One month with a Mac Part I: VMWare Fusion

This was originally a single blog post describing everything I’ve learned about the Mac over the past month as a follow up to my “So, I bought a Mac” post. But it ended up getting so long that I’ve decided to break it down into several posts. This first one deals with VMWare Fusion.

I absolutely love this. I was never going to be able to complete get rid of the PC given the number of Windows only applications I use. But, using VWWare Fusion I am now running a Vista virtual machine on the Mac in which I can run all of the windows applications. I was torn between using XP or Vista, I tried Vista first, and it ran so well that I decided not to even try XP.

The setup is very simple. You tell it that you want to create a new virtual machine, tell it the operating system, and the put the installation disk in. It automates the entire setup process from there so you don’t have to do anything.

My MacBook only has 2GB of RAM. So, I initially gave the virtual 1GB. Doing this make the host system seem to run a little sluggish especially when running lots of Mac applications. I then backed the virtual down to 512 MB of RAM and it still ran fine for the Windows applications I was running (Microsoft Money and Visual Studio 2008). However, before doing any hard core .Net development on here I’m going to upgrade to 4 MB of RAM.

The Unity mode of VMWare Fusion is really amazing — it hides the Vista desktop and makes it look like you are running the Windows applications directly on the Mac. Most of the time I run Vista in full screen mode on the second Mac desktop. This means I just hit Control+Right Arrow to work on Vista and then Control+Left to switch back to Mac. Very slick.

After determining that this would work for all of my Windows needs, I have moved my PC to the 17″ LCD monitor and it’s basically just used for a network file / backup server now. I then hook the MacBook up to the 20″ widescreen monitor when I’m working at home now. What I really need to find as a KVM switch that supports DVI and USB, but that’s a project for another day…

So, VMWare Fusion is a big hit with me. I used the 30 day trial here at first. And then, by the time I realized it was going to be perfect I noticed Amazon running a sale on it for $35.00 after a $20 mail in rebate. I had to jump.