Thanks to the terrific folks at Parallels, I now have three operating systems running on my Macbook Pro: OS X, Windows XP Pro SP2, and the "Dapper Drake" release of Ubuntu Linux (6.06). The latter gives me a full Linux development environment running right on the laptop. Not that developing in OS X was that different, but after 14 years of working on Linux systems, I just feel comfortable there. Right now, my base Linux VM is running a "desktop" installation of Ubuntu/Dapper, and I’ll probably put together a server VM for testing as well.
The speed appears to be good, except of course for disk-bound processes
(since Parallels is currently using disk files as filesystems on OS X).
Like my Windows VM setup, I intend to keep most volatile files on NFS
(or CIFS) file shares, and keep the main image itself clean. Or at the
very least, I’ll keep a clean clone of it around on the file server,
since slow rot isn’t a big problem on Linux the way it continues to
Although I may buy one of the Dell Precision 390 boxes for desktop use,
I can’t imagine why I’d need a dedicated PC laptop at this point. Apart
from manufacturing defects, Apple completely nailed it this time with
the Macbook Pro. The combination of Parallels and the Intel Core Duo
lets me run nearly anything I might care to. And of course it’s still
running OS X at the core, which is increasingly comfortable as my
primary environment. I’ve even stopped using Onenote under the Windows
VM, which was the primary reason I cared about having Windows running
anyhow. DevonTHINK Professional is much better as an outliner and
information manager than OmniOutliner Professional, but that’s just me.
The only real reason for the Dell Precision 390 will be as a server
capable of running Xen 3.0 VM’s with hardware VT support. The Macbook
Pro has it, but none of my other desktop/server boxes have VT support,
so I can’t get Windows images running unmodified. The Precision 390
ought to fix that — and add the new Core 2 Duo processor at the same
time. I expect to use the Precision 390 to run most of my home services
(internal DNS, web server, dev environment) as VMs, and then to use
various of my other boxes purely for simulation workhorses once I start
back in on the dissertation project. The latter don’t have VT support,
and don’t need it, since they’re mostly just going to run batch job
simulations all day.
Oh, and props to the guys at Infrant — thus far I’m loving the
ReadyNAS NV as my centralized storage. It’s great having everything
stored on RAID, the speed is excellent (given gigabit ethernet for the
LAN here at the new place), and it’s easy to administer. I’ve even got
the Macbook backing up nightly to the backup share on the ReadyNAS, in
the form of a bootable recovery image. So I feel like the backup and
redundancy situation is better than it’s ever been here at home.
OK. Enough geeky stuff for the moment. It’s martini time on the deck.