Do I Want a Mac Pro?

Thursday, October 11th, 2007

I need to reconfigure the computers on my desk somehow, and I don’t really know that much about hardware. I think I want to ask Mozilla for a beefy Mac Pro, but I wanted to get opinions from my knowledgable readers first.

  • Currently I have three computers on my desk (see the chart below). I don’t think I need three any more, now that I know and love VMWare. I’d really prefer to have a single desktop and a laptop. I might keep and reimage the Linux machine for a stable performance-testing machine.
  • I’d like to be able to do builds on all three major platforms (Windows, Linux, MacOS) on both machines… this pretty much means that I need a Mac host machine, right?
  • Some of the mozilla2 automated-rewrite work is very processor-intensive, and it would be really nice to have more than two cores available for it.
  • I’m considering returning the Dell machine to Mozilla and asking for a Mac Pro with 4-8 cores and a fair amount of memory. But I’m concerned that I might be limited by the standard 7200RPM disks. Is that a valid concern?
  • For some reason, compiling on the Windows box is really slow. I’ve done all the ordinary stuff like turn off virus scanners, but it still seems unreasonably slow to compile for such a fast machine. I suspect there’s some I/O problem, but I can’t figure it out. It’s faster to compile in a VM on that machine than on the host OS. Also, is Windows capable of using the full 4G for standard applications? While I’m figuring out what to do, should I at least install Linux as the host OS on that machine?
  • What’s the best way to add a super-fast disk to the Macbook Pro? Preferably something portable enough that I can take it with me while traveling.

Random related question: are VMWare shared folders a lot slower on a Windows guest than a Linux guest? I’ve been using shared folders in VMWare Fusion to share a single mozilla source directory between multiple VMs, and this works really well with Linux guests and very poorly with Windows guests.





Current OS

Desktop – custom-built

Athlon64 3200+


WD Caviar – 200GB 7200RPM

Linux – FC4

Desktop – Dell Dimension 9100

Pentium D – 3Ghz (dual core)


WD Caviar – 250GB – 7200RPM

Windows XP

Laptop – Macbook Pro 15″

Core 2 Duo


100G 7200RPM