VMware Importer Now Supports VirtualPC 2007!

The VMware Fusion team recently announced that the new beta version of VMware Converter (beta 2) will allow importing of Virtual PC 2007 based virtual machines, as well as Parallels Desktop 2.5 and Parallels 3.0 based virtual machines.

This means that you can now easily convert old virtual machines that you might have running on G3/G4/G5 PowerPC Macs, as well as convert newer virtual machines on Intel Macs running Parallels to VMware Fusion – the better product in my honest opinion.

The operating systems supported are Windows XP Home and Pro, Windows Sever 2003, Windows 2000 and you also get the added bonus of being able to import Microsoft Windows Vista virtual machines from Parallels.

Take that with a grain of salt though… I do currently work for a VMware partner 🙂 On the other hand, VMware Fusion did just receive the annual MacWorld Editors’ Choice Award – you be the judge.
Here are the release notes from the VMware blog:

“The VMware Fusion team is proud to announce the release of VMware Importer Beta 2, for the importation of third-party Mac-based virtual machines to run using VMware Fusion.We’re especially excited about this release, as users can now import virtual machines created with Virtual PC 7.0 for Mac! Even though we live and breath Intel-based Macs here on Team Fusion, it’s important to remember that Intel-Macs have only been around for a little under two years now.That means there’s a lot of Mac users out there using Virtual PC 7.0 on their trusty PowerBook, iBooks, G4 and G5 Towers, and more. When it comes time to upgrade to a shiny new Intel-Mac, well, we on Team Fusion want those users to have a smooth upgrade process to the most seamless way to run Windows on a Mac.

VMware Importer Beta 2 allows for the importation of Virtual PC 7.0-based virtual machines with the following operating systems:

  • Windows 2000 Service Pack 4
  • Windows XP Service Pack 2
  • Windows Server 2003

VMware Importer Beta 2 also lets users import virtual machines created using Parallels Desktop for Mac 2.5 and 3.0, including:

  • Windows 2000 Service Pack 4
  • Windows XP Service Pack 2
  • Windows Server 2003
  • Windows Vista

Check out the VMware Importer Beta 2 landing page here, and give it a whirl!

And, as always, users looking to convert a physical PC to run as a virtual machine under VMware Fusion can use VMware Converter Starter Edition to do just that in a snap.

Questions and comments are always welcome at the VMware Fusion community forums, where Fusion users come to talk Mac virtualization.”

Disable the Dock in Apple OS X Tiger

Many people find that they simply don’t have enough screen real estate on their MacBooks, and prefer to use application launchers such as Apple’s own Spotlight, or the third party applications QuickSilver and launchbar.

There are two ways to remove the Dock from OS X tiger – one easy, the other a more manual approach.

We’ll start with the hard one, since it’s better to understand what’s going on behind the scenes. If this simply doesn’t interest you and you’d rather move on – rest assured that scripting the hard part is just as safe, and works in a similar manner.

On to the hard part:

  • The first step is to move the dock from /System/Library/CoreServices so that it won’t be launched on startup as it is normally. This is a bit hackish, but I’ve yet to get anything else working properly.
  • Since the dock will no longer be called at startup as it is missing from the usual cave it hides out in, we’ll need to make the Dock start up from it’s new location when we log in. This can easily be accomplished by dragging Dock.app from its new hiding place to your startup items (found in the “accounts” system preference pane).
  • Since the idea here is to get rid of the Dock, we’ll need to close it after it is run on login. The easiest way to do this is to make an Applescript that terminates the dock for you, and have it run just after the Dock is launched on startup. This allows the Dock to start, get it’s act in gear, then disappear.
  • Now you can proceed with your normal modus operandi and utilize QuickSilver or whatever other application launcher that you prefer to use instead of the Dock.

The easier way to do all of this is to leverage a piece of software written by No Name Scriptware called Dock Death. Dock Death is an AppleScript that performs the same task we outlined above, and also gives you a back out strategy in case you really need to get the Dock back.

