Boot Camp: Last Resort

In my endless configuration with my computer set-up, I ran into my second major issue with Boot Camp, and managed to find a working solution worth documenting. Starting with a single Mac OS X Leopard volume, Boot Camp Assistant kept failing and reporting “not enough space left on device” while attempting to live-partition my hard drive into two partitions for OS X and Windows (newer versions of Mac OS X can partition hard drives while booted, without any formatting). However, I had over 50% of the drive’s capacity free, so there should have been lots of space left on the drive. Clearly something was amiss…

Having started out with computers as a relatively old school Mac user — one who had to backup and erase a hard drive to partition it — I was immediately suspicious of the new-ish live-partition tool. To work around that, I tried booting the Leopard DVD and running Disk Utility from the Utilities menu, then partitioning the drive using that method. Again, I was met failure, but with an ambiguous “partition error” on which Disk Utility did not elaborate. The “Verify Disk” command reported that my volume was in good shape, despite my suspicions of corruption. DiskWarrior 4 also confirmed that the volume’s directory structure was intact. With 90+ GB free on my MacBook Pro’s 160 GB disk, how could I have “not enough space” to simply slice off a 20 GB Windows partition for run-of-the-mill use?

Out of quick-fix ideas, I decided to back up my Mac OS X volume, erase the drive, partition it, restore my OS X image to the big partition, then install Windows to the new smaller partition. Without a network-ready imaging utility like Ghost or TrueImage for Mac OS X (are there any?), I had to do this a slightly more complicated way:

  1. Boot Mac OS X and connect to a network share on another computer (a networked PC, in my case).
  2. Run SuperDuper! and back up the entire contents of the drive to the other computer.
  3. When done, boot the Leopard DVD and run Disk Utility again, and erase and partition the drive into one HFS+ Journaling partition for Mac OS X and one FAT32 partition for Windows.
  4. Boot a Windows CD, and “quick format” the FAT32 partition to NTFS (since Disk Utility can’t natively create an NTFS volume), then install Windows.
  5. Install Boot Camp drivers from the Leopard DVD: The Windows volume on the Leopard DVD contains the necessary Boot Camp drivers. Nice touch, Apple!
  6. Boot from the Leopard DVD again, but run Terminal this time — there’s no point-and-click way to connect to a network share from the DVD…
  7. Typically, you’d do mount_smbfs to connect to a Windows share, but it failed with “mount_smbfs: failed to load the smb library: Unknown error: 1102” (No luck with mount -t smbfs, either). mount_afp appears to work, though.
  8. With no way to use SMB to get at the imaged Mac OS X volume made earlier, I downloaded a trial version of Extreme-Z IP, which provides AFP file and printer sharing support for Windows. After skipping prompts about Printer Sharing and automatically importing my SMB/Windows shares, it worked beautifully.
  9. Back at the Terminal on the MacBook, mkdir /Volumes/Sharename; mount_afp afp://username:password@ /Volumes/Sharename mounted Sharename from the PC onto /Volumes/Sharename on the Mac over Ethernet. (The hidden /Volumes/ folder is where all connected Mac volumes show up).
  10. Back under Disk Utility, I was almost able to Restore the disk image to the proper volume over the network as if it were a local volume, but… it was grayed out in the file picker dialog.
  11. The “Scan Image for Restore” button resulted in a failed process, but it DID add the disk image to the sidebar of Disk Utility, which enabled drag-and-drop such that I could restore it to the HFS+J volume.

After a few hours of restoring data, my MacBook Pro is back, with Mac OS X on one volume just as I left it right before the imaging, and a fresh Windows install on the other. Surely Apple never meant for Boot Camp to be this complicated, but they underestimated the extent of my tinkering and day-to-day use! I hope my documentation can help someone in a similar situation…


Boot Camp: Last Resort

8 thoughts on “Boot Camp: Last Resort

  1. I had this same problem while trying to setup Boot Camp, but I didn’t have the resources to back up the entire drive. With some investigation, I read that the Disk Utility error is caused by large files (1GB+). So I simply deleted or backed up all of those files (disk images, iTunes movies, Parallels HDs, etc). Afterward, Boot Camp had no problem live-partitioning my drive.


  2. Herve5 says:

    My elder son recently was in a similar trouble; he solved it without reformating by placing the mac disk in target mode then defragmenting it from another mac (lasted all night). The morning after the same bootcamp utility that failed after hours of rambling just created the partition in ten seconds.
    I myself am a definitive opponent of all those overvalued defragmenting utilities (all the more since OSX auto-defragments small files on the fly), but maybe that’s the first time in my 20-year mac experience this thing appears useful ;-)


  3. Corey says:

    Couldn’t you also just use Time Machine to make a backup of your current partition, and then install Mac OS X from the time machine backup after partitioning.. Seems a little less complicated for the end user, although I appreciate the imaging trick :)


  4. scott says:

    This isn’t a solution to the original problem, but why didn’t you just use an external USB or firewire drive to back up the mac partition? Would have saved you all that network restore trouble.


  5. Good writeup man! I’m sure will all my tinkering and the lack of a 160GB hard drive in non-favor of the 80GB one I have, I’ll soon be in your shoes!


  6. Interesting approach. It seems to me it would have been easier to to use a firewire (or USB) external HD or boot another Mac in Target disk mode. Then use disk utility to create an image (you can do this while booting into the OS I believe). Erase and restore.


  7. Sorry for the delay in feedback; A WordPress 2.6-incompatible plugin was causing emails not to be sent!

    @Derek: I tried that, too, and deleted a bunch of 1GB+ files with no luck. I was really hoping it would be that easy, but as you’ve seen, that didn’t work out! :)

    @Corey, @scott: I could have used Time Machine, but I didn’t have a spare FireWire or USB disk. The only available storage is on my network, and none of the disks are HFS+ formatted — they’re all NTFS or Ext3.


  8. James says:

    I had this problem as well, I ended up defragging my drive with some program I found online. Apparently it needs the amount of space you want to partition in “one continuous piece.”


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