SysAdmin: Installing Windows Server 2008 x64 on a Macbook Pro

Sunday, August 31, 2008

security01.pngMy trusty old gigantic Sony Vaio is about 4 years old. It served me well and still works but it’s about to become my main development machine for the next couple of months and I can’t afford to have it die on me during that time.
It was time to get something as gigantic and more up-to-date in terms of technology.

I use VMware on my main desktop to keep multiple OS setups that match typical configurations of my customer’s machines.
This allows me to test my software before deployment and make sure everything works as expected. It saved me many times from strange bugs and I would consider these final tests to be a mandatory step before deployment.
My old trusty vaio would be hard pressed to run any of these without slowing down to a crawl.

I looked at some possible replacements. Initially I checked Lenovo’s offerings but they don’t seem to offer anything in large screen size (WUXGA 1920×1200) (Note, actually, they have, but not really for me).
Dito for Dell, not counting their humongous XPS M1730 luggable gaming machine that was wayyy over the top as a work computer, not to mention probably heavier than its volume in pure gold.

On a hint from a friend I checked out Apple’s online store and saw they had a nice Macbook Pro configuration. I went to check it out in the retail store close to my office and they had that exact specification in stock, so, in what must have been the highest rated expense/time-to-think ratio of any decision I ever took, well, I bought it…

The spec, some bragging rights:

  • Macbook Pro 17″
  • Core Duo T9500 2.6GHz processor
  • nVidia 8600M GT 512MB graphics card
  • 200GB 7200rpm drive
  • Kingston 4GB DDR2 667MHz RAM
  • Hi Resolution 17″ 1920×1200 glossy screen

It’s a very nice machine, Apple knows how to make nice hardware, there is no question there.
OSX has some cool features, some of them still a bit foreign to me and some minor annoyances are creeping up, like Thunderbird’s not picking up my system date and time settings and displaying the date in the wrong format (a pet peeve of me), probably not Apple’s fault but annoying nonetheless.
So far so good and while I don’t mind using OSX for my browsing, email and creative stuff, that machine is meant to be running Windows Server 2008 x64 as a development platform.

Why Windows Server 2008 x64?

Well, it has some excellent features, a smaller footprint than Vista, all the aero eye candy, is apparently noticeably faster than Vista and has none of the nagging security prompt (you are considered administrator though, so keeping safe is entirely up to you).
The 64 bit version can also address the full 4GB of RAM without limitation and all server features are optionally installable.
By default, the installation is actually pretty minimal and you have to set services and options to get Windows configured as a proper workstation. It is after all, meant to be a server.
Oh, I almost forgot that there is also support for HyperV, although you must make sure you download the right version (if you list all available downloads in your MSDN subscription, you’ll see some that are explicitly without that technology).

Installing Windows Server 2008 x64 is remarkably easy.

  • Get your hands on the ISO from your MSDN subscription or an install DVD from somewhere else (like a MS event, or even as a free 240 days download from Microsoft).
  • You’ll need to repackage the ISO as it won’t work properly (something to do with non-standard file naming options).
    It’s fairly easy if you follow the instructions from Jowie’s website (cached version): you can get the ImgBurn software for free as well, which is a good find in itself. It should’t take more than 30 minutes to repackage the DVD.
  • In OSX, go to Applications > Utilities > Boot camp and follow the instructions on screen.
    You will be able to resize the default partition by just moving the slider. I left 60GB for OSX and allocated the rest to Windows. The good thing is that OSX can read Windows partitions, so you can always store data there. Windows however, can’t read the HFS+ mac file system, although there are some third-party tools that can do it [1] [2] [3].
  • Insert your repackaged DVD and Bootcamp will have rebooted the machine.
    After a few minutes of blank screen (and no HDD activity light to let you know something is happening), windows setup launches.
  • You will be then prompted with the choice of partition to install to.
    Select the one named BOOTCAMP, then click the advanced options button and click format. From there one, windows will install everything, then reboot, then carry on installing, then reboot one last time.
  • Now, insert your OSX recovery CD 1. It should automatically launch the driver installation.
    Once done, you’ll reboot to a nice, full-resolution windows prompt.
  • All drivers will have been installed correctly except the one for Bluetooth. To easily solve that issue, just go to Spencer Harbar’s website and read how to install the Bluetooth drivers. Takes 5 minutes tops.

