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Virtual PC (and alternatives) - Mac Applications & Software

Hello, I'm about to buy a new notebook computer. The only thing speaking against a Powerbook G4 is that some important applications I'm using at work are only available for Windows, e.g. Microsoft Access, Solidworks, Orcad Capture and some more. Virtual PC could be a solution, but all comments I read or heard up to were that its performance is quite low. Given Virtual PC running on a, say, 1GHz G4 with 512MB RAM, with which PC could it be compared? Is it much slower than a Pentium-III 500? Another alternative I've been thinking about is the PowerPC edition of ...

  1. #1

    Default Virtual PC (and alternatives)

    Hello,

    I'm about to buy a new notebook computer. The only thing speaking
    against a Powerbook G4 is that some important applications I'm using at
    work are only available for Windows, e.g. Microsoft Access, Solidworks,
    Orcad Capture and some more.

    Virtual PC could be a solution, but all comments I read or heard up to
    were that its performance is quite low.
    Given Virtual PC running on a, say, 1GHz G4 with 512MB RAM, with which
    PC could it be compared? Is it much slower than a Pentium-III 500?

    Another alternative I've been thinking about is the PowerPC edition of
    Windows NT4 (which keeps haunting around although being outdated)
    installed as a second operating system. Has anyone experiences with a
    configuration like that, and above all, can recent applications (like MS
    Access 2000) still be run on it?


    I'm looking forward to your comments.


    Best Regards,
    Joachim

    Joachim Guest

  2. #2

    Default Re: Virtual PC (and alternatives)

    In article <bkrju6$o29$BelWue.DE>,
    Joachim Harter <de> wrote:
     
    Virtual PC works quite well on my 700 MHz iBook since I upgraded to 640M
    of RAM. It really likes lots of memory so consider 512M the minimum. But
    I use it for office type applications (Quicken for example). It is
    likely to be slow for anything involving intense calculations. The only
    way to tell whether it is acceptable for your specific applications is
    to try it. Maybe you can temporarily install your programs on a dealer's
    or friend's Mac and play for a few minutes.

    NT for PowerPC will execute only code compiled for PowerPC, so it is
    unlikely to do you any good.
    --
    .... Al Quirt ... Ottawa Canada ...
    .... Please remove anti-spam BIRD for email replies ...
    Alan Guest

  3. #3

    Default Re: Virtual PC (and alternatives)

    Joachim Harter wrote: 

    You have gotten some good comments about VPC. I will nly add, with
    regard to MS Access:

    There are good Mac alternatives to MS access.

    Appleworks provides a good flat-file database manager that is very
    capable. That comes as part of the Appleworks application program.

    For a relational database, FileMake is excellent, easy to set up and
    use, very powerful, and is cross platform.

    If you are running Access mainly for your own use, you could easily copy
    or export the data to an intermediate format, than import it to either
    AppleWorks or FileMaker.

    Can't speak directly about the other applications you mention, but there
    are probably Mac equivalents.

    To find Mac programs for various functions, check
    www.versiontracker.com, or check the Apple web site.

    Bill

    The Fraom address of this message is intentioally altered to avoid spam.
    B Guest

  4. #4

    Default Re: Virtual PC (and alternatives)

    > > I'm about to buy a new notebook computer. The only thing speaking [/ref]
     
    Hmm. If you are using Access for work and they are moderately sized truly
    relational databases, I would stick with virtual pc even with the slow down
    (e.g., filemaker still uses individual files for each table, relationships
    are better now but still awfully bersome compared to any of the sql based
    ones like foxpro, ms access, mysql, etc.)

    However, if they are small self-administered db's the Mac OS db's I would
    recommend as a substitute.


    hgsil Guest

  5. #5

    Default Re: Virtual PC (and alternatives)

    On Wed, 24 Sep 2003 10:16:51 +0200, Joachim Harter <de> wrote: 

    If you give it enough memory, it's perfectly usable on a 800MHz G4.
     

    "It depends". Sorry, that's a crap answer, but it really does.
    It's not painful to use by any means, again, once you have enough ram in
    the system. 512 should be OK, 256 is not.

    Dave Hinz

    Dave Guest

  6. #6

    Default Re: Virtual PC (and alternatives)

    In article <bksl51$5hhta$news.uni-berlin.de>, Dave Hinz wrote:
     

    I found VPC exceedlingly painful to use on a Quicksilver 867 with 1GB of
    ram, even if I give VPC half the memory (ie 512MB just for VPC).

    tristero Guest

  7. #7

    Default Re: Virtual PC (and alternatives)

    On Wed, 24 Sep 2003 17:54:29 GMT, tristero <net> wrote: 
    >
    > I found VPC exceedlingly painful to use on a Quicksilver 867 with 1GB of
    > ram, even if I give VPC half the memory (ie 512MB just for VPC).[/ref]

    Interesting. Did you look at "top" or another tool to see what was
    running you out of resources?

