Monday, October 16, 2006

Well, this is certainly an odd feeling: I have Windows running on my MacBook laptop now.

I ordered a copy of XP (with Service Pack 2) off eBay about a week ago, and it came today. I couldn’t resist installing it, and as expected, the Mac side of things went swimmingly, but the Windows side was annoying. Not terrible, just mildly annoying. I’ll write about it here in case anyone reading this wants to do something similar.

First, the Windows install booted into a blue text screen to start the installation. That kinda horrifies me, that Windows still needs to start in a text mode to install. BeOS wasn’t like that back in, oh, 1990.

I decided to cancel installation and ejected the CD. I rebooted, only to discover that the laptop kept dropping to a black DOS text screen with a message insisting that I insert a “bootable disc.” Even when I put in my OS X install disc; same thing. Which meant that the Windows installation had rewritten the Master Boot Record to boot only off the Windows partition, even though I’d only loaded the first screen of the install process. Brilliant!

I went ahead and installed Windows, the rest of which went fine. I then immediately tried to boot off my OS X install disc, and went searching for an option to make the system boot off the CD. Windows has no such option. On the Mac, you just select “Startup Disk” in System Preferences. Why doesn’t Windows have an option or utility that lets you explicitly reboot to a CD and/or change the boot order? I guess it relies on the BIOS to do that. But I can’t get into the BIOS on this machine.

Anyvay. I fired up Internet Explorer and searched for “force boot CD OS X”. I learned that you can force a Mac to boot from the CD drive by holding down the “C” key while you boot. So I did that, crossing my fingers, and I was able to boot off my OS X Install CD. Whew! From there, I selected my OS X partition as the Startup Disk, and it booted back fine. At least Windows didn’t corrupt my OS X partition (I’ve read of it happening).

I then installed rEFIt, a boot manager for MacBooks, and was impressed to find there was no configuration. I just installed, and when I rebooted I had a beautiful boot menu listing my OS X and Windows partitions. I was now dual-booting.

I booted back into Windows, and immediately downloaded and installed Firefox, AVG Anti-Virus Free, and Spybot â€” Search & Destroy. No viruses or spyware for me! Once I verified that my installation was virus- and spyware-free, I updated Windows, downloaded a few classic PC games, and spent an hour and a half blasting Martians as Commander Keen, Nazis as B.J. Blazcowitz, and demons as the nameless marine in DOOM.

I freely admit, that part was great fun.


Brennen The old id games were almost uniformly excellent. It’s sort of unfortunate that Doom essentially turned them into an FPS factory.
Brent I submit they were already an FPS factory at that point. As I’m sure you remember, DOOM was their third FPS in a row (after Catacombs 3D and Wolfenstein 3D).
Brennen You may be correct, in that it was probably inevitable after Wolf3D. On the other hand, while I’d have to look at the dates, it doesn’t seem like their sole meaningful output was FPS until they started development on Doom.

And to be fair, the “factory” status wasn’t really solidified until Quake came out as a pure FPS (you might remember that the original Quake design docs sounded a lot closer to World of Warcraft than the fast-paced minimalist shooter we got) and they laid off a bunch of folks.

Brent All true. I seem to recall they were bouncing around ideas for all sorts of games even while DOOM was getting perfect review scores in every gaming magazine.

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