Much love for Mike Bombich -- Bootpicker 1.3 makes Mac/XP choice easier
Let us count the ways that the Mac sysadmin community hearts Mike B: we relish his reliable and full-featured Carbon Copy Cloner, we depend absolutely upon his fast and simple NetRestore, we puzzle through his instructions for deploying dual-boot machines and for working with Active Directory. Most of all, we love that all this snazzy management goodness is free. Now, for everyone tired of telling dual-boot users "just hold down the option key," Mike has released a Boot Camp OS selector tool called (unsurprisingly) BootPicker. It's open source, free and delightfully slick.
What differentiates BootPicker from a simple option-boot, or from more elaborate tools like rEFIt, is its manageability and simplicity. Installed as a preference pane, BootPicker actually boots to Mac OS X every time and lets the user click a button for the OS they want (or, if administratively desired, reboots automatically to Mac OS X or Windows without user input). This gets around a couple of tricky problems; normally, setting a permanent boot OS requires an admin password, and a machine set to always boot in Windows is immune to the management oversight of tools like ARD or Workgroup Manager (you can manage both sides of the fence with LANrev or similar tools, but that can be a pain). By booting into Mac OS X first, there's an opportunity to change the preferences for BootPicker itself and modify the behavior for the next boot cycle.
There's a very solid Read Me for BootPicker that (unfortunately) is only included in the install distribution, so you'll have to download it to peruse the details. Mike includes a candid evaluation of the security risks involved with something like BootPicker, which runs as root before the normal login window is presented to the user; please use discretion and care if you decide to deploy it. Check it out, and take a moment to appreciate what Mr. Bombich has done to make our lives a little bit easier.