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Thread: Xen - VGA passthrough is the way to go!!!

  1. #41
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kano View Post
    When you think of iLife/iMovie then you definitely will miss Bluray support. No mac has got a BD. When you want to use more professional tools wine should be enough. I think google payed for wine support of those apps, you can even run office with wine.

    http://wiki.winehq.org/AdobePhotoshop

    I don't get the point whats to great about those simple iLife/iWork tools... Maybe try picasa or digikam instead of iPhoto. gimp seems to be overkill to replace it. Also iWork seems to be a wrong choice, most likely less users than LibreOffice. Most pro apps can be used using wine, of course not those beginner apps which are mac only. If wine pure is too complicated for you try cxoffice. Usually pure wine can run the same apps, you just get a simple gui around it. I only use winetricks...
    Re: BD support
    Plug in an external BD device. Playback is not native (yet) and requires a third party player. Content composition can be handled by iMovie (or Finalcut). Burning to BD requires a 3rd party app. There's been speculation of BD in the 2012 iMac lineup, but there's also been equal speculation that Apple is going to do-away with optical disks in favor of net-streaming. As a technologist, I understand that we are nearing the end of the age of optical-disks being a contemporary distribution medium. I just don't know if we're all ready for it yet. Even on my old 1080p Panasonic plasma, I can see the quality difference between BD and streamed media. My guess is that BD will die the moment someone figures out how to get comparable quality at an acceptable bitrate.

    Re: IPhoto
    On the photo side, I was able to accomplish more with iPhoto in two days than I did with Picasa in 4 years. The difference was that I didn't have to learn to do anything, I simply did it. There was nothing to figure out. While I do not foresee myself ever needing Photoshop, I did install Apeture, which helped me give life to some of scans from the huge-box-of-pictures that my mother had in her attic. Speaking of which, I found a charming one of myself at age 2 in just a diaper and batman-mask. Some things never change.

    Re:
    iWork is great for those that do not require a full-on Office suite. It's targeted at the same users that MS tried to target with their MS-Works crapware. Think of it as K-Office, or whatever is called now. If you require a full office suite, you can take your pick (MS-Office, Libreoffice, etc all run fine). Try to understand that MS has brainwashed you into thinking you need a full-featured Office suite at home and for school. You probably don't. You definitely don't need one to make bake-sale fliers, resumes, brochures, compose written academic work, etc. Full featured office suites often give me worse results than a lesser suite with a better workflow and templates. If I look at a couple of the projects I have composed with Pages, I would be hard-pressed to find a way to produce the same quality in Word/Writer.

    All in all, it's really no better or worse than PC. It's just different. It's simple. How to do things is often obvious and isn't buried in a ribbon or tiny black arrow in the corner of a grey box with some indecipherable picture on it. I spend less time figuring out how to do something (and often learning the wrong way) and more time doing actual work.

    F
    Last edited by russofris; 04-20-2012 at 02:32 PM.

  2. #42
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    @Kano:

    Regarding Mac versus PC, I don't think it's only the applications that make the difference. I bought a Macbook (the most basic model) about 2 years ago. It took a little time getting used to it, as it's different from Windows. But I also learned to appreciate the hardware design.

    Examples:
    1. Battery life: I managed to deplete my Macbook battery ONCE. It usually lasts at least 6 hours of intensive use, with reduced brightness even 8-9 hours. I haven't seen anything like that with Windows notebooks, unless it's a low powered, tiny screen netbook. In fact my wife's new netbook doesn't last that long on batteries.

    2. Power cable connection: With my previous notebook it happened twice that someone tripped over the power cable with the result that the notebook crashed onto the floor. It was pure luck that it continued working. No chance with my Macbook - the power cable connector is magnetic, it's doesn't use one of those cheap 10 cent sockets and plugs that all the rest of the bunch use.

    Just two examples of good engineering. I've met people who use their Macbook for 7-8 years now and it still works with current software, at useful speed. My Windows notebooks I bought 6 years ago run Linux for the past 2-3 years since the latest SPs (service packs) and updates and whatsoever (maybe viruses or other malware, though I paid a fortune for antivirus etc. software) turned them into useless heaps of junk. At least with Linux I was able to extend their life, one is even working 24x7 as a server.

