The MSI laptop I've been using since 2009 came to an unfortunate end recently - it was in my backpack when I came off my bike. My (slight) injuries healed just fine, the MSI was never quite the same again.
Until now, improvements in Windows, and my use of Win-only software vvvv had been enough to stop me migrating to Mac or Linux. I was forced to buy a timely laptop upgrade by the bike accident, but why choose Mac?
OpenFrameworks and SuperCollider
It so happens that I was also trying to get started with openFrameworks and with SuperCollider on another Windows machine. As I discovered, they both work in Windows, they are both supported in Windows, but ultimately they are better supported, better documented and easier to use in Mac.
Obviously that's highly subjective, but it appeared that way to me. And there's a bigger community centered around Mac, which again means better support and more stuff working out-of-the-box. It's a cliche anyway that media artists use Macs - so I decided to join and not fight!
Get it and open it
So what's the first thing to do when you get a new Mac? The first thing surely anyone does? Take it apart!
I switched out the stock hard drive for a 256GB solid-state drive (above) and the standard 4GB system memory for 8GB (below).
At 256GB the solid-state hard drive is smaller than the stock one, but since it's solid state it is significantly faster to transfer data between disk and memory.
Get it and break it
Then I switched it on. It wasn't happy.
But it's just because the new solid-state drive was preformatted with a filesystem that Mac didn't understand (or wasn't formatted at all).
Either way, it was easy to fix. Restart, holding the
option key to get to Mac disk utilities. Format the new drive with HFS+ and restart again.
Now the Mac takes over - I just select a Wi-fi connection, and Mac downloads and installs OSX, drivers & updates. The download took 4 hours, but the Mac booted perfectly (and very quickly) from there on in.
Now install Windows 7
Yes, the other first thing that I'm sure everyone does when they get a new Mac - install Windows 7 on it.
The reality is I have several works and projects which run in vvvv - software which is based on DirectX, which runs only in Windows. Fortunately, Apple not only make it very easy to install OSX on a new Mac, they also make it very easy to install Windows side-by-side.
All the info I needed was in (or linked from) this Mac KB article, and it only took a few hours to:
- Download and burn the Win7 ISO to DVD
- Download and burn the Mac / Windows support software (provided by Apple in a single installer, this contains all the hardware drivers and administration utilities required to run a Windows OS on Mac hardware)
- Run BootCamp (from OSX) to create a Windows partition and format it with NTFS
- Install Windows from the burned DVD
- Run the Mac / Windows support software from DVD
That's pretty much all you need to do, and the whole process only took 1-2 hours. The hardest part was finding my Windows 7 product key!
So I'll generally be blogging from the context of Mac software from now on, although I will switch to Windows every now and then for things like vvvv. Very happy so far with the purchase.