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Boot Camp: the day after

Marc Perton
04.06.06
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Now that Apple's Boot Camp is in the wild, there's very little to be said about booting into alternate operating systems on the Mac, right? Wrong! Because, not surprisingly, no sooner did Apple take the wraps off its little 30th birthday suprise, than Mac owners (or non-Mac owners who could cajole friends into lending them their Macs for a spell) began to put the Apple boot manager through its paces. And they've found out quite a few interesting things, including:

  • Boot Camp can load Vista. Or at least the Vista installer. Marc Orchant at ZDNet is one of those using a borrowed MacBook Pro, and he was able to load the Vista installer with no problem. Alas, his lender insisted on doing a full backup before allowing Orchant to go any further, so we have yet to see whether a full Vista install is possible -- though we remain optimistic.
  • Boot Camp can load Linux. Or at least a Linux installer. Torifile at applenova.com also got cold feet, and aborted an Ubuntu install after confirming that the setup loaded and was able to recognize a keyboard and other hardware.
  • International editions of Windows will work with Boot Camp. This should come as no surprise, but with a beta product that's designed to do something that isn't supposed to work, you never know. But the PC Watch team in Japan wasted no time and installed the Japanese version of XP Pro without a hitch.
  • Boot Camp can load Windows XP Media Center Edition. Now the Mac mini really is a media PC!
  • Third parties are already filling in some of the gaps. With a basic Boot Camp setup, you can't access your Mac OS X partition from your Windows XP partition. However, MediaFour's MacDrive software solves that problem. Now you can boot into Windows and read and write to your Mac partition, which could allow you to have common settings files for some cross-platform apps. Whether or not it will also allow you to share your iTunes library between partitions remains to be seen.
  • You can boot from external drives, even though Boot Camp's installer won't allow you to set it up. Actually, that may not be true. However, you can create external boot disks using narf and blanka's boot manager (see, there's still a use for it!). And we're pretty confident that someone will find a way to do so within Boot Camp as well very quickly.
We'll post more updates at a later date. In the meantime, we've got some partitioning to do.

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