Hiding the Bootcamp partition

Posted by Tim Connor Wed, 21 Mar 2007 17:19:00 GMT

If you have a bootcamp partition, but don’t need frequent access to the partition, you may not want it showing up all time, cluttering up the Desktop/sidebar, and potentially letting other users accidentally mess up your Windows install. While Parallels is running it hides the Bootcamp partition (at least if you are running the Parallels from Bootcamp option), but the rest of the time….

You can prevent the partition from being mounted easily enough by editing your fstab file. Those of you used to a more traditional Unix/Linux may be shocked to not find a file at /etc/fstab in the first place. Go ahead and make one, ignoring the /etc/fstab.hd file. In your new fstab you can just put the instructions for the noauto windows partition – that will leave the rest handled as usual by OS X. The following are the contents of mine, for handling my FAT partition.

LABEL=WINDOWS  none     msdos  rw,noauto

Parallels and Bootcamp - Take 2

Posted by Tim Connor Mon, 05 Mar 2007 20:13:00 GMT

So after getting my iMac back I, of course, wanted to give it another try. This time I did the bootcamp thing first, in case there were any problems. It went smoothly this time – with a new full price retail box of XP Pro.

I partitioned the drive with the Bootcamp assistant, and noticed that it seemed the Apple Store ripped me off, as the drive only indicated 200 gigs on a “250” gig drive (which is actually 230, of course, depending which way you count gigs – it’d be nice if Apple could be consistent between what their software displays, and what the specs/marketing say, of course). Once I got into the Window installer, though, there was a 200 gig untouched partition in addition to the Windows partition. So the 200 gigs was the Mac partition, and there was probably already a Windows partition. It seems to me this means that either they just reinstalled OS X, gave me a $0 warranty receipt, and kept the drive, or Apple actually pre-tested the drive to work with Bootcamp. I’m leaning towards choice number one – but no skin off my nose.

Windows installed as normal – boy it is weird to boot an iMac into Windows. I installed the Bootcamp drivers, but tried not to update Windows any more, so I’d have a base system. The auto-update went through, despite my unchecking it, but fortunately it didn’t seem to update IE any further, which was my main concern (since I am doing this mostly to have IE to test pages with).

Booted back into OS X, and downloaded the newest beta (Release Candidate 3) of Parallels. Installed that, told it to make a VM using the Bootcamp partition, and wallah, we were (basically) done. They even have seemed to fixed the windows reactivation problems, probably with hardware profiles. I didn’t even have to activate Windows again the first time I booted it virtually into Parallels (the docs said you might have to once).

So that I could update this copy of Windows fully, without losing my base IE, I made a fully virtual copy for another VM. Parallels Desktop ships with an additional product Transporter, that lets you migrate a non-virtual install, such as the Bootcamp one to a virtual hard-drive copy. And since my main VM ran off of the hard-drive, it is essentially a “real” install, that just happens to be run through some additional software.

To cut to the chase, I installed the Transporter Agent on the harddrive Parallels VM, and started up Transporter. After a while it was done, and I had an additional VM to play with. Of course, this version does run afoul of activation issues, but I am sure that some people out there could find ways around the activation problems on the additional virtual copies, such as re-keying those copies, or something, if they cared to.

Bootcamp related Mac white screen of death 43

Posted by Tim Connor Sun, 04 Mar 2007 01:13:00 GMT

DO NOT attempt to install a pre-SP2 version of Windows XP on your Bootcamp partition. I don’t know if this happens to everyone, but I definitely found a number of forum and blog posts about it. It may be coincidence and actually be due to a hardware failing, as Apple claims, but it seems like a lethal software bug from my experience and reason.

I don’t even know how this could actually be true, because I didn’t know that SP2 messed with the installer that much, but some some of our experiences validate the theory. The trail to the bug starts when one boots into the Windows install sequence, and it won’t detect the partitions right. Instead of seeing the main partition and a (in my case) 32 GB partition the Windows installer claims there is one 132 GB (or so). Not wanting to mess up their entire computer, most people take the logical step of backing out of the Windows install and rebooting.

At that point I was greeted with a lit but blank screen. Not even the apple logo. Just white nothingness. I rebooted a million times, with different install disks in and different command sequences held down. I cleared the PRAM. I did everything that support would later ask me to do, to no avail. If you hold down the Alt/Option key to get the boot menu, you get the slightly off-white sceen, with no choices on it, just blank. If you hold down ‘x’ to force a boot into OS X, you get a black screen. Nothing works – call support and then they’ll tell you to take your computer in for service.

It seems to me, and others in my camp that Bootcamp is messing with the boot loader to tell it to boot into Windows for the install, and when you back out, due to the non SP2 misreading the partitions (this isn’t a bug exactly, since the requirements tell you to use SP2 or later), it refuses to boot into anything else. Since you didn’t install Windows, though, it can’t boot into that.

Now it’s possible this theory is entirely wrong. Maybe it is actually a hardware problem that prevents the drive from being partitioned correctly, and the Windows install disk was reading it correctly. That, of course, wouldn’t explain why it wouldn’t run the install from the external drive they tried at the Apple Store.

Of course, I could test this by attempting to install from the same Windows disk when I get my computer back, but I think I’ll play it safe and not. And before anyone suggests Paralells, I already have it. I wanted to use the new feature where you can run the VM from the Bootcamp partition, so you only have to maintain one main install, both for running natively through Bootcamp for performance reasons (like if you want to game), or virtually with Paralells.