Thursday, April 23, 2009

In Praise of Multi-Boot

I use a tool named System Commander to allow multi-booting. I recently ran into an interesting reason why multi-booting is very useful. I have heard comments that virtual machines make multi-booting almost unnecessary. I disagree. I have a PC that I upgraded numerous times. It started out as a 486 to give you an idea of how long I have had this. I don’t think anything is left of the original Gateway 486. As disk drives became less and less expensive I copied the images of the operating system over to new drives. I configured the system with three separate operating systems: Windows 2000, Windows XP, and Windows Server 2003. Using System Command the computer normally boots up into Windows XP but I have the option of booting up into old Windows 2000 or into Windows Server 2003. On a side note, when I boot up Windows 2003 I then run VMware server and have several VMs. Sometime last summer, the sound out of the system started to act a little strange. There were pops, clicks, and stutters when playing music on Windows XP. I believe two different things causes issues with the sound system. First the sound card may have started to die. Second, one of Window XP innumerable updates may have cause the problem. True to form, the sound completely died. I swapped out the sound card with another slightly different one. After reinstalling the drivers on all three operating systems, I have great sound on two of them: Windows 2000 and Windows Server 2003. But Windows XP still has pops, clicks, and stutters. This means the problem is not with the sound card, but with Windows XP. It does not solve the problem, but it eliminates one possibility. Besides being able to switch operating systems, System Commander has the ability to repartition many disk formats. It is interesting that only Windows XP is affected. I considered installing Windows Vista. But I did not have the disk space.

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