Weekend project: Alternative OS

Ever since I packed away my old Amiga A1200 I’ve been a Windows user. Starting from Windows 3.0 I’ve been through virtually all the evolutions — 3.1, Windows for Workgroups, NT, 95, 98, ME (eek!), 2000, XP and Vista. I’ve always favoured the universal nature of windows, with a tool for every conceivable task, over the supposed simplicity of MacOS or the geek appeal of Linux.

At work there are a lot of windows haters. Someone always has an opinion on how a particular task would have been easier on a Mac or under Linux. So a couple of weekends ago curiosity got the better of me and I decided to install a couple of alternative OSes.

First up was the easy one, Ubuntu Hardy Heron. For a bit of extra interest I decided to run it in a virtual machine under VMWare. After all, I guess there’s not much point in having a Quad Core CPU if you’re not going to properly multi-task. Installation was dead simple: Install VMWare Player, browse to the Virtual Appliance marketplaceand download the Hardy Heron image. All in, it took 30 mins max, including the download time.

Next was the slightly trickier Mac OSX Leopard. I wanted to run it natively for best performance, so that required a bit of disk partitioning and boot menu installers. The hardware setup on my Dell desktop made it tricky. It’s running a RAID disk array which requires software support. I’ve got an external USB drive that would’ve done the trick, but I didn’t fancy disabling the SATA RAID array just to make this happen. So instead, I decided to install it on my Acer Laptop — it’s still a decent spec (Core2, 2GB) which is perfectly good for OSX. I won’t go into the detail of the install here, but it’s enough to say the online tutorials generally seem to work. After a couple of hours of fiddling we were up and running.

Here’s the final setup:

Windows, Ubuntu and OSX

(Laptop running OSX Leopard, Desktop running Vista over dual monitors with Ubuntu virtual machine on the left screen)