Daily Archives:April 7th, 2006

Here comes the sun…

Springtime light may lift the spirits, but in Rattenberg, residents have a long memory for shadows. From late fall to midwinter, this tiny Austrian town, famous for its glassblowing, gets no sun at all. And it has been that way for centuries…

But it may be about to change, according to this Scientific American article.

Virtualisation continued

Just to prove it works, here’s a screenshot of Ubuntu running in a VM window on my Intel Mac:

Parallels Workstation

This is using Parallels Workstation, which is still definitely beta, but shows lots of promise. I hope they make their money quickly, though, because it wouldn’t surprise me if Apple included this functionality in the next release of their OS.

There are a benefits of this over BootCamp besides not having to reboot. One is that the disk image is just a file, and you can clone it and move it around – so you can run your virtual machine from an external hard drive, for example. Also, it can be substantially smaller – you have to set aside 10G or so for BootCamp, while my 4GB ‘disk’ for the virtual Ubuntu installation is actually less than 3GB on the disk – presumably because the disk isn’t full and it does clever things with compressing sparse images.

I did a slightly more interesting experiment with this, too – see the Ndiyo blog for more info.


This is going to be the hot topic of 2006. Virtualisation (he writes, doggedly employing a British spelling which won’t do him any good on Google) is a technology that creates a complete ‘virtual’ computer as an application on your existing computer. Within that virtual machine you can run a complete operating system and applications, which may or may not be the same as the one you’re running on the machine itself.

It’s been around for a very long time, but things are moving very fast at present. VMware, the leaders in this space, have started making more and more of their (excellent) products freely available. Microsoft’s Virtual Server is also now free. Much of this is probably driven by the high regard in which Xen is held, an Open Source virtualisation technology created by a research group at the Cambridge University Computer Lab (a group I used to be part of, a very long time ago…)

There’s no shortage of rumours that Apple are also getting into this space – in fact, I think it may have been a key part of the move to Intel processors. And hot on the heels of the various announcements about official and unofficial ways to dual-boot Macs into Windows comes the announcement of Parallels Workstation, a Mac virtual machine product that lets you do the same without rebooting…

I’ll have to try this, partly because I think it would just be too wacky to run Wordperfect 5.1 for DOS on my Mac… I’m actually more interested in running virtual Ubuntu Linux machines than I am Windows ones, having just been around the world carrying two laptops so I had a Linux box on which to demo Ndiyo systems.

© Copyright Quentin Stafford-Fraser