Windows7 in OSX with Bootcamp and Virtualbox

As much as I adore my new MacBook Pro and the perks of OSX, there are those few useful apps that just aren’t offered in the apple flavor. Luckily, OXS comes bundles with a great utility called BootCamp that allows you to install a complete copy of Windows right alongside OSX, and select which OS to boot at startup. But this still requires a reboot very time I need to use windows. The solution, mount the BootCamp Windows partition with the free virtualization software, Virtualbox, and run Windows directly within OSX as if it were just another application. While that sounds awesome, I found it to be a bit more difficult than I first estimated. Now that I’ve got things setup and running perfectly, I thought I’d share my experience so that it may help you skip the headaches I went through.

Step 1: Install Windows using Bootcamp

Just for sake of clarification, these are my system specs

Computer:

  • 2010 MacBook Pro
  • Intel Core i5 2.53ghz
  • 4gb ram
  • 500gb HD 7200rpm

Software

  • OSX Snow Leopard 10.6.3
  • Windows 7 64bit Professional (This needs to be a full, legitimate copy of the OS)
  • BootCamp 3.0.2
  • VirtualBox 3.1.6

Here’s Apples own, relatively long, step by step guide to setting up Bootcamp. Make sure to read carefully when you get to “Formatting the Windows Partition” as it caused me a bit of confusion. After installing Windows, reboot back into OSX. Hint: hold the option key while booting to select the OS you want.

Step 2: Setup VirtualBox

VirtualBox is Sun’s (now Oracle’s) free utility that makes creating and launching virtual machines incredibly easy. We’ll use this it to mount the windows installation created with BootCamp. Mr. Anil Dash walks through the steps to make the BootCamp drive useable, but I ran into some troubles that I’ll try to address here.

1. The first thing we need to do is eject the BootCamp partition – Open “Finder”. “Control->Click” the “Bootcamp” drive and select “Eject” (You can also the DiskUtility as well)

2. Now for the geeky terminal stuff to make the BootCamp partition useable within VirtualBox. Open a terminal (located in /Applications/Utilities) and enter the following commands. Make sure to press “Return” after each command to run it.

  • sudo chmod 777 /dev/disk0s3 –Changes the permissions of the BootCamp partition to allow it to be modified (enter your admin password when asked)
  • sudo VBoxManage internalcommands createrawvmdk -rawdisk /dev/disk0 -filename win7raw.vmdk -partitions 3 –Creates 2 files in your home directory, one of which will be used by VirtualBox to access the BootCamp Partition
  • sudo chown YOUR-USER-NAME-HERE win7raw.vmdk win7raw-pt.vmdk –changes the permissions of the previously created files (Replace YOUR-USER-NAME-HERE with the current user name)

2. Download and install VirtualBox for OSX

3. Start up VirtualBox, and make a new Windows 7 machine. Stick the with recommended memory sizes for now – you can always increase them later. When asked to select a hard drive, select “Use existing hard disk” and click the browse icon – doing so should bring up the Virtual Media Manager. In the Virtual Media Manager, click “Add” and navigate to your home directory. Here you should find two files that were created earlier. Select “win7raw.vmdk”.

4. Highlight the Windows7 Machine and select “Machine -> Settings” from the menu. Click the “Storage” Icon and change “Type:” to “ICH6″ (My Install would crash with “PIIX”). Click “OK”.

5. Startup your Windows Virtual Machine and watch the magic happen!

Step 3: Create AppleScript

Before you do your party dance, we need to do some more work to really make things happy. With my system, I found that after booting into Windows 7 (not using VirtualBox), I would get a VERR_ACCESS_DENIED error using VirtualBox. What’s happening is Windows (Or maybe BootCamp) is locking permissions of the BootCamp partition when Windows is shutdown. This may be great for security, but it makes our job a bit more difficult. We could change the partition permissions through the terminal each time we wanted to use VirtualBox, but that would be a hassle.

So, I created a quick AppleScript that not only changes these permissions, but also ejects the BootCamp Partition (if mounted) and launches the Windows7 Virtual Machine. Make sure to enter the name of your virtual machine where it say’s YOUR-VM-NAME-HERE. This was my very first excursion into AppleScripting, so I apologize if things aren’t a good as they could be. Check out this AppleScript resource if your confused about creating the script.


