New Machine - Parallels strickes again

A simple software update but much, much more. I was trying to get windows running in Parallels again after the horrendous experience last week.

Parallels is launched and prompts me to download an update. I am excited about this because I install these all the time on Windows and never have any issues. I smile at the thought of little bugs being crushed by new clean software. Ah, dead bugs.

The download dialog pops up and things look good. I wait a little but it appears to be taking some time so I slide my chair left and get back to my Windows machine to play for a while.

Perhaps it was the Mac clock, Alex, announcing the next hour, or the rumble in my stomach hinting at food time, but it dawned on me that the Parallels download had not completed. Well, first day out I imagine there are lots of people as eager as I to fix bugs.

How much longer should a person wait for a download. The original dmg didn't take nearly as long to download. Eventually you have to accept the fact that something is not working. Ah, yes, of coarse, they must be testing their download code. I can assert that it doesn't work. I press cancel, nothing happens, quit is ignored and a force quit shows me an elegant C dump which I kindly forward to Apple to work on. I am sure they love getting those things.

After the Parallels restart, things started going well, which surprised me, and lulled me into a sense of calm vulnerability, destined to be wiped clean by reality. So, there was a moment, when the mac seemed as though it might do something well.

I feel I have to share the good news. I start up Parallels and install Windows XP. It installs and boots beautifully. I am even brave enough to try Coherence mode which hadn't worked last time but, to my giddy excitement, my Windows start bar appeared at the bottom of my OS X screen. Press the Start bar and select IE and, more giddy excitement, it launches and works. I even tried setting auto-hide and now when I move my mouse to the bottom of the screen the start bar and the dock both pop up. Who could ask for anything more.

Let's stop and reflect on the good times, because this is where they end. Ah, Coherence.

I have a Vista upgrade and decided to give it a shot. See how giddy excitement can lead to stupid decisions?

I make a snapshot of the Windows XP VM, clone it, and throw in the Vista DVD. Now I have to admit to some user error at this juncture.

I started the upgrade in XP not considering that Parallels actually asks for the OS type at VM create time. So, as I considered the problem of how Parallels would run a Vista OS in an XP VM, I found the Parallels option "Prepare VM for Vista Upgrade". Of coarse this was a little late now.

I canceled the install, selected this option and followed the instructions. Back to the install process which went through all the way to the final boot and the login as Administrator. It proudly told me that it was "setting up desktop".

Alex piped up again as another hour passed and it registered that things had been going well for far too long. Turns out Apple came up with better voice simulation for the time announcement so that we could more clearly hear the warning that things were about to go down the shitter. An hour is way too long for things on a mac to work correctly.

With the hung install all I could do was shutdown the VM and delete it. I thought this was the end of the problem but Parallels had corrupted OS X. Yes, it appears that is what happened. Let's say it a little louder so everyone can hear.

Parallels corrupted OS X

The symptom is clear. You do not have a user directory any more. After further investigation, it appeared as though my /Users/esumerfd directory did actually exist on the disk but was not showing up in Finder.

The all knowing oracle, Google, pointed me to a solution on the Mac site. Fortunately, they prefixed their solution with the genial phrase "Don't worry". I would have thought that a "DON'T PANIC" suggestion would have helped more, since, OS X

"looked insanely complicated" to operate, and
partly to keep intergalactic travelers from, well, panicking.(p. 27)

So, head off to the Users directory and try this:

: ls -lO
total 0
drwxrwxrwt 4 root wheel - 136 Nov 26 18:13 Shared
drwxr-xr-x@ 35 esumerfd staff hidden 1190 Dec 13 17:21 esumerfd

As you can see the user directory is hidden. So, Parallels was so depressed about its performance it thought that it would hide everything trying to convince me to run away. After all, I am not a user on this machine anymore.

chflags nohidden ~/

And she's back. WooHoo.

So, we learn another valuable lesson. DON'T PANIC, they have added all the information you will ever need to Google.

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