Category Archives: Mac

Apple Inc., Macintosh Computers and Mac OS X

VMware Fusion 4.0

VMware recently released version 4.0 of VMware Fusion, their virtualisation solution for Mac OS X. I tried out the new version on my Mac Pro under Mac OS X Snow Leopard yesterday.

The update from VMware 3.1.3 to 4.0.1 worked absolutely smoothly. I didn’t even have to reboot my Mac. Both of my virtual machines booted without problems afterwards. And the really good news is that NetBSD, although still not officially supported as a guest operating system, continues to run very well under VMware Fusion. My NetBSD/i386 current machine using four virtual cores and 3GB of memory actually runs faster since the update:

VMware Time to run ./ -j 8 distribution
3.1.3 42:47 minutes
4.0.1 40:30 minutes

I haven’t particularly noticed any of the new features except the single window user interface. I suppose those enhancements are more visible if you use Window extensively.

I haven’t decided yet whether VMware Fusion 4.0 was worth the money. But nothing got broken and I could now safely upgrade to Mac OS X Lion. If you think this update is too expensive you can always try out VirtualBox.

The Exorcism of my Mac

After I updated my Power Mac G5 to Mac OS X Leopard the system seemed to work fine at first. But over time I experienced an increasing number of kernel panics. They all looked like the kernel panic described in this thread on one of Apple’s mailing lists. Reading this e-mail exchange two causes of the problem seemed to be likely:

  1. A hardware problem
  2. A broken device driver

As running the Apple Hardware Test didn’t reveal any problem I decided to re-install Leopard from scratch to get rid of broken drivers. The virtual networking driver bundled with Microsoft’s Virtual PC was number one on my list of suspects.

Installing Leopard worked like a charm. Time Machine allowed me to restore all the applications and data that I wanted to keep from my external backup hard disk. And I didn’t experience a single kernel panic ever since.

Yesterday when it was time for the weekly backups of all our machines … well of most of them 🙂 … I wondered whether I managed to fix another problem of my Power Mac G5: the broken front FireWire port. Time Machine had never worked properly if the hard disk was connected to the front port. Accessing the hard disk resulted in a lot of input/output errors and the backup finally failed. I even brought my Mac to the local Apple shop for a repair which didn’t fix the problem unfortunately. Could the mysterious broken driver have interfered with the FireWire driver as well?

I connected the hard disk to the front FireWire port and started a job that tried to read all the files on the volume. The job completed after two hours without a single input/output error. Encouraged by this success I started a Time Machine backup run. To my delight it finished without problems too.

It seems that the time it took to re-install the machine was well invested and I managed to exorcise whatever was causing these problems.

Security updates vs libtool

Apple has released another update for Mac OS X Leopard yesterday. As usual it fixes a lot of security problems and bugs.

Unfortunately it also breaks the development environment, and not for the first time. The update included new shared libraries e.g. version 0.11.8 of pixman. The related libtool archives however were not updated. As a result linking with one of the affected libraries fails because libtool tries to use an old version which no longer exists. Even after installing the latest version of Xcode (3.1.1) the problem remains.

Apple really needs to come up with a way to keep the development environment in sync with security updates.