Category Archives: Windows7

Getting Windows 7 Installed (and past the blank screen) on a new 27″ Core2 iMac

So – I decided that i wanted to install Windows 7 ultimate on my beautiful new 27″ iMac – partly because Windows runs great on Apple hardware, and partly because I know that somewhere out there, there is an Apple die hard that just choked reading this ;).  If you’ve read my blog before – you’ve seen some pretty crazy configurations (My Mac Pro, for example, is a 4 O/S beast that runs beautifully – and I did everything gracefully, and without any of the bullcrap that the so called “Mac Geniuses” say you will run into….  Macs wont run 64-bit this, you have to update EFI tables that….  it’s all horseshit (pardon my french).  Macs are pretty much plain vanilla PC’s when it comes to their innards – and with a little greasing, things usually install nicely – if you know what you are doing.  Unfortunately, it seems that most people who use Macs – including the majority of the “geniuses” at the apple stores, and the “top posters” on the apple forums, blindly lead people down un-necessarily difficult paths because they simply don’t know what they’re doing.

Enter my blog….  I’ve already given you a path to create your own quad booting Mac Pro behemoth…..  and now I’ll do the same for the new iMac.  Let’s install Windows 7.  I’m not going step by step – I will assume that you have seen boot camp before and I will just cover the issues you will run into because a) I like quick, concise blog posts and b) it should still give you the information you need to be successful.

So, anyways, much to my dismay, I start by using the Boot Camp utility to partition off a 300GB Windows partition, and let it reboot into the Windows Installer.  I go through the W7 intro screens and pick the new installation pathway through the installer.  The first thing I notice is that W7 says that it cannot install on the boot camp partition because it’s not formatted NTFS.  No biggie, click the boot camp drive, click advanced, and then click format.  Presto!  the error goes away so I happily click next and start the install process.

The copy process took about 15-20 minutes it seemed – but I was not watching the clock so I might be a little off there, but it didn’t seem to take very long.  Before you know it – you will see a message saying that your computer will reboot, or, if you’re not paying attention – you’ll be blown out of your chair by the apple startup sound which, thanks to an excellent speaker setup in the new 27″ iMac, is more annoying than ever (might I suggest you click here if you find the sound annoying too?).  Once the computer restarts, you’ll see the installer load back up, finish adding a few more drivers here and there, and copy some more files, and then it will reboot again.

Uh-Oh…. here is where the trouble starts.  When you reboot – you’ll see the “Starting Windows” screen with the interesting new microsoft animation, and then your screen goes blank.  What?  What happened?  Do i wait.  Well – you can, but let me tell you – I was doing some other things so I just let the iMac sit – and 45 minutes later, the screen was still blank… so… something is “effed-up”.   So – what to do now?

I won’t go into details of how i discovered this, because most people just want the solution – so here it is.  Once your computer craps out at the black screen, shut it off by holding down the power button until you hear it click off.  Wait a few seconds, then boot it back up.  You should still have your windows CD in the drive, and when the EFI bootloader launches Windows, you should see a screen that says “press any key to boot from CD/DVD” – do it.  The little wireless keyboard sometimes goes to sleep – so hit enter a few times until you see the plain “Windows is loading files…” message with the ugly ASCII text progress bar.  If you see the “Starting Windows” animation with the windows logo – you missed it…. reboot and try again.

This will basically take you back into the Windows installer.  This time, you’re not installing, however – you want to get into Repair mode.  Follow the prompts and click through to Repair mode until you are prompted with a screen that has several options.  One of these options is “Command Prompt”, pick that.

This will drop you to a good ol’ DOS command prompt – I cannot remember the path it defaults to – but you’ll see a line that looks something like “X:\Folder1\Folder2>” where X is the drive letter and Folder1/Folder2 is your current location on that drive.  Without the quotes, type “C:” and press enter.  This will take you to your C: drive – the drive which Windows is installed upon.  Now, type (again, without the quotes) “del c:\windows\system32\drivers\atikmdag.sys” and press enter.  It should say “1 file(s) deleted”.  Peachy.  Type “exit” and press enter to exit the command prompt, and then click restart.

Now, your computer will go to the “starting windows” screen, and will advance to another graphic that says your computer is being prepared to be run for the first time – congrats – you’ve gotten past the black-screen-o-death.  Basically, what is happening is that Windows is detecting ATI graphics hardware in your shiny new 27″ iMac, but it’s installing an older ATI driver that is not compatible.  Once you get to the part where it tries to initialize the display – it hangs up.  When you delete this driver, you default it back to the standard plain vanilla VGA driver and things will progress smoothly.