    In my opinion it's not only the software that makes a Mac unique, it's also the hardware.

    With regard to applications: I tried Picasa, Fspot, and whatever you mentioned - it's nice for snapshots, not for professional results. I need tools that allow me to selectively enhance pictures, including selective sharpening etc. In short, if the tool doesn't support masks, it's useless. Also, any software with 8 bit per channel doesn't cut it. I shoot RAW format and my camera delivers 14 bit color depth (though 12 bit are usually more than enough even for intensive contrast enhancements such as tonal contrast).

    Which brings me to the question: Is it possible to run Mac OS-X within kvm, Virtualbox, Xen or whatever?

  3. #43
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    Did you try digikam as well? I don't have got the money to buy a macbook, but the keyboard layout is something i absolutely hate as im used to german pc105 layout. Of course i could adopt it, but just for 1 system thats stupid. Btw. there are so many hacks that allows os x to run on native hardware without an apple logo it should be a piece of cake to find out what is needed for a vm. In most cases you will have to override the vesa modes to add the correct one for your monitor size, thats not really hard to do, but running the system with vesa is definitely not the optimal environment. I don't think that iPhoto/iWork is needed at all, but if somebody can no live without it just use it. Just to try os x most likely nobody needs to buy a mac...

  4. #44
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    I tried digikam as well, but it was some time ago (perhaps 2-3 years) and things may have changed. As I said, I'm looking for professional-grade photo editing software. So far I haven't found anything on Linux that would make me want to switch to that Linux application. I really wish there was, as I prefer Linux for everything else I do.

    About Mac hardware: My Macbook keyboard looks pretty standard. I use 3 languages with 3 different keyboards, including German.

    I did some search on OS-X installations either directly on non-Mac hardware, or within a VM. Both seems possible. The Mac OS-X also costs a fraction of Microsoft Windows 7, though the Apple EULA requires me to use it on Mac hardware.

    An appeal to Apple: Change your EULA and allow users to install your OS-X on ANY hardware or VM, with a disclaimer that Apple is not responsible for fitness and/or performance on non-Apple hardware. That could well wipe out Windows for all but enterprise customers (think about all the people who can then turn an ordinary PC into a cool looking Mac - at least on screen).

    The reason I'm so interested in OS-X is that all the software I need is also available on Mac. With the license keys I have I can simply download and activate a Mac version. Generally speaking many if not most of the applications available on Windows are also available on Mac.

    Finally, I'd rather burn my money in a camp fire instead of spending almost $400 on a MS Win 7 pro retail license, which is required despite the fact that I'm buying a new computer which would let me have a Windows pre-install at 1/2 that price.

  5. #45
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    People are already doing this, including me:
    http://www.tomshardware.co.uk/forum/...irtual-machine

  6. #46
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    Default not that easy

    Running Xen with vga pass-through isn't as easy as it looks.
    You need at least version 4.0.

    I tried with Ubuntu 12.04 beta 2 and none of the toolset looked cohesive.
    I had to explicitly get the packages. None of the meta packages seemed to work.

    I created my VM with virtual-manager or whatever. Then I had a hard time
    exporting the VM's configuration to an actual XML file for which there was no documentation
    on how to turn on pass-through for the XML file. In other words, they didn't say what tag was needed.

    Man pages have always been too generalized. dump -c domain
    "Ok, in what context does domain apply." Come the find out it's just the name of the machine.

    There probably needs to be a new type of help-context. cookbook
    Cookbook shows real world operational statements.


    I don't think it's to the point average Joe with his 40 hour work week can come home in 1 hour and have it up and running.

  7. #47
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    Quote Originally Posted by Djhg2000 View Post
    People are already doing this, including me:
    http://www.tomshardware.co.uk/forum/...irtual-machine
    Hello Djhg2000,

    Thanks for your post. I followed the link and read the long thread. This looks very promising.

    If I understand you correctly, you're saying than Xen is currently the only VM solution that supports VGA passthrough?

    I hoped I could use kvm, for its wider support and attested performance. But it looks like kvm is not going to offer VGA passthrough, but you mentioned there is some experimental work on that? I have only found an old patch proposal that had been rejected.

