iMac Triple Boot
How I Downsized to a used iMac for All Three O/Ses, and Why
Nerds are horrific about Operating Systems. They treat them like a "religion", and just like religion, we get in these stupid and pointless holy wars between Mac/Windows/Linux. Honestly, I wish there was a DOS system that I could use for modern day-to-day, including e-mail and streaming, but that's just not happening it seems.

Classically, I have owned multiple "modern" (meaning within the last 10-12 years) machines running Windows and Linux with never the two interseting. I did this for the sole purpose of retaining my own personal sanity. See, I have classically HATED Microsoft Windows. I don't like the authoritarian stance they take over your system, I don't like how they placate to tech-inept consumertards who make poor decisions with their computer and then whine about them, I don't like how it costs me $99 to buy the most basic piece of shit install. About the only reason I use Windows is Microsoft Office, and gaming, because somehow Steam still has not gotten Proton to a point that it works in Linux for everything yet.

I like Linux, a lot actually, it's really grown on me in the past 10 years. It's like Windows 3.1 was, I can edit everything via plaintext files when the O/S makes it difficult. But It's locked down so heavily it's like an iron tank compared to Windows. The problem with Linux though, is you can't exactly ask for help with it. These gatekeeping nerds, geeks, and dweebs that are into Linux tend to throw you out of the forum screaming "RTFM" and "GTFO, Newb" when you ask anything basic or simple you may have missed. So I'm not exactly enthralled about the Linux community, and I've found, just like how I have nobody in real life despite being married who can help me with anything, I also have nobody on the internet either. But what's nice is I have the kind of self-sufficiency to maintain a linux distribution like I maintain my own vehicle.

I'm giving Mac OS a try because Mac OS, while basically a form of BSD, has this goofey, secular quality to it. See, they have a bunch of proprietary applications specific only to Apple. It has the benefits of Linux with all the same shit as Microsoft Windows. Basically, strongarmed behavior to placate to consumertards. YEah, I stole Nathan Lineback's term for consumer idiots who just want shit to work as if by magic. I know it does not, so Apple and M$ and deal with what they probably see of as the "last power-user".

For hardware, we are using a 21.5" 2015 iMac with a 1.6GHz Core I5, 8GB of RAM, and a 1TB HDD. On one hand, I chose Mac because Macintosh has become increasingly popular over the last 10-15 years, and I expect more iMacs are going to hit the second hand market. Secondly, smaller footprint. It's an AIO, so I just have the whole screen/computer assembly to deal with and it's about as big as a 22" LCD. It has a wireless keyboard, but if that pisses me off, I have my old Razr Black Widow and Logitech 2 button trackball to go back to. To install all three OSes, we are using Bootcamp to install Windows, and Refind as our boot loader.
The Process of Creating a Triple Boot 21.5" 2015 iMac
I did a lot of research first, reading at least 4-5 articles, mostly written by Apple techno-weenies who seemed less technically inclined than I am. One guy will say to install Linux first, then another will say to install Apple first, nobody bothered to tell me about how partitioning should work with regards to bootcamp, I had to look up something separate to make all this work and figure it out on my own. One person suggested Windows first which is bad JuJu. My idea was based on this understanding....

  1. EVERY modern operating system, including Linux, tries to hijack the bootloader. ALL of them. When Apple sees that a different bootloader is loaded, it wipes it and goes straight to Mac OSX, when Windows finds tries to pull the same garbage with the Windows NT bootloader, and when Linux finds it, it say's "Let's GRUB this bitch". So I knew going in, I was going to likely be hitting recovery and killing-reloading CSRUTIL from a Apple terminal frequently due to updates.
  2. Linux was going to be the least intrusive O/S because it'll find and load Windows even if Apple dissappears (GRUB)
  3. Windows was going to be the second most intrusive because it's at least protected behind a Bootcamp install
  4. Apple was going to be the biggest PITA because of their f***ed up belief we don't actually own the hardware we PAID FOR - seriously, someone at Apple needs to be put in Communist Russia or somewhere like that, and forced to drive a Yugo and live in government sanctioned slums for a time. This is AMERICA, this is a CAPITALIST country, therefore I OWN what I PURCHASE, not rent, not lease, OWN!
  5. Mac OS is not like the other two - self contained - it is basically working with some extra ROMs and other firmware things on the Mac to work
  6. Windows was going to be a total asshat so I had to pay $49.99 for a new product key for 10 to use my Mac - this is the LAST TIME I'm ever buying a Windows Product Key BTW. After my studies, I'm finding Windows to be a real loser. Once 10 is done and off support, and I have to wipe this or get another computer, I'm done. F*** Windows.
  7. Apple might stay a permanant installation for Garage Band, and I actually kinda' like it though the draconian ways Apple tries to protect the user from itself are very annoying and very Windows-like. But at least they are willing to give in-O/S solutions that don't require going to a crowded and poorly run public forum to ask about, where some "SME" (Subject Matter Expert) guy from Abu Dahbi tells you the same standard spiel he throws at every thread - obviously a CTRL+C CTRL+V operation.
  8. Using the Apple Keyboard will be like navigating the Amsterdam airport....context will tell me how the keys work in Windows and Linux.

