Geek and Roman Toys

Apple finally releases Intel Core 2 Duo versions of the 15 and 17″ MacBook Pro. The concept of 200Gb of disk space and 3Gb of RAM is attractive, but we’ll have to see … I don’t think Santa is that generous. Unless someone wants a 5 month old 15″ MacBook Pro.

Myriad of things from Adobe. Apollo gets US$100m of backing from Adobe; but still no code to get your hands dirty. Flex Builder 2.0 for MacOS is out. Woot!

DigitalEditions comments from Ryan Stewart; in fact, Ryan has some excellent comments on Adobe Apollo too.

However, the biggest announcement is a parry to Microsoft’s XPS: Adobe Mars project. This is a representation of PDF in XML, but packed in a ZIP container. This one has been bumping around for a while: and it seems the SVG might just be getting another run at Adobe.

Just as Adobe starts to head toward the moon in the Apollo, we have another space metaphor to deal with: Mars. Or mabye it’s just a penchant for Roman Gods?

Fittingly, Mars is the Roman god of war.

Too much stuff, my brain hurts. Especially as I have some serious Javascript and Adobe Extendscript revolving in my head.

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Parallels 1884 Vista Quick Notes (and update)

Download the 21Mb update to Parallels (to build 1884)

Boot Windows XP to ensure all is OK before I install Vista. Windows XP “seems” to boot a little faster. Unable to quantify exactly how much.

Backup existing 15Gb Windows XP .hdd, just in case. Create a new 15Gb image to install Vista into.

Pararllels settings:

Parallels settings

Install into the fresh 15Gb image, 1024Mb of RAM allocated to image. Vista is marked at (experimental) as OS. Installing onto a MacBook Pro with 2Gb of RAM and MacOS X 10.4.7

  • Beta 2 Build 5384 DVD (thanks, Frank Arrigo at Microsoft Australia)
  • Started install at 11:05am
  • Vista install auto-restarted at 11:35
  • Vista install auto-restarted at 11:43am
  • Questions (location, time, username) at 11:46am
  • Vista install auto-restarted at 11:47am
  • Into Vista Beta 2 at 11:50am
  • Install Parallels Tools from the Parallels VM menu. Note that these don’t seem to be signed drivers, so ignore all the warnings and install away
  • Manual Vista Restart
  • On restart, if the “Welcome Center” doesn’t appear, choose it from the Start menu. Click on Add Hardware.
  • Vista found network card, and automatically configured network. Also note that Vista also finds “PCI Bridge Device” which I asked Vista to ignore
  • Restart; Vista found network card, and automatically configured network. Note that the Network Adaptor settings for the Parallels VM set “Bridged” worked OK

In short, it works. Note that I haven’t stress tested this; and the Parallels guys say its experimental. Beta OS on experimental hypervisor virtualization. Your mileage may actually turn into inchage quickly.

vista login

Vista Desktop first questions

RC1 Note from 8:20pm

You cannot install Vista RC1 on Parallels. Bugger. ISO, DVD burnt or upgrade from Beta 2 to RC1. None of these paths work.

***STOP: 0x000000A5 (0x0001000B, 0x50434146, etc)

The ACPI Bios in this system is not fully compliant to the specification. Please read the Readme.txt for possible workarounds, or contact your system vendor for an updated bios.”

Uptime: 22 days. And I run Windows XP SP2.

I am not a Mac fan-boy. Been there, done that. And to be truthful, I think I am a little too old for zealotry. The innocent dogmatism of youth has been replaced with that pragmatism to the point of pessimism middle age.

My 15″ MacBook Pro runs MacOS X 10.4.7. The last time I rebooted was the installation of the MacOS X 10.4.7 update. That restart was so long ago, I honestly cannot remember rebooting.


Pop over to a Terminal window, uptime: up 22 days.

Up until May this year I had been a Windows person. Dell this, Windows that. A clean shutdown or restart at least once per week would keep the Dell going. After constantly sleeping/hibernating, things just didn’t feel stable anymore under Windows XP. Maybe it was all the weird VPN networking stuff that I had to run. Or memory not being freed up.

This MacBook Pro gets an equal amount of digital thrashing. It’s turned on and being used at least 14 hours per day. During the day, there are multiple shut-the-laptop lid hibernations, running multiple applications. Installing, launching Mac apps; de-installing (drag-install, drag to trash deinstall). Mad as hatter cats pulling out the magsafe power connector; Dashboard widgets are added, removed and refreshed. PowerPC (Rosetta) applications launching, force-quit Sheepshaver. Wireless network router reconfiguration. The screen in brilliant for spreadsheets – the performance on the Mac and Windows under virtualization are excellent.

During these 22 days I’ve booted Windows XP at least 15 times using Parallels. Most recently to run a TRS-80 emulator, and to take a look at a personal email in an archive .pst file. Even backing up the PC is easy. Drag copy the disk image onto our family file Debian server.

