BootPicker: Better dual-boot options for Mac

Ever since Boot Camp was unveiled last spring, schools and businesses have looked to it as a solution for deploying dual-boot solutions to replace two computers (a Mac and a PC) with one (a dual-boot Mac). One of the problems with deploying a dual-boot environment is that giving users the ability to select a startup disk (either from System Preferences or by holding down the option key at startup) introduces a security risk. With the ability to choose a startup disk, users can boot from any bootable volume (including external hard drives, iPods, or boot/install CDs/DVDs) and potentially gain unrestricted access to data on the Mac's hard drive or reset the password of an administrator account.

These risks are typically mitigated by locking down the Startup Disk preference pane and including an Open Firmware password to prevent alternate boot modes (including the using option key, Target Disk Mode, and booting from a CD/DVD). The problem is that these methods prevent users from selecting between Mac OS X and Boot Camp partitions. While the obvious solutions are running Windows usingvirtualization toolsParallels or VMWare Fusion,Mike Bombich, creator of many useful Mac OS X administrator tools, has developed another solution: BootPicker.

BootPicker offers an interface that allows a non-administrative user to choose from multiple startup drives at boot (before the Login Window is displayed). It also respects Open Firmware passwords and remote administration by Apple Remote Desktop. More importantly, it allows startup from only administrator-approved volumes and allows the administrator to provide descriptive information about the environment of each available volume. All of these features make BootPicker a choice worthy of consideration for administrators looking to provide a solid and secure multi-platform environment using Intel Macs.

Copyright © 2007 IDG Communications, Inc.

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