Triple-boot Win7 32-bit, 64-bit, and Snow Leopard?

Discussion in 'Windows, Linux & Others on the Mac' started by Dr. Gzus, Nov 15, 2009.

  1. Dr. Gzus macrumors newbie

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    Nov 8, 2009
    #1
    Greetings from a heretofore silent MacRumors enthusiast! I've been reading since I got my first MBP 2 years ago and have always found you folks to have reliable answers to my questions, but on this one I think I'm missing the specific answer I need.

    My new 27" i7 iMac is arriving this week, and I'm trying to get everything lined up for the great awakening. Here's my situation:

    My wife will use this beauty for her work during the day, and will need to use a resource-intensive, windoze-specific genomic software program that is 32-bit only. I of course will also be on it, using mostly OS X but needing to run some windoze-specific applications myself, and I can go 64-bit. I *do* have VMware Fusion 3.0 ready to go, but I'd prefer to use it with the BootCamp partitions instead of as virtual machines because this is better for my backup situation. Also, a bootable external HDD is not an option at the moment, so there's that.

    So, to my question: Can I triple-boot with Win7 32-bit and 64-bit? I've read this guide but it's for XP and Vista. I have reason to believe it's possible with adequate preparation, using Disk Utility to partition the disk right away and going from there. I'm just worried about unforeseen issues. I'm thinking if it works I will somehow boot into windows and then somehow be given the option of going into 32- or 64-bit. If it doesn't, I guess I might have to go the virtual route for my 64-bit'-ness.

    Thanks!
     
  2. pcs are junk macrumors 65816

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    Sep 28, 2009
    #2
    well, since your computer is new and u dont have anything important on it yet, what you're going to do is insert your mac os x disc that came with the computer, ur going to turn on ur computer, and your going to hold the "option" key as soon as u hear the chime. next, you're going to click english, or whatever language u prefer, and click the continue arrow. then go to the menubar, and click utilities, then click disk utility. click on the hard drive, (not Macintosh HD), and select the partition tab. where it says volume scheme, your going to click the drop down where its preselected as "current" select 3 partitions, and for one of them ur going to name it "Macintosh HD", the others u can name "Windows 32" or "Windows 64" or whatever u want to name them. for macintosh hd, there should be a drop down box and you want to select mac os x extended (journaled). then for the other 2, ur going to select fat32. click partition. now exit disk utility. oh and btw u no longer will have an operating system at this point. further on and u will. so ur going to click on Macintosh HD, when it asks u where u want to install mac os x. continue with that blah blah blah, im pretty sure its not that hard to click the restart button when its done lol. next insert the windows 32, or 64bit disc into ur dvd drive. then restart. it should boot from the disc automatically, if not, when u hear the chime hit "option" and select the windows disc. now, its going to ask u where to install it once u get to this point. your going to click on, (i believe the first partition is partition 3, and then the second partition would be the one closest to the bottom.) then click on drive options, click format and then continue, install onto that. restart, repeat process on the second partition, and use the 64bit disc. if u need any more help on what to do just send me a pm. good luck with your new beauty! =D
     
  3. Dr. Gzus thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Nov 8, 2009
    #3
    So I will not be using BootCamp Assistant at all? If so, I assume I can just use the included system disk to install the BootCamp drivers once I'm booted into each windows partition. And dude, thanks!
     
  4. pcs are junk macrumors 65816

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    Sep 28, 2009
    #4
    yep, just install bootcamp drivers once ur in windows. you're welcome!
     
  5. Dr. Gzus thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Nov 8, 2009
    #5
    Sorry, I should have also asked this in my last post... are you suggesting fat32 for any reason other than having the ability to drag and drop between OSes? I definitely need more than 32 gigs on each Win7 partition. I was going to format NTFS, use NTFS-3G to write to windoze from OS X, and I don't care so much about writing to OS X from windoze but if you know of any way to do that feel free to include a suggestion.
     
  6. pcs are junk macrumors 65816

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    Sep 28, 2009
    #6
    sorry i didnt have my mac on me at the time, it is currently installing updates on the vista partition, but as soon as i am done i will check for you what i meant by fat32. i think i got a little confused with something else.
     
  7. Dr. Gzus thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Nov 8, 2009
    #7
    Another question: upon holding the option key when booting, will I see three boot options, or the usual OS X and Windows options, with a sub-option to boot into either the 32- or 64-bit partitions? How does this display graphically?

    And surely this has been addressed elsewhere but I might as well throw this in while I'm here so others reading the thread later can have it all in one place. I think it's germane. Does iLife '09 ship in the box along with the Snow Leopard disk? I'd hate to do a clean install and lose it.

    Again, many thanks to you and anyone else that would like to post their experiences in this thread.
     
  8. cluthz macrumors 68040

    cluthz

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    Norway
    #8
  9. ayeying macrumors 601

    ayeying

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    Dec 5, 2007
    Location:
    Yay Area, CA
    #9
    Wouldn't your 32-bit and 64-bit install be easier with just a single 64-bit install and run 32-bit within a virtual machine? Unless the "specific" 32-bit programs require a fast 3d processor, wouldn't that be a better route? :confused:

    Edit: never mind, didn't read the entire post. lol
     
  10. pcs are junk macrumors 65816

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    #10
    Yes they will all show, they will show up as whatever u named them. And I'm pretty sure all macs come with reinstallation discs and iLife.
     
  11. balamw Moderator

    balamw

    Staff Member

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2005
    Location:
    New England
    #11
    Just a note of caution on that approach.

