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Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Triple boot adventures

When I got my last hard drive, weighing in at 200 GB, I thought I'd never be able to fill it up. But then, that's what I thought about the 20 GB one I had before that. But of course dual booting and GTA IV and various BitTorrent downloads conspired to keep the drive full most of the time.

Now I've got a 1.5 TB drive (actually 1.36 TiB). Surely I'll never fill that up! Not for the next few weeks, anyway.

With the new drive I'm finally upgrading to Ubuntu 9.10, Karmic Koala (or as I like to think of it, Karmic Khameleon). The advantage of doing this on a new drive is that I can keep my old 9.04 installation in case anything goes wrong with Karmic. Luckily it's working flawlessly. Ubuntu really is amazing - every (free, half-yearly) release is easier and better than the last.

I'm also taking the opportunity to try some other new stuff. For a couple of months I've been curious to try running OS X on my computer. Now that it's gotten to the point where it's easy to install OSx86 with a release like iATKOS or Kalyway without any screwing around with the BIOS, I figured I might as well try it. As much as I don't like the way Apple uses DRM and vendor lock-in to keep its users on a short leash, it's probably useful to know how to use all the most popular operating systems. Plus I hear iMovie is pretty good, and I've been looking for a decent video editor.

Also I'm waving goodbye to Windows XP, which I've kept kicking around on my system primarily for games, and things like Flash. I managed to avoid Vista entirely, but I think it's time to bite the bullet and get rid of the eight year old XP in favour of Windows 7.

The first step of setting up the system was partitioning the new drive. I gave 100 GB to OS X, 200 GB to Windows 7 and the rest to Ubuntu.

I installed OS X first. Unlike Windows 7 I couldn't test OS X in a virtual machine first, so I didn't know how it would go. The OS X disc I used was iATKOS v7, and it seems pretty solid. Installation was mostly straightforward, although it took me a while to figure out that I needed to open a program separate from the installer to format the install partition to HFS+. Another problem was that I didn't know I had to tell it to install a kernel extension (kext) to make my PS/2 keyboard work, so I ended up having to reinstall it. It has a few graphical issues but apart from that it seems to be working fine now.

Next was Windows 7. Also pretty easy, though the DVD takes forever to load the installer. I thought the XP install disc was slow to start at a few minutes, but the Win7 installer takes about 20 minutes to start! The installation itself took a while too, but that's to be expected. I installed a few games I've been playing like GTA IV and Half-Life and transferred over my savegames. They all seem to be running fine.

Installing Ubuntu was a breeze, as usual. I installed it last so that it would install the GRUB bootloader without it being overwritten. The new version of GRUB is pretty cool, it managed to automatically add entries for not just the three new operating systems, but the two on the old drive as well.

Now all I have to do is make sure I've transferred everything important from the old drive to the new one, and then I can reformat the old drive and use it for backup. In the meantime, just look at this awesome GRUB screen:

Awesome quintuple boot GRUB screen

Just look at it.

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