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You are here: MacNN Forums > Software - Troubleshooting and Discussion > Alternative Operating Systems > (help!)The 3 different dual-boot options

(help!)The 3 different dual-boot options
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MattJeff
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Jun 21, 2007, 02:51 PM
 
ok i need some help deciding what option is best for me and im sure this will help other people as well.

If you could help me by telling me the differences in the three options such as how much they tax your computer(memory,gpu, ect), wether or not you need to partition a part of your drive, and some of you personal opinions about the option you use. Thanks
     
ibook_steve
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Jun 21, 2007, 03:31 PM
 
Uh...which 3 options are you referring to? There's only one dual boot option I know of and that's Boot Camp.

Steve
     
kylemacr
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Jun 21, 2007, 04:48 PM
 
The three options:

1. Boot Camp (Free) - Native Windows environment, runs the exact same speed and performance as it would on any old PC. No speed hit. Great for games and other 3D intensive applications. You DO need to partition your hard drive, but Boot Camp will do this for you automatically and you will not lose any data.

2. Parallels (Costs money, $79?)
3. VMWare (Costs money...)

Both of these run alongside the Mac OS, sort of like running Windows in a Window... most applications run at near-native speeds, but there is a performance hit, especially in 3D applications. While both products claim to support DirectX and OpenGL, the truth is that this is a new technology and there are still MANY quirks to be ironed out.
     
ghporter
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Jun 21, 2007, 08:47 PM
 
Neither Parallels nor VMWare are "dual boot" options; they emulate a computer and virtualize it to run a guest OS. That's why Steve asked.

Answers:
1) The Boot Camp Utility handles the partitioning, and though there is the generic "back up your data" warning, it seems to be very conservative and not likely to hurt your stuff. Back up because it's a good idea, but that's good insurance too. The major advantages of Boot Camp are as you state-you are running Windows ON your hardware natively. Very good. I run this and it seems to be great for me.

2) Parallels does cost money. $79 is the basic cost and that's not bad, really. But the software is still being evolved, so there are a few glitches. While there is only a small performance hit, it's there. I seem to have to wait about four times as long as a real boot for Parallels to instantiate the virtual machine to run Windows via my Boot Camp partition (but I have not installed a separate XP virtual machine, so I don't know if this is connected to the BC partition or is a factor because of Parallels).

3) VMWare is also a virtual machine solution. Read up here-you'll find a number of people that say it's great-for some things. Others will say that it's not a great solution for any of their needs. I personally think VMW is not yet ready for prime time.

In the case of Boot Camp, one major "can I do this" issue that a lot of people ask about is sharing data between OS X and Windows. OS X can READ both of the common disk formats used with XP: NTFS and FAT32. However, OS X can only write to FAT32 partitions. And of course Windows can't even SEE HFS+ partitions; to Windows your OS X partition looks like unused space. The simplest solution here is a USB flash drive! Plug 'er in and copy files to your heart's content!

Glenn -----OTR/L, MOT, Tx
     
MattJeff  (op)
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Jun 22, 2007, 01:49 AM
 
So...
1-Boot camp works the best(performance), is free, but requires partitioning and a restart.
2-Parallels is where it runs both at the same time? but with a tax on your performance.
3-VMWare runs windows in a window and isnt quite ready for the world?

Thanks, more impute if you have it
     
ghporter
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Jun 22, 2007, 08:20 AM
 
I think you have the gist of it, at least in my experience.

Glenn -----OTR/L, MOT, Tx
     
powerbooks
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Jun 22, 2007, 12:07 PM
 
My problem may be simple: I always like to have two partitions for Mac OS X. But Boot camp can only generate one for OS X, one for XP. What is the best way to make two Mac OS partitions (10.4 and 10.5) and one boot camp partition for XP (totally three working partitions)?

Also, do I really need 40GB partition for future Vista home premium?

Thanks!
     
ghporter
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Jun 22, 2007, 03:11 PM
 
Boot Camp will ONLY work from a drive that has a SINGLE OS X partition on it. After it's done its partitioning, I do not know if Disk Utility is capable of repartitioning the HFS+ space without hurting the Boot Camp partition. Try it and see.

