Boot Camp… I Give Up


UPDATE: I’ve solved my issues click the “Continue reading” link.

I’m sure you saw the news of Apple releasing the Windows bootloader Boot Camp yesterday. My current desktop machine is a Core Duo Mac mini so I figured I’d give it a shot (so I could run four folding threads, naturally). I downloaded the Boot Camp package and upgraded the mini’s firmware. The first thing the Boot Camp install assistant does is burn a driver disc for use after the XP install is complete. Once this is done it shrinks the HFS+ partition and creates an empty partition for Windows. It then asks you to insert the XP install disk (must have SP2). The Windows install proceeded normally and Windows booted. This is where my trouble began: the drivers didn’t apply cleanly. I could have retried but for one serious problem. To get the initial boot device selection screen to appear you have to hold down the “alt” key while the machine is starting. The only USB keyboard I have is a Gyration wireless one. The boot menu only showed up at best 1 in 10 attempts. Apple does provide software to choose which OS you want to boot by default, but since the Windows drivers didn’t install there was no guarantee I could flip the switch back to OS X once I was in XP. I decided the flaky “alt” key detection was probably my wireless keyboard not being fully initialized, so I made a late night run to the Megalomart to buy the cheapest wired USB keyboard they had. I plugged it in and tried to bring up the boot menu; it didn’t work a single time. So, my experiment is over for now since I don’t want to get trapped in XP. Hopefully they fix this public beta so that is has an actual boot menu, with a countdown, like every other bootloader. UNEASYsilence has a video of how this install should go.

UPDATE: I found an Apple keyboard and now the “alt” key works every time. So with the confidence that I could always bring up the boot menu and return from XP, I proceeded with the XP boot. This time the drivers installed without a hitch. That includes the “startup disk” control panel. It wasn’t installed before which is why I needed reliable “alt” access to the boot menu. I doubt many people will find themselves in my situation, but having an Apple keyboard on hand is a good idea.

Now that I’ve got Windows going, anybody have a killer app for what XP can do on Apple hardware that OS X can’t (besides run Windows applications)? Here’s a few that I can think of: Update the firmware of a Windows format iPod (I kept it Windows format so I could read it on any computer), run native Folding@Home cores (no cores for Intel Macs yet only PPC on top of Rosetta), Bluetooth A2DP (OS X doesn’t support stereo Bluetooth headphones). Yes, I posted this from Windows.

45 thoughts on “Boot Camp… I Give Up

  1. I’m not sure if I can help but I have had some expierence with dual booting OSx86 (tiger) and XP (actually vista too). If you put the chainloader “chain0” on the XP partition, and then write a line in boot.ini “path_to_chain0” = Mac OS X. Then if you boot into the XP partition, it will give you two choices. I’m not sure how a mac box actually works with XP but maybe this could be modified. Sorry if this did not help and I don’t know what I’m talking about.

  2. I did the install tonight, and it went cleanly for me. I have a Mac USB keyboard, and a Logitech wireless mouse…

    The hard part for me was that my XP Pro CD was pre-service pack 1, so I needed to “slipstream” the SP2 update into my XP Pro CD and burn a new copy.

  3. There must be a way to disable the bootloader from either Single-User mode (cmd – S at startup) or maybe simply by holding Shift at bootup for the OS X equivalent of Safe mode… I don’t have a wintel mac so I can’t try any of that out unfortunately.

  4. The alt key is tricky. OS X listens for the alt option at bootup only for a very short time. The trick to getting to the bootloader screen is to hold the alt key down for about 2 seconds, then quickly let up and press down again for 2 seconds. Repeat until you’re at the bootloader screen. I promise it will work every time.

    The bootloader is build into the firmware, so it’s actually been around since long before the wintel macs. You can boot off of any available system including CDs and systems on other partitions and drives.

  5. One thing you may not know– on Macs, keyboards are read slightly differently. The “Alt” key on a PC keyboard is the equivalent of the Macintosh “Command” or “Control” (I forget which one) key. Try holding down the Windows or Control keys when you start with a windows keyboard.

  6. you shouldn’t expect this bootloader to be perfect, after all it IS beta.

    some of the other people on here have good suggestions about option key tricks and such. I recommend just getting an apple keyboard off ebay or something. of course, I guess that forces you to…um…use an apple keyboard.

