30 Gigs Lighter

April 7th, 2006  |  Published in old and busted  |  2 Comments

Installing WinXP on an Intel iMacSo, last night I knuckled under and, in the name of science, made a slipstreamed WinXP SP2 disc and went through the Boot Camp install.

Fast impressions:

Apple did, indeed, manage to make dual-booting pleasant. The non-destructive partition is a trick that’s been around the Linux world for a while, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen it work quite this quickly.

The partition setup screen is a simple slider with a counter of how much space is going to the Windows partition. No fair comparing that to the likes of DiskDruid or past Linux efforts, because you aren’t using Boot Camp to turn an iMac into a server with more sophisticated partitioning needs.

The install itself was just a Windows install. No faster or slower than I’ve come to expect over the past few years. The iMac knew to hand things over to the Windows bootloader during the repeated reboots the process involved. Once the install was finished, I loaded up the Mac Driver CD that Boot Camp burned for me and everything just loaded up, video drivers and all, driving both the built-in 17″ monitor and the secondary 19″ LCD I’ve got at the right resolutions.

WinXP on an Intel iMacWhat else to say? My Mac can now run Windows XP, and it seems pretty nimble. When I’m booted into OS X, the FAT32 partition I created turns up as a writable device, so I can plonk my Mac Firefox bookmarks and other stuff down into my Windows desktop. I haven’t installed any games to test it out, and I need to configure the printer so it’s still shared with the iBook when I’m booted into Windows.

I don’t see myself using it a lot, but it’s kind of cool to know I’ve got a Windows machine easily available without the performance hit of the VM.

I think a lot of the carrying on about how this somehow will put the Mac on more business desktops is quite possibly insane except when laden with qualifications, including addressing the question of whether “more” is useful if it’s barely measurable.

Time will tell, but the thought of supporting a dual-booting userbase in a large organization just seems nutty. Twice the updates, twice the periodic maintenance, twice the number of things that can go wrong, twice the number of files lost (times two, since the question will always be there of whether said file has been, perhaps, saved somewhere in the hinterlands of the other OS), and twice the number of support scripts. Plus call center headaches that come from “helpful” “power users” deciding to “fix” other peoples’ computers to boot into this OS or that by default. The head swims.

I know there are plenty of edge-casey-type things where a dual-booting Mac would seem pretty useful: sandboxing, testing, etc. etc. etc., but those are the edge, and they’re not whole large organizations.

Anyhow, I guess Gruber’s assessment is sober enough to be useful on that score.

For a more nerd-level view of the install process and what results, Cabel’s rundown has pictures and a video and says:

> Look at it this way: if I keep a crappy PC around the office for one or two tasks (checking websites in IE and MAME management, basically) — and I’m a Macintosh software developer — then I can only imagine there are a lot of people out there in the world with their one or two PC hang-ons that find this software as exciting as I do.

I can agree with that. I keep a crappy PC around the office, too, and it’s about to become a much nicer Linux file server than it ever was a Windows box.

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