More on Parallels 4.0

Posted on this Friday, November 21, 2008 17:58 by caw
Filed Under iPhone, Macintosh, Technology | 2 Comments


I have continued to play with Parallels 4.0 and for the most part I’m liking it. I’ve been a Parallels fan since I bought my MacBook Pro a year and a half ago. And in my setup, it’s been "install and forget" simple. My primary use for it has been to run Windows XP Professional and ubuntu Linux 8.x.

In one of my previous posts, I mentioned the fact that the "conversion" of  my 3.5 Windows VMs to 4.0 didn’t work so well. Wondering if it was just a Microsoft thing. I downloaded a couple of Virtual Machines from the Parallels web site and tried to convert them to 4.0. Same results. I don’t know what the issue is but the current build of 4.0 (4.0.3522) just doesn’t want to convert correctly.

On previous versions of Parallels Desktop, you could only run one VM at a time. With version 4.0, you can run multiple VMs concurrently. I run both a Windows XP VM and an ubuntu Linux VM at the same time on an MBP.

One of the bonuses to get people to upgrade is the Parallels Mobile app for the iPhone. It finally made it through the Apple gates and appeared on the iTunes App Store today. The app lets you control your VMs from your iPhone (start, stop, pause, reset, etc). A couple of thoughts.

The setup process on the iPhone, in a word, sucks. Huge. Press the "+" key to add a machine and you see four fields: host, user name, password, and a save password toggle. It doesn’t tell you that you have to enter the IP address of you Mac, not your VMs. It doesn’t tell you that you need to enter the short name of your user name on your Mac not your user ID on your VM. The only way I learned these two nuggets of gold was to use the Parallels Help and searched for iPhone. They could have fixed this with a couple of sentences on the setup screen.

I don’t know about you but I don’t think of machines by IP address, I think of them by names. (I use names of mountains for my network.) The app lists your hosts by IP address. I have only a single machine that runs Parallels but if you were an IT guy and you had five or ten servers do you think your going to recognize ’em by IP address? Not likely! And what if you use DHCP to assign IP addresses? Today a machine might be a.b.c.23 and tomorrow it might be a.b.c.192. The Parallels folks seem to be assuming you assign static IP addresses.

The last nit is a security/privacy thing. When you select a VM to control one of the cool things the app does is show you a current snapshot of the VMs screen on your iPhone. Neat. There is a downside to it. If someone else gets your iPhone, then they can see what your doing too. Not a big deal if it’s your home machine but it could be a big deal if it’s a corporate machine. To be sure, the image is small and you can’t use guestures to zoom in but still.

Overall, it’s a cool app and I hope the developer will do more with it.


2 Responses to “More on Parallels 4.0”

  1. Lawrence on December 8th, 2008 00:06

    Thanks for the info I any Idea of how to set this up when you are using a router?

  2. caw on December 8th, 2008 22:18

    Sorry, I don’t. I was wondering that myself. I run 10.0 addresses on my home network so the utility of the Parallels Mobile app is limited to being within range of my access point. I guess you could define a NAT rule to translate a.b.c.d to w.x.y.z. I know Parallels listens at a specific port (I don’t recall which) so you could build that into the NAT. The Parallels Mobile app only lets you specify a single address and I don’t know anything about the protocol they are using to know they could specify a “forward to” address or not.

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