WinXP-bootable expresscard34 eSATA?

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by gabedamien, Oct 30, 2007.

  1. gabedamien macrumors member

    gabedamien

    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2007
    Location:
    CT/NY
    #1
    Hello,

    First time post [note: I have now cross-posted this in the Peripherals forum]! As listed in my profile I have a new (Oct. 1) MBP 17", 2.4GHz/4GB, with 160GB 7200RPM internal drive.

    I've searched high and low, for quite a while, for a straightforward answer to the following question: is there any eSATA expresscard34 device that is compatible with Mac, and which is bootable (preferably Windows XP, but maybe Vista)?

    I've seen at least one person manage this with Vista, but the extensive workarounds and manual driver hacking and BIOS flashing and legacy EFI emulation modes and whatevermajigs made me want to cry. I'm willing to tolerate a certain amount of hoop-jumping, such as the tricks to install Windows XP to any external drive (using bootcamp for the firmware/drivers, but installing directly from the XP CD). However, the simpler the better, and I'd prefer not to have to get into outrageous things like removing internal drives and installing from a separate computer, etc.

    If this works right, I'd have an external hard drive connected via eSATA through the expresscard34 adapter, running Windows XP, maybe even thinking it's an internal drive (it'd be a form of SATA after all). I'm under the impression that the theoretical throughput would be higher than the MBP's internal drive, even! But it seems so hard to get a straight answer on if there even exists an easily bootable expresscard34 eSATA adapter.

    Thanks in advance for your help,
    -GLL

    [Edit: also, I've just discovered Other World Computing, which lists several devices; it explicitly says the FirmTek adapter is not bootable, but it doesn't have a similar warning for these three devices. Does that mean those 3 are bootable? And I noticed their prices were widely different, but their specs were similar; what am I missing there?]
     
  2. superleccy macrumors 6502a

    superleccy

    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2004
    Location:
    That there big London
    #2
    I don't think that what you want is possible.

    As far as I know, Macs can't boot from eSATA, period. And, the restriction with Boot Camp (as I understand it) is that the Windows partition must be installed on your main OS X startup disk. So whichever way you try and slice it (without exploring uber-hacker territory), you loose. :(

    But like you, I do wish there was a way. I could do with Windows occasionally for stuff like Visio, CorelDRAW! and Nokia Software Updater, but I can't spare the precious hard-drive space on my MBP for a Windows partition... and psychologically I couldn't bare to taint the purity of my pride and joy.

    The ability to just plug-in Windows when needed would be a great solution. Shame.

    I'll be monitoring the topic just to see if anyone has any bright ideas.

    All the best
    SL
     
  3. gabedamien thread starter macrumors member

    gabedamien

    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2007
    Location:
    CT/NY
    #3
    Hi Superleccy,

    Actually, it's possible to install Windows to an external USB 2.0 (apparently not FireWire) drive; there are long threads on this forum explaining specifically how to do this. The bootcamp issue is easily circumvented by using bootcamp only for the firmware/drivers, but running the Windows install CD manually. The major problem with that though is 1) Windows isn't meant to be installed over USB, and doesn't assume it has to keep those drivers intact during installation; there are complicated workarounds for this, which I alluded to above, and 2) Running an OS over USB 2.0 is less than ideal, performance-wise.

    I don't know about booting from eSATA. The problem isn't eSATA itself, it's the expresscard: so far the consensus seems to be that the expresscard drivers load *way* too late (as in way after boot) to make this possible.

    If there was some way of configuring an expresscard device with EFI drivers, that loaded early in the boot sequence (actually pre-disk-boot), then it would work, but I'm getting messages that nobody's done this and it might not actually be possible.

    HUGE bummer, since it would be an incredibly elegant solution to running as many operating systems with as much space at full performance as one could want.

    Cheers,
    -GLL
     
  4. superleccy macrumors 6502a

    superleccy

    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2004
    Location:
    That there big London
    #4
    Cheers GLL

    If you ever manage to sort it, be sure to send me a PM!

    Good luck
    SL
     
  5. gabedamien thread starter macrumors member

    gabedamien

    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2007
    Location:
    CT/NY
    #5
    Sure thing Superleccy, I've bookmarked this thread and the quest continues. At this point I'd even look at bootable expresscard/34 solid-state cards! But again, the issue is the expresscard slot drivers not loading early enough for ANY booting.

    Back to searching...

    EDIT: I think I'm going to give up. I've run into too many posts like this one:
     
  6. gabedamien thread starter macrumors member

    gabedamien

    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2007
    Location:
    CT/NY
    #6
    OK, perhaps I haven't yet entirely given up. For others interested, these are some good links:
    http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=198054&page=1
    http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=354849
    http://discussions.apple.com/thread.jspa?threadID=1119081&tstart=-1
    I'm probably just going to install XP to my internal drive, but keep the partition small and install Windows programs to an external drive. I really don't want to take up much, if any, internal space. But maybe, just maybe, I'll figure out how to do a bootable expresscard solution before falling back to that plan...
     

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