Running Ubuntu and WinXP on MacBook

Well, this is not a proper review of either the Parallels Desktop or of running multiple operating systems on MacBook. Its just my experience setting up these “Guest OSes” to run on my MacBook using Parallels Desktop. The reason I opted for Parallels and not Boot Camp are two folds – ONE, I didn’t need the full power of any of the “Guest OSes” that I wanted to install by running them solo on their own partition, and TWO, and more importantly, I really wanted all the OSes to run together, without having to boot on and off to switch to one from the other. And Parallels Desktop fitted me perfectly in that respect [AND fitted my budget perfectly as well as I got it off on sale at John Lewis at half price (£24.95!) with free upgrade to the latest version!]. Anyway, here I present my experience with some screenshots!

Let me start my telling that you really need to have at least 2GB of memory on your Mac (if not more – I started with 1GB and the day after installing WinXP, upgraded to 4GB!) to run these “Guest OSes” smoothly. Anyway, as I said I started with my original MacBook whose specification was Core 2 Duo 2.2Ghz, 1GB DDR, 120GB HDD. I installed Parallels, and after a couple of emails to the support was able to get my FREE upgrade to the latest version. In the meantime, I managed to install WinXP Pro, and using this windows installation, was also able to upgrade the OS on my Nokia N800 to OS2008! So far, I was impressed with the performance of my “Guest OS”, which I had set to use 512MB of memory and installed on a virtual HDD with maximum space set at 32GB.

The next day, I installed SPSS on WinXP (reason being that I couldn’t get a mac version SPSS from the computing service at my uni coz they hadn’t received the latest version for mac). I started my data entry on SPSS on XP running on Mac, and started to notice the system getting slower and slower. At the end I was not able to run multiple programs at all when XP was running. Thats when I decided to get memory upgraded – I found relatively good deal at Crucial-UK and got their “4GB Kit for MacBook for under £70! It arrived the next day, and I immediately opened up my 1-week old MacBook (after making sure it wouldn’t void my Apple warranty of course!), removed both the original 512MB pieces and installed two 2GB DDRs in their place. I had no problem booting up my mac after this upgrade, and not surprisingly, Parallels started to run lot smoother immediately.

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My MacBook specs with 4GB DDR

Seeing that everything was running lot faster and smoother, I decided to install Ubuntu as well, which I had wanted to try out since last year. It was quite troublesome to get it installed correctly, and took me a couple of hours of Googling and going through different versions of “online self-help guides” from those who had installed Ubuntu on Parallels, until I decided to give THIS a try, and it WORKED!!! Now I could run WinXP and Ubuntu on my MacBook. Here are the configuration for my “Guest OSes” (I have set up 32GB for XP and 20GB for Ubuntu Virtual HDDs).

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Configuration of “Guest OSes”

Now, I am going to write less and put screenshots instead. The first is a shot of start-up windows for the “Guest OSes” on Parallels Desktop.

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Parallels Desktop Start-up windows for WinXP and Ubuntu

By the way, I have also put-up a short video on YouTube (not too great in quality) which shows WinXP and Ubuntu running on my Mac, just scroll to the end of this post for that.

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Running Windows XP on Fullscreen mode


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Running Ubuntu on Fullscreen mode


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Switching between OSes and running programs


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“Exposing” all running program and OS windows

So thats all – if you want similar to what I wanted to do with multiple OSes on Mac then Parallels Desktop is the way to go in my opinion. Its not a free program, but I would say not extortionately expensive either. However, if you want to run one OS at a time on full system resources then you might just stay with Boot Camp, which comes free with all new Mac computers. Anyway, here is the YouTube video. If you want to see a little better version, then here is the link for .mov file.

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