Glenn -----OTR/L, MOT, Tx
     
powerbooks
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Jun 23, 2007, 12:51 AM
 
Originally Posted by ghporter View Post
Boot Camp will ONLY work from a drive that has a SINGLE OS X partition on it. After it's done its partitioning, I do not know if Disk Utility is capable of repartitioning the HFS+ space without hurting the Boot Camp partition. Try it and see.
This is absolutely not true! I just figured out how to do it myself. Now I have triple-boot in three partitions: OS X 1, OS X 2, and WIN XP in my brand new MacBook Pro on a single internal hard drive. See my separate post on the set up.
     
ghporter
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Jun 23, 2007, 11:04 AM
 
Originally Posted by powerbooks View Post
This is absolutely not true! I just figured out how to do it myself. Now I have triple-boot in three partitions: OS X 1, OS X 2, and WIN XP in my brand new MacBook Pro on a single internal hard drive. See my separate post on the set up.
To be EXCEPTIONALLY clear here, Boot Camp will only partition a single-partitioned drive. What you did in that other thread (that's a whole lot of typing for a single person posting in that thread!) was use the Boot Camp Assistant to install Windows on a partition you created with Disk Utility. These two actions are completely separate.

I am not about to contradict that you were successful. But when Boot Camp partitions a drive, it creates a number of small partitions that Apple felt were necessary for proper behavior of other OSs. Since I think Apple knows a little more about how their hardware works than I do, I accept that they were justified in their decision to make Boot Camp behave the way it does. I would not be surprised if you find a few issues with your self-help partitioning scheme; why would Apple not simply provide a little AppleScript-like app to do just exactly what you did if that's all it took?

I'll also point out that the (current) firmware for all Intel Macs will boot from any Windows CD, with or without Boot Camp.

Glenn -----OTR/L, MOT, Tx
     
powerbooks
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Jun 24, 2007, 06:47 PM
 
Being a Moderator, ghporter, I find you have a habit of splitting hair whenever someone had different opinions with you, such as in other thread.

The matter of fact is: I asked a simple question and found a solution in contradiction to your (or Apple's) claim, and you for some reason felt uneasy with other people's success. That's fine, no need to yell by capitalizing any "EXCEPTIONALLY clear" . If you read my original question carefully, I implied not limiting the solution to Boot Camp alone. If there is a better way to do Windows on Mac other than Boot Camp, why not?

Regarding to your claim that "[Boot Camp] creates a number of small partitions that Apple felt were necessary for proper behavior of other OSs", I can tell you from my experiment (both ways and both ends), that no matter how you create the "boot camp partition" (for the sake of convenience, just call it like this), you always have a small invisible partition at the same size: 256MB. So your argument of Apple know better has already been taken care of by the Disk Utility itself.

And to your question "why would Apple not simply provide a little AppleScript-like app to do just exactly what you did if that's all it took?" Many answers. First of all, ask how many regular Mac user really partition their drive, probably not a lot. Second, I guess partitioning without erasing is more challenging is the drive have more than one partitions already -- remember, that's in fact what the Boot Camp is doing (other than perhaps also upgrade your firmware which can be done separately). Third, how do you know Apple will not do it in the future? Remember when Boot Camp first came out, you coould only use it in the single internal startup disk. Then, starting version 1.1, Apple allowed users to do it in extra internal drives. So I will say there would be a good chance that Apple can make multiple partitions (and maybe even external boots) available.

PS. The reason I did multiple posts on the other thread was because I tend to get tired if a post is too long, so I split it into three parts for my own convenience. Sorry if that also irritated you
     
ghporter
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Jun 24, 2007, 10:28 PM
 
Originally Posted by powerbooks View Post
Being a Moderator, ghporter, I find you have a habit of splitting hair whenever someone had different opinions with you, such as in other thread.

The matter of fact is: I asked a simple question and found a solution in contradiction to your (or Apple's) claim, and you for some reason felt uneasy with other people's success. That's fine, no need to yell by capitalizing any "EXCEPTIONALLY clear" . If you read my original question carefully, I implied not limiting the solution to Boot Camp alone. If there is a better way to do Windows on Mac other than Boot Camp, why not?

Regarding to your claim that "[Boot Camp] creates a number of small partitions that Apple felt were necessary for proper behavior of other OSs", I can tell you from my experiment (both ways and both ends), that no matter how you create the "boot camp partition" (for the sake of convenience, just call it like this), you always have a small invisible partition at the same size: 256MB. So your argument of Apple know better has already been taken care of by the Disk Utility itself.

