April 05, 2006

Dual Boot Mac Made Easy

I was thinking of wasting a few hours this weekend to go through the hackery necessary to dual-boot OS X and Windows XP on my new Mini. But today, Apple releases Boot Camp, a free tool to make it easy.

Boot Camp comes with a disk full of Windows drivers for the Mac graphics, networking, audio, 802.11, and Bluetooth chipsets, plus support for Apple keyboards and the iMac brightness control. And a Startup control panel for Windows. This is not a hacked-together offering.

Dual booting is not as good as virtualization. Though the rapid release of Boot Camp suggests that once free virtualization is possible, Apple will support it too. (Red Box anyone?)

But dual-boot is good enough to play the ocassional game on XP. Yay! (Still, if you know Chris Sawyer, please tell him that we'd be happy to buy a copy of the old RCT2 if he ever decides to port it to OS X, now that it's on Intel.)

I wonder when (or if) Apple resellers will start selling Macs preconfigured dual-boot. That will be the right Christmas present for my mom and dad.

Update: The instructions say "You must use a single-disc, full-install Windows XP CD that includes Service Pack 2. You cannot use an upgrade version of Windows XP, or install an earlier version of Windows XP and update it later to SP2."

Naturally, I didn't believe it and tried my XP 1.0 install disk. And naturally, it didn't work. XP installed, but it did not know how to reboot cleanly (power switch worked!), and it did not have access to any networking devices, thus the impossibility of upgrading to SP2. The Apple drivers for ethernet and 802.11 weren't able to install on pre-SP2 XP because some needed files were missing.

Oy, as entertaining as it was to see XP on my Mac, Windows is very unpleasant when it is missing drivers. And Windows Setup is slow. After spending about an hour to run through XP setup and failing, I held down the "option" key on reboot to go back to OS X (thankfully unharmed). Boot Camp erased the XP partition in about 2 seconds. Back to normal.

Maybe I'll pick up a copy of SP2 to try it. Maybe.

Hm.... Intel Macs arrive early; then Vista is delayed to 2007; Boot Camp goes beta; Intel's upcoming VT will enable virtualization of Windows; and Xen 3.0 is ready to roll with it. Will all the pieces come together in OS X Leopard before Christmas 2006? Watching the latest attack on Windows share is like watching a crash in slow motion. Drama!

Posted by David at April 5, 2006 10:28 AM

Why should it be impossible to upgrade to SP2? You can download the upgrade while booted in OSX. Then move the upgrade to your Windows partition while still in Mac. Then reboot in Windows and double click the upgrade.

Posted by: Dan at September 12, 2006 07:35 AM
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