Under Parallels, everything I’ve installed has worked first time. Office 2003, Office 2007 Beta. Adobe Flex 2.0, Adobe Premiere Elements 2.0. Microsoft XML Notepad.

In a smartly organized corporate environment, and some smart configuration created by some smarter infrastructure cookies, a single standard Windows XP image could be created on a server. This could be pulled down when people come into work as their standard “office” suite. Separating the environments for executives could be a mechanism of saving costs.

Without the apple-coloured glasses, there are some deficiencies: the MacBook Pro has an integrated video camera in the lid but there are no device drivers for Parallels; and ACPI is yet to be supported under Parallels: so no Vista Beta/Vista SP1 yet. Not a big gamer thankfully as games performance/Direct3D sucks.

It’s still not a real Windows XP machine. There is no little laser-etched blue OEM badge (the Windows XP Professional installed is a box copy). So 22 days uptime or not, there is something that just doesn’t feel right: running Windows on a Mac is like listening to Country and Western in a Ferrari. You feel, well, dirty.

Still, this MacBook Pro has been the most stable Windows laptop I’ve had the pleasure of using. So, by definition – is the safest way to run Windows XP is under virtualization on MacOS X?

A/UX 3.0: Apple’s first Unix OS

History revisionists state that Apple had to buy NeXT as they could not write their own pre-emptive/protected memory OS.

Apple A/UX 3.0 integrated the best of System 7 and Unix. Maybe not the latest Unix available at that time, nor on the fastest hardware; nor with the best driver support. But it rocked for its time.

From memory, Apple needed to created A/UX to permit their hardware to be sold as “POSIX” compliant to US DoD. With more internal, less “not-invented-here” thinking – the need to have a bogus OS (Copland) and the ultimate reverse take-over by NeXT could have been avoided.

State of Mac Virtualization

MacWorld reports from the WWDC and an interview with Ben Rudolph of Parallels:

…”What’s more, Parallels Desktop for Mac will see “fast 3D graphics support,” presumably to help cater to gamers who want to run Windows games without having to reboot their machine”…

I’ve just updated to the latest Parallels beta; it was smooth and you can notice the graphics improvement. Being able to tweak the virtual environment/MacOS X is cool. Not ACPI BIOS yet, so no Vista install. Yet.

Now that Microsoft has left the MacOS X sphere, Parallels seems to be positioning itself at the consumer end of the market: games and ease of use. And increasing its distribution was a smart and calculated move.

This leaves VMware to the high end. As predicted here, two of the three predictions have come true; and according to a Macintouch interview with Dave Schroeder of VMware, the third is going to need customers to voice their needs to Apple. So it is not off the table, however we have Apple’s mantra/dogma of “MacOS X will never run on non-Apple hardware” to surmount.

It is within the realms of possiblity that Apple could create a version of MacOS X Server that had a distinct, non-desktop personality (desktop APIs removed), and checked for either Apple or VMWare “virtual hardware” — creating a stable, enterprise level Unix. This leaves customers to choose either XServe hardware with MacOS X Server, or VMware virtual hardware with MacOS X Server. The result is a live market test and ROI of being in the highly competitive and fast moving blade server marketplace.

Leave the desktop MacOS X to run on Apple hardware only.

There must be a gaggle Product Managers and Finance-types deep inside of Cupertino running their pivot tables in Excel to argue both sides of the equation. The sales of the these new XServes in the next 2-3 quarters will predict the future of MacOS X Server on a virtualization platform.

Virtualization, MacOS X Server

Silicon Valley Sleuth writes a short article on the appearance of VMware at WWDC. It’s about more than just the desktop OS.

Here is another pie-in-the-sky, non-desktop scenario:

  • Apple releases new versions of both their Xserver and the MacOS X Server.
  • Xserve becomes a tested and supported platform for VMWare Server and more importantly VMware’s ESX Server. This will permit new Intel-based XServes to be installed into Datacenters with their heads held high. VMware endorsement is cred Apple needs to go to the next revenue level with their servers.
  • An implementation of Leopardized MacOS X Server will run on non-Apple hardware on VMware. This is a counter-punch to the recent Xen/Microsoft/VMware wrangling. Now MacOS X Server can run on a stable and supported platform (VMware ESX) rather than the multitude of hardware configurations found in the Intel world.

So, what’s the net-net of this? Apple has VMware supported as an application on MacOS X desktop; endorsement of their blade server environment and more sales of MacOS X Server without the support hassles.

VMware gets unique and in-demand server OS with excellent corporate support. Rather than IS managers adopting the Linux/Intel “build it yourself” approach; a supported platform is important.

It is not so much about the desktop, but the server.

The next few days will be very interesting!