1 2 Previous Next 17 Replies Latest reply: Mar 12, 2010 8:31 AM by DemetreK
IrelandsNextTopModel Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
I have to use either Parallels or VMwareFusion on a 2GB-MacBookAir.

Please tell me, which of these two software solutions uses up
--> less RAM.


I have checked Parallels, with a 596MB guest OS.

After installation of Parallels, an unknown amount of RAM was used,
because at least one process "PRL_NAPTD" always runs and wastes RAM
(even if I do not use Parallels, very annoying!).


Then
starting Parallels: 67M
using your machines: 7M
choosing one machine: 30M

Then
starting the guest machine: 718M

(all rough values, by using "top")



--> Parallels uses at least 822 MB for a 596MB guest OS,
plus that annoying always-on process "PRL_NAPTD" (and perhaps others?)


What about vmware?
How do these two (vmware vs parallels) compare in relation to their RAM usage?


Very important for MacBookAir users, as stupid-Apple chose to produce a 2GB computer in 2009 which cannot be upgraded to more RAM. Incredible in itself.



Thanks for your hints, opinion, answers.

Andreas

Air 2GB, Mac OS X (10.6.2), 2GB 2GB 2GB
  • 1. Re: Parallels or vmwareFusion on MacBookAir?
    Volker Runkel Level 6 Level 6 (12,060 points)
    The Air is doing the tasks it was designed for very well. Is there a reason you HAVE to use an Air with virtualisation or could you also use a MacBook or MBP ? I would recommend one of these, since the Air will run hot soon when you let II or Fusion churn cpu cycles in addition to OS X and its apps.

    Volker
  • 2. Re: Parallels or vmwareFusion on MacBookAir?
    Asatoran Level 4 Level 4 (2,535 points)
    You're not going to get significantly less RAM usage with Fusion, if at all. The amount of RAM used is primarily dictated by the guest OS in the virtual machine. The amount of RAM that Fusion or Parallels uses compared to the guest is nearly insignificant. (Assuming you're using Windows or a GUI based Linux.) Significant in your case because you only have 2GB of RAM. I don't have Parallels installed right now, but on my MBP, Fusion is using about 45MB of RAM above what the virtual machine uses. Compared to the 1GB that my virtual machine takes, that's what I mean by Fusion's RAM use being insignificant.

    As stated, the MBA is what it is: designed for light use. So simple answer is if you can't run the guest OS within the 2GB you have, it's Boot Camp or sell the MBA and get a MB or MBP (or ugh! a PC. NOOOOOO! )
  • 3. Re: Parallels or vmwareFusion on MacBookAir?
    IrelandsNextTopModel Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    Hi Asatoran
    Thanks a lot, very helpful answer.

    You're not going to get significantly
    less RAM usage with Fusion, if at all.

    If you do not have to revise your numeric answer (see
    below), then the opposite is true. 45MB << 244MB !!!


    <div class="jive-quote">but on my MBP, Fusion is using about 45MB
    of RAM above what the virtual machine uses.

    Wow. Only 45MB. If that is the case, then
    I will throw away Parallels tomorrow, and
    get vmware fusion instead.

    ...

    I very much like the smooth integration
    of the parallels-Windows into OS X, but
    (at least 822 MB) - 596MB >= 226 MB
    overhead for running parallels is by far
    too much - if there is an alternative.



    HOWEVER, could you please check again
    if there aren't any "hidden costs". E.g.:
    ActivityMonitor , or
    terminal ... top -o rsize , or
    terminal ... ps -A

    Because I remember from years ago that a vmware
    host installation on Windows back then unfortunately
    installed a couple of (always running) processes,
    mainly for network support host<->guest.
    I know that I went through the hassle of creating
    a script to always switch them OFF by default,
    and ON only when I needed vmware.


    *--> If you sum those "hidden costs" of RAM usage onto your 45MB,*
    *--> how much is the resulting total RAM overhead of vmware,*
    *--> above your guest-machine RAM ?*



    *I have just checked this for Parallels,*
    *there is another 18MB to be added to the 226M:*

    ps -A | grep Par .... results in
    +_/ParallelsDispatcherService start+
    __/prlnaptd
    +__/prl_dispservice -e --logfile ...+
    (what is the ps command to show the RAM usage of each process???)

    and using "top -o rsize" they seem to use up
    *0.8M + 3.7MB + 13MB = 17.5 MB*



    *--> Parallels burns up 244 MB more RAM than the guest OS gets.*
    --> Bad, very bad especially on a MacBookAir
    --> that cannot be upgraded to 4000MB or 8000MB.




