Sunday, June 24, 2007

Windows on MacBook Pro | Some personal thoughts

I have been using Parallels virtualisation software from its first beta. I am considering upgrading to the latest version (3.0) but awaiting a response from VMWare to a query about Fusion, which I have also been testing from the first beta.

I managed to install Win XP Home Edition (with SP1 only - Boot Camp insists on SP2) and have had it up and running smoothly for quite a while now, at least until the other day. Then things all went pear-shpaed. Not, I hasten top add, due to either Parallels or VMWare. No, this time it was a Mac program that was to blame. I was getting a full hard disk and as I work with Photoshop quite a bit I was getting fed up of the constant nagging about my lack of disk space for my scratch disks. I do have 3 external disks (2 FW and 1 USB) totaling some 900 GB, which with my 100 GB internal drive in my MacBook Pro makes 1 whole Terabyte. It doesn't seem that long ago I was working with hard drives of just 20MB!

However, despite all this external disk space (which I use for backups mainly) I needed to make some space. So, I thought about Monolingual, a program for deleting all those languages you never use and stripping out the PPC bits (as I am using an Intel Mac). Silly me, I forgot that Microsoft Office is still PPC and so is Photoshop 7.0. So, it was a stupid thing to do as it meant that these programs would no longer work. They now took ages (like 10 minutes!) to load and then refused to print. At first I couldn't work out what was going on, until I read a few forum postings and discovered my mistake. Also, to make matters worse, it seemed to have screwed up my Win XP installation. Whether I booted up with Boot Camp, Parallels or VMWare, I got various errors, mainly about a missing system file.

Searching the forums for a solution drew a blank and I was facing a re-install of Tiger and so a backup was called for. However, Carbon Copy Cloner was also refusing to work, which was a real pain as I found this excellent software a great way to archive your whole system and then do a clean install. So, it was the slow process of backing up manually key files etc, jsut in case. Then it was onto a re-install of Tiger using the option to save system files and Home Directory into a folder. Eventually, I was back up and running and ready to try again with Win XP.

Initially, I had no joy with any of the three ways of running XP, Boot Camp, Parallels and VMWare all refused to start up XP. Eventually, I had to do a complete re-install of XP using Parallels Boot Camp wouldn't work with my XP Home Edition as it was only SP1 and SP2. Once XP was up and running I was back to where I wanted to be. I include an image of the installation in progress, taken using Parallels screenshot facility.

The install failed at first but a restart seemed to cure whatever the issue was. Also, the SP2 update failed at first and again a restart cured that, something that used to happen a lot on a beige PC when re-installing XP and re-updating with SP2. Man, what a drag!

So all that remains is to try VMWare Fusion Beta 4 again and also update Boot Camp. I'll let you know how it goes.

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