Both of these solutions will effectively disable Expose since it a Dock process. If you can’t live without Expose, you may want to try using the freeware Onyx, which allows you to move the Dock to the top of the screen and hide it, effectively eliminating it from view. Though this is a bit low-tech in that it doesn’t really disable the Dock, for some people it gets the job done.

Turn off Apple Startup Sound on your Intel Mac

If the chime your Mac makes on bootup drives you batty, have no fear – it’s controllable. You can mute, turn down, or even turn UP your Macintosh startup volume using freeware utilities!

There are a few applications out there that will allow you to adjust the Apple startup noise, but only one (as far as I can tell) that will allow you to adjust the startup chime on Intel based Macs – Psst from mistatree will let you do it on your x86 Apple computer, and it’s easy to use too!

Psst is a universal binary that runs in OS X, meaning that it will run on PPC Macs, as well as the newer Intel Macs like iMacs, MacBooks, MacBook Pros and Mac Pros.

To install the program, simply download the DMG image file using Safari, Firefox or your favorite browser, and mount the image by double clicking it. After that you can copy the file anywhere on your hard drive and run the application by double clicking it. Adjust the startup sound to your liking and reboot to see the changes. You will notice the difference on bootup/startup – the startup chime should be less noisy or muted depending on how you adjusted it.

Parallels Desktop Mac Beta2 (Build 3094)

Oh boy, big news!

A new beta of Parallels has been released today, and is a free download for Parallels users. Coherence and BootCamp compatibility have been improved, along with a slew of other features.

Here’s the release notes for the Parallels Desktop for Mac (Beta2) page:

  • NEW! USB 2.0 support – “Plug and play” popular USB devices like external hard drives, printers, and scanners, and use them at full native speed.
    • NOTE! Current Build 3094 doesn’t support isochronous devices such as web cameras, microphones, etc.
  • NEW! Full-feature virtual CD/DVD drive – Burn CDs and DVDs directly in virtual machines, and play any copy-protected CD or DVD just like you would on a real PC
  • NEW! Improved Coherence mode – The groundbreaking feature that lets you run Windows applications without seeing Windows just got better! Now you can:
    • Place Windows applications on your Mac desktop or in your application dock. Just click to launch them directly from OS X!
    • Use Command+tab to cycle through Windows and Mac applications simultaneously, and “hide and show” Windows applications just like you would with Mac applications
    • View the Windows Command Console in Coherence mode
    • Use Coherence in Windows 2000, Windows 2003, Windows XP and Windows Vista!
  • NEW! Better Boot Camp support – Using your Boot Camp partition in Parallels Desktop is now easier than ever. Beta2’s Boot Camp support includes:
    • Full support for FAT32 and NTFS partitions
    • Easy offline configuration. Simply tell Parallels Desktop that you want to create a virtual machine from a Boot Camp Partition and click start. No complicated set up required!
    • No need to re-activate Windows each time you switch between Boot Camp and Parallels. Activate Windows only once inside Parallels and work in both environments
    • IMPORTANT! It is not possible to suspend a Virtual Machine that is connected to Boot Camp as it could result in an unstable system.
    • VERY IMPORTANT! Beta1 (build 3036) users must boot natively into Boot Camp and uninstall Parallels Tools for Boot Camp prior to running it in Beta2 (build 3094).
  • NEW! Parallels Transporter Beta2 bundled – migrate your real Windows PC, or existing VMware or Virtual PC VMs to Parallels virtual machines! Learn more about Parallels Transporter Beta2 >>
    • IMPORTANT! Beta1 users MUST upgrade their Transporter package on their Windows source machine before using Parallels Transporter in Beta2. Failing to do so may result in a system crash and loss of data
  • New Look and Feel – completely redesigned windows and easier to follow dialogues to make Desktop for Mac more user-friendly than ever
  • True “Drag and Drop” functionality – a long awaited feature that lets you seamlessly drag and drop files and folders from Windows to Mac OS X and vice versa
  • Read/Write Boot Camp partition – use your Apple Boot Camp Partition as a virtual HDD for Parallels Desktop for Mac
  • Virtual Machine Catalogue – now all of your virtual machines are available through a centralized VM catalogue which appears on each Parallels Desktop for Mac instance
  • One-click Virtual Machine Aliases – automatically create a desktop shortcut for your virtual machine with the OS Installation Assistant, by dragging-and-dropping from title bar, or by pressing Command-Option keys combination. Clicking on Alias automatically starts the Virtual Machine
  • Resizable Main Window – resize the Parallels Desktop for Mac main window as you do with any other Mac application
  • Auto-Adjusting Screen Resolution – Windows auto-adjusts its screen resolution to the actual main window size
  • Improved graphic performance – up to 50% faster!
  • Connect/disconnect USB devices schema improved – no more annoying “wait 5-10 seconds” message on USB device connecting to Parallels Desktop for Mac!
  • Up to 5 Virtual NICs – now each Virtual Machine can have up to five virtual network interfaces
  • Enhanced Shared Networking Mode – run Cisco VPN and many other complex networking applications in conjunction with Connection Sharing Mode

