Blogger Talk: Fusion + Workstation!

It’s been a little bit since I’ve blogged or posted anything. Between the Fusion and Workstation product launches, VMworld US and Europe, and all the stuff I do outside of work with The Dickens Fair, I’ve been a bit busy!

It’s been a hallmark year for sure. Earlier this year I was tasked with essentially owning the entirety of the Fusion and Workstation product lines. I’ve been spending my time analyzing the business, putting together the launch plan, and managing the development and execution process of the products themselves.

Together, the team and I came up with a pretty tall list of features and capabilities that we’ve been working hard on for almost 2 years. We’re incredibly happy with what the team’s innovation and what we’ve brought to market, and we think our customers agree that this is our most exciting release to date.

I had a chance to chat about the releases on our ‘Blogger Talk’ show the other day, you can check those out here:

Fusion:

Workstation:

 

I also spent a full hour in our Podcasting studio talking about a lot more than just ‘whats new’ with our beloved products. Check out the audio or video if you want to hear me get real deep about my passions, how the product gets built, and some other trade secrets I probably should have kept to myself =)

Here’s the podcast itself: bit.ly/2yHn91i

And here’s the Live Stream we did on Facebook of the show (First one we’ve ever done too! Happy to be the guinea pig!)

VMware Technology Network: live video

 

Living with the new MacBook Pro and TouchBar

Hey folks!

It’s been a while since I’ve posted. August through October is the busiest time of the year for me at VMware (2 VMworlds + 3 Product launches!), and I had some weirdness happen with my website that I had to manage. Joy!

Anyway, now that we’re back up I figured I’d take a swing at sharing my experiences with my new MacBook Pro.

My New MacBook Pro

I’m used to a 15″, so this time I wanted something a little more travel friendly since I ended up with a MacPro for my desk machine.

Here are my specs:

My Spex

I wasn’t convinced that the CPU spec bump was as worth it as having more storage was, so I went with that upgrade rather than both. The bigger upgrade of the CPU would still only have left me with 2 physical cores to work with, so considering I have many VMs adding more storage was a no-brainer.

Body

Opening it up out of the box I was immediately impressed with how light and yet solid the device feels. The Space Gray also looks fantastic!

They did something slightly different with the hinge, and it feels much more stable and yet easier to move now. I couldn’t get a picture with enough detail to really show that off, but if you’re familiar with the hinge design over the past few revisions you’ll once a nice subtle difference here.

Gray aluminum.... FROOOMMMM SPAAAAAAACCCEEEEE
Gray aluminum…. FROOOMMMM SPAAAAAAACCCEEEEE

Display

Man it’s pretty. It’s incredibly bright and side-by-side it has a much nicer looking contrast and colour palate than my late 2015 15″ MBP. By far it’s the best display on a Mac notebook to date. Using the TouchBar to adjust the brightness is easy, intuitive and feels very natural.

Keyboard

This took some getting used to. I was really not a fan of the updated stand-alone keyboards and the keyboard of the 12″ MacBook (which to me should have been the new ‘Air’, but alas…). At first I found it weird to type, but I was sort of fighting with it. The larger surface area of the keys made me feel like I had to spread my fingers out more. After a few minutes of intense writing/typing, I sort of just ‘let go’ and typed as fast as I could using my normal style, figuring I’d make a ton of mistakes. Turns out everything just sort of kept working, and it became very natural very quickly.

One thing I definitely do NOT like is the directional buttons. They did this on the 12″ MB so it’s not new, but since I never used that machine for long I now find it annoying on my daily-use machine. The left and right arrows on the older models are the same size as the up and down… this made it easy to find without looking down because you could feel the aluminum in the gap between ‘Left’ and ‘?/’ and ‘Right’ and ‘Shift’ buttons, respectively. Now that they’re the same size they feel just like every other key so it’s harder to get there without looking.

