Three weeks with a MacBook Pro laptop

MacBook Pro laptop

I have been using my MacBook Pro for the past three weeks. The MacBook Pro is a great laptop, perfectly suited for development work. The laptop delivers incredible performance, thanks to its Core Duo Intel CPU and the high-end ATI X1600 graphics chip. After using an iBook G3 for the past four years, I am simply blown away by how fast things get done with this new laptop. What used to take minutes (for example, restarting Tomcat 5.5 under NetBeans 5.0) now completes in a matter of seconds. The boost in performance has put the fun back in programming as I now spend more time actually writing and testing code than waiting for the computer to complete an operation.

Comparing the MacBook Pro to an oldish iBook G3 is like comparing apples to oranges, some may say. And, they would be right. However, other people who have been using Powerbooks and faster laptops are just as amazed as I am by their new MacBook Pro laptops. Geert Bevin reports that his newish Acer Ferrari laptop is shamed by the performance of the MacBook Pro. Apparently, the latter compiles his programs about 30% faster than the former.

Developers had to make the switch to Mac OS X in order to use a Mac in the past; now, with an Intel CPU driving the MacBook Pro and the possibility to run Windows on it, they no longer have an excuse not to switch. With the MacBook Pro dual-booting Mac OS X and Windows, they have the best of both world: the availability of Windows software and the build quality of Apple hardware and the robustness of Mac OS X.

If you are looking for a new laptop, you should seriously consider the MacBook Pro.

Boot Camp for Mac OS X on Intel-based Macs

Apple recently released the Public Beta of Boot Camp for Mac OS X. Boot Camp allows owners of Intel-based Apple computers to install and run Windows XP on their hardware without having to apply the hacks described in many a webcast available on the net.

By allowing Windows XP to boot on its hardware, Apple is offering a very attractive alternative to other PC-compatible computers. People will be more inclined to invest in its products with the knowledge that they can benefit from Apple’s renowned product quality while still having access to their favourite Windows software.

This release is also very welcome by software development specialists. Developers can now use a single platform to develop and test software for both Windows and Mac OS X. Many programming languages, such as Java and PHP, are avaialble for both operating systems. With this release from Apple, programmers can now switch seamless from one to the other.

While hackers have been successful at running Windows XP on the MacBook Pro, the Intel iMac and the Intel Mac Mini for some time, it is widely known that the procedure is not for the neophyte. Also, some applications, such as certain communication software, have been reported as not working properly. With Boot Camp, Apple is now officialising its support for Windows XP, which also means that better support will soon be available for third party software.

To install Boot Camp on his Mac, a user will need to have the latest version of Mac OS X Tiger (10.4.6, downloadable from Software Update) and the latest firmwarre (available from the downloads section of the Apple web site). Boot Camp also requires at least 10 GB of free hard disk space, a CD to burn it on and the original Windows XP installation disk.

The Public Beta designation of Boot Camp should sound a cautionary bell to users, though. The software is still prone to errors that could result in data loss and the need for complicated data recovery procedures. Already some users have reported problems with Boot Camp, including Mac OS X not booting after Windows XP has been installed. As always, the recommendation is to wait for more feedback to come in before installing it on your own Mac.