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WinXP on a Mac, Hoax? 390

Brill writes "Ars Technica is reporting that a member of the 'WinXP on Mac' forums called narf2006 may have succeeded at the impossible. He's submitted his solution to get XP on an Intel Mac, for the $12,000 prize, but for now the only proof available is a blurry Flickr collection of photos that could be faked with virtual PC. His reputation on the forums however is strong, and he's already calling for testers." We've had people write in to say this has been announced a hoax on the contest page. The contest page is, of course, down due to bandwidth reasons. Engadget's conversation about this announcement has several theories on how this may have been faked. What's the verdict? Real or Fake?
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WinXP on a Mac, Hoax?

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  • Explain how? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by srw ( 38421 ) * on Tuesday March 14, 2006 @11:10AM (#14915733) Homepage
    Doesn't he have to explain how he did it to collect the prize? Am I missing something?
  • by daveschroeder ( 516195 ) * on Tuesday March 14, 2006 @11:11AM (#14915738)
    ...Amit Singh from IBM and kernelthread.com (slashdotted 16 times for excellent technical articles on various bits of internals of Apple hardware and Mac OS X) has his own legacy boot solution as well. From a rejected submission:

    It appears that Amit Singh of IBM Almaden Research Center [ibm.com], of kernelthread.com [kernelthread.com] and author of Mac OS X Internals [osxbook.com], has devised a method to allow legacy, or BIOS-based, booting on Intel-based Macs [osxbook.com], which they're calling "BAMBIOS". This means operating systems that currently only support legacy booting, such as many Linux distributions that don't yet support EFI, or things like Windows XP and the forthcoming Windows Vista (the 32-bit version of which will lack EFI support [apcmag.com]), will now be able to run on Intel-based Macs without modification (and completely legally). There is also another solution from "narf2006", described here [arstechnica.com] and shown in this flickr set of photos [flickr.com]. narf2006's solution is awaiting verification by Colin for the $12,000 pot [onmac.net]. Time to get that MacBook Pro [apple.com] you've been waiting on for the best of both worlds, everyone...

    So even if narf2006's solution isn't real, Amit's solution most certainly is, since he has a great deal of credibility. One way or another, we'll all be able to boot Windows directly on our Intel-based Macs.

    This will be great news for people interested in Windows gaming on an Intel-based Mac (who really need the direct video access) and/or people who just want to do it NOW; however, a virtualization solution running under Mac OS X, such as VMware [vmware.com] or Parallels [parallels.com], will be the real holy grail for most users. Most people don't want/need/care about the highest graphics and I/O performance; just the ability to run Windows side-by-side with Mac OS X at a speed that is more than usable, and to also have some capability to seamlessly share things like clipboards and files between the environments (as a nice VM environment would most certainly do). Not to mention not having to reboot.

    In any case, even dual booting will be a welcome capability. It remains to be seen how convoluted the process is...

    Also, I just spoke with Colin Nederkoorn (the guy running the contest) moments ago, and narf2006's solution has NOT been submitted to him yet. He said that narf2006 said he's "cleaning it up" and will be submitting it "later this week". So, no one, including Colin, has actually seen this solution working yet. Also, he apparently hasn't been in communication with Amit on the BAMBIOS solution as yet...
    • by XMilkProject ( 935232 ) on Tuesday March 14, 2006 @12:29PM (#14916525) Homepage
      Just wanted to say that you had a rock solid submission there, if only submissions of that quality and depth could actually be accepted on slashdot then we'd all be alot more informed of current IT events.
  • by roe-roe ( 930889 ) on Tuesday March 14, 2006 @11:12AM (#14915745) Homepage
    simple answer.... YES
  • by (H)elix1 ( 231155 ) <slashdot.helix@nOSPaM.gmail.com> on Tuesday March 14, 2006 @11:12AM (#14915747) Homepage Journal
    If I sorted out the bits of magic to get WinXP up and running on a Mac, I don't think I would post how to the outside world until *after* I collected my bounty. No shock at the lack of details here.
  • Verification? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by JUSTONEMORELATTE ( 584508 ) on Tuesday March 14, 2006 @11:12AM (#14915752) Homepage
    For US$12,000, I'd take a day off and fly out to the contest judge's place to show them in person.