The whole process took me 2-3 tries to get right, but here's what I actually did to set this whole mess up. The first try ended up with me being unable to get Windows on the machine because they said to install Linux first. Second try I got Apple OSX on first but did not partition right for Bootcamp so Windows could install. Third time, I got it right, and all three are on there with ReFind. So here's the working process...

  1. Power on Mac and press and hold COMMAND+R
  2. Once in Recovery Mode, Install Mac OSX, make sure to partition 2/3rd of the HDD for MAC OSX (1/3 will go to Windows via bootcamp)
  3. Once Mac OSX is installed, use Bootcamp to install Windows 10 on your machine, you can ONLY use a partition WITHIN the Apple partition
  4. Once Windows is installed, install Linux
  5. Reboot Mac, hold COMMAND+R
  6. Open a Terminal, type CSRUTIL Disable
  7. Boot into Mac OS, download ReFind
  8. Run the RE-Find Installer Script
  9. Reboot, verify ReFind comes up
  10. Reboot again, press and hold Command+R for Recovery again
  11. Go back into the Terminal and enable CSRUTIL (CSRUTIL Enable), this prevents overwriting ReFind I've found
  12. Reboot and test each boot option and make sure they work, you should now have a working multiboot iMac with all three major O/S Options installed

Things You May have to Deal With with this setup
As we have three competing operating systems sharing one computer, it really exposes the politics of the computer/technology industry to it's very core. There are pros and cons to each O/S and I've discovered certain things about my setup.

Apple OSX - Mac OSX is like a strange communist/capitalist crossover of an O/S. On one hand, the entire thing assumes you're too stupid to use a computer properly, so it protects you from making any changes or installing any software like a helicopter mommy trying to stop her kid from sticking a penny in a light socket. They also are like California is towards cars as far as hardware regulations go, so much so you'd swear you had Gavin Newsom running youf computer. You might be virus free, but you're also going to struggle to get some esoteric piece of hand-made software, even your own, on the damn machine.

On the Software side, not too much is different. I can install Firefox, WinRAR, I can also install my Line6 Software for my HD500 and edit with it. My printer works - sometimes. However Adobe costs money, so does a lot of other specialized solutions for various things within Mac OS. Lukcily I don't need to spend money on Adobe for pictures, the gIMP installs just fine. However, some software I had to side-load, like Veroroute, BlueGriffon, and DIY Layout Creator, required a lot of finagling to get installed because you need to open up a special menu in the settings to approve the software's installation, otherwise Apple will refuse to install it. Luckily the steps are not too terrible.

Gaming in Mac OSX is a headache and a nightmare. You either need a dedicated Apple Release, or you need to download some kind of emulator or virtual machine to act as a Windows host. Proton in Steam is not an option, and it does not work as well anyway. But like I'll say many times, gaming is a low priority item.

On the Hardware side I had to get a different DV Capture card because the idiots at VidBox chose to make multiple devices based on multiple chipsets for multiple platforms. I have a NW06, which only works in Windows. The NW07 works in Mac OSX, none work in Linux. Luckily I found a brand new cheap one on Amazon that works great. There was mention of being able to use Mini DisplayPorts as a monitor port of sorts to run a 2nd PC into the Mac, but that does not seem to be a thing, or at least a thing that works anymore. The Apple mouse sucks to me because I use right-click a LOT, and in Mac OSX it gives extended functions that require using a keyboard key to do so otherwise. My Line 6 HD500 works with OSX still, but it's on borrowed time because I constantly get warning messages loading up Mac OSX whining that I need to contact Line 6 for a "newer driver". Line 6 of course will say "fuck that, buy a Helix!".

Overall, usability is not too bad. The boot time is terrible though, at about 3 minutes - my 486 loads Windows 95 faster. But Macintosh has always been terrible about boot times. I remember my old Power Macs taking just as long to load OS 8 or OS 9 with a lot of system extentions installed. I think the idea is to keep the machine on 24/7/365 rather than reboot it now and then, which makes sense, because unlike Microsoft Windows, Mac OSX's updates are actually willing to work with you in a very vocal manner, and they do what they say they will do, nothing more, nothing less. So I can trust it at least. Problem is, most major updates including OS version updates cause the computer to take 101 years to boot, sometimes facilitating an overnight reboot session.

Microsoft WIndows 10 - Windows 10 is like a current day politician. It makes a lot of promises it can't keep, half-delivers on half-of-them, and then takes forever to carry them out when it does deliver. Windows 10 also likes to put up laws, rules, policies, and regulations that it will not follow, nor will you really have to follow, and they only half work, half the time, and the rest of the time are a waste of virtual paper and hard drive space to the point you wonder why it even exists. If you talk to it like a baby (Ie meticulously program it to - following all sorts of seemingly arbitrary but much necessary rules) then it might actually comply. It has 12 year olds handling the update service, and the agents and wizards must have been kicked out of the CIA and Hogwartz for their ineptitude. Essentially, Windows 10 is like a Police Academy movie, all of them are screw ups, even the instructors. But you do get the widest degree of hardware and entertainment though.

