Problems With Boot Camp 3.0 and Windows XP and How To Fix Them

It has been a long time since I last installed Microsoft Windows OS on a Mac and then because it was more convenient, I started using Parallels for my “Windows Needs”, but eventually axed that in favor of a dedicated Windows workstation in favor of saving hard drive space. After many issues with our big bosses Dell laptops here at work, my manager decided to bite the bullet, purchase two 13″ MacBook Pros and have me load them with Microsoft Windows XP as the full-time operating system. I’m sure some of you might be wondering why not just run Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard and install Parallels for their Windows Needs. Simple, we’re not  a Mac environment and we do not officially support Macs. Plus the end users have never used the Mac OS before and the time to get them up to speed would be quite difficult and time-consuming given their already hectic schedules.

Since it has been a while since I last used Boot Camp, I had forgotten most of the details and haven’t kept up with the changes. Since Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard, Boot Camp 2.0 comes pre-installed with the OS ((http://support.apple.com/kb/HT1656)). When Snow Leopard was released, a new version of Boot Camp, 3.0 was introduced and integrated with the new OS ((http://support.apple.com/kb/HT3777)). So what are some of the problems that I experienced with trying to install Windows XP on a MacBook Pro?

Disk Error

Apparently this is a fairly common issue. You go through all the installation steps:

  1. Run Boot Camp Assistant in the Applications > Utilities folder
  2. Specify a size for your new Windows partition (which in my case was to devote 90% of the hard drive to Windows XP since the people who will be using these two MacBook Pro won’t be using the Mac OS at all) and then the Mac OS creates and configures it.
  3. Then put in a Windows XP SP2 CD and click Start Installation, the system reboots and Windows XP installation screen appears and you go through the motions.
  4. Once Windows XP finishes installing and reboots to finish the setup, you get the black screen with: “Press any key to boot from CD…” you let that one go and then immediately: “Disk Error. Press any key to restart.” but the system stalls. The keyboard doesn’t work and you’re force to do a hard power down.

Apple’s Knowledge Base support article TS1722 isn’t of much either, I tried it and it didn’t work for me. The big issue is with Step 8:

Format the Windows partition named ‘BOOTCAMP’ before continuing with the rest of the Windows XP setup process. Important:  Do not use the “Leave the current file system intact (no changes)” or “Convert the partition to NTFS” options.

I never got any option to format the Windows partition. By default, Boot Camp Assistant configures the Windows partition to be FAT32. If you select to install Windows XP on that partition you will get the “Disk Error issue”. It doesn’t matter how many times you re-do the steps (I did it 5-times), the same problem arises when Windows tries to do the last setup after reboot. I also tried deleting the Fat32 partition and create a new NTFS partition and got this error message upon reboot:

Windows could not start because the following file is missing or corrupt: <Windows root>system32hal.dll. Please re-install a copy of the above file.

I also tried three different Windows XP OEM installation CDs, but nothing worked. So what fixed the issue for me? I had to find the “right” Windows XP SP2 CD. When I put that CD in and clicked Start Installation in Step 3 from above, and when it came to select the Windows partition to use, I selected the FAT32, it immediate went to a screen with three options: Convert the partition to NTFS (Quick), Convert the partition to NTFS, and Leave the current file system intact (no changes)! I selected the Convert the partition to NTFS (Quick) and everything worked fine after that. You can read this great thread on MacNN Forums where other people had the same problem with different solutions. Also make sure the CD you are using is a Windows XP full-version with Service Pack 2 or it won’t work.

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I Can’t Install Service Pack 3 on a Boot Camp Windows XP!

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Try and install the Service Pack 3 add-on and you’ll get this message:

An error occured while copying file osloader.ntd.  Cannot copy file to destination directory.  Click Retry to retry the operation or click Cancel.

