So I have this video project I’m working on. There are many things a Linux workstation is great for, but editing video is not one of them. I’ve tried a half-dozen different Linux video editing programs and they all suck.

Since I didn’t have a spare machine with video-editing horsepower lying around, I decided that my most cost-effective option might be to run a Windows video editor under a virtual machine. It’s not quite as crazy as it sounds. After trying a number of video editing apps under VirtualBox, VMWare, and Parallels Workstation, I settled on Sony Vegas Movie Studio running under Parallels.

I couldn’t be happier with Sony Vegas; it’s a joy to use. And I found that Parallels’ virtualization efficiency was good enough that in a Windows 7 VM with half my cores and memory allocated to it, the performance was quite acceptable. By contrast, VirtualBox was slow and a bit unstable, and VMWare was just buggy as hell. (Aside: yes, there are other Linux virtualization technologies, but these are the only ones I know of oriented specifically towards running desktop applications, as opposed to headless server processes).

Fast forward a few months. I, along with pretty much everyone else who runs Ubuntu had updated to the latest long-term support release, 12.04 “Precise Pangolin”. I fired up my Parallels VM and… trainwreck.

Every interaction with the Parallels app took three minutes or so. Start it up? Wait three minutes to see the window appear. Start a VM? Another three minutes. Click on “settings”? Another three minutes. Plug in a USB peripheral, which used to pop up a dialog immediately? …well, you get the idea.

Not only that, but once the VM was running it would constantly freeze up for ~30 seconds at a time. Needless to say, this had a negative effect on my ability to edit video.

So I filed a support request. They responded by pointing me to the “system requirements” section of the manual.

We understand from your issue description that the Parallels Workstation 6 is working slow with Ubuntu 12.04 Host and Windows 7 Guest OS.

Regarding the issue please be informed that at present Ubuntu 12.04 is not an officially support Host OS as mentioned on Page 12 of:

http://download.parallels.com/workstation/v6/en_us/parallels/update1-hf1/docs/Parallels%20Workstation%20User%27s%20Guide.pdf

 

I explained that this really wasn’t acceptable; they’d supported current Ubuntu when I bought it, and 12.04 has been out for five months now. And that I expected some actual, you know, support. If nothing else, maybe they could check to see if it was a known, fixable configuration issue. Here’s what I got in response:

Thank you for your response.

With regard to the issue I will be calling you shortly and help you in resolving the issue.

Please be available in front of your MAC.

I then explained that I do not own a Mac (or a “MAC”, either), and that I would prefer they consult the actual ticket before calling me. The reply this time? Those trusty system requirements again:

Going through the issue and the ticket details.

As updated, you are using the unsupported version of Host operating system for Parallels Workstation.

For more information on the same you can refer the below link : http://www.parallels.com/products/workstation/

And choose “System Requirements” to go through the same.

However, I will have this issue escalated to our next level of support for feature request.

Silly me for keeping my OS up to date. But hey, at least they’ve escalated it to a Feature Request to maybe someday support the current long-term stable version of the most popular desktop Linux distro on the planet.

I also complained to them on Twitter. They asked for an email, and I obliged. Their response? Take a guess. Yep… the good ole’ system requirements again!

Parallels Support here! Thank you for your email.

As you are using Parallels Workstation it is true that it does not provide official support for Ubuntu 12.04 at this time.

The information about supported guest OS is available in Parallels Workstation User Guide:

http://www.parallels.com/fileadmin/parallels/documents/support/workstation/Parallels_Workstation_User_s_Guide.pdf

[…]

I do not have anything to announce at this time in terms of when Parallels Workstation will support Ubuntu 12.04, but please look out for updates or updated versions of the software in the future that may support this system.

So basically, the message is that it’s all my fault for updating my system and not carefully checking the system requirements of every application on my system. (Incidentally, I wouldn’t have had to check if they’d provided a proper .deb package). And that maybe they’ll get around to supporting my system someday, if they feel like it, but no promises.

I wouldn’t be so angry if they hadn’t, throughout this whole process, taken the tone that I was some kind of idiot who bought their product sight-unseen without reading the system requirements. I’ve yet to see anything approaching “we’re really sorry we don’t support the current Ubuntu release yet”.

At this point I’ve wasted not only the price of my Parallels license, but all the hours I spent setting up the VM and the Sony software. I’ve asked Parallels for a full refund. I’ll update this post when I get a response.

Thankfully, there’s a bright spot in all this. As a result of me Parallels troubles, I spent several hours yesterday updating my VirtualBox install and bringing an old Win7 VM up to date. And wonder of wonders, the latest version is fast as hell and runs Sony Vegas beautifully. So for anyone who is wondering: RubyTapas is happening. There are videos already in the can, and as soon as I have a sufficient buffer of finished videos, it will go live!

Published by Avdi Grimm

8 Comments

  1. The next time you send us a ticket I’m going to start my troubleshooting instructions with “first, restart your MAC”.

    Reply
  2. Nice timing on this article, I’m just about to set up my workstation with 12.04 and a Win7 VM. I’m curious, did you have to apply any special configuration to the VM or VirtualBox or did Win7 just out of the box run “fast as hell” on a fresh install of VB?

    Reply
  3. I’m really happy to see this blog post. I had the exact same experience one or two years ago. I had paid for a Parallels version, an upgrade (that makes two licenses) and the response I got to the exact same issue (but an older version of Ubuntu back then) was exactly the same. Never paid them again and I’m sticking now with VirtualBox and when really needed VMWare player.

    :/

    P.S.: I’m running “MAC” btw 😀

    Reply
    • Same here. I use now virtual Box, provides a better service and for free.

      Was really disappointed, one of the reasons I paid for Parallels was for having support..

      Reply
  4. Wow, what an amazingly bad customer service experience. Reminds me of my experiences with Kia customer service a couple of weeks ago (“all models share your braking problem, it’s a design feature, therefore it’s normal, therefore we’re not going to do anything about it…but you can bring it to yet another Kia dealer to check it out [so that you can waste yet another day, and they too can call Kia headquarters and be told not to fix it].”

    You’d think in this day and age when customer dissatisfaction can be publicized so effectively companies like these would be more sensitive to their customers.

    May they reap the karma of their actions. 😉

    • Keith


    Keith Bennett
    http://about.me/keithrbennett

    Reply
  5. Problems with a particular product would be a good reason for “Don’t Buy Parallels Workstation for Linux”. Problems with support would be a good reason for “Don’t Buy Parallels, full stop”!

    Reply
  6. I’d recommend KVM as a virtualization platform: It’s open, fast as hell, and well-supported.

    Reply

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