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Which is better to run Mac VMs? Parallels or VMware Fusion?

Since buying my first Intel Mac in 2006, I have used Parallels Desktop for virtualization. I used it mainly for running Windows for when I needed to either test something or run an important application in Windows. Since last year, I have been running Mac VMs in Parallels to build packages, to test package installs through Self Service, and test policies and configuration profiles before making them live. This works well for the most part, but because of some unresolved problems with running Mac VMs in Parallels, I an contemplating a change to VMware before my Parallels Pro subscription comes up for renewal in September. To all the Mac admins to run Mac VMs, which do you think is better to use? Parallels, or VMware? I have seen a lot of demos at JNUC, and other places where the presenter was using VMware, and that has me curious about making a change.

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SOLVED Posted: by davidacland

I've used both, but have been running VMWare for the past few years. I'm working with ESXi a lot more recently so VMWare Pro has built-in support for uploading and downloading virtual machine files to ESXi, and lets you connect to the server to perform basic operations.

Never really had an issue with Parallels, but have always preferred the UI/UX in VMWare personally.

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SOLVED Posted: by sdagley

@howie_isaacks I'll 2nd @davidacland's endorsement of VMware Fusion Pro for integrating with an ESXi host. I also prefer VMware's licensing as it's less annoying to deal with than Parallels (personal use allows multiple machines, business/edu single machine per license)

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SOLVED Posted: by stevewood

@howie_isaacks I've used both in the past, but for the past three years or so I've been using Parallels and haven't really had any troubles with it. I use it to test everything, just like you, and have even had very little trouble testing DEP workflows using it as well.

I think over the last few years the two products have reached a bit of parity and are very similar in function. I think it really boils down to brand loyalty and personal preference for most techs. But, I could be wrong, it's been known to happen. ;-)

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SOLVED Posted: by davidacland

@stevewood out of curiosity, does Parallels have the same range of command-line tools, things like creating new VMs, snapshot management etc?

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SOLVED Posted: by stevewood

@davidacland I'll be honest, I haven't checked. ;-o I don't utilize the command-line tools for VM's at all. My use is fairly straight forward and I can generate what I need via GUI. I can take a look.

Out of curiosity, could you give me an example of how you would use the tools? I'm running a much larger, and many times more complex, environment right now, so being able to automate some of my testing would be good.

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SOLVED Posted: by howie_isaacks

One reason why I am contemplating making a switch to VMware is because I often lose mouse control while working with my Mac VMs. This never happens using a Windows or Linux VM. I can get into the Mac VMs through Apple Remote Desktop, but it's still very annoying and time wasting to lose mouse control. This happens on both of my Macs, and Parallels support has done nothing so far except to acknowledge the issue, but they have given me no idea when to expect a fix. Parallels does have the ability to take snapshots. I configure the VMs to the exact way I need them to be, and then take a snapshot so I can revert back after building packages, or testing policies. I also make sure to turn off auto-updating so that I don't get update data caught in Composer. Using VMs works great. I'm just getting frustrated with losing mouse control, and this usually happens at really inconvenient times.

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SOLVED Posted: by davidacland

for VMWare, inside the app bundle there's a load of tools that can be used to do everything that you can do in the GUI (/Applications/VMware\ Fusion.app/Contents/Library).

For example, vmrun can start, stop, snapshot and do various other things with a VM. Some others can change networking properties and customise the settings of a VM etc

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SOLVED Posted: by sdagley

@howie_isaacks Rather than having a VM that you're constantly rolling back via a snapshot, take a look at linked clones. With this approach your have a base image VM, and the linked VMs are just the deltas from the base so you're not incurring the overhead of a full VM install (at its core it's essentially a snapshot, but somewhat more flexible). Fusion Pro has had this for a while, and Parallels for the last couple of versions.

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SOLVED Posted: by michael-brodt

They are both good tools, it really just depends on your environment. If you are working in an ESXi environment and you want to be able to interact with VMs on vSphere, VMWare is the way to go. If you are working with a lot of graphic-intensive apps, Parallels has a slight edge in graphics performance. If you just need to run some VMs with nothing intensive, it is really personal preference.

One other note: Parallels does have a more extensive command-line implementation and VMWare.

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SOLVED Posted: by macspectrum

i have tested and used and installed both and am a big fan of parallels

their tech support is much simple to obtain and product is solid

i found it difficult to get tech support from vmware

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SOLVED Posted: by kstrick

In general, although I have used them both and they do have pretty good parity, I have preferred Parallels for Windows VMs-- Mainly due to the interface; However, for MacOS VM's , I would say VMware is a little better... plus the ESXi/vSphere support is pretty legit.

I'm curious to try Veertu with a macOS, haven't had a chance to play with it. (Anybody have experience with Veertu?)

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SOLVED Posted: by howie_isaacks

Thanks for all the responses! If what @kstrick says is true about the performance being a little better for Mac VMs on VMware, maybe this is a good time to switch. I'm not concerned about which one is better for Windows VMs.

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SOLVED Posted: by mikeroySoft

HI all =)
I'm the Product Manager for VMware Fusion =)
Obviously you know my preference, but I wanted to mention a couple things:

  • As was mentioned 'vmrun' is our CLI and allows you to do just about everything you can in the UI from the command line

  • A newer and potentially better option is our new Fusion API. It's RESTful and built using Golang and Swagger. We just made it available in our (free!) 2017 Tech Preview which you can check out here: https://communities.vmware.com/community/vmtn/beta/fusion-pro

  • We support Microsoft VBS and Credential Guard in the Tech Preview, I don't believe other mac-based hypervisors do currently without some (probably unsupported) hacking.

  • Veertu actually exited the Mac desktop space and pivoted with a new name to focus on CI for iOS, so that's probably not a viable option any more.

Happy to answer any other questions, cheers!
-Michael Roy -- mroy at vmware dot com

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SOLVED Posted: by michael-brodt

@mikeroySoft could you share the link to the documentation for the CLI? I have been looking for it and that would be very helpful!

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SOLVED Posted: by howie_isaacks

@mikeroySoft It would be helpful if you told me why VMware Fusion would be better for Mac VMs. I don't care about Windows. If there is a trial available that would allow me to test how well Mac VMs work on VMware Fusion, that would be very helpful.

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SOLVED Posted: by PAC

I asked the same thing a while back. looks like the info is similar to what i got.

https://www.jamf.com/jamf-nation/discussions/23718/fusion-or-parallels-for-jamf-admin

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SOLVED Posted: by donmontalvo

@michael-brodt just upgraded to VMware Fusion Pro 11, here's the CLI doc:

https://www.vmware.com/pdf/vix160_vmrun_command.pdf

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SOLVED Posted: by donmontalvo

FWIW we finally stood up a few ESXi boxes running 6.7U2, scp'd the necessary darwin.* files (VMware Tools)...so much better than older ESXi releases.

If you test a lot, you definitely want to go the ESXi route...a script to sysprep (for ESXi) your virtual machines will help too:

https://www.jamf.com/jamf-nation/discussions/30708/vmware-fusion-virtual-mac-unable-to-enroll#responseChild185671

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