Running Ubuntu as a Virtual OS in Mac OS X
While everything was downloading, I made sure I had downloaded and installed both apps properly, VMware Fusion 1.1 and Parallels Desktop 3.0 Build 5582.0. Both offer fully functional 30-day demo licenses, so you can try Ubuntu in both environments without paying a dime. I used fully licensed commercial versions of the two programs, but they're functionally identical.
Once the virtual appliance files were downloaded, as shown in Figure 1, it was time to unpack them and double-click to see what would happen. Remember, Macs are the computers for the rest of us, so it really should be this easy if the vendors have done their work correctly.
To unpack the RAR archives, I installed and used an application called The Unarchiver, which you can grab from www.versiontracker.com, among other places. I encountered a glitch while unpacking VMware, as shown in Figure 2. I optimistically clicked on Continue, but it didn't work. None of the files extracted were larger than a few dozen KB. Plan B was to download a different Ubuntu virtual appliance, Ubuntu Gutsy Gibbon 7.10 Desktop. And this time, it didn't use BitTorrent, so I watched it slowly download a 468MB image, just to find an archive file ending with .7z, which I'd never seen before. The Unarchiver claimed to deal with 7z archives, but rejected this as corrupted too. Before I gave up though, I downloaded yet another app, 7zX, and after almost 20 minutes, it unpacked successfully.
Although the Parallels download comes in four parts, with cheery names like ubuntu-7.04.tar.part1.rar, RAR-friendly apps like Unarchiver automatically concatenate the files. The end result is ubuntu-7.04.tar.gz, which can again be double-clicked on and unpacked to ubuntu-7.04.tar, which again unpacks (why am I reminded of Russian nesting doll puzzles), finally, into the files we seek. The end result is a folder called ubuntu that contains all the necessary files. You can see the files unpacking properly in Figure 3.
Now it's time to double-click on the virtual appliance images and see what happens. In the case of Parallels, I clicked on ubuntu.pvs, and about a minute later, I was presented with the login window shown in Figure 4. I logged in, and it all looked great, but there was no network connection, which was solved by changing the network option in Parallels Desktop itself from bridged to shared networking (NAT), then clicking network connection on the Ubuntu menu bar. A few seconds later, and you can see the results in Figure 5.
With the VMware Fusion archive, it wasn't as obvious what needed to be double-clicked to get started, but Ubuntu-7.10.vmx seemed like a good choice. It worked, as shown in Figure 6, but notice that the window was far bigger than the Fusion parent window. Additionally, VMware Fusion complained that the VMtools hadn't been installed, which was a surprise given that it's a download I found at the VMware site. Also, the account and password pair didn't work, because it was a different VA image from what I originally had planned. I guessed and lucked out: ubuntu and ubuntu worked, and after fussing with screen resolution settings—but not having to tweak the network settings—I had Ubuntu working within VMware Fusion too, as shown in Figure 7.
Dave Taylor has been hacking shell scripts for over thirty years. Really. He's the author of the popular "Wicked Cool Shell Scripts" and can be found on Twitter as @DaveTaylor and more generally at www.DaveTaylorOnline.com.