Support woes

Discussion in 'General Questions' started by hotblack, Aug 31, 2007.

  1. hotblack

    hotblack

    Messages:
    45
    What is up with Parallels support, I've been going round in circles for the last two weeks being given poorly crafted responses which do not relate to the problems I'm seeing. I've been pointed to articles on people's blogs, given new builds of software that I don't own for incorrect platforms, given suggestions I've already made clear I've tried.

    How about others? Have I just been enormously unlucky? Does anyone have any e-mail addresses for support staff that know what they're doing? I don't like making posts like this but I'm really at my wits end.
     
  2. Eru Ithildur

    Eru Ithildur

    Messages:
    1,954
    Eee. Do you have a thread with your issue on the forum? Maybe someone can help on here.

    I have had nothing but good support so far, it seems others have had issues, but for me when it comes down to a problem I cannot fix someone comes through and helps me figure it out. Right now I am working with Mike via e-mail on an 'out of space' issue, I get a response within 24 hours to my e-mails of progress updates.
     
  3. hotblack

    hotblack

    Messages:
    45
    Thanks for the reply.

    I've mentioned some on the forums yes. Not got very far though.

    I generally use support as a last resort, trying to use the knowledge and experience of others and my own technical ability to get things to work. The issues resolve around problems using some Linux distributions within Parallels, some of the problems have been known and reported for many months but no solid workarounds have been found as far as I know, support don't respond on the forums and seemingly can't via official channels either.

    Here's a quote from my original support email

    PersonComments: I'm having a number of problems installing and using Ubuntu 7.0.4 in Parallels 2.5 (Build 3214.0).

    Using the known workaround (changing the guest OS Type/Version to Solaris/Other Solaris) allows me to install Ubuntu. I have also tried using the Ubuntu Desktop PVA linked from the forums. Unfortunately both of these installation methods leaves a number of problems with using Ubuntu.

    - Networking - Interfaces are not picked up automagically on boot so must be manually activated each time. I've not been able to get a netowrk interface to properly persist across boots.
    - Screen resolution - Only the initial 1024x768 resolution is available. Changing resolutions results in screen corruption, even if these resolutions have been added to the VM configuration.
    - I'm unable to properly shutdown the VM, it just hangs on a black screen and I must forcibly stop it using the Parallels STOP button.
    - The VM hangs if the host machine goes to sleep while the VM is active. This means you must always manually suspend the VM before the host machines goes to sleep.
    - Using an Expanding disk image I tried to Compact it from the Advanced tab of the VM configuration. This resulted in an unusable VM (no free space errors from Linux on boot). Attmepting to manualy increase the size of the disk image using Parallels Image Tools failed, the extra room was not picked up by the guest OS.
    - Using the Ubuntu PVA gives the error message "Unable to open device/file /dev/hda" every time the VM is booted. No sound is configured for the VM and all other problems are present.

    I'd heard that VMWare worked more smoothly with Ubuntu and after trying the demo have found none of the above problems so it doesn't seem to be an Ubuntu issue. Are there any plans to fix the Ubuntu compatibility issues which many are seeing?

    To which I've been twice told to use installation workarounds I know about and once been given builds of the Linux version of Parallels Desktop.
     
  4. Eru Ithildur

    Eru Ithildur

    Messages:
    1,954
    I have not used Linux on Parallels much, but what comes to mind by your problems are Parallels Tools? Have you done anything with them?

    I take it you are using it on OS X. Have you tried Parallels 3? There are supposedly some pretty substantial inprovements to the Linux abilities of Parallels in the latest stable build. I know that it has cleaned up a lot of issues with USB support for our Windows XP machines.
     
  5. hotblack

    hotblack

    Messages:
    45
    Nope, no tools, just good old fashioned straight installs. And yes, on OS X (sorry my post may not have made that clear but my complete support ticket did).