--Make the BOOTCAMP Partition writeable

do shell script "chmod 777 /dev/disk0s3" with administrator privileges

tell application "Finder"

if exists "BOOTCAMP" then

--Eject BOOTCAMP Volume if Mounted

do shell script "umount -f /Volumes/Bootcamp" with administrator privileges

end if

end tell

--Launch Virtual Machine

do shell script "vboxmanage startvm YOUR-VM-NAME-HERE"

Well, that’s pretty much it. You can now launch Windows 7 in OSX by simply clicking the AppleScript. Please let me know if you have any questions/suggestions. Thanks for reading!

POS – Start Your Engines

For the past few months, I’ve been working with my mom to get her garden center more technologically up to date. It’s been a long battle, but the progress we’ve made is really starting to show. One thing I would really like to tackle is to update her point of sale software. Basically, point of sale systems (POS) are what run a business’s cash registers. They need to keep track of inventory, process payments, and provide  an easy user interface for her employees.
For eight years or so she’s been using a system called Plexis POS which is the worst piece of junk software I’ve ever had the disadvantage of using. In the mid 90′s, Plexis was one of the premier POS software packages, but has since fallen off the radar. from what I can tell, it is now sold and supported by some guy in his basement. But beyond being an abominable piece of software, we have recently switched Banks and their credit transaction software doesn’t support Plexis.

Now, I’ve taken it upon myself to implement a new POS system. I need it to support daily sales reports, networked cash registers, credit/debit transactions, portable inventory scanners and touch screen interfaces. Above all, I need it to be affordable… really affordable. In my research so far, I’ve found that most commercial POS systems are incredibly expensive, and my mom just can’t afford to be paying a great amount for her system. With this in mind, I’ve begun looking into open source POS systems. As much as I love the open source concept, it can be a rather scary thing delve into; mainly because there’s no 1-800 number to call if anything goes awry. I’ve found that in order for an open source project to be a viable option, it needs to have three things:

  1. A large user base
  2. A number of quality developers working closely with the project
  3. Some sort of “for profit” entity closely tied to the project’s development.

I’ve looked into the few open source POS systems out there, and I’ve found that Openbravo POS is really beginning to gain traction. I still need to to some research to determine if it will be right for us, but hopefully we can make it work. I’ll post more about the project as it develops.

Puppies for Sale

Today, the local humane society came on campus to hold a fund raiser in which participants could pay $5 and play with their dogs for a half hour. Needless to say, I was all over it. as fun as it was playing with all those cute pups, it  only reinforced the fact that I need to get a dog ASAP. I don’t know how much longer I can hold out. Here are some  pics.

Sailboarding

Today I had one of those great ideas I often got as a child. You know, the ones involving some sort of cobbled together contraption with the ultimate goal providing momentary thrills. My childhood friends and I would spend hours dreaming up these often highly dangerous activities. And while most ideas didn’t result in their intended outcome, the ones that did provided hours of amusement and usually produced semi-serious injuries. No pain, no gain…right. For the sake of nastagia, I’ll recap some of our best ideas here:

1. Barn bike track: Remember that highly publicized caffeine packed soda called “Surge”. Well, when it debuted, they were selling 12-packs for $2 at the local gas station so my friends and I biked over and bought a couple cases and had a sleep over at my house.  Our goal was to setup a camp in our storage barn, drink as many cans of Surge as we could… and think up some crazy things to do in the process. So 4 cans in, my friend Derek came up with the grand idea of clearing out the entire barn and setting up a bike track… complete with banked turns made out of garden display shelves. Being that we were all caffeinated out of our minds, it turned into a blast!

2. Snowmobile Madness: My dad’s 1990 Ski-do snowmobile provided the most intense fun during the winter months. For my friends, there wasn’t a single object unworthy of being strapped to the back of that thing. I can’t even remember the number of sleds we destroyed as a result, but it was definitely in the double digits. Each year we managed to continually push the limits of the machine and ourselves in the name of thrills.