    Why is this so difficult?
    • Re:Verification? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Durandal64 ( 658649 ) on Tuesday March 14, 2006 @11:30AM (#14915918)
      Even if this is real, he hasn't won the contest yet. The rules require not only that XP boot, but it must also dual-boot with Mac OS X. The user must be presented with the option of which OS to run at boot-time, and narf2006 hasn't done that yet.
      • Re:Verification? (Score:3, Interesting)

        by plj ( 673710 )
        The rules require not only that XP boot, but it must also dual-boot with Mac OS X. The user must be presented with the option of which OS to run at boot-time, and narf2006 hasn't done that yet.

        Indeed the dual-booting requirement sounds rather hard to achieve due to the GUID Partition Table (GPT) format required by EFI; Windows XP does not recognise this format, and I fear that even if narf2006 or someone else succeeds, the solution will be along the lines “hack X tells Windows that boot partition begi
  • by Noer ( 85363 ) on Tuesday March 14, 2006 @11:15AM (#14915782)
    but I'd much rather see darWINE working well, or VMWare/VirtualPC running Windows at nearly native speed, or even some significant speedups that make QEMU nearly native speed. A Virtual Windows without the slowdown of emulation would be really nice; on the other hand, I have no desire whatsoever to actually boot Windows on a Mac. That's like putting 87 octane gas in a formula 1 car! ;-)
    • by Anonymous Coward
      but I'd much rather see darWINE working well, or VMWare/VirtualPC running Windows at nearly native speed

      That's great, but neither of those things are going to happen soon. darWINE needs a lot of work. VMWare/VirtualPC have made no announcement of OS X products. Unless someone has been secretly working on an OS X virtual machine product and is ready to release (it IS possible), we won't see that soon.
    • Yes, but if we could get WinXP loaded on the Mac hardware we could do some sweet benchmarked comparisons. It would really settle the debate about which OS is faster. Wouldn't it?
      • by larkost ( 79011 ) on Tuesday March 14, 2006 @12:24PM (#14916452)
        No, because which is faster is a very complicated answer. It is like asking which is faster: a tank or a Porche. On a racetrack the Porche is going to be faster. On a field with mud a foot deep the tank is going to be (a lot) faster. This is a rather stark example, but the principal holds just as well for the Windows-MacOS comparisons.

        The best way of comparing has always been to benchmark the particular job you have in mind, an then to remember that generalizations are not really valid.

        Anyone who tells you different is trying to sell you a bridge.
        • by PIBM ( 588930 ) on Tuesday March 14, 2006 @01:13PM (#14917008) Homepage
          Rest assured that the tank would win on the racetrack. No way is he gonna miss the porshe ;)
        • > No, because which is faster is a very complicated answer.

          No fanboi it isn't. Comparing a Windows PC to a Sun Niagra based server would be complicated, comparing a PC from Apple running typical desktop loadsets under OS X to basically the same loadsets under Windows XP on the same hardware isn't complicated at all. Encode some video, run Microsoft Office through some timed task lists, script some compute intensive Photoshop transformations, etc. If one OS is faster at all of the tasks it is the clear
          • I don't get it. It's (presumably) the same code running on the same hardware. All you'll really prove if Photoshop is faster on the PC vs Mac is that the PC version used a better compiler. What are you trying to show exactly?

            (Note I use Photoshop as the example because it's what everyone will try to prove is faster on one platform vs the other, but I imagine the code for the filters will be the same tuned assembler across both platforms - even if it's not, all you've proved is that they need to GET the tune
            • by jmorris42 ( 1458 ) * <jmorrisNO@SPAMbeau.org> on Tuesday March 14, 2006 @07:59PM (#14920560)
              > All you'll really prove if Photoshop is faster on the PC vs Mac is that
              > the PC version used a better compiler. What are you trying to show exactly?

              Exactly. The only differences should depend on the OS and it's supporting infrastructure. Compiler, libraries, memory management, disk throughput, etc. And those differences are likely to be highly variable. OS X might have UNIXy goodness (not sure how Darwin stands compared to a modern Linux or Solaris though) in it's favor while Microsoft probably has the advantage on compilier tech vs GCC. Some good benchmarks should be interesting to read through.
  • IIRC Apple doesn't care if you're running some Microsoft OS on Mac. After all, they're selling hardware...

