parallels vs boot camp

so i think i’ve finally finished setting up my macbook and am ready to take the G5 and my netbook offline as primary computers after making sure i’ve got all the data off of them that i need.  the last part of the puzzle was parallels, which if you’re not familiar, is a program that allows you to run windows from an intel-based mac.

i had first installed windows using boot camp, but parallels doesn’t like that.  i believe the issue is that parallels wants to install it’s own set of virtual hardware, but boot camp has already been set up to recognize the physical hardware.  so when presented with a completely different set of hardware the first time you attempt to start windows using parallels, windows gets confused and blue screens.  that then confuses parallels, which goes into a boot-loop until you tell it to stop.

luckily i hadn’t installed a whole lot of stuff in boot camp, so i didn’t really have a problem with deleting that partition and using parallels to build a virtual windows install.  however, if you’re well-invested in a boot camp partition, you should definitely take advantage of the 14-day free trial for parallels to find out if you can get it to work properly.  anyway, i now have all the major things that i need to have working in windows, working.  that list includes

  • microsoft onenote – this simply isn’t available for the mac at all.  i’ve used it for a half-dozen years now, and i really like it.  i’ve tried mac-native programs that claim to be equivalents, and a couple of them were ok.  the big problem was that none of them could import my existing onenote files, so that’s a deal-breaker.
  • crimson editor – this is a really nice programmer’s editor that i found.  my selling point on it was the ability to create my own syntax-highlighting rules, which i needed to do for 65C02 assembly language for my 8-bit project.  unfortunately, it’s windows only.  it’s also no longer being actively developed; the successor, emerald editor, is available for mac, but (a) it appears to have been effectively abandoned at this point as well, and (b) the currently available version doesn’t really have all the functionality i need.
  • HXA (hobby cross assembler) – i use this for assembling the code for the 8-bit project.  the source is available, but it’s in a proprietary variant of awk that isn’t available on mac.
  • visual c# 2008 – when i need a small utility for something, i’ll whip something up with this.  i’ve installed mono on the mac side, but haven’t tested it out yet, so i want to have this available if i need it.
  • usb-to-serial cable – for transferring the 8-bit software over to the apple.

i also have a number of older games that are windows-only that i’ll eventually put into parallels so i can play them again.  i wasn’t able to play most of them on the netbook because it had a 1024×600 screen and the games required minimum 1024×78.

for the programs mentioned above, i run parallels in what they call ‘coherence mode’, which means that the windows program windows coexist with the mac windows on a single desktop, show up in the dock, etc.  they still look like windows, but they’re integrated into the mac desktop, like so:

i like the integration and not having to switch back and forth with the virtual machine.  my mac home directory documents folder even shows up as ‘my documents’ on the windows side, so there’s seamless data sharing.

ok, enough of a commercial for parallels…time to get back to some useful work.


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