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  #1  
Old 05-21-2014, 09:42 PM
kirby_ kirby_ is offline
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How-to: Running RealFlight 7 on a mac using VMware Fusion.

I have successfully used VMware Fusion 6 (and 7) on a recent Macbook Pro retina (MPBr). In another thread, I promised that I would document my setup and answer questions.


Overview
This works!

The biggest bottleneck is the lack of a "real" graphics card in my laptop. I did get access to an identical MBPr that had the discrete Nvidia 750M card and I also tested both cards with an external monitor (an HDTV at 1080p and 720p).

With only the integrated Intel card, RF7's "medium" graphics setting seems to be the best choice. I think it is very usable on the internal display. Running on an HDTV at 1080p and 720p got me a little less fan noise and a slightly less visual jitter that runninng on the internal display. I'm sure the experience will be similar for external monitors with similar resolution. With the Nvidia card, running at "high" seems to be the sweet spot or "medium" if you want less fan noise and smoother panning. In this config, external monitors with lower resolution that the internal display are still better, but the difference (in fan speed and jitter artifacts) isn't as big as with the Intel. With either card, 3D airfields with lots of objects close to the camera show jitter.

If you have Fusion and RF7 specific questions, please post below and I'll do my best to answer them. Don't post to tell me I should use bootcamp. I know I can. I know it would give me better graphics performance. I don't want to.


The details
Hardware/OS
- Late 2013 MacBook Pro Retina with 2.6Ghz i7 CPU. It has only the integrated graphics card, the Intel Iris Pro. The operating system is OSX 10.9.x. For a virtual machine platform, I'm using Fusion 6.0.3. Internal display settings are set to "best for display" (this simulates 1440x900 on the 15" screen).

The virtual machine/software settings.
- 1 virtual core
- 4GB of RAM.
- 40GB of virtual disk.
- "Accelerate 3D graphics" turned on, "use full resolution for Retina" turned OFF.
- Windows 8.1 installed as the OS.
- VMware Tools installed in the Windows guest. You will not get DirectX working in the Windows guest unless you install VMware Tools.
- RF7 Interface Edition (but I'm 99.9% sure the other editions will work just fine too)
- RF7 graphics settings at "medium"

Various notes and tricks.
- Not counting the overhead imposed by Fusion, there are two major problems bottlenecks with running on the late 2013 retina MacBook Pros
* The internal LCD display contains a lot of pixels. No matter what, the graphics card has to drive those pixels. Running on lower resolution external displays (My TV will run at 1920x1080) helps.
* An Intel Iris Pro is not a high end 3D graphics card. It does ok at "medium" The optional discrete Nvidia card does better, but still struggles above "high".

- With the Intel card, I don't think running above "medium" is usable. If I turn off vertical sync, I get a littler higher than 60fps, but tearing is noticeable. With the Nvidia card, "medium" and "high" worked well, I consistently got frame rates from 100-280. But I find the tearing distracting so I like vertical sync on. The "highest" setting is very pretty when things aren't moving a lot, but I never saw it above about 50fps.

- With either card, a lower resolution external monitor helps. By "helps" I mean that the performance gets a bit better and the fans don't run as loud. It is still not what I would call "smooth" when panning, but I haven't ever seen RF7 on a real graphics card so maybe I am being picky. If you have a desktop Mac, follow the advice of the Windows folks. Buy the biggest, baddest graphics card that you can afford. Running in RF7 Fusion will still benefit from it.

- Some airfields are harder on the graphics subsystem than others. Unsurprisingly, photo fields work well with no matter what. Among the 3D fields, lots of object close to the camera creates lots of jitter and tearing. No matter what I did, the air race field with several 3D objects (the towers that mark the course) close to the camera always shows quite a bit of jitter when the camera is panning quickly.

- I run the VM full screen. I also run RF7 in full screen mode (alt-enter). When I am using the internal display, running it at at the recommended resolution (on the 15" MBPr this is simulates 1440x900) seemed to help.

- The CPU cores are barely taxed while running RF7, I bet slower and older CPUs worked just fine. I didn't detect a big difference between 1 or 2 virtual cores allocated to the virtual machine. With either the Nvidia or the Intel card, the laptop fans will kick on pretty quickly. Nice graphics require power, that power makes heat, and that heat has to go somewhere. I just turn up the volume and listen to the whine of the R/C model's motor :-)

- The USB interface works fine. The one trick I use to make things easier is to plug in the USB cable AFTER the virtual machine is completely powered on or resumed. The first time you plug it in, you can choose to always connect it to the VM rather than asking each time. But, if you connect the cable before the VM is running, you Mac OS takes control. This isn't a big deal, but I find it easier to just plug it in after the VM is running. You can do this from a Fusion menu if your USB plug is hard to reach, but on my laptop it isn't.

- I allocated 4GB of RAM to the virtual machine, but that's because I sometimes do other things with the VM that want that much RAM, RF7 doesn't seem to need more than 1GB on it's own. So you could probably lower that.

