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  1. #41
    Join Date
    Nov 2015
    Christchurch, Dorset, United Kingdom

    Default Alternative to separate Windows machine.


    I did not think to mention yesterday but there is another option.

    If you have a recent MacBook Air with fast Thunderbolt 3 ports you can dual boot to an external SSD drive containing Windows.

    This is a more efficient use of limited MacBook disk space rather than dual booting to a Bootcamp partition on the MacBook’s internal drive.

    The combination of external SSD and Thunderbolt 3 gives a reasonable boot up time and file read-write times are barely different to those when accessing the internal drive on the Mac OS partition.

    A 500Gb external SSD drive and caddy plus a Windows 10 Pro license from one of the bulk discounters should not be an expensive option.

    Older MacBooks with Thunderbolt 2 ports could also be dual booted to an external SSD though the boot time will be measured in minutes.

    If you Google “Dual boot Mac to external Windows hard drive” you will find many resources describing how to do that.

    For your current arrangement with a VM make sure to create a “Power Plan” in Windows rather than simply altering current default settings as Windows updates will constantly reset those, a “Power Plan” is usually sticky and does not need constant reprogramming after every Windows update.


  2. #42


    Hello William,
    And thanks for going to the trouble of suggesting a 500GB external SSD. I have tried to follow up a little bit on this idea by googling, and it seems that this idea is something that seems to work quite well on the latest Macs --but it is not something that Microsoft likes.

    So maybe it is a little bit non-standard and could lead to trouble. Perhaps some ACP users have experience with this?

    In the meantime, I will need to triple check the "Power Plan" in Windows, as you suggested, and make sure it is working right.

    My ACP crashed again after about 3 to 4 hours but worked well until then. As usual, this happened at about 1am when I was asleep. It seems that this might be a temperature problem. Maybe I should shut down the Mac to cool it off if I have a chance to do so between targets?

    When I checked my computer, all that I saw was the Mac signin screen. And when I signed back in, Windows showed as suspended.


  3. #43
    Join Date
    Nov 2015
    Christchurch, Dorset, United Kingdom

    Default Mac and Windows VM interactions

    Hi Roger.

    The VM "Windows Suspended" screen at login on the Mac is a result of the Mac going into hibernation.

    The ACP "crash" is a direct result of the Windows VM hibernating.

    Windows is not the master when running as a VM on the Mac and even though Windows has running applications Windows will be forced to hibernate if the Mac goes to sleep.

    If the energy and screen saver settings on the Mac side are configured correctly the Mac screen should never go dark and you should never need to log-in after initial startup.

    From your latest description of events I would suspect that the Mac energy and screen saver settings are not configured correctly, or a very remote possibility that the Mac rebooted after auto-installing updates.

    You can test this during the day without running the VM.
    When energy settings and screen saver are set correctly for observatory operations, and the MacBook is on mains adaptor power, then once booted and logged in the screen should stay on all day and you should not have to log in again.

    You can turn down the screen brightness setting when running the MacBook with screensaver and energy saver effectively disabled and run TheSkyX minimised in the VM to reduce shared CPU / Graphics loading and heat generation.

    If this test passes and you did not need to make changes to settings in the Mac then swap the Parallels Hypervisor setting back from Apple to Parallels control and see if that makes a difference when running the VM during observatory operations.

    While it might be a bit late to do this now you can create an “Observatory User” account on the Mac and at Mac log-in choose to log-in as the Observatory User, with Mac Energy Saving, Screen Saver and screen brightness settings that are specific to running the Mac for observatory operations while logging in to the regular account for daytime usage with conventional settings for appearance and behaviour.
    I have never tried this on a Mac that already has a Windows VM configured and do not know if the VM will still work unchanged with a different user account but it might be worth investigating to make it easier to use the MacBook in the differing roles.

    Thermal management of the MacBook won't be helped by switching off between targets, and is not really a long-term solution.

    If the MacBook is becoming so hot that the power management system is forced to shut down the Mac to protect the hardware then it really does shut down completely, you would have needed to push the power button to turn it back on and a system warning message appears during the subsequent boot to say that the Mac was tuned off due to CPU overheating, you would have needed to acknowledge that message to proceed with the boot and since you did not see that I suspect that is not the issue this time.

    Automatic changes to the Mac processor and memory clock speed as part of the Mac’s thermal and battery management can cause Thunderbolt connected devices to disconnect from the VM but this (normally) only crashes the Windows application running on the VM, it does not cause the Mac or the VM to hibernate.

    Despite this, if you place the MacBook supported at the edges by a couple of small blocks of something, i.e. timber battens, so that the MacBook is lifted a few cm above the worktop to allow increased airflow under the MacBook then the MacBook will run cooler.

    In Parallels configuration make sure that sufficient Mac resources are allocated to the Windows VM.
    If you have 8Gb of RAM memory in the MacBook then increase the amount of memory allocated to the VM in Parallels configuration to a minimum of 4Gb, if you have 16Gb of RAM in the MacBook then assign 8Gb to the Windows VM, it will smooth the operation of the VM and reduce the amount of on-disk virtual memory swapping being used by the VM.
    When running the VM, and if only 8Gb RAM is installed on the MacBook, then no other Mac applications should be in use at the same time.

    Last edited by William Bristow; Jan 6, 2021 at 07:33. Reason: Revised text

  4. #44
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Mesa, AZ


    William I can’t thank you enough for helping Roger. I would be clueless in this regard as I know little about current Mac technology.
    -- Bob



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