    Dave Hinz

    Dave Guest

  8. #8

    Default Re: Virtual PC (and alternatives)

    In article <bksn1k$5gnuu$news.uni-berlin.de>, Dave Hinz wrote: 

    No osx resources were running out. Emulation is just slow, at least
    for what I was doing (software development with VisualC++). Throwing
    memory at vpc helps, but only a little.


    tristero Guest

  9. #9

    Default Re: Virtual PC (and alternatives)

    On Wed, 24 Sep 2003 18:27:48 GMT, tristero <net> wrote: 
    >
    > No osx resources were running out. Emulation is just slow, at least
    > for what I was doing (software development with VisualC++). Throwing
    > memory at vpc helps, but only a little.[/ref]

    Ah, makes sense I guess, CPU-intensive computing in an emulator and all
    that. If you still have a PC lying aruond, you could always load it with
    Linux, put VMWare on it, install Windows in the VM, and use linux to
    x-display it to the mac...works like a charm, runs native on x86, and
    windos seems to be have better in the VM than it does on raw hardware.
    It's a true VM so it's not emulated, so it's quite fast. Worth a thought
    if you do it often, anyway.

    Dave Hinz

    Dave Guest

  10. #10

    Default Re: Virtual PC (and alternatives)

    In article <dsl.bbn.com>,
    tristero <net> wrote:
     
    >
    > I found VPC exceedlingly painful to use on a Quicksilver 867 with 1GB of
    > ram, even if I give VPC half the memory (ie 512MB just for VPC).
    >[/ref]

    How did you give VPC half the memory? Are you running OS X?

    --
    Tom Stiller

    PGP fingerprint = 5108 DDB2 9761 EDE5 E7E3
    7BDA 71ED 6496 99C0 C7CF
    Tom Guest

  11. #11

    Default Re: Virtual PC (and alternatives)

    In article <bksp81$5iu3u$news.uni-berlin.de>, Dave Hinz wrote: 

    Yep

     

    I do have access to an intel pc, but since I only need it to run
    Windows, installing Linux on it seems a bit roundabout. Plus VMWare
    isn't cheap. I just left Windows on it. The two boxes share my
    monitor (which accepts two vga inputs) as well as my keyboard and
    mouse (through a usb switch).

    Another option would be to run a vnc server on the Windows box and
    connect to it from osx that way. As long as the two machines are
    logically close to one another, this works pretty well. But it's not
    much fun to use vnc if the two machines aren't on the same lan, and
    it's unusable if there's a dialup link on the path. Even cable/dsl
    isn't fast enough for comfortable vnc.

    Both of these options are far superior to VPC. The only caveat is
    that they're not portable. If you need access to Windows on your
    TiBook or whatever, VPC is pretty much your only option.



     

    VMWare is definitely _much_ faster than VPC.


    tristero Guest

  12. #12

    Default Re: Virtual PC (and alternatives)

    In article
    <comcast.giganews.com>, Tom
    Stiller wrote: 

    The amount of memory available to VPC is a VPC setting. I just set it
    to 512MB, which iirc was the max it would allow me to use. Actually
    that was my final, desperate experiment before I gave up and deleted
    all traces of VPC from my machine. Most of the time I'd been running
    with 384MB. The difference between the two settings was hardly
    noticable.

    Now if you're asking whether or not VPC really used all the memory I
    said it could use, I don't know the answer to that. I assumed it
    would but I didn't verify that it did. Otoh I did see a second swap
    file in /var/vm, which is highly unusual for my mac.


     

    Yes. Isn't everyone?




    tristero Guest

  13. #13

    Default Re: Virtual PC (and alternatives)

    I should probably add: I was running W2K on VPC. From what I hear, XP
    in VPC is even slower. NT4 is supposedly a little faster, but that
    wasn't an option for me.


    tristero Guest

  14. #14

    Default Re: Virtual PC (and alternatives)

    Joachim Harter wrote:

     

    performance here on an iBook 800 with 640mb memory is perfectly acceptable.
    I only really use it for ms money, because I've found that pretty much
    everything else I thought i needed it for has a better OSx or X11
    alternative (even switched from Agent for newsreading to knode).

    The only programme I'd still like to use, but can't fully, is Media Center
    (the best mp3 organizer/player bar none). Unfortunately although tag
    editing is fine, performance playing mp3 files isn't good enough as there
    are gaps in playback every few seconds. Stuck with itunes I'm afraid.


    m
    maxx Guest

  15. #15

    Default Re: Virtual PC (and alternatives)

    Thanks a lot for your answers up to now, I think I got a more
    comprehensive impression now.

    RAM seems to be a main issue when running VPC, as it is with ordinary
    PCs (you can forget about running Windows XP with less than 256MB).

    Another question that arises when I think of running some CAD software
    within Virtual PC: what about graphics? Can the Windows subsystem make
    any use of the graphics acceleration "outside"? Is there something like
    OpenGL support?

    And, as there were no replies concerning Windows NT for PowerPC yet (I
    mean the one made for PPC, not running NT4 inside Virtual PC), can I
    consider it being no alternative at all?


