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Old June 19th, 2022, 06:45 PM   #1
ASF
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Using M1 Macs

I received the below PM and figured I'd reply here so that it can help more people from the future.

Quote:
Hi Mate, saw your post about using M1 Macs as your workhorse and thought I'd reach out.

I have been contemplating this for a while but haven't been able to take the plunge. I read your post regarding the RA software suite, and that has given me much more confidence.

However, can I please ask if this is how you run your system?

Mac OS -> Parallel 17 to run Win 11 ARM, and then you've installed VMWare on Win11 to run your work VMs?
No, I don't use VMWare. Mac OS runs Parallels, and parallels runs several Windows 11 ARM VM's. My automation software is installed in those VM's.

Quote:
Furthermore, have you found difficulty using ethernet /serial adapters through all these layers?
Ethernet adaptors, not really. I have one sporadic issue where a network adaptor that is set to bridged will appear but simply not talk to anything. Removing and re-adding the adaptor (setting to from "Bridged" to "None" and then back again) resolves the problem in a few seconds. Other than that, no, ethernet comms are very straightforward (and come to think of it I haven't experienced that issue in a while either, so maybe it got fixed in a parallels update).

Serial was trickier because while Windows ARM can emulate x64 software it can't emulate x64 drivers. So if your USB-serial adaptor doesn't have an ARM driver available for download, you're out of luck. In the end I found one of these. I had to download the drivers manually from the FTDI website as they wouldn't install automatically, and when trying to install them I had to install twice because the first time it would fail (across multiple VM's). On the second install it worked and the COM port now appears. That said, I've not yet had a chance to actually try making it talk to a serial device, I've only proven that it shows up correctly (which is more than any other device did). Oh, and a random guy on the parallels forum says that he has successfully used it in this exact scenario, so given my experience and the word of a stranger on the internet, I'm at least 90% confident that it will work when I do stumble across a serial device next.

Quote:
Lastly, do you also use Schneider software? Do they work well in similar environments?

Thank you very much for your help.

Cheers
I've used Schneider software before, but not really on my new laptop. I have installed the SoMove drive software and it seems to launch correctly, and opens all my old files, so I have no reason to believe it wouldn't work. But no, I've not actually used it in anger on this machine, nor have I tried installing any Schneider software beyond SoMove. Given my experience with every other software package I have installed, I'd be fairly optimistic that it can be made to work with some cajoling.
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Old June 20th, 2022, 04:27 PM   #2
Phil Buchanan
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I use a M1 MacBook also. Can't wait for the new M2 fanless MacBook Air coming out next month 24 GB RAM and 2 TB SSD.
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Old June 20th, 2022, 06:33 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by Phil Buchanan View Post
I use a M1 MacBook also. Can't wait for the new M2 fanless MacBook Air coming out next month 24 GB RAM and 2 TB SSD.
Yeah, a few more of our engineers are eyeing off an upgrade but we'll probably hold out for that too I'd say. Will be a huge upgrade from some of the ageing intel MBP's they've been using for 4-6 years!
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Old June 21st, 2022, 09:47 AM   #4
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Thanks for the response ASF!

Sounds like you have a team of engineers on Macs? which gives me more confidence!

I actually approached Apple Business and spoke to them about my needs and the response I got was, that they do not recommend me to use Mac as it does not support virtualisation. That has deflated me a little, but reading your experiences, i'm a bit more confident to give it a shot, looks like the hard part now is to find some stock.
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Old June 21st, 2022, 11:50 AM   #5
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I am writing this on a 2015 MBP. I would not try to use a M1 Mac to run X86 code. I know there is Rosetta and it can be done but it should only be done on small apps were time doesn't make a difference.

Rosetta must translat X86 machine code into M1 machine code. I can see where this can be done in the user memory space but not in the OS's memory space where the drivers are.
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Old June 21st, 2022, 07:02 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Darkshrimp View Post
Thanks for the response ASF!

Sounds like you have a team of engineers on Macs? which gives me more confidence!
Yes, we have four engineers exclusively using MacBook Pro's, and have done since around 2014. We also have one manager and two site technicians using them.

Currently only one engineer (me) and two of the site techs are using the M1 macs. Of those three, I'm the only one that heavily uses virtualization. The site techs do use virtualization, but less so. Those of us using M1 macs use parallels, and those of us still on intel macs use VMWare Fusion. None of us have ever (to the best of my memory) had a serious problem as a result of using either a mac or virtualization.

From a hardware perspective they've been pretty much bullet proof. Some of these laptops are probably 6-7 years old, they bounce around sites all over the place, and are still in daily use and working well. We have one laptop that encountered the butterfly keyboard issue and seems to have occasional issues related to charging and stuff - the 2017-2019 laptops were really a low point for the MBP's - but other than that, the only time they've ever seen a repair shop is to replace a swelling battery on a 5 year old laptop, and after an unfortunate incident involving an indian curry.

