeType support is recommended.
In short, Codeweavers CrossOver Linux 9 will run on any modern Linux distro on almost any IBM-based PC.
There are several ways to install Codeweavers CrossOver Linux 9. CodeWeavers recommends that you use its installation shell script, but if you'd rather use your Linux OS's installation program, CrossOver also comes in RPM versions for Red Hat, Fedora and openSUSE; and DEB editions for Debian and the Ubuntu family. They both work just fine.
The one problem we found is that there's no upgrade path if you already have an earlier version of CrossOver Linux installed. We had to manually uninstall our older edition of CrossOver before we could put in the new program. Codeweavers CrossOver Linux 9 includes an uninstall option, so that wasn't a problem, but the instructions don't tell you that you'll need to zap your old version before installing the new one.

Putting CrossOver to the test

Once installed, Codeweavers CrossOver Linux 9 has a new GUI that works equally well with both KDE and GNOME. (There's a known bug that prevents CrossOver menus from appearing on KDE 4.4, the most recent version. Hopefully, that will be addressed soon.)
Installing Windows applications is a snap. From the CrossOver interface, you can easily choose which Windows applications you want to install from a supplied list of supported applications. You can also install applications that are not officially supported; for example, our favourite HTML editor, NoteTab, also runs well on Codeweavers CrossOver Linux 9, even though it's not on the list of supported applications.
In this latest version of Codeweavers CrossOver Linux 9, you also have the option of installing useful Windows components apart from the actual applications. For example, we were able to install the most common Windows fonts, such as Arial and Times Roman, as well as the .NET Framework 3.0 and Visual C++ 6.0 redistributable libraries.
For the most part, the Windows applications we installed ran without trouble. We could work with Word 2003 documents, Excel 2003 spreadsheets, IE 7 and complex Quicken 2009 financial statements quite comfortably. It wasn't perfect, though, as some of the icons appeared blotchy. It was never enough to make a program unusable, but it was enough to make them unattractive.
In addition, we would also occasionally need to force a screen refresh when one Windows application's window covered up another. When we'd brought focus to the lower application, the part of it that had been covered wouldn't render properly. After running a command with the new foreground application, however, Codeweavers CrossOver Linux 9's screen refreshed and it reappeared as it should.

Two versions of CrossOver Linux

You can download a free 30-day trial version of Codeweavers CrossOver Linux 9. The program costs $39.95. Also available is CrossOver Linux Professional for $69.95, which can be used for multiple users, and additionally comes with CrossOver Games.
CrossOver Games includes support for Microsoft's graphics APIs for games, DirectX, up to version 9. With this, many Windows games will run well on Linux. We had no problem blasting monsters in World of Warcraft and Guild Wars. CrossOver Games is also available separately.

System requirements

installed); tested on: Ubuntu 8.04/9.10; Red Hat Enterprise Linux Workstation 4 and 5; openSUSE 10.2, 11.x; Fedora Core 11 and 12 Debian Stable; Mint 7; CentOS 5.3; 100MB of free drive space; python >= 2.4; gtk2 >= 2.10; python-gtk2 >= 2.10

Friday, March 19, 2010

ANGLE wined3d in reverse

By Dan Kegel to the wine-devel mailing list.

Were happy to announce a new open source project called Almost Native Graphics Layer Engine, or ANGLE for short. The goal of ANGLE is to layer WebGLs subset of the OpenGL ES 2.0 API over DirectX 9.0c API calls. We're open-sourcing ANGLE under the BSD license as an early work-in-progress, but when complete, it will enable browsers like Google Chrome to run WebGL content on Windows computers without having to rely on OpenGL drivers.

Current browser implementations of WebGL need to be able to issue graphics commands to desktop OpenGL to render content. This requirement isn't a problem on computers running OS X or Linux, where OpenGL is the primary 3D API and therefore enjoys solid support. On Windows, however, most graphics-intensive apps use Microsoft Direct3D APIs instead of OpenGL, so OpenGL drivers are not always available. Unfortunately, this situation means that even if they have powerful graphics hardware, many Windows machines can't render WebGL content because they don't have the necessary OpenGL drivers installed. ANGLE will allow Windows users to run WebGL content without having to find and install new drivers for their system.

Because ANGLE aims to implement most of the OpenGL ES 2.0 API, the project may also be useful for developers who are working on applications for mobile and embedded devices. ANGLE should make it simpler to prototype these applications on Windows, and also gives developers new options for deploying production versions of their code to the desktop.

We hope that other WebGL implementors and others in the graphics community will join us to make ANGLE successful! For more info on ANGLE and to access the code repository, visit the new project on Google Code or join our discussion group."

So, it'd be interesting to see if it runs on Wine. I love stacking them blocks as high as I can :-)

Putty for Mac
Putty for Mac