    I've not upgraded to version 3, to be honest I don't fancy throwing good money after bad at this point and I've been told the same problems are present for Linux in version 3. If I felt the support was good and potential issues would be fixed I may feel differently. But my feelings towards Parallels have changed significantly recently. As it currently stands I have a choice between paying for an upgrade to Parallels 3 or VMWare Fusion. One works, one doesn't.
     
  6. Eru Ithildur

    Eru Ithildur

    Messages:
    1,954
    Try the trial of Parallels 3, I did before I would pay a penny for it, and I am a supporter of Parallels (no, I'm not compensated by them in any way). It has helped with a lot of lingering issues for me, and now I am rolling out a new .hdd to the rest of the workstations in my office.
     
  7. hotblack

    hotblack

    Messages:
    45
    The problem is Patallels 3 completely overwrites and install of Parallels 2. I'll give it a go but I've seen others have the same problems with Parallels 3 and wasted so much time on this already.

    Sigh, the latest advice from support is to install Parallels Tools. Something that even a casual user of the application knows is not available for Linux guest OS's in the version I'm using.

    Thanks for your help, but there is a well known need for actual code fixes here. Sadly it seems that no bugs are being fixed in version 2 now and that progress on 3 is non existent. What happens when a new version of Parallels is released with new features some people don't want or need. Will owners of Parallels be forced to pay for the possibility of bug fixes again?
     
  8. hotblack

    hotblack

    Messages:
    45
    Well, Parallels 3 installed, old version overwritten, the VM I want to test upgraded so it can't be used with the version I own and normally use. I click the option to get a trial key, enter the required information in the User Registration form and click Register. I hadn't joined an airport network yet so it correctly failed, I joined a network then tried again. It's now been 'Sending registration information Please wait..' for the last 5 minutes.

    Another bug :(

    Restarting the application and trying again worked thankfully.

    Same error when starting the PVA, it still doesn't pick up networking, trying to shut down doesn't result in a black screen now, instead the Ubuntu closing down screen is shown, but the VM still hangs, takes large amounts of CPU time and must be manually stopped.

    I then tried modifying the Configuration option to use the newly visible 'Ubuntu' option. Same error on startup

    I'll try with a completely fresh install when I get the chance but as I said, I've already wasted a lot of time on this. It would be nice if someone from SWSoft cared as much about trying to solve this as myself and some on these forums :) I wonder what the next entertaining support response will be, perhaps they'll suggest contacting support for the application I'm using.
     
  9. hotblack

    hotblack

    Messages:
    45
    I guess I should add that this was with Parallels Desktop 3 Build 5120. I see that a Beta of 5144 has been released and will give that a bash.

    Nothing like acting as QA for a company you pay for a service eh!
     
  10. itsdapead

    itsdapead

    Messages:
    177
    I agree with a lot of your criticisms but I think you're laying that particular one on a bit thick - its not a great effort to take a backup of your VMs before trying them with the new version (especially as it transpires that you're using the beta). Uninstalling V3 and re-installing 2.5 is not a massive undertaking.

    Hmm - I've had problems there too when I recently tried to get a trial key that way, it apparently worked but the key email never came. Logging on to the parallels website and requesting a key seems to work better.

    Networking: are you using bridged, shared or host-only? If you're using bridged then how is DHCP set up on your LAN - does it require MAC addresses to be registered on the DHCP server? If you're using wireless I'd suggest sticking with shared... (not sure how "bridged" interacts with wireless, encryption etc.)

    Also, Ubuntu and other recent Gnome-based distros enable the Gnome network manager which simply doesn't work with manually-configured network addresses (and will helpfully disconnect them for you). Even if this is not the underlying cause, it might make it more difficult for you to work around the problem. (Back-up and try 'sudo apt-get remove network-manager' ).

    Startup/shutdown: Parallels doesn't support ACPI under Linux (see the Parallels response in this thread: http://forum.parallels.com/thread15575.html) so you'll have to power down manually. As long as you wait until Linux is halted its perfectly safe.

