Saturday, February 28, 2009

Getting VMWare Faster

I like Macs, and OS X. I like Ubuntu too, and with my job at Canonical, I develop with it.

I've been developing in Ubuntu in a VMWare Fusion image, for a variety of reasons. I recently got really tired of the slow speed I was experiencing, though. I decided to investigate what I could do to keep my Mac/Linux story portable, but faster, that didn't involve a new computer.

Random Googling to the rescue!

The most persistent advice I read was to get an external disk. I also read that using a reasonably fast external disk over a relatively slow connection like USB 2 might not do so well. I also read...a whole bunch of other things.

Here's what I did:

  • I already was using my FireWire 800 port for some other drives, so I decided to go for broke with an eSATA Express Card adapter.
  • I got a 500GB 5200RPM 2.5" disk drive in a rocketfish enclosure with eSATA and USB connections.
  • After connecting everything up, I built a new VMWare image on the external drive. I used Ubuntu 64 bit, because I read that VMWare could take advantage of some 64-bit opcodes. The 64bit Ubuntu image is named "AMD64" but I read that it works fine on Intel 64 bit. My experience bears this out.
  • I gave the image 1.5G of my 3G RAM.
  • I configured the image to pre-allocate the necessary space on the hard-drive because VMWare Fusion mentions that this might speed things up.
  • I made sure that the 3D graphics acceleration was not turned on for the image, since Linux can't use it anyway.

The results were gratifying! The image certainly feels snappier. More concretely, running a (presumably representative) subset of the Launchpad test suite took Between 20 and 30 minutes on the old image, and between two and three minutes on the new one. <happy sigh>

Now the next question would be "which changes made the biggest difference?" I'd love to know--but probably not enough to actually do the experiment. Instead, I'll use the faster speed to help in this coming week's sprint to abstract a REST webservice framework!

1 comment:

Skyter said...

I think the memory size if the key of getting faster speed on vmware. When I gave my Fedora 6 128MB ram, it need 2-3 minutes to compile myself source code, but under 384MB ram it only take 34 seconds.

I think the other adjustings also have affects a little somehow.