    -----------------------------------------------------------------------


    Hi Volker

    Is there a reason you HAVE to use an Air with virtualisation

    Yes, the weight. Top priority.

    -----------------------------------------------------------------------

    Thanks a lot for your help. Different approach:
    Which of the standard circa 50 processes of OS X could I kill to save RAM?
    There is probably a profound thread somewhere, perhaps even in this forum?


    Thanks a lot!

    -----------------------------------------------------------------------

    P.S.:
    or sell the MBA and get a MB or MBP (or ugh! a PC. NOOOOOO! )

    No, I actually don't want a PC. I only very seldom need Windows-prgs now.
    I have worked with M$ for decades, but I now admit that OS X has a lot
    of advantages. The biggest disadvantage however are all these strange,
    limiting restrictions that Apple puts on her hardware & her users.

    So perhaps one even more interesting way out would be a ~1kg PC hardware
    which IS extendable to 4GB or more, and try to get OS X running on that???
  • 4. Re: Parallels or vmwareFusion on MacBookAir?
    Asatoran Level 4 Level 4 (2,535 points)
    IrelandsNextTopModel wrote:
    Hi Asatoran
    Thanks a lot, very helpful answer.

    You're not going to get significantly
    less RAM usage with Fusion, if at all.

    If you do not have to revise your numeric answer (see
    below), then the opposite is true. 45MB << 244MB !!!</div>

    When you're dealing with virtual machines that need gigabytes of memory, even a couple hundred MB gets meaningless. Maybe I'm jaded, but I'm normally running a Vista or Win7 virtual machine. Not since WinXP could you run a VM with less than 1GB of RAM and not want to pull your hair out. So compared to a 2GB Win7 virtual machine, a couple hundred MB is still quite small.

    but on my MBP, Fusion is using about 45MB
    of RAM above what the virtual machine uses.


    Wow. Only 45MB. If that is the case, then
    I will throw away Parallels tomorrow, and
    get vmware fusion instead.

    ...


    Well, you can judge for yourself.

    Activity Monitor - Fusion

    In general, once you start running more than one virtual machine, particularly server type virtual machines, there are two things you cannot have enough of: RAM and disk space.
  • 5. Re: Parallels or vmwareFusion on MacBookAir?
    IrelandsNextTopModel Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    Hi Asatoran

    When you're dealing with virtual machines that need
    gigabytes of memory, even a couple hundred MB gets meaningless.
    So compared to a 2GB Win7 virtual machine, a couple hundred MB is still quite small.

    True.
    And I can understand your standpoint.

    But I am in a totally different position than you.

    I cannot afford to waste one single Megabyte, because
    the (largest!) MacBookAir forces me to live with 2GB
    until the end of times.
    Sigh, bitten into the Apple, thrown out of paradise



    Well, you can judge for yourself.

    Thanks a lot!


    But I have several problems in judging how much RAM is used-up in your picture.

    (a) 1.19 GB is not max-accuracy.
    Can you please once turn down the guest-RAM below 1GB, thx.

    (b) Please switch on all Memory-columns. Does anyone know,
    which of the columns is relevant for the actual physical RAM usage?
    RealMemory
    RealPrivateMemory
    RealSharedMemory
    VirtualPrivateMemory
    ???

    (c) If I would ONLY sum up your RealMem column:
    11903+42+0.08+0.08+0.648+0.216+0.3880.001 = 1236.4
    Please tell me the exact RAM size of you guest OS, probably 1024MB?
    1236.4 - 1024 = 212 MB

    (d) I have redone it using ActivityMonitor for my (500.0 MB guest) Parallels.
    Pictures are below.
    Real mem column: 1.50.8+309.9+4.1+1870.3 = 404.6
    So obviously, the "RealMem" column is not the whole story. Because:


    (d) "Free Mem" (green) is the relevant figure, because
    near zero then paging-out starts to happen.

