Thursday, October 22, 2020

VMware Fusion, Apple Boot Camp, and the ideal dual-boot system

May 26, 2008 by · 23 Comments 

Apple MacBook Pro: Leopard and Windows Vista or BusinessImage by Kaustav Bhattacharya via Flickr
I recently upgraded to a Macbook Pro. My wee Macbook was starting to show some serious signs of wear, and well, I wanted to play some games that required a graphics card and my Macbook just couldn’t.

With my Macbook, I had Microsoft Vista running within VMWare. I used to have Parallels at one point, and frankly, the experience is for all practical purposes, was rather similar. It worked alright, but one problem I always had with both Parallels and with VMware Fusion, though, was that I wasn’t able to upgrade the firmware on any of my gadgets. Be it a mobile phone, a GPS watch, or a bluetooth headset, the use of a virtual machine‘s USB connection always failed when doing complicated things like upgrades. For those kinds of things, you need to go native, you need to go Boot Camp.

So, with my new Macbook Pro, the first thing I did was install Bootcamp in hopes of finally getting a dual-boot system and without giving up the functionality of either system. In addition, because I already had a VMware fusion license, and because one of the advertised features is that VMware can read your Bootcamp partition and let you use it while in Mac OS X, I felt that I had nothing to lose and all to gain.

I was wrong.

So I started by installing Vista via Bootcamp. I called my friend Jerry to see how much space his Vista install took and he mentioned that with a 20GB partition he had 3GB left after application installs, so I went with 25GB. My hopes were to be able to at least access my files while in either system, and use the Mac OS file system as the main repository, but after some research and failed trial and error tests, Vista only allows the use of NTFS as a file system, which limits your ability to read and write from within Mac OS X. Bummer 1.

Once I got Vista installed correctly, I was pretty impressed with how much faster it felt over using it within Bootcamp. I actually liked how Vista felt and looked, particularly after I got Office installed and things were cooking right along. I knew that I couldn’t write files to the Vista partition from within Mac OS X as per above, but I soon discovered that Bootcamp doesn’t give you a shared folder or something like that to share files with OS X either. Vista is pretty much on its own, all 25GB of my hard drive alone. Bummer 2.

Google to the rescue: I found a neat application called MacDrive which allows you to mount the Mac OS X drive as an additional drive and browse the files. This app saved my life. Now, within Vista, I can see and use my other main ‘drive’ to store files and not use up precious Vista hard drive space.

So I booted back into Mac OS X to see if I could get cross platform access with VMware’s advertised feature of booting into Bootcamp. VMware saw the bootcamp partition right away, booted it up, and started the installation of the VMware tools for compatibility. Once done, things seemed to work.. except.. Vista was not showing up as validated/registered.

Vista (retail boxes) allow you to register the product online. If you don’t it will stop working. For my Fusion bootcamp read to work, Fusion would need to fool Vista into thinking that the hardware has not changed so that Vista wouldn’t want to be reactivated (as if it were moved to a different computer). Simply put, it didn’t work. I had to uninstall VMware Tools from within Bootcamp and remove it from Fusion so that I wouldn’t get un-registered within Bootcamp. Bummer 3.

I can’t say I was unhappy with what I had, though, in spite of the set backs. My dual boot system was nice, even if I had to.. well.. dual boot. So I booted back into Vista just to get that system polished off and tweaked. First line of order was to buy my first anti-virus software product in years.

I did a little bit of research on good and fast and non-slow-me-down virus protection (only) and found that Kaspersky (KAV) was highly regarded, so I decided to give them a shot. I installed the product and was instantly reminded why I hate having to use Windows… wow.. what a long and tedious process… update database, scan files, etc.. all while your system is being taxed. Although KAV didn’t seem to annoy me with tons of security questions, and although my experience with antivirus products after so many years of living in eutopia is essentially nil, it did seem to slow some things down. Whatever.. it’s part of living in the Windows ecosystem. I just need Windows to work long enough for me to use IE for websites that don’t like Firefox, and for Excel spreadsheets.

But of course… in less than 48 hours: Blue Screen of Death

There are only 3 things that are certain in life: Taxes, Death, and the Blue Screen of Death. And that is how I conclude this posting.

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