Software wise windows has the most familiar options. I install Firefox and make that my primary browser, add WinRAR, I have an office license so that goes on there as well. All games work, all my software works actually, so that's one plus. However, Microsoft loses a lot of points in that they are trying to strongarm people to use their Edge browser, and I HATE Edge. I prefer Firefox. I prefer an open web. Not even Firefox droppign FTP support is enough to get me to move over to Edge. I can use all the other regular stuff I can use too.

Gaming in Windows is perfect because it's native. So no Proton in Steam. the only problem is, older windows games won't work properly (ie The Sims, Mall Tycoon, Robot Arena 2, etc...) without some kind of weird update, if at all. But considering gaming is a lower priority, it's not a heavy weight.

Hardware - everything works as intended except that f*#%*ing Apple iMac built-in webcam. Even the bluetooth "Magic" keyboard works in Windows without needing to be tied to a USB Cable. About my only hardware complaint is there's not enough USB ports on the iMac to do the job of running everything without plugging in or unplugging things from the machine.

Overall though, is where Windows falls flat on it's face. Load times are faster, yeah, but Windows has an even more annoying login process than Apple does, and it sometimes gets broken by Windows Update. Windows Update is an unruly teenager that lives in the tiny back bedroom of the modern style UI Settings panel. He just sits there and stares off into space, wasting bandwidth, so he can download a bunch of "new stuff" and then steal your "old stuff" (like PBRUSH.EXE). If it updates bitlocker or the boot kernel or something, then it'll screw everything up making your mac a permanant Windows Box until you do some finagling with ReFind and Apple Recovery mode. IT also loves to harass me about my printer when I'm not even using it (more a Cannon thing than a Windows thing though). Also, I suspect it's wiping my Firefox data periodically because all the bookmarks I saved last month for bills/etc are GONE! It is with this install I have decided this is the last hurrah for Windows with me. After this, I'm dumping it and going 100% Open source. I spend 40+ hours a week dealing with their bullshit on the job, but at least I'm getting paid there to do it, but at home, I should not have to spend my time fixing stupid crap broken by a bunch of sanctimonious Seattle area Developers and their exploted workman's Visa holders. If you knew what was best for me, you'd be wearing my clothes and sitting in my chair, and see ME when you look in the mirror Microsoft!

Linux - Linux is sort of like the old west, or maybe, myself. It just wants to keep to itself, mind it's own business, and get things done. Linux is also a multilinguist. Linux can talk to Apple and Windows, it does not LIKE to, but it'll do it because it needs done. It also can speak iOS, Android, and Nintendo as well apparently. It's also free, can be built to your specs (if you want to do it yourself), and generally just does it's thing and does not give you much trouble. Though it can be a little rickety and janky at times.

The Software side is a tricky DIY session for me because, in the spirit of this being open-source, I'd rather just stick with open source products. Instead of WinRAR I have an archiver built in - for free, and it does not nag me for months on end to buy the "full version" when I don't need the "full version". Instead of harassing me about Safari or Edge, I can use Firefox as my default and the O/S shuts up about anything else - actually, Linux Mint uses Firefox by default. Nice. E-mail is Thunderbird, graphics are a modern port of Graf-X II and the gIMP, BlueGriffon is a great HTML editor, and I use Veroroute and DIY Layout Creator in Linux. My printer does not pester me when I'm having to deal with janky Alsa Mixer settings - BUT, and here's the big butt of the situation, there's no DRIVERS for a lot of my stuff. HT-VIDBOX does not work, nor does the Line6 outside of as an audio device (so no patch editing in Linux without Wine and some real finagling), and the "Magic" keyboard won't play nice with bluetooth because Apple apparently is tryying ot hid the RFID tracker chips they put in your keyboard to find your house when they decide to pull a coup'd'etat because you "think you own the macintosh on your desk" - so keyboard stays plugged in full time.

Gaming here the world is your oyster, everything runs great. Steam with PROTON works alright, but has some issues here and there, mostly The Witcher Deluxe and Monster Truck Destruction. Then there's that whole finagling to get other stuff working in WINE using WineTrix and maybe Lutris. But if I f*** around enough I can get almost anything working and playable on Linux, which is better than I can say for either Apple or Windows.

Hardware Wise only my Hd500 and Apple Wireless Keyboard don't work, the rest works fine after I swapped the HT-VIDBOX for the USB 2.0 DV Capture Device. So linux seems to be winning the war here as far as I can tell. Just that damn keyboard that's the problem. The Line6 is not that big of a deal since Apple and Windows can edit it and I don't need to edit patches very often anymore.

Overall, I think I'm happiest in Linux.