    Don't get me wrong, I'm not dismissing the performance but the "succeeded at the impossible" from the blurb just doesn't sound "accurate" to me. It should be more difficult to run Intel MacOS X on a PC box than the opposite.
    • it actually isnt thats the thing. the EFI bootup on the Mactels make it surprisingly hard to boot windows on it, which is why its been a problem. On the otherhand OS X has little problems booting off a standard PC.
    • What rock have you been hiding under? Intel macs have no BIOS, they use EFI. Windows XP doesn't support EFI. Therefore, the technical challenge has been getting windows XP to boot on a machine with EFI. Even Vista is supposedly going to lack EFI support.
    • They don't care if you run another operating system, but they're also not going to spend extra effort and compromise their hardware design (by implementing legacy BIOS) to help you do it.
    • It's pretty much inevitable that someone will call them wanting support for the Apple machine they screwed up by trying to install Windows. Just answering the phone probably costs them $20-$30, so even if the users are forthcoming that they tried to install Windows and Apple tells them they can't be helped until they reinstall OSX off the restore DVDs, those calls will eat into Apple's profit margin. If a lot of people start doing that, Apple might have to hire another support person. That would double the
  • Vice Versa (Score:2, Insightful)

    by szembek ( 948327 )
    I'm probably stating the obvious here, but in my opinion the opposite of this would be much more useful. Being able to put Mac OSX on non-proprietary PC hardware would be much more useful than installing windows on a pricey Mac. I would like the ability to poke around in OSX, but I'm certainly not going to throw down the cash for a Mac.
    • You can install OSX on your PC already. I've got it on my laptop. No wireless (yet) but it's fun to play with. It's also why I'm getting a Macbook Pro (when the Rev B comes out). I love OSX from my limited use of it. And if I could put Windows on there too? That would be great.
    • This can be done already, assuming you have the right hardware (a CPU that supports SSE3 and possibly an Intel chipset, IIRC) and you don't care that it is possibly illegal (depending on jurisdiction, whether you have a legal copy of the OS, etc.).

      In fact, I'm considering doing it when I replace my iBook because Apple refuses to make a tablet (Grrr...).
    • Re:Vice Versa (Score:2, Insightful)

      by shadexiii ( 723888 )
      Windows works on lots of hardware. OS X *could* but isn't really suited for it (by design.) So if you need both, isn't Windows the more logical choice for transplanting?
  • by earthbound kid ( 859282 ) on Tuesday March 14, 2006 @11:44AM (#14916032) Homepage
    It's not as though it's a hard hoax to do.

    1. Go to a Windows box. Take a screen shot.

    2. Open the screenshot on your iMac. Display it full screen.

    3. Take a picture.

    I mean, he hasn't posted a video of him using the computer and his mousing syncing up with the screen, right? Just a blurry photo. So, that proves basically nothing. I'm not saying he absolutely didn't do it, just that a photo doesn't count for much.
    • Even easier, two words: full-screen VNC. Hyphenated is it two or three? I'm sure I'll be corrected.

      I do this all the time between LINUX, Solaris, Mac, Windows. I'm at one machine and need to do something screwy and GUI on another; VNC to the rescue. Takes about two minutes to set up, and in full-screen mode, easy to do with no photo alterations. And the mouse and keyboards work.

  • 640x480 (Score:3, Informative)

    by ikejam ( 821818 ) on Tuesday March 14, 2006 @11:45AM (#14916042)
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/32436196@N00/11097774 4/in/photostream/ [flickr.com]

    Interesting thought there - VGA drivers arent installed now if it was a fresh install right?

    PowerMacChris says:


    Windows XP has a 640x480 resoulition on GUI install :P
    Posted 3 days ago.