The final touches

A few notes to quickly get things running as expected.

  • Get the most of your configuration by following the list of tweaks from Vijayshinva Karnure from Microsoft India.
  • There are more tweaks, and even more tweaks available as well (don’t forget to enable Superfetch).
  • Microsoft has a whole KB entry on enabling user experience.
  • In the Control Panel > System > Advanced System Settings > Advanced > Settings > Advanced > Processor scheduling, set to Programs instead of Background services.
  • Activate your copy of Windows using Control Panel > System.
    I was getting an error code 0x8007232B DNS name does not exist error. To force activation, just click on the Change Product Key button and re-enter the same key you used during install.
    Windows will activate straight away.
  • When booting your Macbook, press the Option key and you will be presented a list of boot choices.
  • You can check on Apple’s Bootcamp webpage other information about how to use the track pad, keyboard layouts etc,

References

Entry Filed under  :  MSAccess,Programming,Software,sysadmin

21 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Guti  |  August 31st, 2008 at 11:32 pm

    Very nice article. How is the overall performance of 2008 on that system?

  • 2. Renaud  |  September 3rd, 2008 at 1:04 pm

    Hi Guti, so far not too bad. The only drawback I’ve found at the moment is that booting time could do with some improvements and that if the HyperV role is selected you can’t have sleep or hibernate any longer.
    I hope to find a solution to the sleep issue, I don;t like to have to either leave the laptop on or shut it down when I’m not using it.

    The other thing that works pretty well is using VMware Fusion. It’s now in RC and can be downloaded for free.
    I am amazed that it actually works so well from OSX without messing with the original setup.
    So I can still boot natively using bootcamp or launch W2k8 from VMWare without problem.

  • 3. Jimmy  |  October 8th, 2008 at 11:21 pm

    Jowie’s website is down. I was wondering if you could tell me the steps needed to change the file. I have the iso for Windows Server 2008 32 bit if that matters. It is going on a std. macbook.

  • 4. Renaud  |  October 9th, 2008 at 2:43 pm

    It seems that Jowie’s website has changed its URL format but the posts are still there.

    Edited 15OCT2008: I have added a cached version of the page in case this happens again.

  • 5. Anonymous  |  October 9th, 2008 at 3:32 pm

    hi, i am a OSX user. First, I would like to thank you for the instructions. They are very helpful.

    I have a question on booting OSX. It seems like the default boot is windows server 2008 and not OSX, and it would be painful for me to hold option every single time.

    thank you for reading

  • 6. Renaud  |  October 9th, 2008 at 8:23 pm

    Use the Bootcamp control Panel in Windows to define the default booting operating system.

  • 7. Bilal  |  October 26th, 2008 at 11:06 pm

    hi there. i just installed windows 2008 64 bit on my 15″ macbook pro. i cannot get my wireless to work, its not picking up the drivers from the boot camp disk. i downloaded the latest bootcamp with 64bit driver support but still not picking up the wirless driver. bluettoth seems to have installed ok. any ideas please, im lost… thanks guys.

  • 8. Renaud  |  October 26th, 2008 at 11:24 pm

    @Bilal: the wireless adapter in my MacBookPro is a “Broadcom 802.11n Network Adapter”. Make sure that the driver you got from Apple is for this chip only. If a driver is already installed and not working, try just deleting it from the device manager then re-install it.
    You can also try to force the installation under the device manager by forcing an update and navigating to the actual drivers on your CD or the ones you downloaded.

    Another thing, if there is no support yet for your particular chipset from Apple, try to get one from the chipset manufacturer’s website or from another vendor like Dell or HP which may use the exact same chip.

  • 9. Bilal  |  October 28th, 2008 at 9:52 pm

    thanks Renaud, i will try that tonight. in my device manager it just says unknown device as it was unable to find the driver on the bootcamp disk. i will try downloading the driver from another site and try that. will let you know how it goes.

