Triple boot on MacBook

I am back at work after a long vacation, and one of the first things I started doing this year was to reinstall several of my computers. There is nothing like a fresh start once in a while, with the added benefits of some extra hard disk space (not reinstalling all those programs I never use anyway) and performance benefits (incredible how fast a newly installed computer boots up!).

I have been testing Ubuntu on an Asus eee for a while, and have been impressed by how easy it was to install and use. I have been a Unix/linux users for years at the university, but have given up every time I tried to install it on any of my personal computers. Ubuntu is the first distro that actually managed to install without any problems, and which also managed to detect most of the hardware by itself, at least enough to actually work on the system.

Before I started the process on installing Ubuntu on my MacBook aluminum, I had heard rumors about it being a non-straightforward process, but it turned out to be very simple. I used bootcamp to install Windows XP (remember to format the drive using the windows installer, otherwise it won’t boot up…). To my surprise the new Ubuntu 8.10 installer made it possible to install Ubuntu from within Windows, and without needing to repartition anything. Quite a lot of things are autodetected, and there is a community page that suggests how to fix the rest. The built in audio support is not impressive, but an external sound card will hopefully work fine.

I didn’t find any good recommendations for how much hard drive space I should allocate for XP and Ubuntu, and what type of partitions to use. Previously I have had a 20GB NTSF XP partition, and that seemed sufficient, although I couldn’t read and write to the drive from OSX (apparently there are some software solutions for this). To be more flexible in my tri-OS-life, I decided to go for a 32GB FAT32 partition, of which I set aside 15GB for Ubuntu. After all necessary software is installed, mainly Max/MSP on XP and various Linux audio applications on Ubuntu, there are a 3-4 GB available on each system. This should be sufficient as long as I am mainly going to use the two OSes for occasional software testing.

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Alexander Refsum Jensenius is a music researcher and research musician living in Oslo, Norway.