A little further down the road

Okay, it has been a while.

A few things have kept me away from my blog. One of these was my Windows machine finally deciding to croak. The only real problem with this was that I was still using it for editing my photos in Photoshop CS2!

Earlier in the year when I first got my Mac Mini I did a few comparisons. I ran the demo of the Mac version of CS2, which isn’t Intel native. Adobe have stated that Photoshop will not be native for Intel Macs until CS3 sometime in 2007. I also tried out Parallels Desktop, a virtual PC solution for Intel Macs, and Boot Camp - the official Apple method of booting an Intel Mac into Windows.

I was used to fairly snappy CS2 performance on my Windows PC, and although the Mac version was usable running under Rosetta (the PowerPC emulation layer employed by Apple to maintain backwards compatibility), well, I couldn’t see much point when I could carry on running it on my PC.

Boot Camp ran the Windows version of CS2 wonderfully. No complaints there. However it is a pain having to reboot from one OS to another and back again every time you want to do a bit of photo work. There was also the issue of having to ‘sacrifice’ quite a large chunk of my Mac Mini’s somewhat limited hard drive space for a Windows partition. This would have to be a fairly large partition to store my photos. I would be able to access the Windows partition from OS X, but I couldn’t access the OS X partition from Windows without purchasing more software. So, although CS2 ran very well - I decided it was too much of a pain.

Parallels looked very promising. I could just start up a Windows PC from within OS X and switch between the operating systems pretty smoothly. However impressed I was, I decided that as I would have to spend money on Parallels and I already had a real Windows PC sat under my desk, I might as well just carry on using it. So I did.

Meanwhile Parallels came out of Beta and the cost of registering the software went up quite a bit.

And then my Windows box died.

I spoke to Adobe about transferring my Windows CS2 license to Mac. Quite easy to do, just send them the invoices / receipts and license codes, along with a cheque for £6 to cover shipping. However, it would mean that I could no longer run Photoshop on my Windows laptop. Their license lets you install Photoshop on up to 2 machines, as long as they aren’t being used simultaneously. There was also the performance issue to be considered, it really felt quite laggy to me under Rosetta, especially after the performance I was used to from my defunct Windows machine.

So, maybe I could just carry on using CS2 on my Windows laptop? Humm, yes, but Linda and Shelly both use that laptop a lot and it would be a pain to either have to stop them from using it or waiting until nobody was using it.

So, back to Parallels Desktop.

It really looked to be the best option. Photoshop ran faster under Parallels than the Mac version did with Rosetta. I could keep all my photos in the Mac file structure and reference them from Windows on the virtual machine via Parallels’ ‘shared folders’ feature, or via normal Windows networking. I could boot into Windows and do a bit of photo work without having to shut down OS X and I could carry on having CS2 installed on the laptop!

So that’s the way I went. It did mean a bit of financial outlay on registering Parallels but I think it’s a good investment. In addition to letting me run CS2 under Windows XP it lets me easily play around with other operating systems with great ease. I’ve had OS/2 Warp 3 running on it, I’ve had various flavours of Linux running on it - and when I get bored I can just zap the virtual machine.

Another bonus of all of this was that I was able to start clearing away all my old PC kit. It took up a lot of room compared to the Mac Mini - well, so do most things I guess! I’ve got a neater, tidier, quieter and just plain nicer environment to work in now. I have space on my desk - yes, I can actually see the wood in places.

So, to bring this rather lengthy post to a conclusion - I’m even more impressed than ever with my Mac Mini. Such a great little box. I can’t recommend them highly enough!

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