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I'd like to run a virtualized Ubuntu instance under Mac OS X (10.6). I've used VirtualBox in the past, but am looking for something that will be faster, and don't mind paying for either Parallels Desktop or VMWare Fusion.

Does anyone have experience running Linux guests under either or both programs? I'm primarily interested in doing software development on the Linux guest installation, but I'm also very concerned with the performance and responsiveness the guest OS.

I have a mid-2010 15" MacBook Pro (2.66 GHz i5, 8 GB of RAM, NVIDIDA GeForce GT 330M).


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What exactly will you be using this VM for? A VM can only get you so much performance. – vcsjones Dec 29 '10 at 2:34
Primarily software development (including potentially compiling medium-sized bodies of software) in the guest OS. The dimensions of performance I'm most concerned about are 1) UI responsiveness of the guest OS 2) performance of building software on the guest OS, and 3) resource footprint on the host OS (I don't want my host OS to become unusable while a compile on the guest OS is going in the background). – grumbler Dec 29 '10 at 3:33
up vote 2 down vote accepted

you really want VMware Fusion. Parallels has terrible memory leak issues that after all this time and so many versions they still haven't resolved. I have used Fusion since 2007, after having used Parallels since it came out in 2006, and I use Fusion every day to run between 6 and 8 Windows VMs on a Mac Pro for testing. Not to sound too much like a shill for VMware, but they really have it figured out.

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Thanks for the recommendation -- I ended up with the same conclusion after trying out both trials. Performance for compilation (as measured by time to compile a Linux kernel) was about the same on both (VMWare was 3% faster actually, but that's probably in the noise), but Parallels had lots of small graphical glitches in full screen mode, whereas VMWare fullscreen mode was seamless. Given that, your notes about memory issues, and opinions I've read elsewhere, it sounds like VMWare is a much more polished product. Going with that. – grumbler Dec 29 '10 at 7:49

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