Design Useable Applications

I’ve been reading the IndieHIG (Independent Human Interface Guidelines) a lot lately, being a fan of Apple’s original HIG, and (to a lesser extent) the Sun Java HIG as well.

While it’s great that they are taking on the Macintosh apps that are not aligning to standards, they don’t really apply anywhere else at all, and that’s a real shame. What the venerable Apple HIG really had going for it was that it could be applied anywhere, and that’s why it was so popular.

I really think the new HIGs to be watching are those from Gnome HIG and KDE HIG as more app development experts are involved and the rules can be applied to all types of applications, and in many environments.

But hey, keep up the good work IndieHIG – just change your name to something more suitable like Indie Apple HIG.

Skip DMG verification by default in Mac OS X

I’ve been using OS X for a while now, and one thing that really irks me, especially on larger DMG files like a Leopard image, is that OS X automatically tries to verify the checksum of the DMG image file, which could take hours.

There are a few applications out there that will disable this for you, but if you want the quick and dirty method, and don’t mind using the Terminal once in a while, use this one-liner to disable the verification easily:

defaults write com.apple.frameworks.diskimages skip-verify true

Connect to a Mac Remote Desktop using VNC

This will be a quick howto as it’s mostly a settings issue, but here goes:

Macs have come with a Remote Desktop server for quite some time now, and it’s great for using macs to manage macs remotely, though maybe not as nice as an NX or XMing solution.

When trying to manage an Apple computer using a Windows or Linux computer it’s a different story. When you attempt to open the connection the authorization works, but the window will close very quickly, with no apparent error.

The problem lies in the actual implementation of VNC in Apple’s Remote Desktop server (not to be confused with RDP – it’s MUCH slower). Apple has decided to only support one type of tiling, whereas most VNC clients will attempt to find the best solution in order to connect. Specifically, Apple uses HexTile, and if you specify this in the options or properties of your connection, it will work with no problems whatsoever.

If you’d like to make a .VNC configuration file in order to connect to your Mac server using a Windows VNC client (RealVNC used here), just take the following code and save it as a *.VNC configuration file, being careful to change the host from (null) to the remote Apple Remote Desktop server’s IP address (for example: 10.10.10.10).

