Perhaps a stupid question, but bear with me for a second.

I have 2 boxes:

  • MacBook Pro(Core 2 Duo 2.4Ghz, 2gb ram, 120Gb drive), Mac OS X 10.5, VMWare Fusion
  • Custom made(Core 2 Quad Q6600 Kentsfield 2.4GHz, 4Gb RAM, RAID10 on four Seagate Barracuda ES.2 ST3750330NS drives, 7200rpm), Linux(Ubuntu 9.04), VMWare Workstation 6.5

I have an image of Windows Server 2003, pretty standard, with nothing special on it. It has VMTools installed.

This same image runs on MacBook noticebly faster than on much more powerful Linux box. Loads up faster, more responsive and doesn't really slow down host system when performing say disk heave operations. While on Linux it takes a while to bring it up, and it is less resposnive and infact can force host system to slowdown significantly.

I've this happen to few other images...

Anyone has any ideas why this could be? Are there things I can do to speed up VMWare instance on Linux?


You could install linux on your MBP and retry the benchmarks. That would eliminate the issue of hardware differences, wouldn't it?


Could be that there is a hardware support for a Hypervisor on the Mac, but not on the PC.


What exactly are the CPUs? If you have a "more powerful" CPU on the linux box that's quad-core and runs at a lower clock speed than the CPU on the Macbook, the actual amount of CPU available to the VM would be lower.

What's the drive on each? Does the MBP have a faster drive?

What else are the two systems doing? Is the Linux box busy and the MBP idle?

  • I've updated the question. They run in fact on the same clock speed. However, on Linux I assigned 2 cores to that instance, while on Mac assigned just on. Linux box is a bit bisier as it runs some background processes. Load average on it is normally around 0.6. While VMWare is running it can bump up to 2-3, when it is starting up it can go as high as 5.
    – Alex N
    Jun 26 '09 at 16:57

I'm not sure, but I suspect that Fusion may just be significantly optimized for Mac OS X since they have stiff competition on that OS from Parallels.


I've had a lot of experiences like this with VMware-- on a less powerful system, the VM runs Windows faster than a more powerful native Windows box! Still have no idea why, though, but I would vote with Ed Leighton-Dick: probably something to do with per-OS optimizations.


It might be because OS X could have a better optimized kernel than Ubuntu. OS X 10.5 is partially running in 64 bit and has been heavily optimized by Apple. and I agree with a previous post that VMware was probably optimized more for OS X because of it's larger user base than Linux and competition (though not really) from Parallels.

  • The Linux-box is custom built. Is mem etc setup right? Can you find some other benchmark that you can run on both the Mac and the Linux-box and get the results you'd expect?
  • If the Linux-box does a lot of stuff in the backgorund it probably uses a lot of the memory for disk cache "actively". When you start Fusion a large portion has to be flushed out and it has to start working against the HD for real. That could be an issue.
  • Could it be that the Ubuntu install is 32-bit and the Mac is 64?

I've had some issues with the browser based console in vmware server 2 (admittedly not workstation 6.5...). Do the responsiveness problems you're having go away if you rdesktop to the guest rather than using the console?

Your load time issues may be related to your host storage/filesystem. Are you using linux software raid or something else? What filesystem are you using? Was it ever full? Could your disk file be fragmented?

Have you tried taking away the extra CPU you're giving to the guest under Linux?

  • I did try taking extra CPU away... it doesn't product significant drop in performance, but it is slower. host storage fs is reiserFS, on RAID10(SATA2) arrays. VM disk files are in a continuous block on disk, so that is not fragmented. rdesktop into guest is an interesting idea... I will definitely try that!
    – Alex N
    Aug 17 '09 at 16:38

What distribution of Linux? How long has that linux install been around? Is it a fresh install?

Bottom line is, while I am not a huge Mac fan, their OS is stable. I hate to say it but it is probably more stable than most Linux distributions out there. Don't forget that a lot of the newer Linux distro's out there have not been around as long as the Mac OS, therefore they have not had the same opportunities Apple has to stabilize and optimize their OS to the level that Apple has.

  • Exact version of linux is Ubuntu 9.04, with the latest kernel (.13 i believe).
    – Alex N
    Jun 26 '09 at 16:58
  • If you're running 64-bit, I think there may be a more recent kernel. Jun 26 '09 at 17:09

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.