Once you get logged in, insert the Mac OSX Install Disk into the DVD drive and wait for it to be recognized.  Click the start button, then my computer.  Double click the D: drive (it will say “WindowsSupport”) and allow boot camp to install all of the drivers for your machine.  You will most likely get a couple of times where the install will stop and ask you if you want to allow the software to make changes to your machine – of course, confirm this action.

When Boot Camp is done, your machine will need to be restarted.  Go ahead and restart, and then immediately run Windows Update by clicking it from the start menu.  This will install the CORRECT ATI drivers for your video card, and then your display will be available in it’s full glory.


UPDATE 11/21/2010 – Some time ago, Apple has also created a support article regarding this issue – their solution is slighly simpler –

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Using your 27″ iMac as a Display – How it works.

Well…  I did it.  I was trying to decide whether I wanted to buy a 24″ LED Cinema display to hook to my 17″ Macbook Pro, or whether I just wanted to buy one of the new iMacs and do the same.  Silly, I know, but then again – so is Apple’s new pricing model.  I’m kind of excited to see what kind of product lineup they come up with for their cinema display line – because now that the 27″ iMac contains a beautiful 2560×1440 LED Backlit display at a pricepoint $100 below the 30″ Cinema display – one has to wonder who would actually buy the 30″ display now.

Well – at least, that’s how I justified it.  The iMac is a great machine and I’ve already installed Windows 7 RTM on it, but 90% of the time I’ll be using it as a display for my MacBook Pro.  Since they announced this new product line – I’ve been searching for information on how the single Mini DisplayPort will function as both an input and output.  Scouring around the net – I saw that many people had the same simple question that no-one (even Apple dweebs in the stores) can answer…. “When you use it in display mode, does the iMac have to be turned on?”

Well – For me – that was the $1600 question…..  and here is the answer – Yes, the iMac must be turned on.  In fact, you must actually boot completely into Snow Leopard before it will “switch” into display mode.    I’ve run through a couple of different scenerios, and it seems that in all of them – the graphics card in the iMac is actually performing the input/output translation – and it appears that it is doing so with the aid of drivers present in Snow Leopard.  So… to summarize – here are some of the scenerio’s I’ve tried – and what happens:

  • MacBook Pro off, iMac off.  I Connected the MBP to the iMac via Belkin DisplayPort cable, and powered both systems on.   Both systems booted independantly into their default OS (Mac OS in my case) and the MBP did not recognize the iMac as an external display until I unplugged the DisplayPort connector and plugged it back in, at which time everything instantly switched to the iMac as an external monitor.
  • MacBook Pro on, iMac off.  I Connected the MBP to the iMac and then powered the iMac on.  The iMac swiftly booted into MAC OS, and again, did not switch to display mode until I unplugged and replugged the cable.
  • MacBook Pro on and booted into Leopard, iMac on and booted into Snow Leopard.  Plugged in the cable – iMac instantly switched to display mode and the Macbook instantly recognized it.
  • MacBook Pro on and booted into Windows Vista 64-bit, iMac on and booted into Windows 7.  Plugged in the cable – nothing.  nada.  zilch.  Which is what lead me to my conclusion that something in the drivers in Snow Leopard make this a possibility.
  • Macbook Pro on and booted into Windows Vista 64-bit, iMac on and booted into Snow Leopard.  Plugged in the cable – iMac instantly switched to display mode and the Macbook instantly recognized it….. Yup…. Snow Leopard definately has something to do with it.

So.  Before I bought the machine tonight – the dweeb at the apple store assured me that when you plug in the iMac, it “sleeps” the PC and only runs the display.   I might buy that it sleeps the hard drive – but from everything I can tell, the iMac brain is still running, and needs to be running, in order for the display hardware to receive, decode, and display the digital DisplayPort connector.  It seems that this is also the case simply due to the amount of heat coming out of the vents on the iMac – if it were only the display – I can’t imagine it would be running as hot as it is.

Unfortunately, I’m pretty sure that’s not what most people want to hear.  It’s certainly not what I wanted – but…. at the pricepoint (slightly less expensive than the 30″ studio display with only 3″ diagonal and 160 vertical pixel defecit) – it’s definately worth a look still.  You get yourself a kick ass monitor that includes a kick ass PC that performs very well in Snow Leopard and Windows 7.