Ports

USB-C you say? This is where things start to get weird… I have 0 USB-C devices, cables or adapters. I haven’t been able to plug anything into this Mac since I got it besides the power/data cable that came with it. I ended up doing my user account migration via WiFi, which took about an hour for roughly 300GB of data to transfer.

I am REALLY sad not to have a MagSafe. This is a decision that I just can not understand. I suppose there are tons of arguments to me made both for and against this, but the MagSafe was really one of my favourite Apple innovations. Seems simple, but it’s saved more than 1 Mac from almost certain destruction due to unexpected power cable tugs. Now there’s a risk of the port itself getting jammed up with a half-busted-off USB port stuck in there, or worse pulling the whole Mac off the table. I guess I just need to be more carful now.

The inclusion of an analog headphone port is weird and vexing to me as well. I have an iPhone 7, but I now have to carry 2 sets of headphones around with me, or remember to carry around (and not loose!) the little adapter which comes with the phone. Tough life, right?

Trackpad

Ugh…. so much good, yet not without it’s issues.

My what a big trackpad you have there
My what a big trackpad you have there

Firstly, it’s YUUUUGE. Bigger than an iPhone 7 Plus, and much bigger than the trackpads that came before it.  In my opinion, it’s too almost big.

My problem with it is that while it’s a joy to use, and the click sounds and feels better than on any other Mac (truly, it feels much more solid and responsive), I find myself accidentally hitting the corners with my thumbs. ALL. THE. TIME.

I’ll have a window open in the background and typing on Messages in the foreground… then I’m instantly, without warning, typing into the wrong window because I tapped where the mouse cursor was.

Or in a word document… (or a blog!) I’ll accidentally be typing way further up on the page in the middle of another sentence. Ooops!.

It’s pretty good about not recognizing my wrists or palms, but my thumbs do end up triggering it very often.

Touch Bar

Let the magic begin! This thing really is a treat. Quick shortcuts to commonly used features that you can get to without moving your hands far at all. It’s great, really. Instantly hit up the address/search bar in Safari and get to your most used pages that much faster. Open new tabs with the slight motion of your right index finger. The surface of the bar is not super shiny, so you don’t get ‘stuck’ on it as if it were an iPhone screen. It’s smooth, and not shiny.  The buttons light up just the right amount for me, but it’d be nice to be able to control the brightness of the bar itself.

so many emoji at my fingertips!

I find myself using the bar quite a bit. The word suggestions, emoji, and app-features are fantastic. Really looking forward to what app developers (like us at VMware!) are going to do with it.

Touch ID

This changes the game.

Don't mind if I do...
Don’t mind if I do…

I use this all day, and it’s fantastic. I never have to type my Mac password in anymore… I just tap the user to log in, touch the sensor for the quickest of moments, and in a blink the desktop is up. Iss wickit smaht. Looking forward to this being integrated in other apps too. (I’m looking at you, 1Password!)

 

So, overall let’s review the pros and cons:

Pro

  • Hardware is more solid, stable feeling
  • Space Gray is my new spirit colour.
  • New keyboard is nice once you get used to it.
  • SSD is FAAAAAAAAST… I maxed out BlackMagic disk speed test at 2GBps reads!
  • USB-C is Fast… probably, but I wouldn’t know since my dongles are all still on order ????
  • Trackpad is yuuuuge, easy to drag and drop from one end of the screen to another. Just don’t mis-tap it
  • Display is the best on a Mac notebook at this point, IMHO.
  • TouchBar is a delight to use, even if it’s not yet mature with ecosystem support
  • Touch ID is a game changer.

Cons

  • Expensive AF… My model spec’d out to $2599! For a dual core machine with only 4 USB-C ports! Pro’s might not consider this very ‘pro-friendly’
  • Could use more beef: Maxes out at 2 CPU cores and 16GB of RAM. Sure sure, battery life, etc… but maybe let that be our choice to make if we want to take the trade off and add 32GB of RAM and 8+ cores.
  • Ports – I mean, dongles… so… many… dongles
  • No MagSafe… my heart bleeds over this one. I have so many spare power adapters that are now useless ????

