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Scott's Column
Dual Boot PC with Mac OSX & Win XP, Android 2.1

May 1, 2011
By Scott Lewis

This month I finally decide what to do with my old PC. I turn it into a multi-booting machine running Mac OSX Snow Leopard. It also boots to Windows XP. Each has its own story so read below. I also start to really enjoy my phone with Android 2.1 on it.

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Secondary PC

Last month I told you I planned on getting a video card to get my old PC running. I did just that... and also picked up a KVM switch so I could use both machines side-by-side with my existing keyboard, mouse and monitor.

This is not a simple story as I played around a lot.

For starters... I wanted to try and get Mac OSX Snow Leopard running on this PC. The first thing I did was purchase the Retail DVD of Snow Leopard from an Apple store. (This gets you version 10.6.3. The current version of Snow Leopard is 10.6.7, which becomes import later in this story.)

I found a web site that showed how to install Snow Leopard from the Retail DVD onto a PC. Unfortunately, it did not work. The installer just hung with the gray Apple logo showing. It didn't even try to install.

I won't give up that easy. So I downloaded a hacked version of Snow Leopard called iAktos s3 v2. This is a customized installation of OSX version 10.6.3 that is designed to install on PCs. This installed on my PC without issue.

Time to get everything working. Out of the box I had network access and could connect to the Internet. That leaves video and sound. Sound is supposed to be easy, so that will wait until the end. I tried everything I could to get the ATI video card I had working. I had no such luck.

I crashed the OSX installation a number of times. I only managed to find 1 web page that claimed it could get my ATI card working. However, when I installed the drivers it provided my system would either crash when it booted, or crash as I installed the drivers. It was very frustrating.

I decided to do some digging on the Internet and I found that more people seem to have success with nVidia cards than ATI. In fact, the site I found that showed how to build a PC from scratch (and provided the instructions for using the Retail DVD) was using an nVidia GeForce 9500GT video card.

I saw that the 9500GT was at Best Buy for only $70, so I figured I would buy it. While I was at Best Buy they had a newer nVidia GeForce GT 240 video card for only $10 more... and it was from a brand I had heard of, PNY. The 9500GT card was from a company I had never heard of, and the box looked much more generic.

I pulled out my phone and did a quick Google search for the GT 240 and osx86 and saw a few pages mentioning success. So I spent the extra money and bought the GeForce GT 240 for $80.

Now that I was using an nVidia card... I decided to go back to the retail DVD install method. To do this you first boot your PC from a CD with a utility called iBoot. Once booted, you swap the iBoot CD for the Apple DVD and go from there.

The Retail version of Snow Leopard installed just fine. Of course I still didn't have video or sound. Well, I have video... but it was 1024 x 768 (as it has been up to this point), but that does not count.

Shortly after the install I was notified that OSX wanted to do an update. It was going to update the system to 10.6.7, the latest version of OSX. Since this was the retail version I figure why not (I would not do an Apple update to a hacked version, but I have not hacked anything... yet).

The update seemed to go perfectly. So it was time to get the video working properly. I installed my USB thumb drive (which was holding the tools, drivers, etc. I had downloaded from the Internet). As soon as I plugged the drive in the OS crashed to a gray screen of death. I reboot the computer and it immediate booted into the gray screen of death. I removed the USB drive and reboot. OSX came up... but crashed again after plugging in the USB drive. So much for the Apple update to 10.6.7.

So... start over with the retail DVD and DO NOT run the Apple updates. I did some checking on osx86Project.org and looked for the latest version of OSX that specifically mentioned success with the GT 240 video card. That lead me to version 10.6.5. I downloaded this from InsanelyMac and installed it. Everything went well. I plugged in the USB drive and everthing was still working.

I installed a utility called MultiBeast (it was with the iBoot utility... which BTW I am still using at this point to boot the machine then pointing iBoot to Snow Leopard to finish the boot process). MultiBeast includes some utilities and configures your hard drive to allow it to boot directly into OSX without the need for the iBoot CD. MultiBeast also included some generic drivers for ATI and nVidia cards.

I selected the nVidia graphic drivers option as part of installing MultiBeast. The machine reboot fine... and did not need the iBoot CD anymore. But video was still at 1024 x 768. I then tried installing a driver I found called NVEnabler 64.kext. Kext is the file extension for Mac OSX drivers. I installed this with a utility called Kext Helper B7, which is used to make installing drivers in Mac OSX easier. I installed the kext and reboot the machine.

Voila... the machine came up in 1680 x 1050... exactly what my monitor supports. I then tried to find a kext file for my audio. I had written down the audio (or so I thought) before I started this and searched for that chipset with kext and was lead to a page with a kext file to download. I installed it with the B7 utility and reboot. No sound.

I looked up my motherboard on the Gigabyte web site and sure enough I wrote down the Ethernet chipset... which was already working. So I got the name of the audio chipset from the Gigabyte web site and searched for that with kext. It took me to a page to download a file. I downloaded and installed it with the B7 utility and reboot. Tada!!! I have sound.