[Connection]
Host=(null)
[Options]
UseLocalCursor=1
UseDesktopResize=1
FullScreen=0
FullColour=1
LowColourLevel=1
PreferredEncoding=hextile
AutoSelect=0
Shared=0
SendPtrEvents=1
SendKeyEvents=1
SendCutText=1
AcceptCutText=1
DisableWinKeys=1
Emulate3=0
PointerEventInterval=0
Monitor=
MenuKey=F8
AutoReconnect=1

I have tested this method on many Windows and Linux machines, using RealVNC, TightVNC, UltraVNC and even Chicken of the VNC for Mac OS X. It works fine, though I’d like to pound home again that I would really like to have the option to either tunnel application over SSH, or have some type of locally-accelerated RDP-compliant protocol (heck why not use LTSP 5.0?)
One can only dream…

Disco Disc Burner App Public Beta for Mac OS X

Why is it that I always find myself ponying up the small amounts of cash it takes to purchase Mac shareware applications? Black fire and a disco ball? I gotta have it.

Today I fell victim to MacZot‘s current promotion (ends in 23 hours!) that saw me gobbling up the public beta of the Disco CD/DVD burning application for Mac OS X, and boy am I content with this lil 700KB number.

Firstly, the hype: when you purchase the beta at the silly-low price, you also get the opportunity to send a free license to someone else. So here goes – the first person to leave an intelligent comment gets the license! (I’ll need a real email address) This is a great marketing idea that see people not only using the beta of a terrifically designed piece of software, but also spreading the word to others so they can try it as well. Good show.

Disco Windows

Next, the features: Disco copies discs in two clicks. Say that ten times fast. Disco can span CDs and DVDs automagically. They call it Spandex, I call it dead sexy. This is extremely handy when backing up iPhoto or iTunes, trust me. Disco can burn VIDEO_TS folders by just dragging them onto the application, which makes it great for burning your DVD backups. Disco has realtime 3D interactive smoke that actually wafts up from the application as you burn discs. If you blow into your microphone, the smoke will dissipate, and if you move your cursor around the smoke itself, it reportedly moves accordingly – but I didn’t get to see this on the low-end test box. Disco has an amazingly simplistic interface that is very easy to follow as it prompts you at every step. Last, but certainly not the least in terms of features, and should really be in caps: Disco remembers every single burn and keeps a catalog of the burn sessions using what it calls “discography” so that you can easily do things like print labels, disk jackets, or simply keep handy for when you need that dot release or the pre-altered code that you can never find. Let Disco be your personal sherpa.

Disco runs very well for a beta application. I have yet to see it crash under Panther, Tiger, or even Leopard (WWDC or the 9a ADC build). Oh, and it worked fine in Tiger server as well. Unfortunately the test box is a 1st generation Mac Mini (PPC), so there was no “smoke” to speak of (anyone have screenshots?), so that will need to be tested later. I burned some mix audio CDs, a backup copy of the disk image for Disco public beta itself, an ISO image of Ubuntu Edgy Eft Beta, and a bunch of Gentoo releases, for good measure. No hiccups. I erased a very old scratched CDRW. I even inserted a scratched blank CDR to see what would happen… Well it wouldn’t burn correctly but Disco kept on keepin’ on – like some sort of Disco inferno – no bouncing beachballs of death here. And you call this a beta? I expected flames, not smoke. No crash and burn here.

picture-1.pngpicture-2.pngpicture-3.pngpicture-4.pngpicture-5.pngpicture-6.pngpicture-7.pngpicture-8.pngpicture-9.pngpicture-10.pngpicture-10.pngpicture-11.png

In these screenshots you see the Disco app in full swing, from installation to a test burn, and a view of all the windows it provides. I really like the design of this app, and it was well worth the 15$ pricetag. If you’re new to MacZot, and need a referrer, feel free to use “blandname”. Now go write some optical media and dance around like a schoolgirl.

Oh and on the topic of Disco, and in the name of Halloween here’s a joke:

“Why didn’t the skeleton dance at the disco?”

“He had no body to dance with”

9 Great, Free Applications that Work with Vista

This is a list of my favorite Windows applications that I honestly couldn’t live without that also work on Microsoft Windows Vista RC as well, much to my surprise. All of the software is free to download and use, and in fact most of them are open source.