Quote:
I actually approached Apple Business and spoke to them about my needs and the response I got was, that they do not recommend me to use Mac as it does not support virtualisation. That has deflated me a little, but reading your experiences, i'm a bit more confident to give it a shot, looks like the hard part now is to find some stock.
Yeah, you definitely have to accept that you're working outside of the supported environment on several counts, and be willing to do a lot of troubleshooting yourself. But I (and others) can confirm, it does work, and I suspect that within the next 2-3 years we'll start to see mainstream support for at least parts of the picture.
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Old June 23rd, 2022, 09:18 AM   #7
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Does the number of cores matter on the Mac when it comes to what we do? For the laptop I’m currently using, I’ve specc’ed it to have 32gb ram to support me running multiple VMs, so I’m also planning on getting a 32gb ram MacBook, however will it be sufficient for me to get the one with 8core cpu and 14 core gpu?
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Old June 23rd, 2022, 07:08 PM   #8
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I'm sure it matters to some extent but these new macs are so powerful it's nearly irrelevant. I got 32GB RAM, 10 core CPU and 16 core GPU, M1 Pro chip (not M1 Max).

The thing is an absolute beast. I have it sitting on my desk connected to 2x 27" 4K monitors and running three VM's at once. I'm a very heavy user and I have pushed this thing as hard as I can within the scope of my job and I'm yet to ever hear the fan come on. Even when I have three VM's doing stuff simultaneously like downloading large files, installing software, or publishing AutoCAD drawings.

So yes, I'd say that 32GB RAM/8 Core CPU/10 Core GPU will absolutely be adequate.
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Old June 23rd, 2022, 07:16 PM   #9
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Is parallels better than fusion.?
I’ve used fusion with no issues, but assume will need parallels when getting the M2?
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Old June 23rd, 2022, 08:33 PM   #10
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Yes, at this stage you'll need parallels.

Long story short, currently Microsoft have an exclusive agreement with Qualcomm for Windows ARM licenses. This means that there is no way to legally purchase a Windows ARM license to run on a mac. Rumours are that this exclusive agreement is set to expire soon, and the Microsoft will be quite happy to sell licenses to people running Windows ARM on Mac. But until that happens, VMWare have taken the position that they will not support Windows ARM as it can't be run legally. Parallels have taken the position that they'll support whatever you want, and it's up to the end user to comply with license agreements. So until that exclusivity deal ends, Parallels is the only solution for running Windows on an M1/M2 Mac.

I wouldn't say Parallels is better than Fusion, but I wouldn't necessarily say that it's worse. It's different. There are a few neat things about Parallels that Fusion doesn't have, and there are a few things that annoy me about Parallels because I used Fusion for years and Fusion did it better. But there's definitely no deal breakers in there. I'd rather have my M1 mac and deal with the handful of annoyances, than have an Intel mac with Fusion.
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Old June 24th, 2022, 11:00 AM   #11
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Great info here!

One of my favorite VMWare Workstation / Fusion features is the baked-in virtual network routing. The VM (and Linx settings) can be isolated from changes to the physical machine's NIC, while still continuously working. Or vice-versa with passthrough virtual adapters.

Does Fusion provide this?
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Old June 26th, 2022, 07:08 PM   #12
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Great info here!

One of my favorite VMWare Workstation / Fusion features is the baked-in virtual network routing. The VM (and Linx settings) can be isolated from changes to the physical machine's NIC, while still continuously working. Or vice-versa with passthrough virtual adapters.

Does Fusion provide this?
Assuming you meant "does parallels provide this"?

I'm not 100% sure what you're referring to, but the networking is pretty much the same between Fusion and Parallels, just with some different wording.

All my VM's (whether Fusion or Parallels) have two network adaptors. One which is dedicated to "just get me on the internet" and one which is dedicated to connecting to PLC's or whatever.

The first one, in Fusion, is just set to "Share with my Mac". In parallels it's set to "Shared Network". In both cases, as (I believe) you were suggesting, the VM will maintain its internet connection seamlessly no matter where the host is obtaining it's internet connection from.

The second, in both Fusion and Parallels, is set to Bridged networking. Both Fusion and Parallels allow you to bridge to the default adaptor, but for my purposes, I always have it assigned to a specific hardware adaptor, usually a USB-C to Ethernet adaptor. Occasionally the Wi-Fi adaptor if I'm at a plant that has a control network WAN in place. Both Fusion and Parallels work pretty well identically, except for that intermittent bug I mentioned in my first post with Parallels (again, not experienced for a while now). Oh, and when switching the virtual network adapator between different physical adaptors, Parallels is significantly faster.

If I've misunderstood your question please clarify and I'll try again!
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Old June 26th, 2022, 09:33 PM   #13
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I do have one more silly question. Over my working life, I've collected a lot of different VMs with all sort of software packages installed to be used on different projects. If I were to start using a Mac, since Fusion VM isn't supported, this means I won't be able to use my old VMs right?
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Old June 26th, 2022, 09:50 PM   #14
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You answered it, ASF. Thank you again.
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Old June 27th, 2022, 02:47 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by Darkshrimp View Post
I do have one more silly question. Over my working life, I've collected a lot of different VMs with all sort of software packages installed to be used on different projects. If I were to start using a Mac, since Fusion VM isn't supported, this means I won't be able to use my old VMs right?
Correct, although it's not just "because Fusion VM isn't supported". Even once Microsoft gets out of their licensing bind and VMWare releases a version of Fusion compatible with M1 macs, you still won't be able to run your old VM's on Fusion. The M1 macs will only run ARM versions of Windows, and all of your VM's will be x64 or x86 VM's.
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