Friday, January 2

Boot Camp or Parallels?

So I have been going back and forth, trying to decide which way is better to run Vista on my Mac. I was running XP through Parallels with no real problems, but was just tired of XP. So I did an upgrade to Vista Home Premium in Parallels. There really wasn't a problem, as long as you read the directions to upgrading in Parallels. But you lose some features of Vista by using Parallels, and from what I read, Fusion also. The Aero interface is not available, only some of the Windows Media Center worked. And if you play games, you are limited to the types of games. So, I started to google and decided it was time to try Boot Camp. And here is what I found out.

Parallels or Fusion are great if you just want to be able to load low graphic or office type of software that isn't available for Mac, which there are a lot of people out there who that is probably just fine for. But with Office and the open source NeoOffice or OpenOffice, there really isn't a need to slow my computer down and use windows based Office. Maybe a VPN will only work with Windows using Explorer or your companies software is Windows only, or I know some dj software that is only Windows or maybe certain websites work better on one platform over another, then Parallels or Fusion are probably perfect for you. But if you want to get the most out of Windows on a Mac, and running at the same time isn't important, then Boot Camp is the way to go.

Boot Camp gives you, as far as I have seen so far, the full compliments of windows such as Media Center, Aero interface and visual extras. I haven't run into a problem where Vista says missing drivers or not enough memory like I did in Parallels. It directly uses or accesses the hardware instead of virtual hardware created by Parallels. The video card is nvidia and not parallels virtual video card(which is the problem with Aero on a vm). I use all 256MB instead of the 128 split on my Mac and vm. Maybe the biggest difference is the fact that I get all 4gb of ram in Boot Camp instead of maybe 2gb of virtual ram at best in Parallels, for fear of slowing down the mac side. The only real problem I have run across is mail. I have so many damn email accounts, and they are nicely loaded into apple mail. I have tried the new Windows Mail that comes with Vista, and it is really bad.

If you are planning to go the Boot Camp route, here are a few things that I learned the hard way. Use NTFS file system on your Windows partion. If you do a full version of vista, that should be your only option. If you do like me and load XP first and then upgrade, make sure you pick "format partition with NTFS(quick option)" in the beginning stages of the XP install. I first left that blank, and XP wouldn't boot. Then I did FAT, and Vista wouldn't load. So on the third take, I did NTFS and it worked.

If you do XP first, you have to use a copy of Windows XP with SP2. XP with SP1 won't work cause it is more than one CD, and you can't eject in boot camp during installation. If not, you can borrow one from someone cause I didn't even register XP this time, just upgraded to VIsta right away. On XP install, the first reboot should be from Windows DVD, then from the Windows partition. With the Vista install, all reboots are from partition. Make sure you hold alt/option down on reboots. Again, learned the hard way :) After Vista is loaded and running, put in the OS X DVD that came with your Mac and load Vista drivers(it should start automatically once you put it in. If you can't eject Windows DVD, right click start menu and select explore. Find cd/dvd drive and right click to eject). After this, you should be able to connect to internet and take advantage of the visual options and the programs you couldn't in Parallels.

You will also need to download boot camp 2.1 for Vista after you get Vista running. After I did that, then I did a Windows update and put on security software, firefox, silverlight, adobe, quicktime, 7-zip(free archive program) and updated .net framework to 3.5.

Hope this helps anyone wanting to do Vista on a Mac. There is plenty of help on Apple's site and on other sites if you run into issues. What I learned, is google whatever is showing on the screen if there is a problem, you are not the first with that problem, and someone has found or created a solution already.

(Yes Rob, this looks familiar. It seemed like I should share it with anyone who finds it lol )

UPDATE: In Parallels 4.0, there is an option to run Windows from Boot Camp. I was hesitant to try it because I was afraid of deactivating my Boot Camp copy of Windows, but I can report, both copies are working and no reactivation as of yet. I also removed the link to the app to disable the Mac trackpad, cause it seemed to give me problems in the Parallels install. So if you are gonna try this, make sure your mouse and trackpad are in their normal state. I was not able to use my mouse or trackpad in the VM until I deleted that app from Windows in Boot Camp. If I find it works in both Boot Camp and in the VM, then I will put it back up.