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Any tips, suggestions, reccs for using a virtual machine?


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#1 MaryBet82

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Posted 11 October 2010 - 01:25 PM

pc user w/ new mac

I've read the manual for Virtual Box and for parallel desktops, but I don't know which to try or how to configure/set up the VM - how much memory to assign to the VM etc. Until I actually set up and use a VM I'm not going to understand a lot of the info I've read- like how shared folders actually works. I need to run winxp in a VM so that I can run my Word 2003 and until I can run Word on my mac I'm still stuck mostly using my pc.

I'd like to use the free Virtual Box unless parallel desktops is much easier to use or would work best for the configuration I want. I want to be keep all my data files on the mac - not on the winxp virtual hd. I want to be able to copy and paste from the mac to Word in the VM and vice versa. If the VM can use/commandeer a USB port I might need to run my canon dr120 scanner and my SONY voice recorder thru the VM since neither appear to have mac drivers. It sounded like Virtual Box could do that. Updating winxp after installing from the CD will be a real chore and I'm wondering how much of a risk it would be to just run winxp sp2 w/out the 100 security updates. [One of the reasons I switched to a mac ]

Does anyone have any recommendations on which VM would probably be best/easiest for a newbie mac user and suggestions as to how much memory, how much hd etc to assign to the VM? Can Virtual Box and parallel desktops pretty much do the same things or are there significant differences between the VMs?

I have a new macbook pro w/ 10.6.4, 2.66 GHz i7, 4GB RAM & a 500GB 7200 rpm hd.
mac 10.6 on macbook pro
WinXP sp2 on Dell 380 w/ 512 MB RAM- currently dead in the water
WinXP tab ed sp 3 on Thinkpad X41 w/ 1.5 GB RAM - lemony flavored
Win2K Sp4 on Sony VAIO GXR600 w/ 512 MB RAM - currently blue screening

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#2 Buddyme2

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Posted 12 October 2010 - 01:07 AM

I don't know the answer to your question, but did you know that Office for Mac 2011 is out and it supports Visual Basic?

#3 MaryBet82

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Posted 19 October 2010 - 03:22 PM

Thanks buddyme2

I didn't know Office for Mac 2011 was out. I'd much rather run Word on OSX than on a virtual [or real] winxp if I can only have my macros and customized toolbars and my Wordart and edit my wmf clipart. MS made a big change from Word 2003 to Word 10 - replacing toolbars w/ ribbons and I read it was less customizable. I just hope they have a trial download so I can see how it works 'cause I expect it'll cost me a few bucks.

Presto's Pagemanager has the page descew and page stacking and convert to pdf features that I used in PaperPort and there's a mac version. I tried the windows trial version on my winxp computer [didn't find the mac download trial until later] and I think it'll work OK for me. I can't use my scanner w/ the automatic feeder, tho,' cause canon doesn't provide mac drivers for it. Have to use my s l o w canon lide 100 scanner. Sigh.

If word 2011 and Pagemanager work out, I can really start using my mac.
mac 10.6 on macbook pro
WinXP sp2 on Dell 380 w/ 512 MB RAM- currently dead in the water
WinXP tab ed sp 3 on Thinkpad X41 w/ 1.5 GB RAM - lemony flavored
Win2K Sp4 on Sony VAIO GXR600 w/ 512 MB RAM - currently blue screening

#4 HighDesertBum

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Posted 19 October 2010 - 08:15 PM

pc user w/ new mac

I've read the manual for Virtual Box and for parallel desktops, but I don't know which to try or how to configure/set up the VM - how much memory to assign to the VM etc. Until I actually set up and use a VM I'm not going to understand a lot of the info I've read- like how shared folders actually works. I need to run winxp in a VM so that I can run my Word 2003 and until I can run Word on my mac I'm still stuck mostly using my pc.

I'd like to use the free Virtual Box unless parallel desktops is much easier to use or would work best for the configuration I want. I want to be keep all my data files on the mac - not on the winxp virtual hd. I want to be able to copy and paste from the mac to Word in the VM and vice versa. If the VM can use/commandeer a USB port I might need to run my canon dr120 scanner and my SONY voice recorder thru the VM since neither appear to have mac drivers. It sounded like Virtual Box could do that. Updating winxp after installing from the CD will be a real chore and I'm wondering how much of a risk it would be to just run winxp sp2 w/out the 100 security updates. [One of the reasons I switched to a mac ]

Does anyone have any recommendations on which VM would probably be best/easiest for a newbie mac user and suggestions as to how much memory, how much hd etc to assign to the VM? Can Virtual Box and parallel desktops pretty much do the same things or are there significant differences between the VMs?