So, How does VMware Fusion run you ask?

All of transferred VMs and newly made VMs worked fine with 8.5.3. Resumes and suspends are faster than on my MacPro on a count of the faster storage. Lacking the CPU cores limits me to what I can demo on this machine, but for my day-to-day work everything just works swimmingly. I’ll get more into testing with USB-C passing into Windows, but from the QA team’s testing with this and the previous MacBook 12″ model we’ve not had any issues.

 

All in all I’m a big fan of the new machine. It’s got its hangups, no doubts there. Some of it will be ‘you have to get used to it’, some of it might be non-starters for some folks. You’ll have to weigh your own requirements against the pros and cons, but for me who is doing web dev, marketing with powerpoint and office stuff and social media, web browsing, Photoshop, VMware Fusion (1 maybe 2 VM’s at a time temporarily), it’s a heck of a road warrior. It’s not going to replace the iMac in my music studio any time soon tho 😉

Hey Siri, Open Microsoft Edge!

Playing around with macOS 10.12, I was trying to see if Siri would behave when I told it/her to open up Windows applications.

As it turns out, for the most part she does the right thing!

Siri, Open Edge, mmkay?
Ask and ye shall receive!

In my example, Fusion was not running at all… I tapped Siri and said ‘Open Microsoft Edge’, and lo and behold, it brought up Fusion, opened up the browser, and we are good to go.

I don’t personally use Unity that much (I like my sandboxes, thank you very much ;), but because Fusion remembers the last state of your window layout, so if you were using Unity before suspending or quitting Fusion, when Siri launches Windows apps it respects this state.

So basically what I’m saying is you can say ‘Hey Siri, Open Microsoft Edge’ and if you were in Unity, or any other mode, it would open up just like any other Mac app.

bender-neat

 

What other fun things can you make Siri do? Tell us in the comments!

Fusion on macOS Sierra Hosts

** UPDATE: July 25, 2016 **

With macOS DP3 (which I believe is also Public Beta 2), it is no longer required to disable 3D acceleration. Things ‘Just Work’.  Please comment if you have a different experience!

*****

In my previous post, I had written a solution to get the new macOS 10.12 Sierra running in a virtual machine on Fusion 8.

In this post, I’ll talk about running a VM with Fusion 8 on a macOS 10.12 host.

This will be a pretty short post, because by and large things work.

My setup:

  • MacBookPro10,1
  • 16GB RAM
  • GeForce GT 650M graphics
  • OS X 10.11 installed, upgraded to macOS 10.12 DP
  • Fusion 8.1.1 installed prior to upgrading host

 

The one exception I’ve found thus far is an ‘Internal Error’ crash of Fusion itself.

It’s kind of a big exception tho since VM’s don’t run… HOWEVER there is a simple (but somewhat unfortunate) fix.

Taking a look at the vmware.log I noticed it crash when trying to run some GPU-specific functions that aren’t being handled properly by Fusion.

2016-06-14T23:19:35.256-08:00| mks| I125: MKS-SWB: Number of MKSWindows changed: 1 rendering MKSWindow(s) of total 2.
2016-06-14T23:19:35.256-08:00| svga| W115: GLHostMacOS: Failed to create IOSurface texture 2D for FBO of MKSWindow, error 0x2718
2016-06-14T23:19:35.266-08:00| svga| W115: GLHostMacOS: Failed to create IOSurface texture 2D for FBO of MKSWindow, error 0x2718
2016-06-14T23:19:35.277-08:00| svga| W115: GLHostMacOS: Failed to create IOSurface texture 2D for FBO of MKSWindow, error 0x2718

To isolate this, I disabled 3D Acceleration in the VM’s settings

3d Acceleration

After doing so, I had no issues booting up my VM’s, regardless of the Guest OS type.

