Mac computers have become a popular and important tool for all types of computer users. However, Mac users frequently miss out on Windows software and games and tools custom-built for Linux operating systems.
Modern application developers, IT professionals, and consumers need to use sandboxed or virtualized environments to protect their host operating systems while running risky or buggy software. However, running a Windows or Linux virtual machine or any other x86-based operating system (OS) in a virtual environment can be a complicated and frustrating task.
Utilizing virtual machines through VMware Fusion allows anyone easy access to virtual environments to expand opportunities to be productive, experiment with new technologies, and ensure the integrity of your host or production machines.
What is VMware Fusion?
VMware Fusion is the name of a Mac hypervisor product designed to run VMware virtual machines, Open Container Initiative (OCI) containers, and Kubernetes clusters and is available in two versions:
- VMware Fusion Pro (paid license).
- VMware Fusion Player (free).
Both versions allow the end user to run multiple virtual machines on a Mac that use Windows and Linux operating systems as a guest OS without rebooting or switching the primary OS.
The latest version of VMware Fusion is version 12. This version works on macOS Big Sur or earlier with Intel chips. Regarding Apple Silicon M chip support:
- Apple Silicon support will be arriving later this year.
- VMware Fusion on Apple Silicon will not support x86 VMs.
- No current support for Windows operating systems.
VMware Fusion Features: Pro and Player
Both VMware Fusion Pro and VMware Fusion Player have some overlapping features:
- VM, OCI containers, and Kubernetes cluster creation and deployment.
- External Graphics Processing Units (eGPUs): Directs graphics-intensive processing to external units instead of built-in graphics cards.
- VM snapshotting: Creates a point-in-time reference that tracks any changes to the VM, allowing for instantaneous rollbacks to the previous state.
VMware Fusion Player Features
VMware Fusion Pro-only features include:
- A single paid license that can be used to simultaneously license VMware Fusion on your Mac as well as VMware Workstation 16 on Windows or Linux.
- VM virtual networking configuration that works with or for NAT.
- VM network manipulation simulates network issues such as packet loss, latency, and bandwidth contention.
- Connects to vSphere or ESXi servers for remote administration.
- VM cloning and clone linking.
- VM encryption.
Using VMware Fusion
VMware Fusion allows for the running of x86 based virtual machines within macOS without the need to reboot. As a result, the running of virtual machines benefits users with all different needs, such as developers, IT professionals, and home consumers.
VMware Fusion for Developers
Developers can use VMware Fusion to:
- Download and use pre-built VMware images for quickly testing an application.
- Provide a safe, isolated environment for running an application.
- Share files and directories between host and guest OSs for quick access between test programs and production data.
VMware Fusion for IT Professionals
IT professionals can use VMware Fusion to:
- Provide access to numerous operating systems, all on a single machine, for end-user compatibility testing and troubleshooting.
- Gain access to vSphere images (requires a vSphere server running already) for remote administration without a vSphere client.
- Continue to run older applications on legacy operating systems while minimizing security risks.
VMware Fusion for Consumers
Consumers and home hobbyists can use VMware Fusion to:
- Run Linux or Windows on a Mac without the need to reboot or have multiple physical machines (reducing space and resources used).
- Utilize external GPUs (eGPU) for graphics-intensive applications and games in the guest OS.
- Utilize snapshots and backups to create easily restored customized environments for work or home.
VMware Fusion Issues
While running VMware Fusion and utilizing virtual machines opens numerous useful and productive opportunities, there are some caveats that users need to be aware of that may impact their usage or cause issues.
Running virtual machines will cause a decrease in performance on the host machine. Performance impact is inversely related to the power and performance of the host machine (meaning the more powerful the host machine, the less noticeable the performance impact is).
Each virtual machine requires a specific amount of resources set aside specifically for it to use. However, some overlap is available within limits, like the number of virtual cores allocated to a virtual machine. In addition, the resources set aside will be locked from host machine use.
If your primary host machine is a lower-end or base model iMac or MacBook, you will likely be able to run a single VMware Fusion virtual machine or two before you notice performance issues with the host machine. However, if you have a higher-end machine (such as a Macbook Pro), you will easily run numerous virtual machines without impacting performance.
Users today need multiple operating systems for various purposes. Ensuring that your primary machine remains functional and protected is an absolute necessity considering the importance of computers in the household today. In addition, users ranging from full-time developers to home hobbyists learning and experimenting with new technologies can benefit from running virtualized environments on their computers.
Utilizing virtual machines through VMware Fusion allows users the opportunity to easily create, use, and share virtual machines designed for any number of purposes or use-cases, all while protecting the host machine they run on.
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