“A nearly impenetrable thicket of geekitude…”

Fusion Beta

I’ve been getting more and more dependent on virtual machine technology over the last couple of years. Although I use Microsoft’s Virtual PC for Mac and the Parallels Desktop product from time to time, most of my virtual machines live on VMware Server under Linux or VMware Workstation running on my remaining Windows 2000 desktop machine. Today’s announcement of a public beta for VMware’s Fusion product for Intel-based Macs therefore came as a pleasant festive surprise. Of course, I downloaded it right away.

My first impression is that it seems to work just fine. The current beta version runs with a lot of debug code active, and the first thing you see is a warning that you’re not going to get a lot of performance out of it. The Beta EULA prevents me from commenting further on that front, and in any case both VMware Server and Parallels Desktop were less than stellar in their beta phases so it isn’t significant information.

Problems? So far, really very few. I brought up a Fedora Core 6 client from scratch in about half an hour, and downloaded an Openfiler virtual appliance and had it up and running in seconds. For some reason, I couldn’t connect to the OpenFiler appliance’s administrative interface from the host machine, but it appeared to be working fine from another machine. [Update: known issue in this build, see comments below.]

The current beta is missing any kind of snapshot facility, which is a pity as that’s one of the things that marks out VMware Workstation as such an excellent development tool. The other thing it’s missing is some of the GUI for doing things like adding more virtual hard disks to a machine. However, I found that if I stored the virtual machine on a removable FAT32 drive, I could swap it over to the Windows machine running Workstation, make changes there then swap it back to the Mac again. Neat!

Summary: very good for an initial public beta. If the final functionality comes up to Workstation’s level, particularly in the area of snapshots, I’m a customer.

See this thread in the forums about host-guest networking.

Glad you’re enjoying the beta so far!

— jtroyer at vmware on December 22, 2006