  • 10. willisss  |  November 18th, 2008 at 8:25 pm

    hello. seems like a really good idea to put WS2K8 onto my MBP. I’ve been reading http://www.win2008workstation.com and it all looks like it’s gonna be good.

    Would just like to ask if you have had any issues with the 2.1 bootcamp drivers?

    thanks,

    rich

  • 11. Renaud  |  November 19th, 2008 at 9:48 am

    @Williss: I’m using the 2.1 Boot Camp drivers and I have not had much trouble so far.
    The main kink was with Bluetooth but I solved it using the references in the article.

    One thing to note: not all MBP use the same hardware so things that work or don’t work for me may well turn out a different way for you.

    I’d say just try it: create a separate partition that you can always delete if things don’t work out as expected. At worse, it was a waste of your time.

    I’m very happy with Windows Server 2008. It’s really Vista done right and on my Macbook it’s really pleasant and fast to use.
    Now you may temper this with my thoughts on the Macbook in the follow-up article I wrote a few weeks ago…

  • 12. Chris Caswell  |  December 24th, 2008 at 3:36 pm

    I’ve tried to make sense of the instructions and I ended up wasting two DVD-Rs. I’m not sure what I’m doing wrong, are there any other articles describing how I am to make the ISO so that bootcamp will recognize it?

    Thanks

  • 13. Chris Caswell  |  December 24th, 2008 at 3:39 pm

    Or better yet… could anyone link me to or help me find a ready-made ISO that bootcamp would recognize?

  • 14. Renaud  |  December 24th, 2008 at 4:41 pm

    @Chris: sorry Chris but I haven’t got anything better than the instructions on jowie’s website.
    Did you use ImgBurn? If not, try doing it again on a R/W using ImgBurn so you don’t waste any more discs.

  • 15. Chris Caswell  |  December 24th, 2008 at 5:35 pm

    Yeah, I tried to follow the instructions as best as i could, but I had a hard time seeing how one step led into the next and how everything came together in the end. An RW would definitely be a good idea.

  • 16. vNext  |  March 5th, 2009 at 5:20 am

    This is encouraging and discouraging at the same time. I have a MBP very similar to yours in terms of specs but I have had a heck of a time getting things to work. Even after hours of tinkering, I still have three devices that simply won’t work and I have no idea what they are. I have downloaded about every Bootcamp driver package I can find and there is no solution. I read online and everyone with Vista x64 seems to be fine but I don’t want Vista.

    I wish there was something I can do. Do you have any ideas?

  • 17. Markku  |  September 27th, 2009 at 10:11 pm

    Hi,

    And thanks for grat guide lines.

    I’ve been running dual boot with Windows Server 2008 for a while now on my MacBook Pro 17″. Initially I tried to install R2 RC1 but it refused to run bootcamp 2.1 so I stayed with WS 2k8.

    Now I’m thinking of upgrading to R2 and I’ve also upgraded to Snow Leopard so I have Bootcamp 3.0.

    Anyone tried to install Bootcamp 3.0 under Windows Server 2008 R2 RTM?

    I do not dare install R2 before I know I’m able to scuccessfully install Bootcamp 3.0 from within R2.

  • 18. Anonymos  |  November 11th, 2010 at 3:54 am

    This might be slightly offtopic, but: You can change the way OS X displays date/time in System Preferences -> Language & Text -> Formats

  • 19. internal drive prices  |  June 15th, 2013 at 2:12 pm

    Unquestionably the top very good reasons that will often corrupt a real hard drive will be disease attack, file system corruption, products hassles yet others. Your own software concoction proposals one particular go of features exactly like holding multiple submit types of and so systems pertaining to recuperating exterior products.

  • 20. Frank  |  June 24th, 2013 at 6:41 am

    I have nothing called Boot Camp on the MacbookPro I purchased. I have Boot Camp Assistant. Is it the same thing? It doesn’t permit anything other than Windows 7 or later to be installed.

  • 21. Jon Paulson  |  September 12th, 2013 at 8:30 am

    These tips actually came in handly as I rebuilt an old machine lying around the office last week. Thanks.

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Renaud This is a simple technical weblog where I dump thoughts and experiences from my computer-related world.
It is mostly focused on software development but I also have wider interests and dabble in architecture, business and system administration.
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