I have a new macbook pro w/ 10.6.4, 2.66 GHz i7, 4GB RAM & a 500GB 7200 rpm hd.


I'm not too familiar with either program but what I can tell you is that you'll probably want to set at least 1GB for RAM and at least 10GBs for the VMs HD. From the few VMs I've used with Windows, the RAM is adjustable as long as the VM is turned off and "usually" you can make the virtual HD expandable. From the size of the Macs HD it wouldn't hurt to have the virtual HD located there and would be a great way to begin to learn about VMs and how they work. So dive on in and don't be afraid, you can't damage your system and everything is adjustable in a VM.

Good luck!

#5 MaryBet82

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Posted 21 October 2010 - 05:05 PM

Thanks HighDesertBum

I was thinking 1 GB for the RAM but I had no idea what to allocate for the virtual HD. I noticed on my WinXP PCs that when you add up the size of windows folders - like documents & settings + Windows - it takes up a lot more room than the recommended sizes given for the OS. 10 GB should hold the Window OS + Program files. One VM, I think Virtual Box, gives you a choice of setting up a fixed size virtual hdd or a dynamic [expandable] hdd - with the fixed being faster.
mac 10.6 on macbook pro
WinXP sp2 on Dell 380 w/ 512 MB RAM- currently dead in the water
WinXP tab ed sp 3 on Thinkpad X41 w/ 1.5 GB RAM - lemony flavored
Win2K Sp4 on Sony VAIO GXR600 w/ 512 MB RAM - currently blue screening

#6 computerxpds

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Posted 21 October 2010 - 07:08 PM

10 Gb for win xp is a little low I would go with at least 15-20 GB. And yes Fixed is faster. If you want a faster win xp then I would do 2 GB of ram that way you would get better performance, you would still have plenty of ram to run mac os x while running win xp. :blink:
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#7 HighDesertBum

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Posted 21 October 2010 - 07:38 PM

10 Gb for win xp is a little low I would go with at least 15-20 GB. And yes Fixed is faster. If you want a faster win xp then I would do 2 GB of ram that way you would get better performance, you would still have plenty of ram to run mac os x while running win xp. :blink:


I have 10GBs set aside for a WinXP VM, fully updated, Adobe InDesign CS2 and Symantec Endpoint Protection installed with 2GBs of space left over. But, it all depends on what is stored on it and how much working space is needed. You can also remove the update packages if need be and reclaim tons of space since once they're installed you're more than likely not going to remove them. I would test the rest of your programs first before deleting any update packages to make sure they don't interfere with each other.

In my instance I haven't removed the update packages but the machine just pushes PDFs through for a front-end system so nothing is stored... To each there own though. ;)

#8 MaryBet82

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Posted 22 October 2010 - 09:18 PM

Well, I have plenty of hdd room so I could just as well do 20 GB as 10 GB. If I understood what I read, I can save the files created by the apps in the VM outside of the virtual hdd - in a "network" share or a shared folder or something. So my virtual hdd should just need room for windows, program files & temp files. I don't know if the VM puts any files/folders on the virtual hdd or not.

I plan to run most of my apps on the mac [if I can work w/ Word for mac 2011 and pagemanager] with just a few apps in the VM. So I was thinking of only giving the VM 1 RAM. If I end up having to run Word 2003 and/or paperport in the VM, then I was going to give the VM 2 GB. Actually the mac os will be running the VM. I wonder how much resources the VM requires.

I don't know how to check on the mac's resource usage - haven't gotten to that chapter yet. With my PCs I could use task manager to check commit charge and cpu usage.

This VM software seems sort of magical to me - I don't see how it can possible work. I keep reading how it does tho, so I want to give it a try. If I can run some of my windows only stuff on the mac it would be very nice. Well, if winxp will behave when it only has to run a few apps.
mac 10.6 on macbook pro
WinXP sp2 on Dell 380 w/ 512 MB RAM- currently dead in the water
WinXP tab ed sp 3 on Thinkpad X41 w/ 1.5 GB RAM - lemony flavored
Win2K Sp4 on Sony VAIO GXR600 w/ 512 MB RAM - currently blue screening

#9 computerxpds

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Posted 23 October 2010 - 05:54 PM

Mac os x has something like task manager it is in the utilities folder which is located in the applications folder. It is called activity monitor. :blink: Or just use spot light to search for it. :wacko: (I always forget about spotlight)
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#10 MaryBet82

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Posted 25 October 2010 - 04:57 PM

Thanks computerxpds

I found Activity Monitor and clicked all its tabs and options and read thru its help. I like that it lets you export a list of the processes. With lots of windows & apps open - my usual way of working - I had 1.83 GB memory free and was using 2GB. I don't know what that means as far as assigning RAM to a VM. Windows used to "take" all the memory, so I used to check commit charge and if the peak value was less than my total physical RAM I knew I wasn't paging.