    Paul Stamatiou Pro User says:

    ^ No. I've installed XP with 1280x1024.
    Posted 2 days ago.

    digitalpiracy says:

    No he's right - you can set an option in the unattend.sif file so the resolution jumps to whatever you like once its installed the VGA drivers, but this section always runs at 640x480
    Posted 2 days ago. "
  • by Dr.Sweety ( 917213 ) on Tuesday March 14, 2006 @11:49AM (#14916078)
    ... that this is not a hoax! Windows XP boots on a Mac! http://www.mathcaddy.com/windowsxpbootsonamac!!!!1 / [mathcaddy.com]

    SCNR :)
  • Turn of events: 1) someone posts some (blurry) pictures (4) of a WinXP install screen on an iMac to flickr 2) forums world-wide respond with "d00d! its a total fake! look at those pixels!" and "why can't a guy who knows how to do this use a camera? fake!" and "OMFG hwd u do that? cant be done - fake!" which results in this fine slashdot news story, based entirely on blurry photos and forum jockeys. seriously guys, we'll know someone's done it when the pot is claimed - until then, it just isn't news... da
  • I know Apple wants to maintain it's image and all, but I always felt that if they marketed their machines as the "run anything" computer, they would grab a nice chunk of the market. Instead of the pure Apple machine they might go the other direction with their hardware and call it a "blank slate" fit for whatever OS you want to put on it... go where YOU want to go kind of computer.

    It seems pretty damn apparent that people want a dual boot Windows/Mac... There's demand there, but no company wants to risk it
    • by forkazoo ( 138186 ) <wrosecrans.gmail@com> on Tuesday March 14, 2006 @02:10PM (#14917618) Homepage
      Unfortunately, this would kill a lot of their developer base.

      If almost all PC's have Windows, and almost all Macs run Windows apps, then you can just write a program for Windows, and there is no need to make a Mac specific port.

      If there is no native Mac OS software, why get a Mac?

      Sure, lots of developers would develop for the Mac out of love for the platform or whatever, but a lot of other devs would declare that just supporting Windows is sufficient for a very large percentage of their user base.
  • by joshsnow ( 551754 ) on Tuesday March 14, 2006 @11:53AM (#14916134) Journal
    there's a lot of noise, over on the ars forums, about why Apple may want to prevent XP and foghorn (vista) from running on Mac hardware. I think it's the opposite. Apple won't try to hard to prevent windows operating systems from running on Mac hardware, because Apple are, primarily, a hardware company - they want to sell macs. In fact, if people are buying macs intending to install windows, Apple may hope to use that as a bate and switch tactic. I think they're more likely to attempt to prevent people from running OS X on bog standard beige PCs (or Dells or whatever) because that could hurt Mac sales.
  • by Masq666 ( 861213 ) on Tuesday March 14, 2006 @11:57AM (#14916186) Homepage
    This article [bitsofnews.com] talks about a project called BAMBIOS, BAMBIOS emulates a bios on the intel-based Mac's. This enables non-EFI OS's to run.
  • by wandazulu ( 265281 ) on Tuesday March 14, 2006 @12:02PM (#14916228)
    ...VMWare to come out with their VMWare Workstation (or even the player) for the Mac. Even VirtualPC, if/when it ever comes to the Intel Mac, should run Windows "well enough" for everything I would do with a PC (short of gaming, which wouldn't be very useful on a portable or a mini anyway).

    I'm becoming more and more a fan of virtualization; why deal with dual booting and configuring the disk when you can just run the client OS as a task in the main operating system. Also, if you trash your copy of Windows, just restore it from a snapshot or recreate it from a "good" image.

    But, OTOH, kudos to him if he has in fact gotten it to work.
  • by trianglecat ( 318478 ) on Tuesday March 14, 2006 @12:11PM (#14916315)
    Im all for this happening but... has anyone looked at the photos? The screen is on top of the bottom right cornner of the machine. [flickr.com]
  • by CottonEyedJoe ( 177704 ) on Tuesday March 14, 2006 @12:13PM (#14916339) Journal
    I know this is a bit off topic, but has anyone tried Solaris x86? It would probably be more interesting to me to be able to dual boot Solaris/OSX than Windows XP.
  • by moderators_are_w*nke ( 571920 ) on Tuesday March 14, 2006 @12:17PM (#14916375) Journal
    I can't believe nobody ever got the old PPC builds of Windows NT to boot on a PPC Mac?
  • Hypothesis (Score:3, Funny)

    by MrNougat ( 927651 ) <ckratsch@gmail . c om> on Tuesday March 14, 2006 @12:35PM (#14916604)
    This "XP on a Mac" thing is currently a hypothesis. It is something that has been reasoned as possible, and now has been tested one time. Provided that the tester kept meticulous notes, others should be able to follow those notes to reproduce the experiment, and report their results to the media. The more times the experiment is successful, the more it can be described as a theory or law.

