or, what I learned from triple-booting an MSI Wind U100…
My wife’s birthday was the other day and she had been wanting a MacBook to go with her iMac. Proprietary software is not my thing, but it makes her happy. Problem: nowhere near enough $ to buy one. Not enough $ to buy an iPad either (if they were even for sale here, that is). So we talked a bit and really she just wanted something portable for her games… and what I ended up doing was buying a cheap netbook (the older model MSI Wind U100) and started learning everything I could about making a ‘hackintosh’ out of it.
Now, when talking about what could (theoretically) be done, try not to sound too confident since you may just get asked to that in practice ;) Basically, yes, it would be nice if she could run her XP games too and Ubuntu would be icing on the cake… so I started learning about how to make a triple-boot system.
Two days of on-and-off tinkering later, I emerged from my room with a kludged together system that actually can boot successfully :) I used the SnowyWind OS X distro and Grub2 and Chameleon… it’s not perfect, but it boots OSX/WinXP/Ubuntu 10.04 consistently.
What I noticed:
XP is ancient; a real clunker. Had to use an external USB CD-ROM (USB flash drives can be used in theory, but this was just easier). Sloooooow install. 25-character key in tiny print to read off the sticker on the bottom. WGA. A mountain of security patches. 3rd party drivers to make the hardware work. Would love to toss it in an internet-free VirtualBox cage and throw away the key if I could.
Hackintosh distros are still rather… brittle. Reminds me of the reported difficulties of Linux pre-Ubuntu, mixed with the groping around in the dark feel of doing things with proprietary software that the original authors didn’t want you doing. Feels like a ‘square peg in a round hole’.
Adding more OSs always makes things more complicated :) No “average user” will ever want to mess with bootloaders and when something goes wrong, you might as well reinstall.
Ubuntu loves you unconditionally and wants to make your life easier ^_^
Unless you have a real reason to want XP (games… sigh), or OS X on non-Apple hardware (games… heh), you really are just setting yourself up for a headache down the road. Ubuntu installs fast, is very straightforward, small and netbook-friendly. Oh and there are even proprietary games for it these days too.
I look forward to the day when $199 ARM-based netbooks with Ubuntu flood the market ;)