I just updated my Macbook Pro, removing the Super Drive and adding an SSD, following this awesome, concise and precise video.

It was as good a time as any to refresh everything.

Here’s the result:

CHOOSE!

These are a few of my favorite things…

Here are my highlights (cautionary tales, really) from the experience. I’m not taking the time to do a full writeup, since it was a specific upgrade, not a clean install, but add a comment if you have a specific question for me.

In the Mac world, things went fairly smoothly, as usual, but there I just did a new install of Mavericks on a new partition of the SSD, so there wasn’t much to go wrong. From Lion, I added a partition on the ssd using Disk Utilities, I got Mavericks from the App Store (for free, thanks Apple!), and during installation, I clicked “show extra drives” and chose the new SSD. Easy as pie.

REFit has been the glue that binds all these OSes together, and REFind has taken over maintenance and is doing a great job. I installed that next, from a Mavericks terminal, using the simple [./install.sh] method. One thing of note, make sure you copy the drivers you need from the installation directory to /EFI/refind/drivers_x64 right away, or you will be lacking in boot options. I used ext2, ext4, hfs+, iso.

Windows 7 has been fine so far, and everyone, EVERYONE I know who has tried it hates Windows 8. So let’s upgrade! Seriously, I had heard 8.1 was a slight improvement. After using it for a while, I actually LIKE it, and I never say that about Microsoft products. You can hit Esc to get out of the nightmare that is the tile-based flash-like default desktop. Once you get your “good old fashioned” desktop back to working the way you like, you might actually like the silly tile thing – there is worse software out there, for sure.

But just so I don’t lose my edge, I should add that Windows 8.1 was a huge waste of time. I installed 8.1 over 7 as an upgrade, and it apparently left my files in place, EXCEPT FOR INSTALLED APPLICATIONS, which completely disappeared without a warning and no trace was left. Like a bad magic trick. Oh, and using Windows to format ANY partition will take liberties with the first partition, TRASHING IT COMPLETELY, which forced me to reinstall Mavericks. Asses.

So I took the time to update to Visual Studio 2013, which will have much-improved C++11 support anyway. That requires this SDK as well, by the way.

The default out-of-the-box Windows 8.1 drivers for my “MacBook Pro 17-inch, Mid 2009″ were pretty sucky – as in, YOU CAN’T RIGHT-CLICK AND THE FUNCTION KEY DOESN’T WORK doh (thanks Microsoft – the games these people play at our expense are endless). Getting the bootcamp drivers was a barrel of fun. To sum up, I tried 4-5 flavors of the bootcamp windows drivers, and all of them failed. The more recent ones gave a message that “this macbook is not compatible”. Thanks Apple, but no I am not buying a new laptop every two years. Finally I went back far enough (Bootcamp 4.0.4033) and got a different message “this version of bootcamp requires Windows 7″ from within Windows 8.1. So that failed too. BUT… when it finished failing, Windows 8.1 threw me a bone and asked if I wanted to try installing in “Compatibility Mode”. And like Luke threading the needle and destroying the Death Star… I got my drivers.

In linux, Ubuntu went fairly smoothly, using REFind, which has come a long way since I last got mad at it and reverted to REFit during my last quad-boot post. Seems to find everything! Ubuntu 13.10 seemed to trash my Windows boot record though, now I have to go through the Ubuntu grub menu instead of directly booting from the REFind menu, until I figure out a fix. Also in the cons column, you STILL have to add this stupid hard-to-remember line to your kernel load line (after removing “–“) to get Ubuntu live (or initial installation) to boot, until you get the proprietary binary nvidia driver installed:

nouveau.noaccel=1

Gentoo – ahh gentoo – copied over the files and kernel – and just keep on going. Wahoo. And then I updated both gentoo and ubuntu to direct boot from EFI following the typically excellent docs. It. Blazes.

UPDATE: wow that was horrible. Getting Windows moved to the ssd took a beta copy of WinClone, and that only worked after I moved all my partitions around to ensure that the Windows one was NUMBER FOUR EXACTLY. Ouch. And, in classic technology form, as soon as I got everything Just About Perfect… the cat jumped up on the laptop and caused me to spill a whole glass of water on it… and now the left Shift is sticking… Apple wants $1250 to fix… there’s a sweatshop in NYC that will do it for $200, if I ship them my laptop… lord have mercy…

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