We [or Apple] will have to fix this of course, but for now I’m investigating if there’s still a way we can use 3D accelerated graphics with macOS hosts. Stay tuned for that!

 

See? Short and sweet, just like I said 😉

 

Installing the new macOS 10.12 Sierra ‘Developer Preview’ on VMware Fusion 8

*** HIGH SIERRA UPDATE ***

We have a pull request on our patch that can be used instead of the ‘main’ branch which will work with macOS High Sierra. I’ll be writing in more detail about this soon, but the process is the same, just use this version of the .tool.

https://github.com/VMwareFusion/sierra-vm-installer-fix/pull/9

*** [old] UPDATE ***

We fixed the script that was causing this to happen and needed this workaround. Now you can just update the script and it will ‘just work’ when you drag the Install .app onto Fusion’s New VM Creation Wizard.. Details here

http://blogs.vmware.com/teamfusion/2016/06/fix-for-installing-macos-sierra-as-a-vm.html

github.com/vmwarefusion

github.com/vmwarefusion/sierra-vm-installer-fix

Original post below

**************

It’s that time of year again! With #WWDC2016 in full swing, Apple has graced us with an insider look at the next big OS release for the newly renamed macOS, dubbed Sierra.

By default, it doesn’t work in Fusion as a virtual machine the same way users would expect by simply dragging the installer .app onto Fusion. (We’re working on it 😉

Luckily, we can use some tools built into OS X El Capitan (and earlier) to get this working in a VM.

At a high level, we need a blank OS X 10.11 (custom) VM, and we need to leverage command line tools (with links to their respective docs):

  • Apple’s ‘createinstallmedia‘ CLI tool which is bundled with the “Install 10.12 Developer Preview.app”
  • VMware’s ‘vmware-rawdiskCreator‘ tool to create the actual disk where we will be installing to.

First, you’ll need to have a blank, custom VM.

This is straightforward, but I’ll walk through just so you have it.

  • From Fusion go File > New
  • From the ‘New VM’ wizard we would choose ‘Create Custom VM’

new-vm-creation-wiz-custom

  • Choose the OS version OS X 10.11
  • Choose ‘Create New Disk
  • Save the VM wherever you please
  • I customized it to add more RAM, bumping it to 4GB (4096MB) just to be on the safe side.

When you have your new blank VM, we now need to do 3 things:

  1. Create the installation media “sparse image”
  2. Copy contents of the installer into the new installation media sparse image
  3. Create a .vmdk which ‘points’ to the installation media sparse image (now filled with the contents of the installer) that we just created.

So to do that we start with Mac’s Disk Utility app. You’ll find it in your /Applications/Utilities folder (or do like I do and hit cmd-space and search Spotlight for ALL THE THINGS… 😉

In Disk Utility go File > New Image > Blank Image… and use the settings I have in the image below (call the file whatever you like, but make sure it has the following:

disk-util-macOS_10.12

  • Size = 6GB (absolutely not smaller)
  • Format = OS X Extended (Journaled)
  • Encryption = none
  • Partition = Single Partition – GUID Partition Mac
  • Image Format = sparse disk image

This creates the blank slate that we will then copy the contents of the “Install 10.12 Developer Preview.app” into using ‘createinstallimage’ utility.

It should ‘mount’ the new image we just created, but if it’s not there you can mount it with Disk Utility or from the command line. Mine mounted automatically.

Once it’s mounted we can copy the contents of our installation app into the new sparse image.

For this, we jump down to the command line and run some commands.

 

First, let’s create our install media.

Run the following command (all one line):

sudo /Applications/Install\ 10.12\ Developer\ Preview.app/Contents/Resources/createinstallmedia --volume /Volumes/macOS-10.12_DP --applicationpath /Applications/Install\ 10.12\ Developer\ Preview.app

I named the thing I created with Disk Utility ‘macOS-10.12_DP’ as you can see in the ‘Name’ field in the image above.

createinstallmedia image

Easy peasy… contents copied, new installation media is created with the sparse image we just created, filled with the contents of the installer .app we got from Apple.

