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Looking for VM Software...
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Mar 27, 2014, 04:22 AM
 
I'm looking for a Virtual Machine solution that has one specific feature that I have not been able to find. I want to be able to assign specific optical drives to specific VMs. Now, I'm not talking about assigning volumes to different machines. These are optical drives, removable media. I want to be able to assign specific drives to specific VMs, so any disc that is inserted, will automatically show up on the proper virtual machine.

So for example, imagine I'm running four virtual machines. I want to be able to connect four USB optical drives, and set up hard device assignments so each drive belongs to a specific virtual machine. So any time CDs go in and out of the drives, they discs will mount right on the desktop of the appropriate VM automatically. (assuming my VMs are OS X)

I've searched for this feature in the past, but with no luck. However it's been a while, perhaps there have been some updates since then, or some entirely new solutions that have this one obscure feature?
     
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Mar 27, 2014, 06:41 AM
 
With VirtualBox, you can assign devices to a VM, but it's only persistent for the length of time the VB system is running. When you quit, and later restart, you have to re-assign the device.

You also typically have to disconnect the device from the host machine before you can assign it to the VM, which isn't a big deal unless you're making a lot of configuration changes. Or if a specific USB drive automatically opens in Finder when it loads...

Glenn -----OTR/L, MOT, Tx
     
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Mar 27, 2014, 08:15 AM
 
In Parallels, any USB device you connect when the VM is running can be connected to either the host Mac or the guest OS. I suspect they all work like that.
The new Mac Pro has up to 30 MB of cache inside the processor itself. That's more than the HD in my first Mac. Somehow I'm still running out of space.
     
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Mar 27, 2014, 09:00 AM
 
Originally Posted by l008com View Post
So for example, imagine I'm running four virtual machines. I want to be able to connect four USB optical drives, and set up hard device assignments so each drive belongs to a specific virtual machine. So any time CDs go in and out of the drives, they discs will mount right on the desktop of the appropriate VM automatically. (assuming my VMs are OS X)
IIUC, this is not a VM configuration issue, it is a filesystem mounting configuration issue.
     
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Mar 28, 2014, 02:05 AM
 
Originally Posted by P View Post
In Parallels, any USB device you connect when the VM is running can be connected to either the host Mac or the guest OS. I suspect they all work like that.
But with an optical drive, will this 'choice' happen when you plug in the empty CD drive, or when you insert a CD into an already connected drive? Last time I played with parallels, it was a volume specific thing, which isn't going to help me. But if they've changed this behavior, that could work.
     
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Mar 28, 2014, 02:12 AM
 
Originally Posted by ghporter View Post
With VirtualBox, you can assign devices to a VM, but it's only persistent for the length of time the VB system is running. When you quit, and later restart, you have to re-assign the device.

You also typically have to disconnect the device from the host machine before you can assign it to the VM, which isn't a big deal unless you're making a lot of configuration changes. Or if a specific USB drive automatically opens in Finder when it loads...
Sounds promising. Sadly, I've been trying to get a VirtualBox VM up and running for a few hours now, and haven't gotten it to boot once. I've followed several how-to's online, but my VBox4.3 doesn't seem to jive with what I see online. I can create a new virtual machine, but when I pick my 10.6 Server disk image to boot from, I get a kernel panic every time. I'm having no luck at all.

Compared to this, VMWare Fusion is sooooo easy. But fusion only lets you assign volumes, not physical drives. I'll play around with the newest version of Parallels and see if that helps.
     
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Mar 28, 2014, 03:01 AM
 
NOTE: Having much better luck with Mountain Lion... I'll update once I make some progress.
     
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Mar 28, 2014, 05:45 AM
 
Originally Posted by l008com View Post
But with an optical drive, will this 'choice' happen when you plug in the empty CD drive, or when you insert a CD into an already connected drive? Last time I played with parallels, it was a volume specific thing, which isn't going to help me. But if they've changed this behavior, that could work.
I'm almost positive that it was when you plugged in the drive, because Windows needed to install its drivers etc like it does when you plug in USB things. That said I have a gaming PC now so I haven't run Parallels in a while, my memory might be flaky.

When you insert a DVD into the regular (SATA) DVD, or when you had a USB DVD connected from before you started Parallels, then the discs were abstracted by Parallels, but a USB device connected after the VM was up and running was a different thing.
The new Mac Pro has up to 30 MB of cache inside the processor itself. That's more than the HD in my first Mac. Somehow I'm still running out of space.
     
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Mar 28, 2014, 10:22 AM
 
Virtualizing Snow Leopard is a lot trickier than 10.7+ and if I recall correctly, only the Server version can be virtualized per the EULA.

Some info for 10.6 here

I can confirm what P said: when the USB device (in this case, the DVD drive) is plugged in, you will be prompted for which VM you want to assign the device to, but this does not persist through restarts. I imagine some scripting could be involved, but that is beyond anything I've ever done with vbox/vmware/parallels.
     
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Mar 30, 2014, 06:51 AM
 
So VirtualBox does let you assign devices in a way that works. The problem is VirtualBox itself, is garbage. Nothing but problems. VM's randomly not booting with all sorts of errors, VM's kernel-panicing. When a VM does boot, it's super slow.

Hopefully I have better luck with Parallels...
     
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Mar 30, 2014, 07:24 AM
 
Parallels does support this feature as well. But while VirtualBox ripped CDs at full speed (when it wasn't crashing), Parallels rips at about half speed. Not sure why, but that's no good.
     
l008com  (op)
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Mar 30, 2014, 07:46 AM
 
Decided to check VMWare 6.0, turns out it too lets you assign specific USB devices to specific virtual machines, so discs can do in and out of specific VMs. But VMWare rips slower than anything else. My native Mac rips my test CD in 2:03, VMWare took 9:01 to rip that same CD.

The funny thing is that on my data test CD, Parallels and VMWare both copy a single large data file in about the same amount of time as the native host Mac. It's only iTunes ripping off music CDs that seems to be unexplainably slow in the virtual machines. Any thoughts on why this would be?
     
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Mar 30, 2014, 08:28 AM
 
So as far as my speed problem, it seems like either the drives or the usb/sata adapters are slowing down as they heat up. But I was able to get full ripping speed in VMWare VMs on a cold system. So I guess i'm all set at this point. woohoo.
     
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Mar 30, 2014, 10:07 AM
 
I haven't had issues with virtualizing XP or Win 7 with VirtualBox, but my experience is limited to using a 2007 iMac and a 2006 MBP and only with a limited array of Windows apps.

Glenn -----OTR/L, MOT, Tx
     
   
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