Slashdot ran an article this week about CodeWeavers, a company whose main product has been porting windows apps to the Linux environment. Their primary application is CrossOver, a tool which allows an OS X user like myself to run a Windows app without emulation on an Intel Mac, and they were giving it away, free, for one day.
I was very interested whem I read the description. Instead of having to boot up an entire virtual environment (in this case, an entire install of Windows XP) just to run one program, CrossOver builds a version of the PC app that runs on its own, saving CPU resources and memory. For anyone running a 1st-gen MacBook Pro like me, which caps out at 2GB of RAM, this is important, because my typical workday involves running Photoshop, two web browsers, a mail client, an FTP client, iTunes, several smaller utilities, and XP under emulation with several Windows applications; RAM gets scarce and the machine bogs down.
I downloaded and installed the app, and followed a helpful wizard to install a fresh copy of HomeSite (my authoring environment), which wasn’t actually on their list of supported software. Everything ran smoothly, and within minutes I had it working. After installing a copy of Explorer 6 inside the “bottle” (their term for a virtual partition), I had everything I needed to work with, minus the hassle of booting up XP.
Comparing the footprint of the two approaches, Parallels/XP (at rest) uses 209 MB of RAM, plus 12.86 for HomeSite. CrossOver uses a mere 69MB, plus an equal amount for HomeSite, which should make things zippier in theory.
So: on the surface, it looks great; I’ll try it out for a week and see if it supplants Parallels as my Windows alternative and report back here.