    To test my Parallels, I have rebooted, taken one "dummy-screenshot",
    but not touched anything apart from ActivityMonitor and Terminal.

    Then
    (1) screenshot before
    (2) Parallels, start 500MB-guest
    (3) screenshot after


    Before Parallels started: FreeRAM = 983.5MB
    With Parallels running: FreeRAM = 261.8MB
    guest-OS size: RAM = 500.0MB

    --> Parallels overhead: 221.7MB

    My screenshots (how to include them in the posting? Please send me a PM howto):

    before
    http://i739.photobucket.com/albums/xx33/IrelandsNextTopModel/Parallels500MB-guest_beforeStartd.png

    after
    http://i739.photobucket.com/albums/xx33/IrelandsNextTopModel/Parallels500MB-guestdirectlyAfter.png

  • 6. Re: Parallels or vmwareFusion on MacBookAir?
    Asatoran Level 4 Level 4 (2,535 points)
    IrelandsNextTopModel wrote:
    Hi Asatoran

    When you're dealing with virtual machines that need
    gigabytes of memory, even a couple hundred MB gets meaningless.
    So compared to a 2GB Win7 virtual machine, a couple hundred MB is still quite small.

    True.
    And I can understand your standpoint.

    But I am in a totally different position than you.

    I cannot afford to waste one single Megabyte, because
    the (largest!) MacBookAir forces me to live with 2GB
    until the end of times.
    Sigh, bitten into the Apple, thrown out of paradise


    I have successfully run virtual machines in Fusion when my MBP had only 2GB. Of course, I could only run one virtual machine at a time and I couldn't have open very many other programs on the mac side, if any, depending on the needs of the virtual machine. But it is not impossible. It's just that with 2GB of RAM, its like having a quarter-ton capacity pickup truck. You can only haul a quarter-ton at a time. If the load is one-ton, then you need a different truck. Thus the recommendations from me and others that the MBA might not be the best choice for you.

    (a) 1.19 GB is not max-accuracy.
    Can you please once turn down the guest-RAM below 1GB, thx.


    See answer to point (c).

    (b) Please switch on all Memory-columns. Does anyone know,
    which of the columns is relevant for the actual physical RAM usage?
    RealMemory


    Real Memory


    (c) If I would ONLY sum up your RealMem column:
    11903+42+0.08+0.08+0.648+0.216+0.3880.001 = 1236.4
    Please tell me the exact RAM size of you guest OS, probably 1024MB?
    1236.4 - 1024 = 212 MB


    2GB allocated to the virtual machine. In actual usage, you can see that it's using 1.2GB. I didn't state the sum because I believed it was quite obvious from the screen shot that the RAM used by the helper apps is not really that significant compared to the virtual machine. Unlike your screen shots, where it's difficult to determine how much RAM the Parallels virtual machine is using, with Fusion, the VMX process is the virtual machine, and all the VMWare related helper apps are grouped close by, which makes it easy to see that the RAM usage of the virtual machine is really what you need to be concerned about. When you're down to the last hundred MB of RAM, you're basically out of RAM anyway. Thus you need to close whatever else on the Mac side. If that's not possible, then you need more physical RAM, which in your case, means a new computer, which is what has been recommended to you already.

    The reason I have allocated 2GB to this Vista virtual machine is that Vista needs 1GB as a minimum in order to run at any reasonable speed. But that's just for Vista. The window in the background of my screenshot is the virtual machine. It's Vista Business at the login prompt, not logged in yet and it's using 1.2GB of RAM without any other apps running! So 2GB is usual minimum recommended in order to actually use Vista or Windows 7 with "standard" business apps and not pull your hair out. When I had only 2GB in the Mac and the Vista Virtual machine was allocated 1GB, I could only have Outlook and possibly Word or Excel open simumtaneously. And because the Vista virtual machine was using nearly all the remaining free RAM from the Mac, I couldn't open anything else on the Mac side.

    With a WinXP virtual machine, I could also run with 1GB allocated to the virtual machine. But SP3 for XP and the various updates to the apps and antivirus, 1GB was getting nearly as bad as Vista. So again, I could only run Outlook and Word and maybe Excel simultaneously. But again, the virtual machine was using all free RAM on the Mac side so again, I couldn't open any apps on the Mac.

