Parallels Desktop as a Network Development System

 As some of you may, or may not know, I tend to do a lot of my kernel development in virtual machines, such as <a href=www.vmware.com>VMware</a> and now <a href=http://www.parallels.com/>Parallels</a> on my MacBook. I find that virtual machines make the perfect test lab because you can easily create, copy, store, backup and delete them. For a more full discussion of using virtual machines for kernel and protocol development see my presentat from the <a href=http://www.bsdcan.org/2006/papers/VirtualProtocolandKernelDev.pdf>BSDCan</a> conference in 2006.

To build a proper network test lab you not only need machines with multiple interfaces but a way to hook those interfaces to each other. Until the most recent versions of Parallels, around December of 2006, this was not possible, and so I had to stick with VMware, on Linux. Now with the advent of 3 types of networking on Parallels, bridged, shared and host only, it is possible to have 3 interfaces independently active for use in testing.

At home my typical setup is that ed0 is a bridged network, which connects to the outside world, and ed1 is shared, and then ed2 is host only. Testing occurs on ed1 and ed2 in order for there to be a “quiet” network on which to do tests.

The next step that Parallels needs to take to make this truly work is to provide the equivalent of a hub per network, much like private networks in VMware, at which point all this messing about with different types of network interfaces can cease and I can safely continue to do testing wherever I like.

For those of you who want to do this kind of work I will be uploading my kernel configuration and other files in another post.

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