Learning Experience: Attempting to Transfer a Windows 7 Install to Boot Camp (PC to Mac)

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Source System
Lenovo Notebook
SSD Hard Drive
Windows 7

Target System
MacBook Pro (Late 2013, 13.3″ with Retina Display)
SSD Hard Drive
Boot Camp

For the more literal folks, I apologize. I realize that a Mac is actually a PC but for the sake of simplicity I added it to the title so everyone would understand what I was trying to do.

I recently needed to transfer a Windows 7 install from a Lenovo notebook over to a MacBook Pro Bootcamp partition. I need to make it clear that this project was not a success. However, I have learned a few things that others will find useful. In addition, had I followed some advice available in a blog post it’s possible that it would have worked. After all, I did succeed in migrating the partition over and it did attempt to boot…

This particular transfer was a bit more challenging due to the fact that both systems use SSD drives. As a result, I couldn’t simply pull a drive and execute more direct partition clones.

Should you be considering such a move then a good place to begin is a blog post by twocanoes titled Migrating a Real PC to Boot Camp with Winclone 4. Basically, this is the advice I did not follow. Now, my reason for not following it wasn’t irrational. I was very concerned that I’d run Sysprep before cloning, only to then discover that it simply wouldn’t work. Perhaps if I hadn’t been trying to do this quickly I could have attempted this while also having a good fallback clone of the partition made BEFORE running Sysprep or any other changes (and it did not turn out quickly – I spent more time trying to make this work than I did simply starting with a fresh Windows 7 Bootcamp install).

So, once again, I’m confident that I could have succeeded in this endeavor had I followed the advice from twocanoes. However, even though I wasted a lot of time I did learn a few valuable things along the way.

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Scrolling Content in MS Windows without Focus (KatMouse)

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I’ve continue to keep one foot in the MS Windows world and the other in the Apple OS X world for several years. At home I primarily use Macs though I also had a Windows server and I still use a VM to run some Windows-only software. At work I was using OS X as my primary system though I recently switched to a Windows 7 system (note that I still use Macs for other purposes). Even when I used a Mac at work as my primary system I still used several Windows VMs.

Since moving to a Windows system as my main work computer I’ve found a few small ways to continuing using some of the features of OS X that I really like. One of those features is the ability to scroll content in a window that doesn’t have focus.

For those of you not familiar with this capability, it allows one to move a mouse cursor over a window that doesn’t have focus but does have content that can be scrolled. Instead of clicking to give the window focus in OS X I could simply scroll the content using the mouse wheel (or the multi-touch features of a Magic Mouse or trackpad). It may not seem like a big deal but it actually saves a little bit of time and effort over the course of a day when working across multiple monitors. I quickly realized that lacking this feature subtly disrupted my efficiency.

Fortunately, I was able to find a free utility that adds this feature to Windows. It’s named KatMouse and is managed by Eduard Hiti. I encourage anyone that finds this tool useful to donate to the author.

KatMouse

Moving from mControl 3 (Windows) to Indigo 6 (OS X) for Home Automation

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Indigo-6

The Short Version: I moved VPN, home automation control, and video recording from an ASUS eeeBox PC (Windows) to my iMac (OS X Mountain Lion). VPN was changed from PPTP to L2TP using iVPN to control the server. Video recording is with the same program (Vitamin D Video Pro) using the same license. mControl was dropped and I’m now using Indigo 6 to control everything.

For home automation control I’ve been running mControl over the past few years. The development team rarely updated the software but rather than invest in a different package I went ahead and upgraded to version 3 when it was released. The software was running on an ASUS system I had setup at the house for managing home automation and security video recording.

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Accessing Windows 7 VPN Server When DHCP Fails (PPTP)

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The Short Version: If your VPN client fails to obtain an IP address via DHPC when connecting to a Windows 7 VPN server using PPTP, it may be possible to connect to the server over RDP by accessing it at 169.254.128.230 if your client is assigned an IP in the same network range.

Last night I was logged into my Windows 7 desktop system back home, which runs my home automation software and acts as a VPN server. I recently had to setup the VPN server again and was trying to troubleshoot the problem of VPN clients not receiving DNS server addresses from the server.

At one point I changed the server configuration from providing a specific range of IP addresses to instead provide IPs via DHCP. After making this change I could still connect to the VPN but my client received a 169.254.128.x address and I could no longer access the server over RDP at the previous address.

I was accustomed to thinking of the 169.254.x.x range as being a sign of a problem and not as a useable network range so I kept trying to access the original, internal network via various methods (trying to override my VPN client assigned IP, using a virtual machine with a shared network connection but on the original network). I even tried to RDP to 169.254.128.1 but it also failed.

Finally, at some point I realized that there was an entry for a default gateway in my VPN client settings. In my case it was pointing to 169.254.128.230. I’m not sure if this is always the case.

When I entered this address into the RDP client I was able to connect and then set the server back to distributing the specific range of IP addresses that were previously defined, instead of using DHCP.

I haven’t resolved the original problem but I was able to get back into the machine and restore the VPN setting.

mControl 3 Activation Problem – License File

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Our house experienced a power surge caused by a nearby lightning strike that damaged one of our A/C units along with a few other devices. Today I figured out that it damaged the network ports on the Airport Extreme Base Station along with the ethernet port on the ASUS system, which is my home automation server.

Fortunately, the ASUS box also has wireless so I was able to shift all of the network services over to the wifi adapter. I had to re-establish the built-in VPN server, among other annoyances. Since the ethernet port was no longer usable I decided to disable it in Windows 7.

Well, that caused a stupid problem.

mControl 3 has activation. I’m not a fan of activation.

I noticed the service was no longer working and wouldn’t start. When I viewed mControl’s log I saw the following message every time I attempted to start it:

The Installation Code of the license file does not match with Code 2. Please contact your System Administrator.
mServer License Code=Hacked/Hacker, Ver=.

My version isn’t hacked. I paid the commercial price (less because it was an upgrade from a previous version that I had also paid for). At first I thought that perhaps the license information was damaged but then I remembered that I had disabled the ethernet port and I noticed that there were some entries in the log during the activation check that hinted toward a check of the network device.

I re-enabled the built-in ethernet port. Sure enough, the software passed the activation check and started up. It seems to use a hardware identifier that’s part of the network card for activation.

 

 

 

 

Windows 7 Boot Camp Partition Won’t Start (OS X Lion)

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The Short Version: I fixed the problem by running the “Repair Disk” option in Disk Utility.

I attempted to boot into Windows 7 (Boot Camp partition) but it failed. Instead, the system restarted back into OS X. I knew I had a working partition and had used it recently. Rather than search for tips I went straight into Disk Utility in OS X, clicked on my primary hard drive, and selected “Repair Disk”.

The process only took a moment and in the report it showed that the Windows boot.ini file was updated.

I started the Windows partition back up and this time it worked.

mControl v3 Upgrade

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Embedded Automation has officially released version 3 of mControl. There are several changes including new modules that can be purchased individually to additional features. Based on what I’ve seen it appears that the Base version, available for $170, includes almost everything that version 2 came with.

I wasn’t thrilled about the price until I learned that owners of previous versions of mControl can get an upgrade discount of $150, cutting the price down to only $20! Tonight I submitted my request and mControl 2 license and plan to purchase the upgrade as soon as the discount is available under my account.

For more information about upgrading there is a guide available on their store product page.

Updated 10/04/2011: Last night I purchased my upgrade license, which was only $20 after the discount. The only problem I had was applying the new license. I had to delete the license key file that I used with the beta version before I could re-install mControl 3 and apply the new license.