If my windows RAM usage has any bearing on my winxp vm on mac ram usage, then 1 GB should be plenty, even if I have to run Word & Paperport in the VM. I don't know how much RAM the VM itself uses and whether that usage is on the mac ram or the vm ram or both. I'm going to start w/ 1 GB and see how that goes.

Word 2011 for mac is supposed to come out tomorrow. If it works out, then I can really start using my mac.
mac 10.6 on macbook pro
WinXP sp2 on Dell 380 w/ 512 MB RAM- currently dead in the water
WinXP tab ed sp 3 on Thinkpad X41 w/ 1.5 GB RAM - lemony flavored
Win2K Sp4 on Sony VAIO GXR600 w/ 512 MB RAM - currently blue screening

#11 HighDesertBum

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Posted 25 October 2010 - 05:12 PM

If my windows RAM usage has any bearing on my winxp vm on mac ram usage, then 1 GB should be plenty, even if I have to run Word & Paperport in the VM. I don't know how much RAM the VM itself uses and whether that usage is on the mac ram or the vm ram or both. I'm going to start w/ 1 GB and see how that goes.


The VM always uses the hosts memory and CPU. So whatever you assign to the VM it will take that away from the host/your Mac; that means if you assign 1GB of RAM for the VM that is 1GB less for your Mac to use. I would start out with 1GB as well and see how that feels. If you feel your VM is being maxed out then increase it a bit more.

#12 MaryBet82

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Posted 26 October 2010 - 07:20 PM

I installed VirtualBox and its Guest additions and I installed and activated winxp. But I can't figure out how to install any programs since the dvd drive doesn't show up in My Computer. Do I make an iso file from the install CD and put it in a shared folder? Can I make the DVD a shared folder?

In order to install winxp, VirtualBox "recognized" the dvd drive & made the DVD the boot device, but it did all the work so I don't know how it did it. Per Device Manager in winxp there is a VBox CD-ROM.
mac 10.6 on macbook pro
WinXP sp2 on Dell 380 w/ 512 MB RAM- currently dead in the water
WinXP tab ed sp 3 on Thinkpad X41 w/ 1.5 GB RAM - lemony flavored
Win2K Sp4 on Sony VAIO GXR600 w/ 512 MB RAM - currently blue screening

#13 HighDesertBum

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Posted 26 October 2010 - 07:30 PM

I installed VirtualBox and its Guest additions and I installed and activated winxp. But I can't figure out how to install any programs since the dvd drive doesn't show up in My Computer. Do I make an iso file from the install CD and put it in a shared folder? Can I make the DVD a shared folder?

In order to install winxp, VirtualBox "recognized" the dvd drive & made the DVD the boot device, but it did all the work so I don't know how it did it. Per Device Manager in winxp there is a VBox CD-ROM.


What do you see when you're looking for the drive in XP? Do you seen any sort of CDROM/DVD drive at all?

#14 MaryBet82

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Posted 26 October 2010 - 07:49 PM

I was just coming back to edit to a never mind. I found it under Devices at the top of the VM window. There was a list of devices including "host drive...dvd... "and when I selected it the Word installation started. I didn't see anything in the manual about the dvd drive, just about USB, but so far this has been so easy I guess they only have to put the basics like installing and guest additions in the manual. In fact, I'm a little freaked out that it's been so easy. NOT my experience w/ dear old windows.

Tomorrow I'm going to read the directions again on how to "filter" USB and set up a shared folder. My brain's turned itself off.
mac 10.6 on macbook pro
WinXP sp2 on Dell 380 w/ 512 MB RAM- currently dead in the water
WinXP tab ed sp 3 on Thinkpad X41 w/ 1.5 GB RAM - lemony flavored
Win2K Sp4 on Sony VAIO GXR600 w/ 512 MB RAM - currently blue screening

#15 HighDesertBum

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Posted 26 October 2010 - 08:09 PM

Glad you found it. Let us know if there's anything else.




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