Doc69
Enthusiast
Enthusiast

Help on fresh installation on MacBook Pro w/ Boot Camp, Vista or XP?

I'm getting a new 17" Santa Rosa based 2.4 GHz MacBook Pro tomorrow with 4GB of RAM and a 7200RPM HD and have some questions.

1. Should I go with XP Pro or Vista Business? I'm mainly worried about sluggish performance with Vista. I don't need Vista, but it would be fun to try it.

2. I intend to use Windows with both Fusion and Boot Camp. What's the optimal way of installing those two pieces of software? Boot camp first, then Fusion?

3. By letting Fusion access the Boot Camp installation as opposed to installing it's own VM, could that damage or corrupt the Boot Camp installation somehow? Advise?

4. What happens to my Windows installation when I update Boot Camp and Fusion in the future? Could an update damage the Boot Camp installation or the Fusion VM?

Any suggestions or comments would be greatly appreciated.

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6 Replies
Doc69
Enthusiast
Enthusiast

Also, I forgot to ask if I'm better off using only Fusion without installing Boot Camp.

The only reason I want to be able to run Windows natively through Boot Camp is that an IR USB device I own is probably not supported via virtualization. Also, if I want to play a 3D game, I understand Boot Camp is my only option.

Howeverm if running Fusion only will result in a more stable environment, then I may decide I don't need Boot Camp after all. Suggestions?

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bgertzfield
Commander
Commander

Vista in Boot Camp is currently only experimentally supported, because of issues with activation. If you're not using a volume license, you'll have to re-activate whenever you switch between Boot Camp and your VM with Vista.

(With XP, Fusion takes care of this behind the scenes.)

VMware Fusion's USB support is pretty darned good, so you should try your IR USB device. It might just work!

You're right that 3D games that require more than DirectX 8.1 won't work in a virtual machine right now.

Andreas_Masur
Expert
Expert

In addition to Ben's correct answers:

1. Should I go with XP Pro or Vista Business? I'm mainly worried about sluggish performance with Vista.

I don't need Vista, but it would be fun to try it.

Unless you do not need the eye candy stuff, I do not see a real technical reason to use Vista over XP at this time. And even the eye candy stuff is more or less already available as a theme for Windows XP.

2. I intend to use Windows with both Fusion and Boot Camp. What's the optimal way of installing those

two pieces of software? Boot camp first, then Fusion?

As you said...I would start with Boot Camp....then Fusion should already find this partition and offer to create a virtual machine off it automatically the first time you start it.

3. By letting Fusion access the Boot Camp installation as opposed to installing it's own VM,

could that damage or corrupt the Boot Camp installation somehow? Advise?

To be honest....in theory yes. Just as any user application installed in Windows can mess up your Windows installation, Fusion could theoretically do the same with your Boot Camp partition. Having said this, chances are less than with e.g. Parallels since opposed to the latter one Fusion does not mess with underlying system files in order to use the partition in a VM (ask the same question in their forums and you will get some nice answer about messing up a Boot Camp installation).

4. What happens to my Windows installation when I update Boot Camp and Fusion in the future? Could

an update damage the Boot Camp installation or the Fusion VM?

Again...the only answer to this is...yes...in theory. Nonetheless, once you update e.g. the drivers of your Boot Camp partition, I would simply go ahead and delete the virtual machine Fusion created. The next time, it will ask whether it should create a VM off the Boot Camp partition...answer yes, and you get a new VM created with the updated drivers. Case closed.

Same applies if Fusion gets updated. Although there is (usually) no need for that (since the provide backwards compatibility), you could do the exact same thing and start with a fresh VM.

In other words...the only way (in my eyes) to mess up your Boot Camp partition is by updating its drivers itself..

Ciao, Andreas

Andreas_Masur
Expert
Expert

In addition to Ben's correct answers:

Also, I forgot to ask if I'm better off using only Fusion without installing Boot Camp.

That kind of depends on the kind of work you intend to perform with your Windows installation. For the most common work scenarios the performance of a virtual machine is sufficient. However, if you intend to do CPU critical work (such as hardcore gaming, 3D applications etc.) you may rather want to use Boot Camp to get the full performance out of your hardware.

As to your question about gaming...as Ben indicated, Fusion currently supports DirectX 8.1 only so any game that requires more is likely not to run in your virtual machine. Nonetheless, as said above, if you want to play games on a more regular basis, I would rather suggest using a Boot Camp partition combined with a virtual machine running off it.

Ciao, Andreas

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Doc69
Enthusiast
Enthusiast

Nonetheless, once you update e.g. the drivers of your

Boot Camp partition, I would simply go ahead and

delete the virtual machine Fusion created. The next

time, it will ask whether it should create a VM off

the Boot Camp partition...answer yes, and you get a

new VM created with the updated drivers. Case

closed.

Thanks for your reply Andreas,

Just to make sure I understand how Fusion works with Boot Camp, does Fusion use the Boot Camp installation or does it create a copy when it creates the VM? In other words, if I install software on the VM, will that show up when use Boot Camp as well? Or should I keep the Boot Camp installation as the "Master" and then create new VMs as you suggested if I install new software on the Boot Camp installation?

If so, what about files you create when using Fusion that you put in 'My Documents" for example? Do they show up when you launch Boot Camp as well? Sorry for the confusion, I'm just new to this virtualization thing... Smiley Happy

Also, would you recommend that I create a partition in advance for Boot Camp, or should I just have one partition on my HD and let Boot Camp and Fusion copy it's data to that? Is it advisable to have a small FAT32 Partition for file transfer between OSX and Win XP if I use Boot Camp and NTFS?

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Andreas_Masur
Expert
Expert

Just to make sure I understand how Fusion works with Boot Camp, does Fusion use the Boot Camp

installation or does it create a copy when it creates the VM? In other words, if I install software on the

VM, will that show up when use Boot Camp as well? Or should I keep the Boot Camp installation as the

"Master" and then create new VMs as you suggested if I install new software on the Boot Camp

installation?

Fusion uses the raw Boot Camp partition. In other words, applications you install while running in Boot Camp will automatically available the next you boot your virtual machine as well. Other way round is the same.

The thing I suggested may not even be necessary since the virtual machine should use the updated drivers automatically while booting up the VM the next time.

If so, what about files you create when using Fusion that you put in 'My Documents" for example? Do

they show up when you launch Boot Camp as well?

As with the applications....yes they do.

Also, would you recommend that I create a partition in advance for Boot Camp, or should I just have

one partition on my HD and let Boot Camp and Fusion copy it's data to that? Is it advisable to have a

small FAT32 Partition for file transfer between OSX and Win XP if I use Boot Camp and NTFS?

Well...I always had separated my Windows installations into several partitions (one for swap files, one for temporary data, one for other data and so on). However, the Boot Camp assistant only creates one partition for Windows anyway so you would need to get your hands dirty and do it manually. It can be done but to be honest, I am not even sure whether it would be worth the effort. Whether your data reside on a dedicated partition or in a dedicated directory inside the Windows partition does not really make a difference to me. Yes...it could be faster on a different partition but only if the partition would be on a different drive as well.

So...I would just run the Boot Camp assistant, create one Windows partition, install Windows and all your applications. Where you want to store your data is up to you as well. You could simply store them in your home folder in Windows ('My Documents' etc.) or store them in your home folder of Mac OS. Data exchange between the virtual machine and Mac OS is pretty simple. You can either use Fusion's Shared Folders functionality or use simple network shares to exchange data. I usually prefer the latter one but this is up to each individual.

Ciao, Andreas

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