Now, let’s make sure the host Mac’s disk layout is okay with “diskutil list“:

(for clarity, $ is the prompt at the terminal, you do not need to type it)

$ diskutil list

It outputs something like the image below:

diskutil list

We can see that I have the ‘Install 10.12 Developer Preview’ mounted as /dev/disk2s2. We need this device id because this is the prepared installation media that we’ll be installing from in the blank virtual machine we created earlier, and the disk number may change depending on what you have mounted on your system.

Now we use VMware’s ‘vmware-rawdiskCreator’ tool to create a .vmdk based on the sparse image we created.

The syntax is as follows:

<path to vmware-rawdiskCreator> create <device id> <partition id> <path to where we want the .vmdk to be saved> <bus type>

So a few things about that so we understand what’s happening:

  • vmware-rawdiskCreator is located within the Fusion app bundle itself, so we’ll point to that
  • create is the vmware-rawdiskCreator function that will create a new “raw” disk
  • <device id> is the /dev/disk2 that we saw earlier, yours may be different if you have other disks mounted.
  • <partition id> is 2 because it’s the 3rd partition on the ‘device’, and numbering starts at 0 (so 0 = first, 1 = second…)
  • We tell it where we want it to be saved, and in our case it will be within the VM bundle that we created at the beginning
  • <bus type> we choose lsilogic so that it behaves like a CD-ROM.

So, for me the command is as follows (all one line):

$ /Applications/VMware\ Fusion.app/Contents/Library/vmware-rawdiskCreator create /dev/disk2 2 ~/Documents/Virtual\ Machines.localized/macOS_10.12.vmwarevm/macOS_installationmedia lsilogic

It should take a few seconds to make the new .vmdk.

 

Okay, breathe… we are about to get the actual install started.

Because Fusion doesn’t support mounting raw disks using the UI, we just have to add it to the configuration file manually.

In the Virtual Machine Library window, right-click your newly created OS X 10.11 VM.

If you hold down the ‘Option’ key you’ll notice some options change… including ‘Edit config file in a text editor’ (I couldn’t take a screenshot due to the need for multiple key presses).

With the config file open in TextEdit, paste the following either at the bottom or with the other SATA device to keep them together (if you’re a little ocd about it like I am 😉

sata0:2.present = "TRUE" 
sata0:2.fileName = "macOS_installationmedia.vmdk" 
sata0:2.deviceType = "rawDisk" 
suspend.disabled = "TRUE"

Notice the file we’re pointing at is ‘macOS_installationmedia.vmdk’… that’s the one we just created with our vmware-rawdiskCreator tool, and it’s a relative path meaning it’s in the same folder as the config file (.vmx) itself.

Close the document (if you’re using TextEdit it will save automatically).

Now all that’s left is to press ‘Play’ on the VM and go through the installation!

dp-10.12-installing

 

It’s a bit of hack, but we’re working on making it just as seamless as installing current and earlier versions of OS X on Fusion.

To recap, we did the following:

  1. Downloaded the macOS 10.12 Developer Preview
  2. Created a blank VM with OS X 10.11 as the type
  3. Created a sparse disk for the install media
  4. Copied the install media to the sparse disk
  5. Used vmware-rawdiskCreator to create a .vmdk based on the sparse disk with the installation media
  6. Boot and install

Once the installation is done you can delete the extra hard disk because it’s no longer needed, and you can’t suspend the VM while a raw disk is attached.

Hope that helps folks looking to try the latest that Apple has to offer!

Let me know in the comments how that’s working out for you, if you have any suggestions, or need clarity on anything I’ve written here!

