working with parallels desktop for mac on a 16″ macbook pro

The small project I’ve been helping purchased a new computer for me to work with: a 2019 16″ MacBook Pro. Before this I was using my own MacBook Pro, the mid-2015 15″ version. It was usable, but considering what I had to do and what  I had to work with, I was pretty much pushing it hard and having to be careful what I did run at any given time. Thus I was looking for something that would let me work more efficiently.

I had the 16″ MBP heavily beefed up. One of those features I beefed up was memory: it arrived with 64GB of memory. There were other features I beefed up, but the memory was top of my list. With 64 GB of memory I can run everything I want at one time and never have to worry about slowdowns or swap thrashing. For example, I like to run a number of Linux distributions in order to use the tooling as well as have extra operating systems to test against. With all of those applications and VMs running I’ve yet to touch swap.

Virtual Machines

For quite some number of years I’ve successfully used Virtual Box as my VM tool of choice. It’s worked across Windows, Linux, and macOS. But for reasons unknown to me, it doesn’t work well at all on the MBP 16 inch. I tried, I really did. I’m not the only user not able to adequately run VB on the 16″ MBP. Lots of recent users with shiny new 16 inch MBPs have also had issues. I read many forum messages and I tried the suggested solutions. None of them worked for me. In the end I paid the $80 asking price and purchased a license for Parallels and then installed the Linux distributions I currently care about.

The distribution’s graphical desktops, where I was having performance issues with VB, worked smoothly with Parallels. Where I have problems with Parallels is in the installation of Parallels Tools. These are the drivers that allow the guest OS to access the host filesystem, among other features. Parallels Tools builds just fine on Ubuntu and Ubuntu-based distribution VMs. It fails to build on Red Hat derived distribution VMs, such as CentOS 8.2 and Fedora 32. You can install them and they run, but seamlessly sharing data between the host file system and from within the VM doesn’t work when Parallel Tools won’t compile and install.


Other than VB’s issues, I’ve not had a bit of problem with the latest MBP. Everything runs quite speedily and more importantly, smooth as glass. The new 16″ screen really does make a positive difference. For me the 15″ is cramped for the kind of work I like to do. But the 16″, for whatever reason, provides so much more real estate.