- Hard disk. My laptop came with a fast SSD. That doesn't really matter to RF7. I allocated 40GB to my Win8 virtual machine, but RF7 doesn't need all that. As I said, I use this VM for other things.

Last edited by kirby_; 12-16-2014 at 02:05 PM. Reason: spelling, grammer, cleanup
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Old 05-22-2014, 01:17 PM
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opjose opjose is offline
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Nice!

Stickie please!
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Old 05-22-2014, 01:40 PM
12oclockhigh 12oclockhigh is offline
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Old 06-15-2014, 06:36 PM
Capt Buscemi Capt Buscemi is offline
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Thanks for the info kirby. I'm running RF7 in Parallels, following most of what you suggest, to get good results. I use the Medium video setting, it seems smooth enough for all of my purposes.

I'm having two problems, one minor and one pretty major, and I'm putting it out there for all Apple types to help solve if I can. Real Flight support hasn't responded to any emails I've sent.

My setup: MBP March 2014/16GB RAM/i7 processor/Retina 13" Iris/Parallels 9/WinXP

1. NO SOUND USING EXTERNAL MONITOR (minor)
I can use the HDMI output from my MBP to an external monitor. The video is fine, but there is no sound output from RF7. Sound output via HDMI works fine for native Mac applications.

2. CAN'T IMPORT FILES ANY MORE (major!!)
For the first month or two running RF7, I had no problems importing aircraft files into RF7. None at all. Now, trying to do so crashes the computer virtually every single time; I see the hourglass icon, and it will just hang for hours. I have to force quit the program and start again. I had one and only one recent success when I unplugged my DX8 from the interface, and I could import a handful of aircraft, but not before or since.

Tried all the tricks - loading up on photo fields, running graphics at Low, unplugging Tx, etc etc. No joy. The frustrating part is that I haven't changed a single thing on the hardware side, and I was doing all of this absolutely fine when I first got going. It's like RF7 just doesn't recognize the file system of my machine at all any more.

My only thought is that updates of Parallels and/or RF7 have become incompatible with each other along the way. I've wound back my RF7 versions a good 6 months, and nothing helps. I thought that Microsoft's cessation of support for WinXP might have played a part too, but on reflection the whole setup worked fine for at least a month or so after that support finished.

Anyone having any similar problems?
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Old 06-15-2014, 08:17 PM
kirby_ kirby_ is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Capt Buscemi View Post
1. NO SOUND USING EXTERNAL MONITOR (minor)
I can use the HDMI output from my MBP to an external monitor. The video is fine, but there is no sound output from RF7. Sound output via HDMI works fine for native Mac applications.
Try sound in the Windows VM without RealFlight running. I haven't tried HDMI audio with Fusion, but I'll give it a shot this week and report back.


Quote:
2. CAN'T IMPORT FILES ANY MORE (major!!)
For the first month or two running RF7, I had no problems importing aircraft files into RF7. None at all. Now, trying to do so crashes the computer virtually every single time; I see the hourglass icon, and it will just hang for hours. I have to force quit the program and start again. I had one and only one recent success when I unplugged my DX8 from the interface, and I could import a handful of aircraft, but not before or since.

Tried all the tricks - loading up on photo fields, running graphics at Low, unplugging Tx, etc etc. No joy. The frustrating part is that I haven't changed a single thing on the hardware side, and I was doing all of this absolutely fine when I first got going. It's like RF7 just doesn't recognize the file system of my machine at all any more.

My only thought is that updates of Parallels and/or RF7 have become incompatible with each other along the way. I've wound back my RF7 versions a good 6 months, and nothing helps. I thought that Microsoft's cessation of support for WinXP might have played a part too, but on reflection the whole setup worked fine for at least a month or so after that support finished.
I can't be 100% sure, but this is unlikely to be an issue with the virtual machine. It's likely to be a plain old RF7 on Windows issue. You may have better luck getting a solution from others with a separate post on just this issue. To see if I'm right or not, run this VM using bootcamp instead of Parallels and see if you still have the issue. If you do, it's just a generic RF7 on Windows issue.

Last edited by kirby_; 06-16-2014 at 10:50 AM.
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  #6  
Old 06-16-2014, 09:27 AM
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Maj. Numbskully Maj. Numbskully is offline
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noone here has gotten RF to work with parallels Satisfactorily ,,,,
l
Well
Let me correct that ....
2 have claimed to do so........... but when pressed as to how .......
they clam up and disappear

so finding help with RF/parallels probably aint gonna happen in this forum

However...
dozens have reported
RF runs well and is even supported by KE on Boootcamp
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Last edited by Maj. Numbskully; 06-16-2014 at 09:30 AM.
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Old 06-16-2014, 12:41 PM
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opjose opjose is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kirby_ View Post

I can't be 100% sure, but this is unlikely to be an issue with the virtual machine. It's likely to be a plain old RF7 on Windows issue.
Not likely at all.

Were that to be true we would all see the same thing.


