Parallels 4 Released and Installed

Parallels recently released version 4 of their Parallels Desktop for Mac. I’ve been running Parallels 3 on my iMac and have three virtual machines configured. The first is Windows Vista Ultimate, the second is Ubuntu 8.04 Server and the third is a little used Windows XP Home virtual machine.

I purchased the upgrade and just completed converting the Vista and Ubuntu VMs. The upgrade wasn’t problem free. The Vista upgrade ended up being successful but required some manual intervention. The Ubuntu Server upgrade resulted in a VM that can’t talk on the network and a fix still eludes me.

The installation of Parallels 4 itself when well. I downloaded the DMG disk image file from Parallels, mounted it and ran the installer. The install warns that Parallels 3 will be removed but that’s the only difference between this upgrade and a standard Mac install. It only took a couple of minutes on my iMac.

Then I started the Vista Ultimate VM and was prompted to backup before upgrading. Even though I had my usual backup I decided to let it make a backup that wouldn’t get overwritten tonight. It’s just a file copy so times will vary but my backup took about 30 minutes. After the backup the actual conversion kicked off. It almost immediately told me I had to logon the the VM to continue. Once I logged on it immediately popped back to the wizard and showed the progress of the conversion. Fifty minutes later I was told I needed to manually complete the upgrade. I suspect it failed long before and there was a long delay until it timed out. So I logged back onto the VM and ran setup.exe from the CD. It had told me to ignore any Windows messages. Upon and upon logging in I cancelled a couple new hardware found messages.

During the install there were numerous “unsigned driver warnings” which I allowed to install and there was a reboot at the end. After the reboot there wasn’t a Parallels Tools icon in the system tray or a menu item but that seems to be normal with this version. The tool processes do show in task manager.

So far things seem fine with the Vista VM but it’s only been a few hours and a few test reboots. There could still be some problems lurking in the shadows.

The Ubuntu Server VM upgrade when quickly since it was small and didn’t have the tools installed. Unfortunately I’ve been unable to get it on the network since the upgrade, no matter what network mode I try. It had been working just before the upgrade. The network seems properly configured within Ubuntu itself but it’s unable to find the ethernet adapter.

 

What’s New

Parallels says there’s a 50% speed improvement. I’ll have to take their word for it. I never stressed Parallels in the past and haven’t seen a difference for what I do. I have noticed some rumblings online that people have seen a degradation in the performance of their windows VMs but it’s impossible to judge how common it is.

Video support is improved. Up to 256MB can be allocated to video memory and DirectX 9 and OpenGL 2 are supported. There’s a large list of 3D games and applications that are supported.

Overall there doesn’t seem to be much here for a paid upgrade. I realize Parallels needs to make money but VMware Fusion hasn’t had a paid upgrade since their initial release and the difference between Fusion 1 and Fusion 2 where about the same as between Parallels 3 and Parallels 4. If you’ve already got Parallels then you should probably upgrade during the discount period. If your still shopping then VMware Fusion may be a lower cost option.

MobileMe Expires

Today I received an e-mail telling me my MobileMe subscription finally expired. No more extensions, no more apologies. After my MobileMe troubles I’d already moved off of it so when the expiration e-mail came it was no big deal. I’d already turned off everything MobileMe related so I didn’t even have to clean up. I also couldn’t tell you if MobileMe still has problems since I gave up trying to get it to work long ago.

While I didn’t use every piece of MobileMe here’s what I use now to replace the parts of MobileMe I did use.

Foxmarks is a Firefox add-in that syncs bookmarks between computers (Mac and PC) and also makes them accessible via the web. Technically it doesn’t replace Safari bookmark syncing but when Firefox 3 came out I moved off of Safari.

Dropbox is my replacement for iDisk. There’s 2GB of disk space with the free account which is considerably less than iDisk but enough for me. As a bonus it’s also cross-platform (Mac/Windows/Linux) and there’s web access to the files. There’s a lot of other choices in this category and I used Amazon S3 via Jungle Disk, Microsoft Mesh and Microsoft Foldershare. The Jungle Disk/Amazon S3 combination is the most secure as I can add my own encryption key. It’s also the only choice without a free option. Microsoft’s Mesh and Live Folders support both Windows and Macs. Mesh is still a tech preview and too buggy for my tastes, but an intriguing service I’ll keep revisiting. If Mesh and Foldershare weren’t enough from Microsoft they also have Skydrive if you need more free space, although it doesn’t have a desktop client. Dropbox just seemed to be the one that fit into my workflow better than the others.

Evernote has replaced Yojimbo as my information manager. Yojimbo didn’t require MobileMe but used it (actually .Mac – I never got MobileMe working with it) to sync data between Macs. Like the previous replacements Evernote is cross-platform and has a web component. While it doesn’t support encryption of the entire entry or database it does allow encryption of specific text within a note. Due to the limited encryption support (it requires me to remember to encrypt what I want encrypted) and web component I don’t use it for everything I had kept in Yojimbo (like passwords and bank account information) but it’s also easier to add clippings to Evernote.

1Password replaces Yojimbo for the password and financial information. It’s Mac only but there’s is a web interface in beta. It integrates well with Safari and Firefox which makes life easy. The data file is encrypted and synced between Macs using Dropbox. (Earlier version did require .Mac for syncing since it used a OS X keychain file) The web component makes me uncomfortable so I haven’t synced to the web. The downside is that it’s a $40 app.

Those changes covered everything I used MobileMe for. I didn’t use the other features so I’m happy. Of course, I already left .Mac once and went back so I’m not saying I’ll never go back.