    My point is that, yes it's possible to run a virtual machine in 2GB of physical RAM. BUT(!) you have to limit yourself since you don't have RAM. AND(!) if you don't allocate enough RAM to the virtual machine, the virtual machine's performance suffers. No point in tweaking down the RAM so much that the virtual machine side runs horrible. Sorry, I've not got much time at the moment to post more tests of the virtual machine at other RAM settings. You'll just have to take my word (or not. ) But really, as I said, IMHO the MBA is for light work. (One of the reasons for the name "Air", hint, hint ) One virtual machine lightly used is possible on the MBA. But it's only one because you basically have to give the virtual machine half of your total RAM. (Assuming a Windows virtual machine or any Linux with a GUI. Different story if you're running a DOS virtual machine. You don't say what OS your virtual machine is running. But if you've only allocated half a gig of RAM to a Windows virtual machine, you'll likely go to swap file and that's even worse for a virtual machine due to the additional overhead inherent to disk writes in most virtual machines.)
  • 7. Re: Parallels or vmwareFusion on MacBookAir?
    IrelandsNextTopModel Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    Hi Asatoran.
    thanks for all the effort you have put into this.

    I can now well understand your standpoint, and
    I now know how you intend to use your machine(s).
    Thanks alot.

    ...

    This however is about something else.
    Let me explain again, it in less sentences:

    *Parallels uses a total of 722,0MB with a 500,0MB guest ( +Feb 5, 2010 7:03 AM+ ) .*
    *IF vmware used e.g. only 650,0MB for the same 500,0MB guest,*
    *then I would switch to vmware. Because my lovely MBA has 2000GB, un-extendable.*

    ...

    Thanks a lot again. Have a nice weekend!
    Greeting all-around-the-world from Dublin to Hawaii


    Before Parallels started: FreeRAM = 983.5MB
    With Parallels running: FreeRAM = 261.8MB
    guest-OS size: RAM = 500.0MB
    --> Parallels overhead: 221.7MB
  • 8. Re: Parallels or vmwareFusion on MacBookAir?
    robertmacewan Level 1 Level 1 (5 points)
    For what it's worth I have used Fusion, Parallels & Virtual Box for Ubuntu, Win. XP, Win. 7, Vista & Google Chrome OS on an original MBA. None were unbearable short-term. Chrome OS was only tested on Parallels 5.
  • 9. Re: Parallels or vmwareFusion on MacBookAir?
    werpu Level 1 Level 1 (5 points)
    Hello, as others have pointed out, ram is primarily used by the VM not the program itself, and the AIR is suitable only for short period of time use.
    For that reasons I am "off the air" now, and have moved over to the small macbook pro which is a way better machine for real use anyway. It still is portable enough and it does normal duty tasks.

    I run VMWare nowadays because past versions (I was on parallels until version 3 included) of parallels crashed my kernel from time to time, and I could not be happier, it is really impressiv what VMWare has achieve in such a short period of time on the mac, I even can switch between bootcamp boots and VMWare boots in no time, without having to reactivate Windows, and everything runs really smooth and fast.
  • 10. Re: Parallels or vmwareFusion on MacBookAir?
    carl wolf Level 6 Level 6 (14,030 points)
    "[Apple] chose to produce a 2GB computer in 2009 which cannot be upgraded to more RAM. Incredible in itself."

    What's incredible is that you knew that, and you bought the computer when you needed more than 2GB of DRAM.
  • 11. Re: Parallels or vmwareFusion on MacBookAir?
    IrelandsNextTopModel Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    Hi Carl

    What's incredible is that you knew that,
    and you bought the computer when you
    needed more than 2GB of DRAM.


    No.

    I needed a lightweighted computer, and after several years with a lightweighted ASUS (which was great, and extendable!), I was not willing to carry more kilograms than those 1.3kg of the Air. So I had no real choice, only the (fast) Air.

    Does anyone know if any smart company
    can perhaps extend MacBookAir's to 4GB/8GB?


    when you needed more than 2GB of DRAM.


    I did not know that when I bought the computer.

    A computer has been a universal thing for me,
    never a tailored-to-one-application thing.