    However, since the current state of knowledge on this subject is thin, it is just as likely that the way to get Windows XP running on a Mac requires divine intervention. One could then describe a Mac running XP as "Intelligently Designed."
  • by JaXx-StoRm ( 936638 ) on Tuesday March 14, 2006 @12:38PM (#14916636)
    ...but I wish they'd concentrate more on getting Mac OS working on a PC. That to me is much more interesting that getting Windows working on a mac
  • by utexaspunk ( 527541 ) on Tuesday March 14, 2006 @12:48PM (#14916737)
    ...and then I installed FlyAKiteOSX [portraitofakite.com]. Now I'm really confused :(
  • by xant ( 99438 ) on Tuesday March 14, 2006 @12:50PM (#14916757) Homepage
    How does he sleep at night? On a huge pile of money. [penny-arcade.com]
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 14, 2006 @01:18PM (#14917060)
    WTF? Someone potentially shows a really sick hack and all people can do is bitch about how it's "obviously" photoshopped and man, who'd be stupid enough to try this?! Jesus Christ on a pogo stick, where has the hacker ethos gone? How about withholding judgment until we get solid confirmation one way or another. Since the forums got pwned, we'll have to wait and see if step-by-step instructions are forthcoming so it can be reproduced. If they don't show up in a week, or they constantly "delayed" then we can collectively denounce him as a fraud.

    And as for why do this to begin with? How about because we can! Sheesh. Getting things that aren't supposed to work to work is part and parcel of being a true hacker. It's breaking the pigopolists' rules and doing things with hardware/software you bought that they never intended. Lighten up, guys. It's cool. If this is real, it's definitely a sick hack and we should salute him.
    • Re: Yes! (Score:3, Insightful)

      by dch24 ( 904899 )
      Finally! I would mod everyone who's whining down right now. Take a breath people, and let the guy clean up his instructions for submission. We know that once he posts them on the onmac.com forums, they're going to be plastered all over the web. So I understand if he's taking his time. Besides, it's only $12K. That's not very much money for months of work.

      And if he's faking, he won't be able to hide. Anybody know more details on narf2006?

  • by Kaenneth ( 82978 ) on Tuesday March 14, 2006 @06:07PM (#14919635) Homepage Journal
    like hiring a Supermodel to wash the dishes.
    like buying a BMW and filling up at ARCO.
    like renting out a Mansion for your cats.
  • by TomatoMan ( 93630 ) on Tuesday March 14, 2006 @08:07PM (#14920612) Homepage Journal
    I couldn't care less about booting Windows - I just want to be able to RUN it (or the brain-dead apps I'm sometimes forced to work with). Dual-booting is a pain in the ass - who the hell wants to run only in windows with no OSX available?

    Give me basically a natively fast virtual machine. I don't ever want to boot my mac into Windows. Just let me run it like VPC on steroids when I have to, and you've got a sale.
  • by mnemonic_ ( 164550 ) <jamec@@@umich...edu> on Wednesday March 15, 2006 @02:50PM (#14926180) Homepage Journal
    Colin has received a solution from narf2006 [onmac.net] and is currently testing it. Meanwhile, narf2006 has revealed some details on his method; he patched the Windows XP kernel [flickr.com] to get VGA working, and wrote a custom Compatibility Support Module (CSM) [flickr.com] to allow booting XP from EFI.

    According to Intel documentation [intel.com], using a CSM that plugs into the EFI framework should allow for booting BIOS-based operating systems:
    A contemporary implementation of the Framework on a PC includes a CSM for supplying services to operating systems that do not boot using EFI and for supporting legacy option ROMs on add-in cards. For legacy boot the Framework initializes the platform's silicon and executes EFI drivers.
    So far (to me at least), it looks like narf2006 (and his accomplice, blanka) might have truly done it.

Air is water with holes in it.