    Also, there are "issues" with framebuffers in Parallels meaning that you often lose the startup/shutdown splashes in Linux distros. See here: http://forum.parallels.com/thread14108.html for some tips.

    Screen resolution selection: this is one of the weak points in most Linux distros anyway (I've had problems on 'real' PCs). However, this is one area where i've been impressed with Parallels tools for Linux - once you get them installed the Linux desktop dynamically resizes to fit the Parallels window (in this one respect, its better than VMWare which just choses the nearest 'standard' resolution).

    In short - Linux support in Parallels leaves a bit to be desired, with popular distros like Fedora 7 and Ubuntu needing work-arounds to get a standard installation going. Fusion has more mature, established Linux support from VMWare on PC - the fact you can install Ubuntu or Fedora in Fusion and it just works is an undeniable plus.

    To be fair - Fusion has probably inherited much of its Linux support from VMWare's PC versions which, historically, have been quite expensive developer/enterprise products. Odds are, the guest-side stuff 'just worked'. I doubt that they would have put much effort into Linux support for their Mac desktop product if it hadn't already existed.

    Fusion is not perfect - installing the tools still entails resorting to the terminal, and often re-compiling for your kernel (but then they <i>do</i> more); if you try to install the tools after installing linux from an iso you hit the exact same bug as in Parallels (doesn't send a disc ejected message, so Linux sees a corrupt CD); the officialy "supported" distros all come out of the ark and (as mentioned above) Parallels' X display driver handles window resizing rather better.

    Bottom line: the ads for Parallels say that it supports Linux, so its about time they got their act together and ensured that the 2-3 most popular distros would install and run out-of-the box. On the other hand - there is a limit to how much support for installing and configuring diverse operating systems you can expect for $80.

    Some of your problems are well known issues with Parallels that should have been fixed by now. Others (the networking, and screen resolution) would require a lot of detecive work to track down and may be nothing to do with Parallels. E.g. a lot more info is required to diagnose the networking issue (and I'd lay odds that it is at least being complicated by an Ubuntu 'feature').
     
  11. hotblack

    hotblack

    Messages:
    45
    Thanks for your reply.

    I agree it's not a big deal to backup VM's. But I've wasted so much time troubleshooting these problems already, it's time I really didn't want to spend. I used test VM's so nothing was lost :) My point wasn't a criticism of having to do this when actually upgrading. More tha that 'testing' a different version in this way is not a friendly thing for an end user to do and not something they should have to. Support should now if these problems are fixed in a new version or not.

    I've tried both forms of networking, they work fine once manually activated from within the guest OS, but are not picked up, it's a bug with Parallels related to the way it handles networking with some Linus distros. It's been present for a long time and reported in the past.

    I understand that the shutdown and sleep problems are due to ACPI not being supported, it's a pretty major thing that really should be sorted out. I work a lot on the move on a MacBook Pro and this sort of basic thing is essential. The official answer is frankly poor, hence the reason I've already posted in that thread asking for more info.

    The startup and shutdown splashes aren't a big deal, an annoyance but not too bad. Having rubbish support for multiple resolutions is a bigger deal. Again, it's a bug that needs addressing.

    Fusion is indeed not perfect (no software is) but using it as a comparison is a helpful way of verifying if there are bugs in Parallels or the guest OS's/virtual machines in general. VMWare also have a solid reputation for product reliability and support.

    I'd have loved to have helped SWSoft and the Parallels team track down these issues, I didn't expect a sudden reply form support stating they had a version that fixed all my problems. More I expected to speak to someone who knew the product, was interested in my feedback and wanted to help solve the issues.
     
  12. hotblack

    hotblack

    Messages:
    45
    The latest response form support is that basically what I've seen are known issues in all versions of Parallels Desktop for Mac. No indication that they even intend to look at them as candidates for possible fixes and it was suggested that disabling sleep was an option for the bug where the VM hangs when the host sleeps.