According to Apple KB article HT3841, the issue is that “Windows is attempting to write to the first partition it sees to install the update” and the first partition is the Mac OS partition, which Windows cannot write to. This issue only affects Boot Camp 3.0 because of the new feature in which you can access you Mac OS partition from Windows. The fix is rather simple (copied verbatim from Apple KB):

  1. Click Start, then My Computer.
  2. Double-click on the BOOTCAMP (C:) drive At the These files are hidden screen, click on Show the contents of this folder.
  3. Double-click on the Windows folder. At the These files are hidden screen, click on Show the contents of this folder.
  4. Double-click on the System 32 folder. At the These files are hidden screen, click on Show the contents of this folder.
  5. Double-click on the drivers folder.
  6. Locate the file AppleMNT (it is a .sys file) and rename it to something like AppleMNT_keep.
  7. Click Start, then click on Shut Down.
  8. Click Restart to restart Windows XP.

Then you do the Service Pack 3 installation, which should complete successfully, and then reenable this feature:

Note: Don’t let your computer restart in the middle of this step. Click on Restart Later if you get a Restart dialog.

  1. Click Start, then My Computer.
  2. Double-click on BOOTCAMP (C:), double-click on Windows, double-click on System32, double-click on drivers.
  3. Locate the file you renamed earlier, and change the name back to AppleMNT.
  4. Click Start, then Shut Down.
  5. Click Restart to restart Windows XP.

And problem solved.

How Do I Create A Boot Camp Windows Driver CD?

With Boot Camp versions prior to 3.0, you had an option in the Boot Camp Assistant to create a Driver CD that had all the necessary drivers for Windows. With version 3.0, they changed that and now you insert your Mac OS 10.6 Installation CD when in Windows and it will install all the necessary drivers for you.

Windows XP on MacBook Pro Full-time

So I’m not entirely sure how well this will work out, but I imagine it can’t be any worse than a PC running Windows XP. I’ll report back with problems I notice and observations as time goes on.

How to Remote Desktop on Mac OS 10.5 Leopard to Windows 7

I do a lot of my work on my MacBook Pro and occasionally I need to access resources, files, or check something on my home desktop which is running Windows 7. One solution is to use VNC, which is great, but I rather install as few software on the machines as possible. Previously on Windows XP, it was really easy to enable Remote Desktop. On Windows 7 and Windows Vista, the way to enable Remote Desktop is a bit more buried in the newly redesigned Control Panel. I struggled with it for a bit, searching Microsoft’s support site, I came about the post to my answer. So here’s how you can connect from a Mac OS 10.5 Leopard machine to a Windows 7 machine via Remote Desktop.

Configure Windows 7

These directions are copied verbatim from the Microsoft site and reprinted here for future reference. These directions will work for Windows Vista also.

  1. Open System by clicking the Start button, clicking Control Panel, clicking System and Security (System and Maintenance on Vista), and then clicking System.
  2. In the left pane, click Remote settings. If you are prompted for an administrator password or confirmation, type the password or provide confirmation.
  3. Select one of the “allow” options under Remote Desktop. For more information about these options, see What types of Remote Desktop connections should I allow? [Note: To be able to Remote Desktop into a Windows 7 machine from a Mac, you need to select “Allow connections from computers running any version of Remote Desktop (less secure).]
  4. Click Select Users.
  5. In the Remote Desktop Users dialog box, click Add.
  6. In the Select Users or Groups dialog box, do one or more of the following:
    • To specify the search location, click Locations.
    • To specify the types of objects (user names) that you want to search for, click Object Types.
    • In Enter the object names to select, type the user name that you want to search for.
  7. When you find the correct name, click OK. The name will be displayed in the list of users in the Remote Desktop Users dialog box.

Connect via the Mac

Make sure you’ve installed either Microsoft’s Remote Desktop Client for the Mac or CoRD, which is what I use. I’ve used both, but I prefer CoRD for its simplicity and easier GUI.

Type in the IP Address or computer name and connect.

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Windows 7 Enterprise On A Netbook

I own an Asus Eee PC 1000H netbook purchased from Costco sometime ago that was pre-loaded with Windows XP Home edition. One of the first things I did was to reformat it to Windows XP Professional to take advantage of features such as better networking tools and Remote Desktop.  That worked great for all my needs: web surfing and watching Anime videos at the gym during cardio workouts.

I knew early on I was not going to upgrade to Windows Vista on the netbook given the resource hog that Vista is, but when Windows 7 was announced, I was interested; more so when I learned that Windows 7 would be designed to work better with netbooks than Windows Vista. Continue reading Windows 7 Enterprise On A Netbook