Hopefully I’ve taken some mystery out of the $1600 question for you ūüėČ

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Multi-Boot and Multi-OS on Mac Pro – the best way.

Being a total PC geek, I have always been anti-mac.   This is to say, of course, until I joined the iPhone bandwagon and started development for the iPhone, which requires Mac Hardware.  Now that Mac hardware is all intel based, however, I find myself still falling back to Windows installs as often as possible.  And now that I have seen how incredibly any operating system runs on my Dual Quad Core 2.8Ghz Mac Pro with dual video cards, 16-gb of RAM, and four 1TB Western Digital Black 1TB hard drives, I am truly enjoying mac hardware.


Traditionally, Apple has provided a Boot Camp installer – which is a great tool when you want to share a single drive to run multiple operating systems. ¬†Boot camp will shrink your OSX partition, create a landing spot for your favorite flavor of windows and then kick off the installer for you. ¬†What you get in the end is a PC with a single drive that contains multiple partitions – one of which will be your “default” OS, and the other which can be selected for restart using the boot camp manager or can be picked on the fly by holding down the OPTION key as the mac starts up.


As I have illustrated in an earlier article, all of this hubbub is totally un-necessary on the Mac Pro.  The Mac Pro is a standard EFI PC, and can boot straight off of the windows installer disk just as well as it can the Mac OS installer disk.  Additionally, the Mac Pro is the only PC (thus far) in the Apple lineup that supports multiple hard drives Рfour, to be exact.


In this article – I will walk you through creating the ultimate geek set up – modeled after my own Mac Pro, quad booting Mac OSX, Windows XP 64-bit, Windows Vista 64-bit, and Windows 7 64-bit. ¬† I will assume that you already have install disks for each of these operating systems, you have four bare drives – all of which have been installed in the Mac Pro’s drive Caddies. ¬†At the present time, do not place the caddies into the Mac Pro – we’ll do that one at a time.


