Computing Devices not Supported by SCS
Many courses offered by the School of Computer Science, especially undergraduate courses rely heavily on Virtual Machines and other forms of virtualization. Given this, it is required that you have access to a personal computing device which supports virtualization, while completing your program in the SCS.
Devices that do not support virtualization and Apple devices using the M1 chipset
There are many devices that do NOT support virtualization, including:
- Some Intel and AMD chipsets for lower-end laptops and netbooks (You can check the BIOS to see if virtualization is available)
- Most hand-held devices such as phones and tablets based on Android or iOS
- Chromebooks and other similar devices
Also, recent Apple computers, (those manufactured after November 2020) using the new ARM-based M1 chipset use virtualization that is not yet supported by most hypervisors (such as VirtualBox, VMware, KVM, etc). The M1 Apple computers offer excellent performance and battery life, but because of this limitation, you will not be able to run the virtualization software required by some of your SCS courses. Due to this, as indicated in the CPU section of the Laptop Requirements Specification, the School of Computer Science recommends that students do not purchase new Apple computers employing the M1 chipset.
In line with this, the SCS Technical Support Team does NOT provide any specific technical support for M1 Mac devices or other devices without virtualization capabilities.
I have already purchased a device that does not support virtualization, What can I do?
If your personal computing device does not support virtualization, or if your devices is experiencing issues with Virtual Machines, there are several options for completing course work that requires virtualization:
OPTION 1: SCS Windows Labs
You can use the SCS Windows PC Labs, either visiting an SCS lab in person or remotely using a web based remote access tool. VirtualBox is installed and many of the SCS course Virtual Machines are made available there. Please review important information about the SCS Lab Virtual Machines as they do have limitations compared to Virtual Machines running on your own device.
OPTION 2: SCS Openstack
Many SCS courses that use Virtual Machines also make Virtual Machine resources available on the SCS Openstack. Your course instructor can tell you if such resources are available for their course.
General (non-course specific) instructions can be found on our SCS Openstack Step-By-Step Guide and these instructions are completely sufficient for most of our openstack courses.
On openstack, you will be able to launch the Virtual Machine as an “instance” and it will run on our servers for the duration of the term. Importantly: any changes you make will persist until the instance is destroyed at the end of the term (unlike using Virtual Machines in our SCS Windows Labs).
Further details will typically be provided by your instructor, lab coordinators and TAs as the academic term gets underway.
I already purchased an Apple computer with the M1 chipset. Do I have any other options?
Yes! There is an another virtualization option for the Apple M1 Mac computers in addition to the two options above!
OPTION 3: Parallels (for Mac M1 users)
For users with the M1 Mac chipset, the 3rd party software Parallels provides an additional virtualization option. It is a hypervisor similar to VirtualBox, VMware, KVM, etc. More recent versions of the Parallels software is able to provide virtualization support on M1 Macs. We have heard anecdotal evidence that it works really well, really poorly or not at all – so you will need to try it to see if it will work for you!
A yearly subscription fee applies to the software. We recommend that you test with their Free Trial first before you commit to purchasing it.
The SCS Technical Support Team does NOT provide any support for this software.