    I did something similar when upgrading to a larger drive in my Macbook and the default partition scheme I ended up with was not compatible with Boot Camp because I didn't uncheck the "make it work OK with OS 9" box. I ended up having to repartition to get the proper GPT/MBR hybrid scheme.

    You can also just resize the OS X partition and create the other two partitions manually. Just drag the lower left corner of the OS X partition in Disk Utility and create two new partitions in the space you free up. You could even use Boot Camp Assistant to resize your OS X partition and then just use Disk Utility to split the Windows partition in two. This will avoid the need for reinstalling OS X, although it's never a bad idea to do a clean install...

    Another thing that was not mentioned here is that the names you give the partitions will not show in the bootloader, you will get two identical Windows icons in the default bootloader. If you want some control on that you'll need refit.

    B
     
  12. pcs are junk macrumors 65816

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    #12
    oh yeah and also i just checked that format u need, its not FAT32, its MSDOS(FAT)
     
  13. Dr. Gzus thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #13
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    I'm now thoroughly confused about NTFS, MS-DOS, and fat32. I was going with NTFS because my limited understanding of file types had me thinking NTFS is the latest, and therefore the current standard. Would anyone care to parse out the details of each format, and why I would and wouldn't want to use each in the context presented here? Thanks to all present and future contributors to this thread.

    I also have been granted time to figure this out by the federal government and UPS. apparently my iMac shipment has been held up in Louisville whilst waiting on approval papers from the FDA? WTF?
     
  14. balamw Moderator

    balamw

    Staff Member

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    #14
    LOL. The iMac must have been on a farm in China. :p

    You are absolutely and totally right that you do not ultimately want FAT anything. The problem lies in that Mac OS/Disk Utility can't create an NTFS file system, so the FAT file system is just there as a placeholder until the W7 installer replaces it with NTFS. You're just setting it aside and giving the installer a hint that this partition is for it, not the HFS+ one.

    Is that clearer?

    B
     
  15. Dr. Gzus thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Absolutely. Thanks B. As soon as they remove the narcotic enhancers of my iMac experience, I'll get to work implementing everyone's great advice.
     
  16. Dr. Gzus thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Nov 8, 2009
    #16
    Update

    Thanks again to everyone that helped me out here. I thought I would let everyone know that my beauty/beast is here and set up as I wanted. Love it.

    I also think its helpful if I describe some of the issues that came up for future readers/users of this thread. My terminology will likely be a little off but hopefully you'll understand what I'm getting at. Here goes:

    1) Installing two windows partitions as described here does work. However you will NOT see two windows disk images upon holding the option key at startup. Instead you will get the one image, and from there you will be taken to the bootloader (term.?) where you'll choose which windows partition you need. The problem I had with this is that they both said Windows 7, so you have to remember what the top and bottom partitions are. I found this unacceptable (I'm a Mac guy after all), and installed rEFIt.

    2) Unfortunately rEFIt is not a viable option either--it gives you the OS X and two windows disk images at startup, but only one windows partition image is actually bootable because I discovered that the bootloader is stored on only one of the partitions (or maybe one of those tiny kernel partitions and it just points at the bootable one; this is beyond my current understanding of things). So whether you have rEFIt or not, you still have to go to the bootloader and select the partition you want. Still unacceptable.

    3) I uninstalled rEFIt as it was useless in my case (though I can see it being of use if triple-booting with Linux) and found this thread detailing how to edit the description of the partitions in the bootloader; I was able to change the 64-bit partition from "Windows 7" to my name and the 32-bit partition from "Windows 7" to my wife's name. Now we're getting somewhere. And if you want to edit your windows booting options, such as the time you are allotted to choose the partition before it defaults to one, or even choose which partition you want to possess the bootloader, there is this awesome application.

    4) If you've been using MacFUSE with NTFS-3G while in Snow Leopard, your windows partitions will only be available for read-write after booting from the default 32-bit kernel. If you prefer the 64-bit kernel, as I do now that Fusion 3.0 supports it, you'll need to do the manual read-write configuration discussed above (here's another link to that thread) because they won't mount otherwise. By the way it took me forever to figure out how to uninstall NTFS-3G, but all you really have to do is disable it in its preferences pane (no uninstallation required).

    5) VMware Fusion 3.0. Pretty cool, but the situation of having your bootloader located on one partition and not the other means that you can only run one boot camp partition virtually. Once you start it up, Fusion will still take you to the bootloader and prompt you to choose which partition you want, but if you choose the one not holding the bootloader you'll get the blue screen of death. Kind of sucks. Fortunately you can choose which partition has the bootloader using the application I mentioned in (3), but it's a hassle going though all of that on a regular basis.

    6) Which leads me to what I think is a cool solution on my part. I mentioned my wife runs 32-bit-specific applications on her windows partition. I can go either, but I prefer 64-bit windows. Well, I just left the bootloader in the 64-bit partition so I can run my boot camp through Fusion if I want, and I created a good-old-fashioned 32-bit windows XP virtual-only machine and installed all of our windows applications on it. And with NTFS read-write access fully enabled in both 32- and 64-bit Snow Leopard, whatever work we run in the virtual machine can still be stored directly into either boot camp partition.

    Hope this information is helpful. And if anyone figures out how to get that damn bootloader located in both windows partitions, please post something here.
     
  17. Dr. Gzus thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #17
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    Update: native NTFS read/write is a flaky disaster waiting to happen. Beach balls and failed shutdowns galore. I've deleted the fstab file. My advice: don't do it. Find the MacFUSE 64-bit here and continue to use NTFS-3G with it. I *just* found it and it seems to work like a champ when booted into 64-bit.
     

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