Apple Computer Corporation manufactures a line of computers under the brand name of Macintosh. The name Macintosh is often confused with the operating system the runs on the machine, OS X (Oh ess ten). This is understandable because all Macintoshes run OS X and OS X runs only on Macintosh computers with the exception of hacked versions of the operating system that run on x86 Intel machines.

Until 2005, the installation of Macintosh computers in car PC's was very rare. A few industrious individuals, including mp3car.com member Jirka Jirout installed Macintosh powerbooks or actual desktop units in their automobiles but widespread and common installations did not occur partly because the design of components for in car use concentrated on machines built around the PC standard. Until Apple adopted those standards, basic problems such as auto startup and shutdown, serial interfaces, and touchscreen access made installation of Macs too daunting for most hobbyists.

The introduction of the Mac Mini in 2005 by Apple was a signficant event for car PC'ers who were Apple fans as it broke ground in both the price and form factor arena. Previously, installations of Apple hardware other than desktop units required the use of a laptop such as a Powerbook or iBook. These units began at about $1,000 making installations of Apple hardware considerably more expensive than using PC hardware. The original Mini was priced at $499 and came without keyboard, monitor, or mouse, providing the perfect platform for car PC'ers. Its size approximates single DIN, making it small enough to fit in an automobile. In addition, the Mini was designed around laptop components, including a 2.5" hard drive, making it quite rugged and designed to consume relatively small amounts of power.

The Mini ignited the installation of Apple computers in automobiles and quickly gained a base of users and a dedicated area on mp3car.com. Software developers have begun to code front end applications for car use and there are numerous Mac Mini and Apple laptop installations in automobiles today.

In 2006, Apple completed the migration of its Macintosh line of computers to the Intel chip. This further boosted interest in the Mac Mini as a car platform as Intel Mac Minis can run both OS X and Windows operating systems. This helped to bridge one of the main complaints about the Mac Mini as a car PC platform -the overwhelming majority of software applications that are coded specifically for the Windows environment.

All Intel-based Apple computers are capable of running both OS X and Windows, and there are several ways to do this.

* Boot Camp. Boot Camp is an application written by Apple that permits the user to boot into either Windows or OS X, but not at the same time. The Windows installation is partitioned away from the OS X installation, separating the two operating systems. Boot Camp can be download from Apple's website, and is included in every copy of Mac OS 10.5 (Leopard). This method is particularly useful if you have an Apple laptop, because you can use OS X for normal computing and boot into Windows for in car use. That way you can set up the Windows system to boot directly into your choice of front ends and have different settings for both systems. A note about partitioning: Partition the windows section in the FAT32 file system so OS X can read and write to it. OS X cannot write to NTFS (Windows NT file system). Also, without installing third-party software, Windows cannot access the OS X partition.
* Virtualization. There are several virtualization options out there, and Parallels seems to be the most popular. Parallels is a product that permits the simultaneous booting of OS X and Windows. The user can access Windows as if it were an application running in OS X, but the Windows operating system is running natively, not in emulation mode. Although this method is very convenient, it requires a lot of processing power and RAM because you are running both operating systems fully at the same time. Recommended minimums from testing are 2.0 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo and 2 GB Ram. Other virtualization options include VMware's Fusion, CrossOver, VirtualBox, and others.


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