 

 

*** Update***

Thanks commenters for the feedback!

a few things…

Reader nutmeg noted the following, which I totally agree with:

One minor nitpick After installation, one should shut down the VM (via macOS Shutdown option), then re-edit the VM configuration file and remove 4-line entries:

sata0:2.present = “TRUE”
sata0:2.fileName = “macOS_installationmedia.vmdk”
sata0:2.deviceType = “rawDisk”
suspend.disabled = “TRUE”

If you don’t delete these lines you end up with weird ‘bootcamp’ related errors… (we use rawdiskcreator for bootcamp installs, naturally)… And because it’s a raw-disk it can’t be deleted from the UI (because that would break a bootcamp VM so we disallow that).

Reader Leslie notes something that I often take for granted when posting technical instructions about command line operations:

To everyone getting “Unable to copy the source files (…) ” – just look into vmwarevm content and delete macOS_installationmedia (both of them) file from there then try to create raw disk again! And please do not copy paths from here, just drag n’drop files from Finder in order to get it. And it will work for sure. I am living proof ????

Thanks for the feedback, friends!

Checking out El Capitan GM Candidate on Fusion 8

Apple today was kind enough to reward it’s loyal beta testers with early access to the GM Candidate build of OS X El Capitan.

El-Cap

In an email, they advise the following to install:

[…] to install the GM Candidate. Go to your Purchased tab in the Mac App Store and click the Download button next to OS X El Capitan GM Candidate. When your download finishes, the installer will automatically launch. Follow the onscreen instructions to complete installation.

And that’s fine and dandy and all if you want to install that on your Mac. But what if you just want to try it out without taking the full plunge on your main machine?

Answer? VMware Fusion 8 and Fusion 8 Pro!

Rather than clicking the ‘Continue’ button and upgrading your host Mac, you can quit the installer from the Menu Bar, or with the keyboard shortcut Command + Q.

Once quit, the installer leaves a just-over-6GB installation file in the /Applications folder.

Before we can install in Fusion however, there’s a bit of a gotcha that Apple surprised us with in regards to their installer.  The installer will hang with a white apple and a black background when the progress bar is almost complete. We’ll be releasing a patch, but for now we have a fix.

This quick workaround comes from one of our lead developers, Michael Udaltsov, mentioned on the forums:

To work around the problem, you have to replace:

“VMware Fusion.app/Contents/Library/Create Mavericks Installer.tool”

with a modified version available here.

Once downloaded, unzip the file and you’re left with a ‘Create Mavericks Installer.tool’ file. We’ll drag that to where it needs to go.

First, we have to get into the VMware Fusion Package Contents by right-clicking (or control+click) the Fusion icon in the /Applications folder and selecting ‘Show Package Contents.

packge contents

It’s a folder like any other, so get into the Contents > Library folder…

fusion-lib-bath

Drag the tool we unzipped over the old one…

create-mavericks-installer

And get some warnings when we do it, naturally since we’re messing around in the /Applications folder…

overwrite-request
Yes, you want to replace!
authenticate
Followed by your password…

And with that done, we can get to installing El Cap!

To begin, in the Virtual Machine Library window, just click the ‘+’ button to add a new VM:

file-new-sm

And then drag the  Installation image from Finder onto Fusion

Fusion-8-Drag-ElCap-install

Once the installer kicks in, it’s pretty much auto-pilot until the standard Apple first boot stuff.

osx-installing

osx-first-boot

Click through the first few steps of the installer and the rest is hands off until you’re asked to sign into iCloud.

If you have your host system backed up with Time Machine somewhere, you could even use that to make a copy of your host Mac into the VM, so you can really check if your apps and workflows are going to continue to hold up with Apple’s new OS.

transfer-from-mac

(Of course, you need sufficient disk space for that, so be mindful!)

When the installation is all done and you’re at the desktop, remember to install VMware Tools for optimal performance.

install-tools-el-cap

Click through the tools installer and reboot the VM.

And there you have it! The latest and greatest from Apple running in the latest and greatest from VMware!