New Hybrid Apple

Nearly a month ago I received my new iMac. I got the 20″ with a 750GB HD, 2.14GHz Core Duo and 1 GB of RAM. I ordered it after October 26th, so it shipped with Leopard. My intention in getting an Intel-​based Mac was so that I could avoid all of the cruft that now accompanies PC purchases and still run Windows XP and therefore all my old computer games; Starcraft, ho! No need to run an emulation, to worry about the inevitable bogging down of Windows installs, and native on-​the-​fly installs using Boot Camp. Easy. Well, not really.

There is a common error when using BootCamp where the Windows install doesn’t recognize any of the partitions created, so I quit the install which corrupts the partition map and gives the iMac a white screen on restart. I took it in to the Apple store for the first time and found out that it was borking at the boot selector, which is a serious problem.

After getting the drive wiped, I tried again; this time accepting the incorrect partition and trying to install Windows. This time it worked well enough, installing Windows at least, but XP thought the drive only had 130GB on it, and it destroyed the Leopard install. Since I couldn’t boot from the Tiger disk and run Disk Utility from it, I had to go back to the Apple store, where the same guy wiped my drive again. This time when I got home and reinstalled Tiger and Leopard, I wiped and repartitioned my external drive and installed Leopard on it. This way if I borked things again I’d be able to wipe the HD on my own. Good thing I did this, because I wiped the drive 4 more times before I got everything working.

My XP volume-​licensed disk was Service Pack 1, so I had to get my hands on an XP SP 2 volume license disk before I got BootCamp to behave itself. This took a bit of time in itself, as the disk I was using kept throwing a Manifest Parse Error at me. Eventually I got both XP Pro and Leopard installed on the same machine and could start installing software. Just about everything worked, but Leopard has some similar problems as Vista when installing older software.

Apple sent me Tiger install disks and the Leopard upgrade disk. Installing Leopard offers the option to completely erase Tiger and install Leopard cleanly. The problem with doing this is that iLife is only on the Tiger disk and won’t be installed if you do an Erase and Install using the Leopard upgrade. The Airport Express Base Station software disk can’t run on Leopard either, and Leopard doesn’t support any Java runtime environments or development software, which has the Java developer community up in arms.

On the plus side, my Mighty Mouse supports right clicking in XP, and other nice driver access is available for disk eject and volume control from within Windows, and all of my peripherals installed cleanly and seamlessly on the OS X side.

I bought an extremely discounted paired kit of Mushkin 2GB RAM and installed them on my own. Took about five minutes, worked like a charm, and saved me $700 if I had purchased it through the Apple Store.

I also picked up Halo 2 for Vista using my Best Buy Reward Zone certificates and using a simple hack found online, got it up and running on XP. This basically proved that Microsoft marketed and released it as Vista-​only in order to encourage more people to upgrade to Vista. It runs on Direct X 9 just fine, even though my iMac comes with Direct X 10. The only goofy part is that Halo 2 doesn’t like my third-​party computer controller, which meant I had to buy a Microsoft xBox 360 controller in order to play the game, which I purchased with the gift card that I got from Neighborhood Connections. Of course, the proprietary Microsoft controller [after scrounging around for the correct driver to install, since the website listed in the xBox controller manual was non-​existent] worked like a charm. You also can’t play Halo 2 multiplayer online via a standard server setup like every other multiplayer on the market. You have to subscribe to Live. Screw you and your proprietary strong-​arming, Microsoft.

Now the only problem I have is that file-​sharing between the operating systems is limited because you can only do it natively if Windows is installed on a FAT32 which limits the size of the partition to 32GB, and my Windows partition is already full! If I can find a third-​party piece of software that will enable me to share files between OS X and an NTFS partition, I’ll wipe and reinstall Windows with all my games, with Visual Studio 2005 and be good to go, completely, finally.