And to your question "why would Apple not simply provide a little AppleScript-like app to do just exactly what you did if that's all it took?" Many answers. First of all, ask how many regular Mac user really partition their drive, probably not a lot. Second, I guess partitioning without erasing is more challenging is the drive have more than one partitions already -- remember, that's in fact what the Boot Camp is doing (other than perhaps also upgrade your firmware which can be done separately). Third, how do you know Apple will not do it in the future? Remember when Boot Camp first came out, you coould only use it in the single internal startup disk. Then, starting version 1.1, Apple allowed users to do it in extra internal drives. So I will say there would be a good chance that Apple can make multiple partitions (and maybe even external boots) available.

PS. The reason I did multiple posts on the other thread was because I tend to get tired if a post is too long, so I split it into three parts for my own convenience. Sorry if that also irritated you
Being precise is what I do. I spent over a decade teaching people very technical material-and they got it and got it right because I was precise. Maybe to a fault.

I said "Boot Camp will only work..." and in my explanation, I thought I was clearly stating that Boot Camp's primary job of creating partitions only worked from a "like new" single partition drive. You posted that my statement was not true. Perhaps I wasn't as clear as I might have been in my post-I did not explicitly state that I considered Boot Camp's primary purpose to be partitioning the drive. But in order to clarify my point and avoid a conflict, I felt compelled to post more detail-"EXCEPTIONAL" detail so that MY wording was not in error. Let me point out that, of what Boot Camp does, the non-partitioning tasks come down to one: burning a driver CD (or saving the drivers somewhere). That's all, really.

I do not have any personal problem with a user experimenting with his own computer, nor with the idea of a process other than the official one for making that computer do something different. No problem at all. I do, however, have an official position to maintain: Boot Camp is known to work properly and in a certain way repeatably and reliably, and Apple does not advise doing anything other than what Boot Camp does. I will not permit anyone to form the opinion that I or MacNN recommends doing anything other than this because of the real possibility that problems and data loss could occur.

When I partitioned my MBP's drive using Boot Camp, I thought I saw not three but four partitions. Not wishing to do anything that might mess things up, I didn't pry. Since I have not played with the guts of my drive's partition table, I can't say what's on anything but the two partitions I explicitly use.

As a matter of fact, both partitioning and defragmenting are somewhat hazardous processes, and it is indeed very taxing to do either without losing data. It's a matter of copy-verify-delete, over and over again in either situation, but with partitioning it's far more complex because the partition table (or whatever it's called in the Mac world) has to reflect the actual state of the drive for every single access, even (especially) during the partitioning process. It took PowerQuest several years to get the process solid and easy to use-and then Symantec bought them just for that technology.

I would also point out that there are certain limitations in cross-platform partitioning software that make me uneasy. I do not know of any widely used Windows partitioning apps that even SEE an HFS+ partition, let alone guarantee that they won't mess one up if it's on a drive the app is working on. Disk Utility, on the other hand, may be able to create a Windows-compatible partition, but I do not think it's able to do much more than that, and that bothers me too.

And no, I don't know what may come out in the future. You probably don't either, or if you do, you're bound by a nondisclosure agreement not to spill the beans. But Apple built Boot Camp to do a specific thing, and I can only provide information and guidance about what it does and how it does it NOW, which is what I was doing.

I would put your, obviously successful, procedure in the same category as the procedures people have posted for booting Windows from removable drives (which you linked to in your post). Microsoft did not build it to do that, (in fact they explicitly state that it's not built for that), and anything you do toward that end is on your own head. Further, though your process is nowhere near as complex and convoluted as the Windows thing, it is still not a "click and go" operation the way Boot Camp is. I may feel adventurous and do something like that in the future, but I am no novice; a LOT of the people who post here and look here for guidance just want it to work, and do not want to get hip deep in the internals of any part of the process. Because of that, I try to steer things toward "the way we all know works" rather than "this was complicated and maybe risky, but it worked for me".

I'm also sorry that my attempt at humor in mentioning your other thread fell flat. It certainly was a lot of typing, and that's what I had meant to note.

Finally, I use all-caps for emphasis because italic tends to be hard for some people to read, bold is over the top, and underlined text in a web page looks like you should be able to click on it. All-caps for a single word only seems to be yelling to me when the context makes that apparent. I obviously can't please everyone, and my long-term posting habits obviously don't please you. Rest assured that my habits were not at all intended to be used "against" you. Further, keep in mind that as a moderator, not everything I post is necessarily aimed at the user I'm replying to. I don't want Joe Newbie to read a post in a forum I'm responsible for and think "hey, that was easy for him, I think I'll do it-what could go wrong?" and hose up his computer simply because I did not warn that there were potential problems in his path.

Glenn -----OTR/L, MOT, Tx
     
   
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