  7. Plug the keyboard into another USB slot. This worked for me to get a USB mouse recognized before installing any drivers.

    Both XP and the bootloader work just fine with Apple bluetooth keyboards, by the way (although you need a non-bluetooth mouse to set them up in XP after installing the apple drivers (they work before that)).

  8. Your whole issue is a joke…

    if you read the PDF file you were supposed to download with boot camp, you will notice that they included an application called “startup disk” in the windows control panel. It works the same as the mac system preference, and allows you to select whether the computers always boots mac, or windows. I bet its cool not to read instructions when you run a web site like this… but it makes you look like a chump when you run your mouth.

  9. #12, give the man a break.

    Eliot, good luck with your keyboard issues. When I use my old(ish) logitech wireless keyboard on my mac, the command and option keys are switched. Someone mentioned this before, and I guess it could be a problem.

  10. If you guys read the details from Apple’s site, you’d realize the Option key on the Mac keyboard is used in order to access the boot menu. (Snippit below taken directly from the link in the post)

    Run XP natively
    Once you

  11. Are you kidding me? A monkey could set this up. This is Hack a Day right? Isnt this the place that makes me saw WOW all the time? Not only is number 12 right.. he is RIGHT ON. Within an hour and a half of release i was up and running installing wow and counterstrike (RUNS LIKE DOG SHIT COMPLETE WASTE OF TIME) Dude there is startup icons for both osx and windows in the control panel that lets you switch from OSX to Windows, seriously how could you have missed that. I cant believe you couldnt get this working, aparently your like everyone who works at ibm, you can work on a computer physically but god when it comes to using it your a bafoon! Great job guys….

  12. I don’t give breaks. He didnt hesitate to give his opinion on the issue, and I will not either. He should have waited a day or so to put this story out. The instructions are very clear, and in the case of the keyboard very helpful. My biggest complaint about this post is the fact that the guys on this site can turn a freakin altoids can into an mp3 player, but they cant read apple’s rock solid instructions? It just goes to show, no matter how smart you are, not reading instructions can still look like a whiny noob :)

  13. #17 They have kindly provided a quick clean installer for the required drivers in Windows. Who exactly was doing that before?

    Sure it was possible, but now it’s easy enough to do in my sleep.

  14. The solution to your problems is really a very simple one, and it has been posted on many a other sites as well. The “alt” key on a mac is your “option” key! That’s all there is to it. You don’t need a fancy windows keyboard for it. Hell, I’ve been using “virtual PC” for quite some time and it’s always worked for me. Hope that helps you out some.

  15. I was afraid something like this would happen, Apple probably was too and figured to take advantage of it’s tech-savy users to beta it a few months before officially releasing to work out any odd bugs. Even if they install fine several things still have issues. For the MacBook Pros none of the function keys work, they added a nice dock item for screen brightness, though. There’s also, of course, no right button or, as far as I can tell, a way to easily simulate one (thought there was a usability option in windows for this, though.) there’s also an odd issue with the sound where audio outputs from speakers, audio-out, and the optical all at once and all the time, so no headphones overriding built-in speakers yet. Also, the touchpad seems a bit flaky and jittery, even with enhanced precission on.

    In the end, though, I can run all my games perfectly and can run Adobe CS2 apps at full speed, no slugging it out with Rosetta until CS3 hits (Rosetta is great and all, but for big apps it shows painfully.) Basically I just doubled the personal value of this machine with Boot Camp and ensured that I can use all my old Windows apps I need/prefer whenever they’re required.

  16. did you make the windows partition FAT or NTFS? if you made it FAT you can write to it from OS X.

    3D is the big jump for windows xp in bootcamp. as it can’t be done in virtual software. killer apps? well there are a handful of programs that i use in windows which do not function properly in OS X. PGCEdit is the main one, preview function doesn’t work.

  17. I made it FAT so I could write to it. I would have listed SolidWorks as a reason to run Windows, but I can’t afford a copy. I’ve been using Linux-only at home for years (I game on consoles) So there isn’t really anything I want from Windows.

  18. XP’s killer app for me is still Exact Audio Copy (EAC rips CDs more accurately than anything else I’ve tried) and the MAD pluging for Winamp (decodes MP3s more accurately at 24/32 bits with optional oversampling up to 96/192 KHz).

