Archive for August, 2011

Samsung External DVD Writer Review

Recently, I found that I could find uses for an optical drive on my new 2011 Mac mini, so I set out to find one.  Apple has a very svelt looking unit, but it had some bad reviews, and was a touch pricey at almost $80.  It was nice looking though.

I picked up the Samsung SE-SO84D Ultra-Slim External DVD Writer (Silver) for just under $40 before shipping.

It’s an extremely small unit, and it pops open just by touching a slightly indented section of the front.  It’s not a slot loader, like the Apple unit, but loads by way of a tray.  It doesn’t have a separate power brick, but a Y USB cable, with two ends to attach to available USB ports.  I attached the middle connector to my 24″ Apple Cinema Display monitor, and it provided enough power for the unit, so I didn’t need to attach the second connector (though I’ve read that some people do end up needing both connectors to power the unit).

Compatibility:  Since I believe Samsung has produced some of the SuperDrives Apple has used in the past, it isn’t a suprise to me to find that the Samsung drive was recognized right away by Mac OS, and (so far) has performed as well as the drive included in any of my previous Macs.

Design:  I’ll put it in a way anyone over 35 should understand…  Apple = Ginger.  Samsung = Mary Ann.  For those under 35, that means the Apple drive is sexier, but the Samsung drive isn’t bad either.

Quality:  This Samsung drive doesn’t seem as sturdy as I’d expect the Apple drive to be, but since I’m not throwing it into a laptop bag to jet around the country, it’s probably plenty sturdy enough for my use.

Noise:  This drive isn’t quiet, but rather very loud when spinning up a disk.  This is another point that I’d expect the Apple drive to win on, but considering my occasional use, I can live with the noise.

Price:  Samsung wins this one, hands down.  You could just about buy 2 of these for the price of one Apple drive.

So, of the 5 criteria I’ve covered, the Apple drive won on three (design, quality, and noise), we had one draw (compatibility), and Samsung won big on one (price).

I’d suggest that anyone looking for an external drive should seriously look at this Samsung unit, especially if it’s destined for only occasional use, and will live on a stationary surface.  For the money, it’s hard to beat.

August 17, 2011 at 5:48 pm Leave a comment

Apple: The Remote Disk feature isn’t enough

I’m using a new 2011 Mac Mini.  It’s the one without an optical drive.  When I need to use an optical device, I’m supposed to put it in another computer and access it across the network.  The first time I did this, it was to rip a DVD, and it worked great.  I was actually a little shocked by how well it worked, honestly.

A few days later, I went to rip another one.  It didn’t work so well.  I’m guessing it had some sort of copy protection on it or something.  A few days later I tried a different DVD and had the same lousy results.

While you may not need an optical drive to install software often, and the Remote Disk feature may work fine for that, there are still other reasons to have a real optical drive…

August 17, 2011 at 5:22 pm Leave a comment

Running Snow Leopard under VMware Fusion 3.1.3 on Lion

I found this post telling you how to run a Mac OS VM (client, not server) which has been updated quite a few times as VMware has changed their detection mechanism.  Hopefully, since Apple changed the licensing to allow clients to run virtualized, VMware will allow this without workarounds in the next version.

Anyhow, way down in the comments, SirB posted the most current method that works.  I’m placing it here for posterity, as I’ve just followed it and it worked just fine (though I did not have to do steps 8-10).  The only additional thing I did was set my networking as Bridged, not the default of NAT.  After appearing to work with NAT to start with, I later couldn’t connect to Apple’s update servers as I was trying to update my VM to 10.6.8.

————  The original post follows ————–

KR’ and some findings of my own … Working for an iMac running Lion 10.7.0 and VMware Fusion 3.1.3 as host system.

How to create a virtual Mac OS X 10.6 (“client”) machine using VMware Fusion 3.1.3. These instructions were cobbled together from previous posts with a lot of trial-and-error:

1. Quit VMware Fusion3 if running.
2. Apply the darwin patch as follows in terminal:

sudo bash;

cd “/Library/Application Support/VMware Fusion”;
tar cvf IsoImages.tar ./isoimages;

cd “/Library/Application Support/VMware Fusion/isoimages”;
mkdir original;
mv darwin.iso *.sig ./original;
perl -n -p -e ‘s/ServerVersion.plist/SystemVersion.plist/g’ < ./original/darwin.iso > ./darwin.iso;
openssl genrsa -out tools-priv.pem 2048;
openssl rsa -in tools-priv.pem -pubout -out;
openssl dgst -sha1 -sign tools-priv.pem < darwin.iso > darwin.iso.sig;
for A in *.iso ; do openssl dgst -sha1 -sign tools-priv.pem < $A > $A.sig ; done;

3. Create a fake Mac OS X Server install disk from a Mac OS X Snow Leopard install disk (retail version) as follows:

————- HINT to read carefully:
————- choosing your DVD *DEVICE* in Disk Utility,
————- and *NOT* the CD Image (icon) of the
————- ‘Mac OS X Install DVD’ in the column browser
————- is *CRUCIAL* to making this work

– Insert Mac OS X Snow Leopard install disk into your optical drive.
– Launch Disk Utility, select the device for your optical drive (note that this is NOT the Mac OS X install disk, but rather the device that has mounted it; the device should be named something like “HL-DT-ST DVD-RW GH41N”).
– From Disk Utility’s File menu, choose “New > Disk Image from [device]” from the File menu, set the image format to “DVD/CD master” and create the disk image.
– Mount the new disk image and turn it into a fake Mac OS X Server install disk with the following command in Terminal:

touch “/Volumes/Mac OS X Install DVD/System/Library/CoreServices/ServerVersion.plist”

4. Create a new virtual machine in VMware Fusion. I chose Mac OS X Server 10.6 64-bit as the type, but I suspect any type will work. Select the disk image from step 3 as the OS disk image.

5. Allow VMware Fusion to create your virtual machine and install Mac OS X Server 10.6 (really just your regular version of Mac OS X). After installation completes, the new virtual machine will boot and give you the “guest operating system is not Mac OS X Server” error. Let it shut down and proceed to the next step.

6. Choose “Show Package Contents” on virtual machine file for the machine created in step 4, then edit the vmx config file and change the firmware = “efi” line to firmware = “bios” (commenting this line out will NOT work).

7. Launch VMware Fusion once again and start your virtual machine. You’ll now be prompted by Mac OS X to create your administrator’s account. Have fun with your new Mac OS X virtual machine!

8. I created a VM. I had to edit the .vmx file to show ide0 instead of scsi1 for the CD image. It would not boot from a SCSI cd it said. I had to leave the firmware as “efi” .

9. On Intel iMac enter the “darwin_snow.iso” as boot image file for this virtual Snow Leopard Machine in VMware’s 1st CDROM/DVD config.

10. To Install VMware tools, use VMware menu “Virtual machine”, alternatively mount darwin.iso to the second DVD/CD drive and run the installation. Restart the VM.

11. Finally increase screen resolution.

August 13, 2011 at 5:50 pm 8 comments


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