    Actually, I really do not know why you have posted this remark.
    It is really not helpful for solving the question.

    But it made me think, about you nerds. So for unrelated discussions, I would like to point you to this page now:
    http://discussions.apple.com/thread.jspa?messageID=11082027
  • 12. Re: Parallels or vmwareFusion on MacBookAir?
    etresoft Level 7 Level 7 (24,270 points)
    Apple Discussions is a user-to-user tech support forum for Apple products only. If you wish to ask specific questions about 3rd party software, people use the forums for those 3rd party products.
  • 13. Re: Parallels or vmwareFusion on MacBookAir?
    IrelandsNextTopModel Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    Hi etresoft
    Actually, these "does not belong here" discussion are not goal-oriented towards solutions of the technical problems that we discuss here. I would like you to ask to refrain from posting such comments too often and easily. Because now there is the danger that this forum thread degrades into such a meaningless inclusion/exclusion debate.
    We however really want to find out *how to make best use of our +MacBook Air+*.

    Apple Discussions is a user-to-user tech
    support forum for Apple products only.
    If you wish to ask specific questions
    about 3rd party software, people use
    the forums for those 3rd party products.


    Thanks for that threat of expulsion from paradise.

    Even if you might be normally right with your "..." sentence above,
    please listen in this special case:

    *There is no better place than the Apple Discussions to discuss THIS topic.*

    There is a long list of reasons:

    (*) vmware VS parallels
    (*) could neither be discussed +independently enough+ in vmware forums
    (*) nor in parallels forums
    (*) Virtualisation it is very important for OS X users, because there is still some software which runs only on Windows
    (*) the discussed topic had enough answers to proof that it is important to the people here - or do you want to really silence this vote-with-the-feet ??
    (*) It is an important MBA question, how much overhead both virtualisations have.
    (*) no one else on this planet would discuss a 650MB-vs-722MB problem in virtualisation of a 500MB guest OS, only us MacBookAir users - because we are the only ones to not be able to extend the RAM memory. So this discussion +belongs HERE+.
    (*) Perhaps it is even perceived by the designers of the next MacBookAir-generation?
    .
    .
    Do you now understand why we discuss it here, etresoft?
    There is even a second attempt, actually. So other users share similar questions: http://discussions.apple.com/thread.jspa?threadID=2335283
    Do you still want to silence us?
    .
    .

    I would like to point you to this page now:
    http://discussions.apple.com/thread.jspa?messageID=11082027

    ...
    Oops, welcome to the church. That discussion was censored. How ridiculous.
    .
    Do not bother to click on that. Sorry.
    .
  • 14. Re: Parallels or vmwareFusion on MacBookAir?
    etresoft Level 7 Level 7 (24,270 points)
    IrelandsNextTopModel wrote:
    (*) vmware VS parallels


    Rest assured there is no meaningful data to be found on that topic.

    (*) could neither be discussed +independently enough+ in vmware forums
    (*) nor in parallels forums


    Try Macintouch for one. I'm sure there are others.

    (*) Virtualisation it is very important for OS X users, because there is still some software which runs only on Windows


    That is true. That is why there is a forum specifically for Windows compatibility.

    (*) the discussed topic had enough answers to proof that it is important to the people here - or do you want to really silence this vote-with-the-feet ??


    Actually? Yes, because it is a waste of time. You bought a machine that can only be expanded to 2 GB RAM, now you want more. Your memory usage is as good as it gets. Too bad. Deal with it.

    (*) It is an important MBA question, how much overhead both virtualisations have.
    (*) no one else on this planet would discuss a 650MB-vs-722MB problem in virtualisation of a 500MB guest OS, only us MacBookAir users - because we are the only ones to not be able to extend the RAM memory. So this discussion +belongs HERE+.


    Oh really? What about those of us who ran (and still do run) Windows via Parallels on 1st generation Macbooks with only 2GB RAM.

    Do you now understand why we discuss it here, etresoft?


    What is there to discuss? You have 2 GB of RAM. That's it. You knew that when you bought it. You want to know if VMWare will do better? Apparently not. What are your options? VirtualBox, maybe better, maybe worse. BootCamp, definitely better with different tradeoffs. A machine with more RAM, definitely better.
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