Installing Snow Leopard (OS X 10.6) to Virtual Box

I have a great love of Virtual Box, the free virtualization software that allows you to run other operating systems on top of a host operating system -in my case OS X Mountain Lion on a souped up Mac Mini from 2010 -RAM has been maxed to 8GB and the hard drive replaced from a pokey 160GB spinning at 5000 rpm to 750GB spinning at 7200 rpm. The only problem is since Snow Leopard was phased out to Lion, Rosetta -a feature of Snow Leopard, was dropped.

Rosetta was a critical piece of Apple’s migration from PowerPC chips to Intel chips, allowing for PowerPC programs to run on Intel based Macs. When Lion was introduced, Rosetta was killed off, and my favorite game from 1994, Spaceward Ho, was killed off with it. Spaceward Ho has been laying dormant awaiting a iOS upgrade but for some reason, Joe at Delta Tao has been sitting on it.

After putting it off for a while, I decided to give running Snow Leopard 10.6.0 out of the box without updates (to prevent killing Rosetta) a try. Here is a snapshot of it loading successfully -it required a little bit of tweaking and appears to be loading well!

Operating on my Macbook Pro

Sent with Writer.
What to do with an out of warranty Macbook Pro

My Macbook Pro just ran out of its 3 year warranty. It has a dual core processor and runs well enough that it will be in use for many more years. I upgraded the ram to 4gB and despite its age, it runs the same processor as my current MacBook Air (MBA)-basically the same specs, only larger screen. Two things made it my home base computer rather than my portable machine.
The battery life is only 3 to 4 hours depending on the usage. Also, in 2007, the largest disk option was 160gB. On the MBA, the Flash memory based SSD imparts great speed and battery life because there are no moving parts. The only problem is that SSD’s still cost a lot of money -for a decent sized SSD of around 500gB, the cost runs over a thousand dollars. Knowing technology, that price will be half in a year and half still in two.

This means I need a stopgap. If I can keep the machine going another two years in useful condition, in two years, the laptop will in fact be faster still than it was when I bought it with better battery life.

That is where this bit of laptop surgery comes in. After shopping around on the internet, I came across this Western Digital laptop hard drive -500gB for $65! It arrived in a recyclable Amazon box. With instructions from the internet, I removed the screws from the laptop.

All the exterior screws on the Macbook Pro have a wax seal, and I suspect that something tips off the Apple techs when they open these cases that the warranty is voided. That is correct -opening the holy of holies will void your warranty. Too keep snoopers out, Apple has made it even more difficult to open their later uni-body laptops, starting with the screws which require proprietary screwdrivers -but even these are available on-line for the adventurous.

Installing the hard drive was fairly straightforward once the dissection was complete -just like in a real operation! I booted up using my Snow Leopard DVD and partitioned the drive into a 400gB section for the Mac and a 100gB section for Windows 7. I’ve become a huge fan of Windows 7, and running it on Apple Hardware is not only ironic, but really great. Using Time Machine (you have to back up to a plugged in hard drive before starting all of this), all of my documents, settings, and applications were restored.

This $65 dollar hard drive gives me enough space to live in for the next two years. It is also a 7200rpm drive, meaning it’s faster than the original stock 5400rpm drive. The drive that I removed I’ll hold onto for now. I will probably slip it into an enclosure and use it as a portable drive for movies and tunes, but with over 300gB of free space on the Mac segment, I’ll be fine for a while.

This is the reason why I prefer Apple hardware. The all aluminum case is still stylish and despite what they tell you, for word processing, internet surfing, movie watching, and photo processing -you don’t need a quad-core processor that will burn your lap. Not to knock PC’s but I have not had an HP, Dell, or a Sony last more than 3 years without dying or getting miserably slow. Plus, in 1-2 years, SSD’s will be cheap enough that there will be no question this machine will be around for many years.

Sent from my iPad

Windows 7 on Macbook Air: Finally A Windows PC that I Like

From Evernote:

Windows 7 on Macbook Air: Finally A Windows PC that I Like

This grainy photo above shows my shiny new Macbook Air running (GASP) Windows 7. While this feature has been available via a utility called Boot Camp, I had always run Windows XP in virtualization, first in Parallels, and currently in the open-source (free) Virtualbox. That said, I wanted a faster option, particularly to see if this set up would run 3D CT analysis software well. My current home workstation, a Dell desktop replacement laptop, slows to a crawl when I run this software, but something told me it may run better with the flashdrive enabled Macbook Air.

Buying a shrinkwrap Windows 7 was not fun -an initial trip to Best (not) Buy revealed that they were happy to sell you an empty box, but after they took your money realized the whole store was empty of actual Windows 7 disks. I therefore went to Amazon and was happy to find Windows 7 Ultimate for 40 dollars off the Microsoft price. It arrived two days later and away I went…

To the Apple Store to buy a Superdrive. I tried various ways of creating a bootable USB flash disk, but after several hours, decided to take the plunge and purchase the MacBook Air Superdrive. The Boot Camp setup was a little annoying -you had to download Boot Camp drivers and burn a CD to load onto your Windows drive. You then had to partition the hard drive -I initially set aside 25 Gb but now find that I am running out of space as I load up with necesary software.

After a few days of fiddling, and running it in Windows, I have to say I am surprisingly pleased. Windows 7 is as beautiful as Windows XP is mofugly. It anticipates your needs and just works -for example, drivers for my network printer were automatically downloaded upon adding it to the printer list. This sort of ease of use used to be associated with Mac OS only, but Microsoft has finally bit the bullet and realized that the “for business” label was just an excuse for keeping things arcane and difficult. Getting XP to recognize a network printer is a Sisyphusian task. Windows 7 does it with elan.

Strangely enough, I am enjoying working on Windows 7. Sure -the fonts aren’t as good looking, but the OS is polished and refined. Frankly, I love it. The 3D CT software runs as well from my home as it does in the office on its server (a Dell Xeon PC which is monstrously huge). I am loading Office on it. During the late ’00’s, Microsoft seems to have gotten the message that their software was preferred by geeks, but generally despised by an increasing number of people. What always kept be away from Windows 7 was the terrible hardware available -I had miserable experience with Sony and Dell, and am dubious of any of the large PC makers. Boot Camp and Macbook Air changes all that.

Oh, the virus thing -Microsoft now offers a free download called Microsoft Security Essentials which does a decent job of policing the computer. Kudos to Microsoft and here’s to hoping much luck and fortune to that other iconic American company.