  1. Install the first bare drive into bay 1 (closest to the front) – we’ll use this one for Mac OSX
  2. Power the Mac Pro up, eject the DVD drive, and insert the Mac OSX disc 1 into the drive.  If the machine gives you an error because it cannot find a boot device, simply restart again once the CD is inserted.
  3. The Mac Pro should boot straight off of the install CD – but I always recommend holding the C key as soon as you power up the machine, which will force a boot from the DVD drive.
  4. Install Mac OSX
  5. When Mac OSX has completely finished installing, eject the installer DVD and replace it with the Windows XP-64 bit install DVD.  Close the drive tray and power off the machine.
  6. Gently pull out the Mac OS Hard Drive located in Bay One just far enough so that it is no longer connected to the motherboard – 1/2″ should be fine. ¬†Fully install your second bare hard drive into the second bay.
  7. Power up the machine and hold down the C key to boot from the Windows XP DVD you placed in the drive in step 5.
  8. Follow the instructions to install Windows XP 64-bit on the machine.  The system will restart many times.  If the setup application fails to successfully boot and resume the installation process, restart the machine and hold down the Option key.  Pick the Hard Drive Icon to boot from the hard drive and resume the install.
  9. Once Windows XP has completely finished installing, eject the installer DVD from the drive and replace it with the Vista 64-bit DVD.  If the Vista Installer begins running, exit and then shutdown the machine.
  10. Gently pull out the XP64 hard drive located in bay two just far enough so that it is no longer connected to the motherboard – 1/2″ should be fine. ¬†Fully install your third bare hard drive into the third bay.
  11. Power up the machine and hold down the C key to boot from the Vista DVD you placed in the drive in step 9.
  12. Follow the instructions to install Windows Vista on the machine.  The system will restart many times.  If the setup application fails to successfully boot and resume the installation process, restart the machine and hold down the Option key.  Pick the Hard Drive Icon to boot from the hard drive and resume the install.
  13. Once Vista has installed successfully, eject the installer DVD from the drive and replace it with the Windows 7 installer DVD.  If the Windows 7 installer begins, exit and then shutdown the machine.
  14. Genlty pull out the Vista hard drive located in bay three just far enough so that it is no longer connected to the motherboard – 1/2″ should be fine. Fully install your fourth bare hard drive into the fourth bay.
  15. Power up the machine and hold down the C key to boot from the Windows 7 DVD you placed in the drive in step 13.
  16. Follow the instructions to install Windows 7 on the machine.  The system will restart many times.  If the setup application fails to successfully boot and resume the installation process, restart the machine and hold down the Option key.  Pick the Hard Drive Icon to boot from the hard drive and resume the install.
  17. Once Windows 7 has installed correctly, eject the installer DVD from the drive and close the tray.
  18. Power down the machine.
  19. Push all of the hard drives completely into their bays and close the Mac Pro case.
This completes installing all of the Operating Systems on your machine. ¬†At this point, Mac OSX should boot by default, and you can pick any of the other Windows installations by holding the ALT key during the boot sequence. ¬†You’re not done yet. ¬†One of the things that could cause a problem at this point is that Mac OS will be able to see all of the Windows Partitions, and each of the Windows partitions will be able to see each of the other Windows partitions. ¬†This doesn’t actually create a problem right off the bat – but if any of the partitions are edited by one of the other operating systems either inadvertently or on purpose, you could end up with a system that won’t boot.
The solution – we want to boot each of the windows partitions and remove the drive letters pointing to the other windows installs. ¬†Once we’re finished with that, we’ll want to boot up Mac OSX and edit the /etc/fstab (File Systems Table) to tell it not to mount the windows partitions automatically. ¬†The process for this is simple:
On the Windows Partitions:
  • Boot into Windows (XP, then Vista, then 7)
  • Assuming you only have one DVD Drive in your Mac Pro – you’ll notice that the hard drive representing your current active OS will be your C: drive, your DVD drive will be your D: drive, and then you will also see an E: and F: drive representing the other two Windows installations.
  • We want to make sure that the E: and F: drive no longer appear.
  • Right click My Computer and then click Manage
  • Click on Disk Management
  • Find the first hard drive partition after your DVD-ROM drive (most likely E:). ¬†Right click the area containing the drive letter, and then click Change Drive Letter and Paths.
  • Click the Drive Letter, Click Remove, Click OK on the “warning” and then click OK again.
  • Find the second hard drive partition after your DVD-ROM drive (most likely F). ¬†Right click the area containing the drive letter, and then click Change Drive Letter and Paths
  • Click the Drive Letter, Click Remove, Click OK on the “warning” and then click OK again.
  • Close Computer Management.
  • Reboot the PC, boot the next windows installation, and repeat the same steps. ¬†Do this for Windows Vista AND Windows 7.
These steps will ensure that your windows installations do not inadvertently step on one another.
On Mac OS X:
  • Open a terminal window.
  • At the prompt, type “sudo pico /etc/fstab” and press enter
  • Enter your password. ¬†This is a UNIX based text editor. ¬†Depending on your OS version, this file will most likely be blank. ¬†If there are already entries in here, scroll to the bottom of the file and put your cursor in the first column of a new line.
  • Open Disk Manager
  • Once Disk Manager populates all volume information, you should see a tree view with four drives. ¬†Underneath each of the drives there will be individual partitions.
  • The first drive is Mac OSX, we don’t want to do anything with this one.
  • The second drive is Windows XP 64-bit. ¬†There should be one partition on this drive. ¬†Click the partition, then press command-I to get information.
  • You will notice a “Universal Unique Identifier” – this is a GUID that identifies that partition. ¬†Expand the window so that you can see the entire number and copy it to the clipboard by hilighting it and pressing command-C.
  • Go back to your terminal window – enter the following line “UUID=<PASTE YOUR IDENTIFIER HERE> none auto ro,noauto” – the first line will look something like this “UUID=E4545B84-D5B9-46EF-AD91-802433AAD41C none auto ro,noauto”
  • Repeat the same thing by pasting the identifiers for the partitions on the remaining two drives much like you did in the previous steps. ¬†When you are finished, you should have one line for each partition you want to HIDE from Mac OSX.
  • When you are completed, press CONTROL-O, press ENTER
  • Press CONTROL-X to exit pico.
  • Reboot.
Now you have happily installed Mac OSX, XP64, Vista 64, and Windows 7 64 on your Mac. ¬†You’ll want to finish each install by going into device manager and ensuring that all drivers have been installed. ¬†On the Vista and Windows 7 partitions, you can use the MAC OSX CD to install the Boot Camp control panel and remaining drivers. ¬†When all is said and done, you’ll have four absolutely clean and segregated installations, and one sweet running rig.