All is working perfectly... almost. I did have to mess around with the keyboard configuration to get certain Windows keys to map correctly to appropriate functions on Mac OSX. But overall this was a success.

Windows XP

The next step was to try and install Windows XP. But I lent my Windows XP Pro disc to a friend to repair an XP installation on an old laptop he had. A coworker offered to lend me a Windows XP disc. I tried to install it on my 320 GB IDE drive (BTW... I installed OSX on my 100 GB SATA drive because I read that you are supposed to install it on SATA drives, not IDE).

Windows saw my drive as 131 GB. Hmm. I installed it anyway and it hung on the reboot. I thought this was odd and maybe when I partitioned this drive with Windows Server 2003 it might be an issue. I pulled out my Win 2003 Server disc and booted to it. Then deleted the partitions on this drive, and put one large partition on it. I put the Windows XP disc back in and it saw it as a 131 GB drive.

I did some digging around and found out that Windows XP did not support drives larger than 137 GB until SP1. So... I returned the disc I borrowed and got back my own disc which was... a Windows XP Pro SP2 disc. It was able to see the 320 GB drive without issue, so I installed Win XP Pro easily.

At this point I had a machine that could dual boot Windows XP Pro and Mac OSX Snow Leopard. Very cool.

But the story does not end here. See... I actually had three spare hard drives. The afore mentioned 100 GB SATA & 320 GB IDE, as well as having a 120 GB IDE. I was originally hoping to install Linux on the 120 GB drive. Unfortunately, my motherboard only has 1 IDE connector... and it could only support 2 IDE devices. My CD/DVD drive was an IDE device. I could disconnect the 320 GB IDE drive while I installed Linux on the 120 GB IDE drive. I would then have to remove the CD/DVD drive from the machine when everything was up and running, so I could have the two IDE hard drives working.

This was not an option. Getting this video card was with the intent to do some gaming. Not hard core gaming... I have my main machine for that. But if I ever put my main machine in the living room (another story coming), this machine needs to play some games. I will need that CD/DVD drive for Windows to play games.

I have to save something for next month... so I will leave you now. Just as a teaser know this... I started completely over.... and next month you will learn why and what the final outcome of this adventure is.

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More on Android 2.1

I am really getting into my phone lately. I upgraded it to Android 2.1 (from 1.5). It is almost like getting a new phone. Almost everything is better with two LARGE exceptions.

Problem 1 - The phone is too difficult to end a call. I used to be able to push on the trackball or the back button to bring the screen alive if it blanked during a call. Then I could press the onscreen End Call button. The back button and the trackball don't do anything in this situation now. And even when the screen did not balnk, it was too sensitive and I found myself at the home screen without having ended a call. I then have to get back into the phone part of the interface to see that I am in a call and press the end call button. This is more difficult then it ever was in the old version.

Problem 2 - The alarm clock is so incredibly sensitive to going into snooze. I have heard the phone go off in my pocket and before I even REACH for my pocket the alarm goes off. But not off... snooze... and then goes off in another 10 minutes. I have missed the chance to slide my finger on the screen multiple times for the same alarm. I end up having to lay the phone down and wait for the alarm to go off again just to stop the alarm instead of it snoozing again.

Other than that it is a great phone. I also LOVE the calendar application that comes with it. I had been using the Calendar that was part of Outlook Express in Windows Vista. I really liked how you could set it to remind you of events. And in Windows it would pop up a reminder even if Outlook Express was not running.

The ONE thing that Windows 7 does worse that Windows Vista is the calendar part of Windows Mail Live. When I got my current main machine running with Windows 7 I migrated all my calendar entries over to Windows Mail Live's Calendar. But I was not getting any reminders. I did some digging and Microsoft never implemented the alert feature in the Calendar part of Windows Live Mail. Yet you have no way of knowing this to look at the application. It allows you to put in reminders. They just don't do anything. Apparently they were planning on making this an online service... I assume where Microsoft would send you an e-mail reminder.

So I wanted to use a calendar that would work with my phone. I was at an event in Austin and was being told about another event. I could not check my calendar at that time to see if I was free for that upcoming weekend. I knew that the Android comes with Google Calendar, so I thought I would check it out.

I love it. It is not perfect, but I find that if I Google it with the feature I am looking for I can find it. So it is NOT EASY to find some settings, but they are there somewhere and a search will usually turn them up.

I setup my GMail account to forward all calendar notifications to my home email address. And I setup Google Calendar to email me by default 2 days before any event. I also have Google Calendar default to send me a text message 1 day and then again 2 hours before each event. Of course, these are the defaults as I have setup. I can always change the reminders to anything I want per event.

All in all I am having a lot more fun with my phone. I even BOUGHT a couple of apps for it. WSOP Texas Hold'em and Raging Thunder 2. This also means I use my phone more and now it does not last two full days on a charge. I have to start getting into the habit of charging it every evening... and unplugging it once it is charged. I don't like leaving it on the charger overnight if that's not necessary.

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Conclusion

Next month I will have some more details on the multi-booting PC, plus information on a new apartment.

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