    Great work - looks like you solved your Windows dependence. It's probably like getting off drugs.

  8. #48
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    Quote Originally Posted by squirrl View Post
    Running Xen with vga pass-through isn't as easy as it looks.
    You need at least version 4.0.

    I tried with Ubuntu 12.04 beta 2 and none of the toolset looked cohesive.
    I had to explicitly get the packages. None of the meta packages seemed to work.

    I created my VM with virtual-manager or whatever. Then I had a hard time
    exporting the VM's configuration to an actual XML file for which there was no documentation
    on how to turn on pass-through for the XML file. In other words, they didn't say what tag was needed.

    Man pages have always been too generalized. dump -c domain
    "Ok, in what context does domain apply." Come the find out it's just the name of the machine.

    There probably needs to be a new type of help-context. cookbook
    Cookbook shows real world operational statements.


    I don't think it's to the point average Joe with his 40 hour work week can come home in 1 hour and have it up and running.
    I don't mind spending a little time to get it work. But once it works, it must be stable. This means I should be able to do the normal updates of the host OS (or DOM-0 in Xen talk, i.e. Linux Mint Debian) as well as the VM (DOM-U) without breaking things.

  9. #49
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    Default Xen

    Back to the OP:

    I have posted a number of comments detailing my problem or challenge in finding a suitable virtualization solution for a Win 7 VM on a Linux box.

    I must admit I was influenced by the Phoronix comparisons of kvm, Virtualbox and Xen, where Xen came out very lame. Until I read this blog on the Xen website yesterday: http://blog.xen.org/index.php/2011/1...-vs-kvm-redux/.

    Here a quote from the blog:

    "Upon investigation I found that the 3.0 Linux kernel used in Ubuntu 11.04 was lacking a rather key set of patches in domain 0 which inform the Xen hypervisor about the power management (specifically cpufreq scaling) properties of the processors in the system. Without these patches Xen will not make use of the highest performing CPU frequencies."

    The blogger sent his test results with the patched kernel to Michael at Phoronix but neither he nor I have seen any comment on the Phoronix site.

    My hesitation towards Xen was based on the mediocre to bad test results posted at Phoronix, and on the fact that the Linux kernel is going with kvm. This kernel patch (perhaps it's already applied to the newer Ubuntu or Linux Mint editions) and the resulting performance improvement may well change my decision.

    Anyone here with good or bad Xen experiences, or someone who can compare Xen with kvm and/or Virtualbox?

    Given the fact that Xen is currently about the only virtualization solution that can get VGA passthrough working, it may well be the winner for me.

  10. #50
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    Thumbs up Exact same need as you, powerhouse

    Quote Originally Posted by powerhouse View Post
    I for myself am fed up with dual-boot and am looking for a solution that allows me to run Linux as my standard OS, and Windows 7 (or 8) in a VM for photo editing. I would happily migrate to Linux only, but there is no professional photo editing solution available on Linux. So I'm kinda stuck with Windows (though I could move to Mac, but that would be really expensive).
    Powerhouse, I have been doing several research lately for the exact same need you have: Linux host with Xen installed and Win7 virtualized with VGA passthrough. I would really much love to play games and use professional photo editing software on a fully virtualized Windows platform on a Linux host with full graphics support. With all the articles I read, it seems to be really feasible with Ubuntu 12.04 LTS based on kernel 3.2 and Win7 as an unmodified guest OS on VT-d supported motherboard and CPU (Intel i5, i7). The only thing that seems impossible and that I'd like to do, is to switch the VGA passthrough onto another graphic card on the press of a keybinding. However, I think the only thing required is running the Linux Dom0 on the internal HD graphic provided by the CPU and have Win7 full control on a more powerful graphic card and unplug the monitors cables (I have three monitors) and plug them to the other graphic adapter (even though a keybinding to switch between the OSes would be better).

    What do you think?

    For the keybinding, I have not experimented with Xen yet, but maybe it is possible to send command through the command line to 'hotswap' the VGA passthrough from one OS to the other, so that the control of the display would switch from one OS to the other? I bet it is not something possible though.

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