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Don't Fear the VM

While recording a how-to video about placing parts on a schematic, one part is showing off the hyperlink to the datasheet.  That is moderately cool in the hardware designer circles, but what happened when I clicked the link was beyond cool.  To see the whole picture, I have a Windows-Dell and a MacBook Pro next to each other on my desk.  I use virtual machines (VM) to keep all the various flavors of Mentor software at my fingertips.  So, I had completely forgotten that I was on a Windows VM running on a Mac.  Imagine my surprise when a Safari window opens on my Windows7 screen showing me the data sheet.

Part Link to a Data Sheet

Results in this

PDF in Safari overlaying Win7 VM on a Mac

The windows ODBC configuration got involved, but I have Access installed on the Mac side of things, not windows.  I can say for sure I started in Windows and ended up in Mac OS X world, but which application call ended up jumping between the two worlds wasn’t immediately obvious.  It just works.  I’ve been noticing how shared volumes and cross platform system calls allow the Ying and Yang of operating systems start to play nicely together.  Now it is time to sit back and enjoy.  For those of us survivors of Windows 3.1 and IBM Warp2, it is a wonderful life.

The most common question I get while evangelizing for VM’s is, “Ya but what about performance?”   I estimate the software I normally have to wait on runs about 3 times faster on my computer with a solid-state hard drive.  Then I take a maximum of 5 percent performance hit with the VM overhead.  So be fearless; weave your operating systems together.  And, buy the fastest hard drive your budget allows.

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Comments 3

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I definitely advocate VM use - the best of the software with the best of the hardware. Doesn't get better than that.

9:09 PM Feb 8, 2013

For those that like Apple at home but have a Window's machine at work can have the best of both words using VM.

Brad DeCessna
10:52 PM Mar 26, 2013

I agree, a good hard drive makes a big difference.

Jean-Luc Picard
12:27 AM Mar 31, 2013

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