Kickin My Macbook to the Curb

I believe I have a pretty high tolerance for inconveniences but I just couldn’t take it: running Windows Server 2003 as a primary OS on Macbook blows.

As a fan of Unix, Windows and beautiful UIs, I promised myself I would put down any amount of money for a small Macbook the day it came out and I did just that. Then I ran back to work and attempted a Windows Server 2003 install. I never liked Windows XP and all the free crap it had to offer; I wanted a bare bones, unrestricted workstation and Win2k3 gave me that. It took about a week of hacking but I finally got the drivers installed. From there, my Macbook looked sexy and was super fast but ultimately became an utter inconvenience. As you can see from the sidebar, one of my most popular posts is about running Windows 2003 on a Macbook. I feel for those poor souls and can only hope they don’t plan to use Win2k3 as their primary OS. As a friend said, “The Macbook is great. It’s just not great for you.”

So I’ve bought a new beauty and I love it, but before I get there, let me outline what sucks about running Win2k3 on a Macbook.

  • This applies to all Macbooks: inconsistent yet persistent fan issues. I don’t care what you or you or you say, fans aren’t supposed to sound that way. And it’s not cool. Speaking of not cool, the Macbook gets way hot at times.
  • Remapping the keyboard to a Windows layout makes for a nasty delay after coming back from standby. The InputRemapper software from that guy works very well, I just don’t like the wait.
  • If you want Bluetooth in Win2k3 to work, you have to run hid2hci every time it comes back from being on standby.
  • Built-in microphone jack + loud fans = impossible to make CBTs.
  • Power management sucks.
  • Will installing Leopard mess up my hacked 2k3 install? Will Parallels replace Bootcamp at some point, leaving me with no real option to boot Windows natively? I don’t know but wondering causes stress.
  • No right click. I mapped the right Apple key to it but still.

So here I sit at Tommy’s Joynt in San Francisco drinking coriander spiced beer and playing on my new Dell XPS M1210. I spent the past two weeks deciding between buying the super sexy but slower Sony Vaio, the equally sexy & slow new Fujitsu LED backlit Lifebook or this pretty-damn-affordable-and-unattractive-yet-lightweight-powerhouse from Dell. Dells just aren’t pretty. I often wonder if Ford Motor outsources their car designers to Dell. Sure, you can make a laptop that looks like this..but why?

My new Dell lacks visual appeal (in my opinion) but makes up for it with its incredible amount of power. I’ve got a Core 2 Duo with 4MB of on-board cache (stylin’ like a Xeon), 2 GB of RAM, 80GB 7200 RPM HDD and a 256MB nVidia card.. And to top it off, it’s about 4.5lbs and retailed for about $2300 after tax, warranty, shipping and all that. Now I’m finally running Vista Enterprise with nothing but drivers, something I never really expected to do. But I really like it (also unexpected). “WOW” not so much but it’s definitely a long overdue improvement. Here’s my top favorite features so far

  • I don’t need third party drivers to output my laptop display solely to my monitor. Finally!
  • The System Tray is cleaner and more informative
  • Vista Enteprise doesn’t come with extra crap I don’t need or want
  • Aero is really nice. I like how the taskbar now has popups to show you whats going on.
  • The search actually works. Searching in Windows, especially when searching inside files for text, was broken by Microsoft in XP and 2003. Even NT returns more accurate matches. How was this not noticed by engineers at Microsoft? I’m thinking it was a way to make people frustrated enough to install that Live Search bar.
  • Task scheduler and Event Viewer are super improved
  • The Windows Orb (formerly the Start button) is a big improvement over XP.
  • Dynamic disk resizing — even on the windows partition

This page has a great outline of some of the new features and it also includes screenshots. Actually, the more tweaks and tricks I find, the more I realize that my initial list is going to change a ton over time. Something cool I just found is called “Additional Clocks” which allows you to add additional time information to the system tray clock hover. You can add up to 2 additional clocks.. I just added Louisiana and GMT.

A few things suck about Vista, including some networking issues but overall, I’m really digging both Vista and the Dell XPS M1210 I’ve named CRACKLIN. As for the Macbook, I’ve sold it to a Mac fan who can put it to better use.

Chrissy is a PowerShell MVP who has worked in IT for nearly 20 years, and currently serves as a Sr. Database Engineer in Belgium. Always an avid scripter, she attended the Monad session at Microsoft’s Professional Developers Conference in Los Angeles back in 2005 and has worked and played with PowerShell ever since. Chrissy is currently pursuing an MS in Systems Engineering at Regis University and helps maintain RealCajunRecipes.com in her spare time. She holds a number of certifications, including those relating to SQL Server, SuSE Linux, SharePoint and network security. She recently became co-lead of the SQL PASS PowerShell Virtual Chapter. You can follow her on Twitter at @cl.

Posted in OS X & iPhone, Windows
10 comments on “Kickin My Macbook to the Curb
  1. freddy says:

    Man I wish i could afford any of those things. Im writing this on my outdated hp intel pentium 3.

    Thats why im trying to get a free macbook pro here:
    http://freemacbookpro.com/index.php?referral=637190

    yeah i no u said they aren’t that great but i would just be using it for the mac os. Good Luck!

  2. Chrissy says:

    You touched my heart.. I’ll let your advertisement by ;) Good luck!

  3. TenAJs says:

    Seriously no right click? I recall reading from the Bootcamp doc about using 2 fingers…

  4. Chrissy says:

    Maybe with XP but I tried that with my shoddy 2k3 install and it didnt work :|

  5. Little known fact: The System Tray is the wrong term. It’s actually “Notification Area”.

    The System Tray was a feature they were going to put into the first version of Windows 95. Fortunately, they replaced it with the TaskBar.

  6. derwood says:

    Haven’t been to Tommy’s Joynt since I was about 18..
    There are some things I still miss about the Bay Area and CA.

  7. michael says:

    To right click, you have to “command-click”. Or in windows terms, Control-Click

  8. Chrissy says:

    Ahhh! Thanks a ton for the info, Bucky. Is that the only reason it sucked? I’m curious as to what “Unknown” is though. Generally, everything I looked through was registered to something: usually Notepad. Hmm, upon reading the Internets, it seems that’s it’s not so much “Unknown” extensions as “Approved” extensions.

    Thanks a ton for the tip! I’ve always wondered why Xp’s search sucked so bad.

  9. Lawrence says:

    [quote]When I use MSG, I get told "MSG is not recognized as an internal or external command, operable program, or batch file." Why isn't it working? And why can't I find anyone with the same problem?

    I am using Vista.
    [/quote]

    same here

  10. Tun says:

    Hi

    Honestly, I don't know how to connect my mate machine. I used like that msg 192.168.2.31 and then type messsage.

    My one is 192.168.2.40

    How can we connect each other pls

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