g4u and Virtualization

A quick note about g4u – g4u (Ghost for you) is a hard disk imaging tool similar to Norton Ghost, but without the cost. g4u allows you to image hard disks to both files and physical media. This can be accomplished within a physical machine, a virtual machine, or by using an FTP server on either of the two.

Parallels Server Beta 2 Download

You can now register to download Parallels Server Beta 2!

From the announcement:

Key Features (Parallels Server Beta 2)

Hardware-optimized hypervisor-based virtualization solution.

Installable on host servers running Linux, Mac OS X and Windows, including the Windows Server 2008.

Bare metal version for non-OS server installation.

x64 (64-bit) and x86 (32-bit) host and guest OS support, including any combination of more than 50 different guest OSes in secure, high-performing VMs.

4-way guest SMP and multi-core support.

Integrated toolset includes Parallels Tools, VM backup and Parallels Transporter (the P2V migration tool).

Parallels Management Console, an easy-to-use, multi-server management tool is included.

Support for Intel VT-d hardware acceleration extension for hardware resource dedication to VMs.

Intel VT-x and AMD-V hardware-assisted acceleration support.

Open APIs and SDK for extensible management.

Command line interface (CLI) and scripting.

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.”

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

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

Copy Files From a Mac to Windows Using SCP

Whenever you start adding funny-flavored operating systems to a network, you eventually run into filesharing problems. Even if you only have a few machines, coming to a consensus on how to get files from point A to B can be quite taxing – especially if there’s work to be done.

Over the years I’ve tried FTP, Samba, NFS and a host of others. When configured well they work like a charm. However, when a new node joins the network (that shiny new Mac Pro of yours), things need to be reconfigured and can generally be a royal pain that´s why i always chose the best web hosting.

That has changed, though. We now have an acceptable solution that is free, easy to use and above all, secure. Introducing… SCP.

SCP has been around for a while now, and is gaining quite a bit of traction in the hosting world where it is (albeit slowly) starting to replace FTP for upload and download tasks. SCP stand for Secure Copy (CP being Copy on *nix variants). SCP works a lot like FTP in that you require an address to connect to, a username (login) and a password (we won’t get into stored keys today).

Now that we’ve decided what to try in our ad hoc network, how do we set it up? If you’re blessed with any variant of Linux or Unix, the work has been done for you already – the tools come with the operating system, and are generally found under the network tools in your fancy menus.

Fugu on OS X Server

It’s a different story on Apple Macs and PCs, though. For example, Tiger comes with an SCP server, but no client. Right, about the Mac server. In order to activate it in Panther, Tiger and even Leopard, head on over to the System Preferences pane, and choose the Sharing applet (the folder with the caution sign on it). Once it has opened, check the Remote Login checkbox. This will enable SSH, and in turn, SCP. We’re halfway there. You can connect to an SCP server by using the Terminal on a Mac, but from what I can tell most Mac users are frightfully scared of it. But that gives me the oppurtunity to tell you about one of my favorite applications – Fugu (japanese for blowfish – and sporting a suitably cute icon to boot). Fugu allows you to connect to an SCP server to both download and upload files. Fugu is quite easy to use, so we won’t get into that, but will save it for another time if need be (just like stored keys). Oh, and as the screenshot shows you, it works with Mac OS X Server 10.4.7 too! (as well as Leopard)

WinSCP Screenshot

In the PC world, WinSCP is Fugu’s sibling. You get an extremly easy to use interface, complete with drag and drop. Installation is a breeze, and best of all it’s free as in both beer and speech. Just like those soapbox ramblers. Getting a Windows SCP server is a bit more difficult, but currently exists in the form of BitVise WinSSHD. WinSSHD is slightly complicated, but most of the configuration is done during the installation procedure. They supply you with the needed variables, and one you have finished you will have set up an account you can use to test from your other workstations. The screenshot above was taken with the wonderful WinSnap – it comes highly recommended.
Let the cross-platform filesharing begin!

If you have any questions, or would like to suggest a topic for a future article, head on over to the blandname contact page and we’ll see what we can do!

Oh, and by the way, since you’ve noticed I always talk about virtualization, this certainly applies to getting files to and fro from your virtual machines in VMWare Server, Virtual Server (Virtual PC if need be) and Parallels – I have even found it to be faster than any other technique!

6 Things You’ll Love About Longhorn

Forget Windows Vista.

The real new, exciting operating system from Microsoft is on it’s way and is supposedly slated for January.

Here’s a shortlist of reasons why you should care and what to look for:

LLMNR – Have you ever had master WINS browser woes? Name resolution problems? Microsoft wants to make this a thing of the past. In my experience this has been one of the largest pains – when the master browser goes down you lose name resolution. LLMNR fixes that. I’m happy. Testing the current Windows Server Codename Longhorn on virtual networks has shown so far that it works as expected already. I’m still happy. Basically this is multicast DNS (mDNS). Follow the link for a nice wiki article that will surely convince you.

