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I suspect the answer to this question will be 'no,' but I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

I use Parallels Desktop on my Mac to run a small CentOS installation for development work. I own Parallels Workstation for Windows. Is it possible to create one PVM and use it with both Parallels Desktop and Parallels Workstation?

It doesn't appear anyone's tried to do this, probably because it's impossible. So far, my attempts have not been very fruitful - cloning an existing PVM to a FAT32-formatted disk fails due to file system differences - but if someone wants to offer me a shred of hope that this can be done, I'll happily keep trying all night.

(A similar question was asked about sharing VirtualBox virtual machines between Windows and OSX and received 0 answers.)

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I didn't try that one myself as the only Windows I have is the one running in a VM ;-). But I would expect it to be possible.

Well, the VM should be a self enclosed format that contains everything needed to boot the system. And when distributing a VM to others you seldom know which parent-OS they use. So it should be possible to boot up a VM in Parallels on OS-X and - after shutting the VM down - boot up the same VM in Parallels for Windows.

So as long as you are not using the machine on both parent-OSes simultaniously I would try it.

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I came to the conclusion that this could not be done at the time because:

  1. File system differences would require the PVM be kept on a FAT32 or ExFAT drive. FAT32 would limit file sizes to <4GiB, which may be impossible for .mem and .hds files; ExFAT was not supported by my OS X installation (I have since upgraded).

  2. The PVM would need to run from an external drive, which would have reduced throughput (especially for a Mac with USB 2 only).

  3. Some differences between the versions of Desktop and Workstation meant that my VM would need to be converted each time I swapped machines.

  4. It was just plain faster to stand up a new VM on each machine and use a network drive than it was to do all the above.

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