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Improving Yosemite VM performance in VMware Fusion

December 13, 2014 6 comments

Being able to virtualize OS X with VMware Fusion has been a great tool for Mac admins, as it allows them to test out new workflows and configurations before committing them to actual Macs. To go along with the convenience, there can be a performance trade-off between VMs and physical Macs, but it’s usually been one where assigning adequate RAM and processors to the VMware Fusion VM usually resulted in decent performance in the VM.

This changed with Yosemite, where the graphics performance in a VM was sluggish and assigning more RAM and processors to a VM did not address the issue. Even ensuring that the VMware Tools were installed did not markedly improve performance. I also saw redraw issue involving windows that had been in the background and hidden behind other windows. These windows were not redrawing correctly when they were selected and brought to the foreground, resulting in parts of windows showing up as being transparent.

On investigation, the root cause of the issue was beam synchronization, which is a technique first introduced in 10.4.x to better handle screen redraw and allow OS X’s window management process to be more efficient. Beam synchronization works fine on Yosemite when running on actual machines, but it is apparently a significant issue when running in a VMware VM.

Fortunately, the answer to the problem is relatively simple – disable beam synchronization. Once that’s done, the performance of an OS X VM running 10.10.x improves dramatically. However, there were two hitches:

  1. The way to disable it was to use Apple’s Quartz Debug developer tool.
  2. You had to disable it on every login.

QuartzDebug_beam_sync_off_Yosemite

Enter BeamOff, an application designed to do one thing – disable beam synchronization. For more details, see below the jump.

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Categories: Mac OS X, VMware

Managing ESXi-hosted virtual machines using VMware Fusion Professional

November 23, 2014 2 comments

When VMware released VMware Fusion 7 Professional in September 2014, among the new items included in the Features list was this one:

The ability to access virtual machines running on VMware vSphere, VMware ESXi, and VMware Workstation directly from VMware Fusion Pro including:

  • Remote display, keyboard, and mouse control
  • Ability to select media for CD, DVD, floppy devices, including files on your Mac
  • Ability to power virtual machines on and off and configure the network they connect to
  • Ability to move virtual machines from your Mac to a remote location by dragging and dropping
  • Ability to move virtual machines from a remote location to your Mac by dragging and dropping
  • See the state of your remote server with at-a-glance health summary based on Activity Monitor

What this new feature meant for Mac admins was that they now had a native Mac application which they could use when managing virtual machines (VMs) on VMware’s ESXi or vSphere services. The capabilities are not as full-featured as you may find in the Windows VMware vSphere client or the vSphere web client, but they are equivalent to the ESXi or vSphere management capabilities that VMware has been building into VMware Workstation for Windows. For more details, see below the jump.

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create_vmware_osx_install_dmg script updated with Yosemite support

November 16, 2014 9 comments

I’ve updated the create_vmware_osx_install_dmg.sh script which I had previously posted about here. The script now includes support for Yosemite, so the script can now be run on 10.7 – 10.10 to create custom OS X 10.7.x, 10.8.x, 10.9.x and 10.10.x installers for VMware Fusion and VMware ESXi. See below the jump for the details.

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“Bringing the Casper Suite to Life with Virtual Test Environments” session video from JNUC 2014 now available

November 4, 2014 Leave a comment

JAMF Software has posted the session video for my virtualization session from JAMF Nation User Conference 2014.

For those interested, the JNUC session videos are available on JAMF Software’s site. For convenience, I’ve linked my session here.

Update: The session videos are also now available on YouTube, so I’ve linked the YouTube video as well.

Migrating OS X VMs from VMware Fusion 7 Pro to ESXi 5.5

October 31, 2014 3 comments

A new feature that appeared in VMware Fusion 7 Pro was its new ESXi management. This included the ability to upload VMs from Fusion directly to an ESXi server. However, when I tried to upload OS X VMs something seemed to go wrong. The upload would work, but the OS X VM would then hang on boot.

Screen Shot 2014-10-31 at 9.21.50 AM

Non-OS X VMs were uploading fine, so the problem was specific to OS X VMs. Since I could still build OS X VMs using the Windows vSphere client, I didn’t invest a lot of time into solving this issue. Fortunately, Calum Hunter was more motivated in this regard and found a solution.

There are a few things to know about if you want to upload an OS X VM to an ESXi server running 5.5, so I’ve put together a procedure for those who want to leverage Fusion 7 Pro to upload OS X VMs. See below the jump for the details.

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VMware Fusion Technology Preview July 2014 includes ESXi management options

July 4, 2014 1 comment

VMware has released the VMware Fusion Technology Preview July 2014 as of Jul 3, 2014. One of the new items included in the Features list was this one:

Support for viewing VMware Fusion Professional to VMware Workstation, VMware ESXi, VMware vSphere servers in the library (File > Connect to Server)

When I investigated, it looks like this feature brings to VMware Fusion something that’s been in VMware Workstation for a while: a way to manage free ESXi and paid vSphere servers.

For more details, see below the jump.

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Open Directory in Mavericks no longer requires multiple processors

November 22, 2013 Leave a comment

In Mac OS X Server 10.7.x and 10.8.x, there’s been an issue that Mac admins have run into more than once:

“I’m trying to set up Open Directory in this VM, but the service won’t enable.”

Profile Manager in 10.7.x and 10.8.x also has an known issue where it crashes when set up in a VM. The root cause is the same: Profile Manager needs to have Open Directory running and Open Directory won’t turn on.

The fix for this issue in 10.7.x Server and 10.8.x Server is simple – give your VM more than one processor. Once you give the VM multiple processors (two is fine), Open Directory should begin working. This will also fix the Profile Manager crashing issue, as Open Directory should now enable properly.

In Mavericks, it appears Apple has addressed this issue. In my testing, Open Directory no longer requires multiple processors.

Screen Shot 2013-11-22 at 8.03.07 AM

Now that Open Directory can run with one processor, Profile Manager also now runs properly on a one-processor VM.

Screen Shot 2013-11-22 at 8.08.46 AM

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