Core Server Mode – Longhorn has a new locked down mode meant for bare-bones brass tax servers. They call it Core. What this means to the regular Windows admin is that there are no more wizards. Heck, there’s no more standard graphical UI. You get a command-line shell (DON’T call this DOS, they’ll find you!) to play around with. Servers are configured via preconfiguration scripts, this shell, and remote administration tools. If this is as fast and secure as it is supposed to be, it’ll be gravy. What you DO get: DHCP server, DNS server, file server, active directory, read-only domain controller, cluster services, load balancing, and services for Unix. That’s right, services for Unix is there too.

Windows Server Core

Application Publishing – I covered application publishing in Longhorn previously, and it’s what I am most excited about, to be honest. Pick an application, fire up the wizard, make an RDP file and send away to clients (even older XP terminals) – it’s that easy. While this will take the bread out of a lot of app vendors hands, it also allows for a wealth of innovation and I simply can’t wait to see what happens here.

Remote Desktop Connection 6.0 – In the same vein, and under the Terminal Server umbrella, the Remote Desktop Connection client gets an update that adds some much-needed and oft-asked-for features. Namely: PnP redirection for media players and digicams, multiple monitor support (I’m talking to you, Bill), desktop theming, and single sign-on. Whew. I’ll have to get into this one later.

Sharepoint V3 – It’s bigger, badder, and better code for Sharepoint. Better integration with Office 2007, faster load times, more features (of course), and item-level access control. Not to mention RSS by default – that’s was the deal-closer for me. Nor more need for infinite emails sent via alerts – just use RSS! Much like Apple, Microsoft has become a fan of RSS and it’s good news all around.

IIS 7 – You’re laughing. I see you snickering. Yes IIS is used externally, and its market share is growing right now, funnily enough. In IIS 7.0 you get reduced attack surface through feature modules. This is marketing-speak that means you can disable IIS services you don’t need. You get easy replication using web configuration files. And lastly you get better admin tools. Well slightly better anyway. This isn’t Plesk, Ensim or CPanel, but it’ll have to do ’til those guys get around to supporting Longhorn.

That about sums up the good things I’ve seen and tested to date on my virtual machines (VMWare Server, Virtual Server R2 and Parallels). Feel free to chime in about what tickles your fancy or rattles your chains, I’m all ears.

Parallels for Mac to support Vista and Leopard

I’ve been using Parallels Workstation on my beefy Windows test host alongside VMWare Server and Windows Virtual Server. Parallels, though a relatively new piece of software, is remarkably good.

Recently I received an email about the new Apple Mac version which adds a lot of features that have me very excited. I have been debating a MacBook Pro purchase, and this announcement just may be the tipping point.

So let’s hear them out on this spam, and have a look at why I’m so excited.

Big features to mention:

  • Support for new quad-processor Mac Pro towers outfitted with up to 3.5GB of RAM
  • This addition means that Parallels Desktop for Mac is now compatible with all Intel-powered Apple computers, which in addition to the Mac Pro includes the MacBook, MacBook Pro, iMac, and Mac Mini!
  • Compatibility with developer build of Mac OS X 10.5, code-named “Leopard”
  • Experimental support for Windows Vista

Bugs Fixed:

  • Solaris guest OS no longer hangs after suspend/resume
  • An improved Parallels Tools package
  • Full support for OpenBSD 3.8 as a guest operating system
  • G4U hard disk cloning tool now works in virtual machines

The new Parallels release candidate adds many exciting features including (but not limited to):

  • USB improvements — easily use multi interfaced and isochronous USB devices (including Windows Mobile 2005 and webcams)
  • Mac OS X performance improvements — optimize Mac OS X or guest OS performance by switching off the Mac cache function
  • Graphic performance improvements — enjoy faster, smoother video playback
  • Keyboard support improvements — use all of the keys on your Mac keyboard, such as the eject CD button, right-left and Shift/Ctrl/Alt (option)/Windows keys, in any virtual machine
  • Unicode path support improvements — name files and paths in national languages
  • Shared folders performance improvements — open folders and files faster, and transfer data across OSes with almost zero lag

read more at www.badcreditmobiles.net

Review: Parallels Compressor Server

I have recently purchased Parallels Compressor Server because I work with virtual machines on a daily basis and also because it is CHEAP. At $179 this is very affordable software, even for someone on a budget – like me. Why purchase the software? What Parallels Compressor Server does is pretty complicated, but it comes down to one thing: if you run a Windows XP SP2 or Server 2003 R2 virtual machine (VM), Parallels Compressor Server speeds it up insanely. It removes unwanted services, temp files, files you’ll never need in a VM, and the same goes for drivers. Parallels also tunes things like network drivers in order to take full advantage of the virtualization.

Installation is a snap. It’s pretty much next, next, next through the Windows client installation. You enter your key, and are allowed to make a CDROM image for later use with the VM. Use you have finished, you boot the VM using the CD image and start the process (which can take some time). Parallels Compressor Server does it’s magic, and you reboot. HUZZAH! Faster VM just like that.

Conclusion – you may run a free virtualization platform – but how fast is it? For $179, Parallels Compressor Server is a steal.

No disclaimers needed – I am in no way affiliated with the software, I’m just that impressed.