ConTEXT – ConTEXT is a free and lightweight editor for programming or can be used as a notepad replacement. ConTEXT supports find and replace in multiple files at once so changing one method in loads of files is no longer an issue. Works in Vista with no problems whatsoever.

Synergy – Synergy is like a software KVM, but only shares keyboard and mouse capabilities. Synergy is multiplatform, and I currently use it to have my keyboard and mouse work in Ubuntu, Vista, and my Mac Mini running Leopard with no problem at all! This way I get to use my favorite keyboard and mouse and get to free up some space on my desk at the same time.

VLC – VLC has been my favorite media player for years now. VLC comes with most of the codecs you will need to watch videos on your PC already. VLC is very lightweight, and JUST WORKS, something that can’t be said about many media players. The only issue with VLC in Vista is that it turns Aero Glass off while it is playing.

FileZilla – I use FileZilla to interface with clients that still haven’t moved to SCP. FileZilla is an open source FTP client that gets the job done, supporting drag and drop, SSL, and NAT to NAT connections. The only thing it is missing is FXP support, but that’s not really a big deal in my case. Works fine in Vista with no problems at all.

IMGBurn – I love IMGBurn. This is hands-down the easiest way to burn .IMG, .ISO and BIN/CUE disk images to backup CDs or DVDs. Free, open source, and awesome. Works a treat in Microsoft Vista Beta 2 as well.

WinSnap – I use WinSnap to make many of the screen shots you see on blandname. WinSnap supports full screen and windowed screen shots, and also allows for rotation and drop shadows if you feel the need.

Electric Sheep – I often refer to Electric Sheep as “the best screensaver ever”, but truth be told, it’s really a collection of computer-generated screensavers that allow users to vote on them using a Digg-like system. On Windows, Electric Sheep uses bit torrent to transfer the sheep data. Again, working just fine in Vista!

Xming – Xming is my prefered interface to remote Linux boxes. Xming is for Linux what RDP is for Windows – you get a local X server and acceleration that displays data from remote applications running on Linux machines. Tested more than a few times to a remote Ubuntu computer, and one Gentoo box with no caveats.

WinSCP3 – SCP is now my preferred file transfer method. Luckily my favorite client also works on Vista, or I may not have used it at all. Much like FileZilla, WinSCP3 has a very simple, streamlined interface that is feature-rich and gets the job done, even on Vista.

So there you have it: 9 free applications I couldn’t live without that work just fine on Vista, and make it easy for me to do my day-to-day tasks. Hopefully someday this list will include F-Spot and Amarok, but I’m happy with this as a start considering neither of them work on Windows XP SP2 either!

Parallels 2.2 Workstation Features

Parallels announced today the updated features of the newest iteration of Parallels Workstation.

Big new all around for Windows, Mac and Linux users.

Here’s the breakdown (from the newsletter):

Parallels Desktop for Mac is the first solution for running Windows and OS X at the same time – without rebooting!

The Desktop for Mac Official Update includes a number of powerful new features, such as:

  • Works on ANY Intel-Mac with ANY memory configuration with no system modification. This includes Mac Pro towers with up to 16GB of RAM, and the full line of Core 2 Duo iMacs
  • Support for Windows Vista as a guest OS
  • Support for Mac OS X 10.5 “Leopard” as a Primary OS
  • Better USB support, including support for isochronous devices and Windows Mobile 5 devices

Parallels Workstation 2.2 for Windows & Linux is a powerful, cost effective virtualization solution which boosts productivity and lowers IT costs by letting users run multiple OSes simultaneously – without rebooting – on any Windows or Linux PC.

The new version includes a variety of new features and improvements:

  • Full support for AMD Secure Virtual Machine Technology, and stronger support for Intel Virtualization Technology
  • Support for Windows Vista as a Guest OS
  • A new shared folder utility lets users share files and folders between OSes
  • Better networking
  • Better USB support, including support for webcams and Windows Mobile 5 devices