    The e-mail ended with this wonderful bit of advise...

    "if you want to spend money I can advise you buying 3.0 upgrade for only
    $49 on our website."
     
  13. Eru Ithildur

    Eru Ithildur

    Messages:
    1,954
    Yuck. Sorry I can't help more, I really don't spend that much time in Linux, and have not even installed it on Parallels before...
     
  14. hotblack

    hotblack

    Messages:
    45
    No worries, thanks for your help :) It is appreciated.

    Sadly this whole sorry support affair has completely inverted my opinion of Parallels and SWSoft and I'll no longer be recommending the software to anyone. I even e-mailed Ben as I thought the company evangalist would be concerned about customers being put off by poor support. Seems he wasn't interested either. If my experiences are anything to go by I can't see the company getting any serious business customers or keeping any sort of a good reputation for long.
     
  15. itsdapead

    itsdapead

    Messages:
    177
    I guess they see Windows as their main cash cow, so Linux support isn't really a priority - much of the popular Linux software is available for OSX anyway - although they did, at least, release the x.org drivers.

    However, until two of the most popular Linux distros (Ubuntu and Fedora) at least install "out-of-the-box" without work-arounds, perhaps they should stop advertising Linux support.
     
  16. hotblack

    hotblack

    Messages:
    45
    Indeed, if you advertise and push something it should be true. After multiple e-mail's they've finally stopped saying that World of Warcraft is a Windows only game that Parallels allows you to play, as well as clearing up some other inaccuracies. they never actually replied to me, just silently changed their marketing spiel.

    A shame, as I used to think SWSoft were an upstanding company that would do the right thing. Now they seem to be nothing more than a bunch of amateurs out to con people. There is no way that they can take on the likes of VMWare with this sort of approach, unless they are depending purely on consumer windows users with few real needs.
     
  17. itsdapead

    itsdapead

    Messages:
    177
    That's going a bit far - never attribute to conspiracy that which can be adequately explained by cockup, probably a cockup originating several floors above the Parallels staff that frequent these forums.

    If someone asked me to provide tech support for non-techie Mac users running Windows in a virtual machine I would scream very loudly and hide under the desk. If they pointed out that most of the users spoke a different language and (b) the marketing department had a flair for overstatement, I'd run away very fast. That shouldn't stop you voting with your feet (and wallet) if you get bad service - but what I see is, at worst, a company that has spotted a gap in the market, gone flat out to steal a march on VMWare by stacking it high with features, but underestimated the level of testing and aftersales support required when selling a complex product to (traditionally) a not-particularly techie user base.

    Having said that, I re-iterate that they shouldn't be advertising Linux support when mainstream distros like Ubuntu and Fedora exhibit so many "known problems"... but there *has* been progress - we have the X.org driver for Linux and (knowing how clunky X can be sometimes) the nice way that dynamically resizes the desktop (c.f. VMWare just finding the nearest standard screen size) suggests that someone has put in some care and attention. That doesn't say "con" to me.

    There's no "unless" about it. That's where the money is. People want to switch to Mac, but there's just one or two bits of Windows software that they can't replace. That's the market VMWare is aiming at. I suspect the good Linux support in Fusion is only there because most of the work was already done for their (reassuringly expensive) enterprise products. For one thing, I think most Linux distros actually recognise VMWare, and X.org includes a VMWare driver...
     
  18. hotblack

    hotblack

    Messages:
    45
    I agree with a lot of what you've said, but also, if you're interested, I'll forward you my conversations with support. I'd be very surprised if you would be happy with the support I've received. There is simply no excuse for the way in which SWSoft have mis-soled and misreprestied their products. If it was as simple as you've made it sound that would be one thing, but the tone and approach of the contact I've had with them tells a different story. If they've underestimated that's one thing, but they're flagrantly misleading people.
     

Share This Page