    Once I can do this on my Macs, bye-bye XP :)

  19. I’m not much of a gamer but still do like to take the anger out from times to times… CS!!! FINALLY!!! (I know I know consoles are for games, but still you have to admit CS is a fun and popular game)

  20. #26 tnkgrl

    EAC converts to .wav correct? If so there are PLENTY of wav encoders out there, even one built right into itunes.
    If you are looking for exact audio duplication, have you looked at ALE (apple lossless encoder). It’s a completely lossless encoding, that should produce smaller files than straight .wav or .aiff encoding would provide.

    Itunes provides some level of error correction / recognition during the cd rip process, though I don’t know how it compares to that of EAC.

  21. #26: I don’t think your mp3’s can be decoded “more accurately” unless their source is better than CD quality. CD audio is 16-bit, 44.1 kHz and output in any format higher than 16/44.1 (aka upsampling) will certainly change the sound, but you can never fully replace what’s been lost in mp3 encoding.
    #27: ALAC is the name of Apple’s Lossless Audio Codec. There are many other platform-independent lossless codecs (I encode all my audio to flac.)
    EAC is special in that it uses non-standard dae methods and rereads each sector 80 times or until enough reads match to give a bit-perfect rip. Its only real competition is called plextools and you need a plextor brand drive for that software. If you aren’t convinced, it took me an hour to set up EAC initially for bit-perfect dae. Definitely not for the target audience of iTunes.

  22. sorry the last post was slightly offtopic. eac can give bit-perfect cd rips + only on windows = killer winxp app. that’s the point i was trying to make, along with some _constructive_ criticism. :)

  23. anyway, in my third and final post I would like to point out that the human ear most probably can’t discern the difference between ripping with EAC and ripping with iTunes, so it’s hardly a killer app.

    I’m thinking things like custom database frontends in Access that make use of incompatible VBscripts or something. Perhaps the ability for web designers to run internet explorer? crossplatform software developers can now test on just one machine?

  24. Play Pinball… it performs much better on the Intel Mac Mini we tested it on than the majority of our PC’s. (The PC’s with windows spike the CPU speed an awful lot, the mac mini spikes once at startup)… weird

  25. A killer app for Windows? AutoCAD. It’s the one application that keeps me on Windows…I’d love to see how it runs with boot camp. Autodesk offers a full-featured trial version, so anybody can try it out.

  26. LOL glad you got apple keyboard. The only app that windoze does well is act as a petri disk to grow viruses and spyware. Billy tried to by “gator” last summer, and the head of gator spyware went to school with the ceo of norton, so their all in it togeather to market goodes to us weather we want this stuff or not.


    On a different keyboard, hold down the ‘WINDOWS KEY’ not the ALT key!

    The bootloader is looking for what is known as the ‘option’ key on an apple keyboard which is the key with an apple logo on it. This is the same as the windows key on a standard keyboard!

  28. The killer app doesn’t exist; or rather, it does, but XPs optimization on macs hasn’t been worked out yet. The only two areas a glut of programs exist for windows boxes and a lack is felt for mac boxes is in the “dumb little programs” department, like alarm clocks and things like that (which widgits are rapidly filling in); and in the “games” department. If apple can get the bugs worked out of this boot camp thing and most games will actually run on macs, then the only reason I see not to buy mac is the price…

  29. Also, you should be aware that a lot of cheap USB keyboards have a long initialisation which prevents legacy-free machines from seeing them for a while. I’ve had similar problems getting into the BIOS screen of some of the legacy free PC’s that Dell are pusing out now. Use the Dell keyboard and it works everytime… use the cheap one we have in the office, and it only works once you’re booted into Windows.

  30. Um, #39, the option key is NOT the key the the apple logo on it. The right key is clearly labeled “option.” This was already covered a few posts up if you actually read them.

  31. I had the exact same problem with my wireless keyboard and ended up running around the house trying to find a wired USB keyboard. For me though the regular wired USB keyboard did the trick and I was able to actually pick during boot up.

    Glad this worked out for you.

  32. I installed Windows correctly but when it came to the drivers, things got ugly: I managed to install the ATI driver but when it came the time for the ethernet driver, i got a “fatal error” and the installation was cancelled. I have not been able to go beyond this point… Any ideas on how to get around this?

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