    Regards,
    Joachim

    Joachim Guest

  16. #16

    Default Re: Virtual PC (and alternatives)

    In article <dsl.bbn.com>,
    tristero <net> wrote:
     
    >
    > The amount of memory available to VPC is a VPC setting. I just set it
    > to 512MB, which iirc was the max it would allow me to use. Actually
    > that was my final, desperate experiment before I gave up and deleted
    > all traces of VPC from my machine. Most of the time I'd been running
    > with 384MB. The difference between the two settings was hardly
    > noticable.[/ref]

    I'm pretty sure that just defines the size of simulated RAM on the
    virtual machine. It has nothing to do with how much real RAM the
    operating system allocates to the process, which would account for the
    barely noticable difference in execution speed. 

    That just indicates that virtual memory requirements for all active
    processes exceeded the available swap space and so it was extended with
    a second swapfile. I've had as many as four of them. 
    >
    > Yes. Isn't everyone?[/ref]

    I asked because in Mac OS 9 and below, you could dedicate RAM to
    applications specifically. In Mac OS X and above, that is no longer an
    option. The OS memory management system allocates RAM to processes on
    an as-needed basis to control paging activity.

    --
    Tom Stiller

    PGP fingerprint = 5108 DDB2 9761 EDE5 E7E3
    7BDA 71ED 6496 99C0 C7CF
    Tom Guest

  17. #17

    Default Re: Virtual PC (and alternatives)

    In article <bkuppr$rsu$BelWue.DE>, Joachim Harter
    <de> wrote:
     
    I would think that CAD software would be disappointing in VPC. It
    seems to me that the graphics that they emulate inside it is not
    accelerated at all. I could be wrong, but I know that was the case for
    quite some time.

    WindowsNT for PPC probably isn't available anymore. It was
    discontinued a long time ago, and it would not run on a mac even if it
    were available.

    Lloyd
    Lloyd Guest

  18. #18

    Default Re: Virtual PC (and alternatives)

    In article
    <comcast.giganews.com>, Tom 

    If it's not physical memory, the choice of value here would seem to be
    meaningless. What would be the point in making it user-specifiable
    if's it's not tied the physical resource?

     

    I think this is accounted for by emulation. In other words, VisualC++
    under VPC doesn't run slow because it needs more more memory, it runs
    slow because it needs more horse-power than an emulated intel
    processor can provide.


     
    >
    > That just indicates that virtual memory requirements for all active
    > processes exceeded the available swap space and so it was extended with
    > a second swapfile.[/ref]

    Exactly, and this never happens on my machine otherwise. Something is
    grabbing lots of ram, and the only change is that I told VPC it could
    use more. If VPC is not in fact using it, how else would you explain
    the sudden need for extra swap?


    Btw I misstated the physical memory size of the Mac. It's 1.25GB, not
    1GB.



    tristero Guest

  19. #19

    Default Re: Virtual PC (and alternatives)

    In article <dsl.bbn.com>,
    tristero <net> wrote:
     
    >
    > If it's not physical memory, the choice of value here would seem to be
    > meaningless. What would be the point in making it user-specifiable
    > if's it's not tied the physical resource?
    >[/ref]
    In OS X, Virtual PC requests from MacOS as much virtual memory as it
    needs to hold its own code and data, plus the RAM in which the emulated
    PC will run. If the PC OS can fit all its code and data into the
    configured "RAM" (which it thinks is real), the Windows virtual memory
    code won't do any paging. That is true whether the Mac has lots of real
    RAM or only a little.

    If there is not enough physical RAM for the allocation that VPC has
    made, MacOS will use its own virtual memory routnes to page part of VPC
    out to disk. That of course is much slower than running from real RAM.
    So it really pays to have enough RAM for the virtual RAM size you
    specify in VPC plus the VPC overhead (which seems to be well under 100
    MB).

    Still, if you don't have enough real RAM, you are better to have MacOS
    doing the paging with a real hard drive than emulated Windows code in
    VPC paging to an emulated drive.

    The very worst situation would be telling VPC it has only a little RAM
    (so that Windows starts paging using its virtual drive) and in addition
    having so little physical memory that MacOS is paging too.
    --
    .... Al Quirt ... Ottawa Canada ...
    .... Please remove anti-spam BIRD for email replies ...
    Alan Guest

  20. #20

    Default Re: Virtual PC (and alternatives)

    In article <comcast.giganews.com>,
    Tom Stiller <net> wrote: 

    Huh. Four? I'd not heard of this before, so I decided to
    take a look. 42! of the buggers, each 80MB big. That's
    with a gig of memory. `top` says I have 6.5G of VM. I
    wonder where the rest is hiding...

    ~Steve

    --
    Steve Allen - com http://www.eskimo.com/~wormey/ ICQ 6709819

    Faith is the quality that enables you to eat blackberry jam on a picnic
    without looking to see whether the seeds move.
    Space Guest

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