Quote:
Originally Posted by kirby_ View Post

To see if I'm right or not, run this VM using bootcamp instead of Parallels and see if you still have the issue.

If you do, it's just a generic RF7 on Windows issue.
Which would happen to everyone here too.... so no that is not a "Generic" RF7 issue.

However given the high success of Bootcamp, it could be an issue with Parallels or the VM created under Parallels. In his shoes I'd delete the VM and create a new Windows install given his success before....

But as the Maj reported, Parallels has a pretty poor record around here.
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Old 06-16-2014, 01:23 PM
kirby_ kirby_ is offline
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Originally Posted by opjose View Post
Not likely at all.

Were that to be true we would all see the same thing.

...

Which would happen to everyone here too.... so no that is not a "Generic" RF7 issue.
I should have said this differently. What I was trying to get across is that if Windows is running and RF7 is running fine except it "can't import files anymore" the cause isn't likely to have a root cause in the virtual machine part of the stack. I believe that if the OP treats this problem just as a "my install of RF7 on Windows is messed up" and starts debugging from there he might get to an answer more quickly.

File system problems caused by the virtualization layer are usually all or nothing. They almost always look more like disk is failing than "NTFS lost a file" type problems.

The common exception to this is when the Windows app is trying to access files over the virt platform's shared file system (HGFS/Shared Folders in VMware lingo).

Of course, there are lots of "usually", "probably", and "likely" words in there so I could be wrong in the specific case.
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Old 06-16-2014, 01:59 PM
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opjose opjose is offline
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Originally Posted by kirby_ View Post
believe that if the OP treats this problem just as a "my install of RF7 on Windows is messed up" and starts debugging from there he might get to an answer more quickly.
Yup I agree.

The beauty of a VM is that you can so easily do a re-install and not bother with the sometimes tedious process of debugging an installation/setup issue.... in effect it is often faster just to start over.
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Old 06-16-2014, 03:40 PM
12oclockhigh 12oclockhigh is offline
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Man that is a hardware guy talking.... just blow away the OS... start from scratch... don't bother looking for the solution, just reinstall 870 programs and associated data. This is not directly pointed at you Opjose... just all the hardware guys out there that think the first move is to scratch the OS.
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Old 06-16-2014, 03:43 PM
kirby_ kirby_ is offline
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..and all the virtual hardware guys think the first thing to do is to roll back to a known good snapshot from right after the OS and critical apps were all installed. You do have that snapshot, right? Just like backups....

;-)
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Old 06-16-2014, 04:57 PM
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Originally Posted by 12oclockhigh View Post
Man that is a hardware guy talking.... just blow away the OS... start from scratch... don't bother looking for the solution, just reinstall 870 programs and associated data.
Heh, but you can so easily have a VM that only runs your ONE application, while not including those 870 programs.

In effect your application runs in the environment it was designed for, without anything else getting in the way.

The developers never had the 870 programs you may be running to deal with nor test.

I normally keep "virgin" VM files around, just so I don't have to re-install everything. Copy the file in, boot the VM and install and test the application... no muss, no fuss.
Rinse, lather and repeat until you get that silky shine!
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Last edited by opjose; 06-16-2014 at 05:01 PM.
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Old 06-16-2014, 06:28 PM
Capt Buscemi Capt Buscemi is offline
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Wow, a fairly animated response! Thanks for all the input, everyone.

I'll try to re-install RF7 on the VM, but if it doesn't work I think I'll have no option but to try Bootcamp. It's a real shame, because Parallels has worked perfectly for me for several years, on this and other Mac computers. Lots of gaming and other graphics-heavy programs, no problems at all. I'm a recent convert to RF7 from Phoenix, which worked perfectly on Parallels on my iMac for the last 3 years. RF7 is definitely the better sim, but still.

Most confounding in all of this is that RF7 used to work fine on my MBP, with my exact setup. Apart from routine updates, absolutely nothing has changed. All other programs working in my VM are perfectly able to use all of the files in the VM disk and all shared disks, so no issues there either. It has to be a RF7 issue. Has to be.

I'll keep trying.
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Old 06-16-2014, 10:10 PM
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Originally Posted by Capt Buscemi View Post

It has to be a RF7 issue. Has to be.

I'll keep trying.

Were that to be true, Windows users would be complaining about what you are seeing too.

As suggested something in your VM is likely now "messed up" if it worked properly before.

Consider creating another VM to install Realflight onto.
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Old 06-17-2014, 06:06 AM
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Zelatio Zelatio is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Maj. Numbskully View Post
noone here has gotten RF to work with parallels Satisfactorily ,,,,
l
Well
Let me correct that ....
2 have claimed to do so........... but when pressed as to how .......
they clam up and disappear

so finding help with RF/parallels probably aint gonna happen in this forum
I have RF6 working no issue on my MacBook air with Parallels....what's the issue with trying to get it to work? All I did was install Windows 7 with Bootcamp, instal G6, go back to Mac, install Parallels, then start G6. And it works.
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