3. The Zip-line: This actually involved two separate instances. The first was a zip-line my friend Derek and I cobbled together out of some 3/8″ nylon rope tied between the top level of my tree house and a neighboring tree. The first tests proved that the rope stretched too much to work well. Our solution… use a broom handle to twist the rope tight. Needless to say, my physics knowledge wasn’t too refined a this point in my life. So on Derek’s first run, the rope snapped the instant he put his weight on it sending him crashing to the ground 15 feet below. These things never work the way you plan. The second attempt at a zip-line, with the help of my dad, went much better. This time we stretched a steel cable across a forest valley and used a purpose built trolley to hang onto. This time it actually worked and we rode that thing into submission… literally… we managed to melt trolley wheels right off.

4. Fireworks: So in my neighborhood, consisting of 4 kids my age, the 4th of July was by far the most coveted holiday. We would save our money all year long and come June,  pool it together and beg someones dad to buy us the “real stuff”. Then for two weeks, we’d come up with every possible use and misuse of our bounty. Possibly the most insane was the “Roman Candle War” which consisted of two teams standing 50 feet apart brandishing roman candles in one hand and garbage can lids in the other. You do the math.

5.  Potato Cannon: Now I know this is a common build, but our rendition was truly nuts. My neighbor, Jeff, and I used 10′ long 2″ diameter piping left over from one of my moms greenhouses and built a cannon that Paton himself would have been proud of.  Our propellant was raw gunpowder from my dads shotgun reloading station  (dad, you really should have locked that stuff up), and we even welded together a double walled breach. Our first shots made an explosion that left our ears ringing and sent potatoes sailing strait over a 400′ tall bluff… no joke. In the end, one of the potatoes got jammed and the entire rear end of the cannon exploded leaving a 2′ crater in my back yard and sending my 10lbs breach sailing 2 feet away from my head… oops.

6. Nitro Lawnmower: This one probably resulted in the worst outcome, but hey… I’m still alive aren’t I. So when Jeff’s dad bought a new lawnmower he was nice enough to give me his old one. It did’t take long for me to figure out that if I took the 3″ belt pulley off the motor and swapped with with the 10″ pulley on the transmission, I could electively spin the wheels something like 15 times faster than originally designed. Not only did it go 40 miles an hour, but the transmission spun so fast it sounded like a jet plane… awesome. We had a blast with it for a few weeks, but it eventually got out of control and sent me slamming into the pavement… sending me to the hospital with a concussion and a bashed up shoulder. I was just lucky that it didn’t land on me.

So back to my original intent of this post, it was really windy today, and I thought “hey, I could take a bed sheet tied between two broom sticks and use it as a sail for my longboard.” Good idea, but the wind wasn’t constant enough to really make it work. Hopefully I can get a good enough wind before snowfall. It’s funny how I used to spend hours dreaming up of crazy things to do and now I rarely even act on the ideas that naturally pop into my head. I guess that’s just natural, and while I’m certainly pleased with my life, sometimes I’d like to go back to the crazy days of my youth.

The Parents Get a New Puppy

So Ray and I went to Lacrosse this weekend to celebrate Oktoberfest, and we got to see my parent’s new puppy. His name is Chaser and he’s a carefully bread mix. Enjoy the photos!

Skydiving!!!

This summer, I fulfilled one of my dreams. The other one in the video is my dad who took me skydiving for my birthday. If only my budget would allow more of it. Check out the vid!!!

Aspen Music Festival & School

I had the incredible experience of spending this summer at the Aspen Music Festival in the recording program. I spent six weeks intensely studying with two incredible knowledgeable individuals. Juergen Wahl has held many positions in the audio industry including Product Development at UREI and Sales Manager at Neumann Sennheiser – US. Juergen was part of the engineering team that created the first practical 31 band graphic equalizer. Jack Renner founded Telarc Records and was their chief recording engineer for decades. Jack pioneered digital recording and many of his projects are considered to be some of the best recordings ever made. Having the chance to study with these individuals was an experience I’ll never forget.

But perhaps even better was being in Aspen with Jeongin. Even though our schedules kept us pretty occupied, we still managed to have a ton of fun. Hopefully we can have a chance to attend Aspen next year and do it all over again.

Camping In the Rockies

Jeongin and I went camping this weekend and had a blast! We drove from Aspen over Independence Pass and stayed at a little site called Twin Peaks. Dinner consisted of spicy noodles, corn on the cob, and chips (we intended to bring potato packets but forgot). On our way back, we hiked up to the top of indepencence Pass and found snow… in August!!! I can’t wait until our next camping trip.