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OS X Concepts for Windows Users: Run a Virtual OS X in OS X

June 25, 2010DavidOS X0

I’m a lifelong Windows user and I just purchased my first Mac — a 21.5″ iMac — 3.06/4GB/500GB. In this series I’ll list some tips and concepts that will be valuable to Windows users who are moving to the Mac and OS X for the first time.

Most advanced PC users like to tinker with their systems and install new software, betas and services in virtual machines.  As a new Mac user, I’m coming from a Windows environment where constant installation and un-installation of software can lead to registry problems and an overall slowdown of the os and the machine.  I thus was looking for  a way to run OS X in a virtual machine from within an OS X installation (on Mac hardware, of course).

Currently I’m running Parallels 5 on my Mac and from what I’ve read it seems that unless you are going to run OS X Server, you cannot virtualize OS X on top of an existing OS X installation.   And by the way — there is no trial version of OS X Server that you could run to test a few things.  This came as a disappointment and a shock to me — how do power users test alpha and beta software (or just try out new stuff) without risking corruption of the OS?  Well, it seems that Mac’s do a better job of maintaining OS  “cleanliness” than Windows systems do, and that there is little risk in installing and uninstalling tons of software on a Mac because of the inherent difference in OS architecture vs a Windows system.  It also seems that Mac users don’t suffer from or see the need for the biannual or annual OS install that we Windows users experience.

But one of the things you can watch out for when you uninstall a Mac application is left over application preferences and settings — which really generally don’t take up much space —  and AppTrap has been recommended as a program that will help you remove these leftover files.

So at this point if you want to go ahead and try out new software, betas or trials, then go right ahead and do so.  But if you want to virtualize OS X to do this,  it seems that you will not find it as easy a procedure as it is on the Windows side.

The question then remains…is it easier and more efficient to install and uninstall applications in OS X or in a Windows virtual machine?

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