The Onmac.net Web site reported on March 16 that it has come up with a method for booting Microsofts Windows XP alongside Apples Mac OS X on Apples Intel processor-based Macs, which began rolling out earlier this year.
One of the most often-asked questions about the new platform has been, Can the Intel Macs also run Windows and Linux?
The procedure was created on behalf of Onmacs owner, who said he sought to run both Windows XP and Mac OS X on his MacBook Pro portable and thus offered a reward to the person who could make it happen.
Others donated money to the effort, and the pot eventually swelled to near $14,000, the site reported.
As proof of its efforts, the site now offers a downloadable package containing the procedure and boot files it says are necessary to create a dual-boot machine.
Meanwhile, efforts to boot Linux on the Intel-Mac platform have been progressing as well. Last month, developer Edgar "Gimli" Hucek said he had been able to boot a copy of Gentoo Foundations Gentoo Linux on the platform.
Collectively, these efforts—something that numerous individuals are working on, but Apple and Microsoft have not supported—appear to indicate that the machines can run the other operating systems in at least a rudimentary way.
"This shouldnt be a big surprise," said Richard Shim, analyst at IDC in San Mateo, Calif. Loyal Mac users might want or need access to Windows applications, Shim said.
"I dont think it hurts anybody, because youre still going to use one license from each," he said. "Unless theyre pirating it … if anything, its a double dip."
The individuals, in both cases, appear to have massaged the EFI (Extensible Firmware Interface), a relatively new type of firmware employed by the new Intel Macs, to allow the respective alternative operating systems to run on the Apple hardware.
EFI, which is also referred to as UEFI after the United EFI Forum body which maintains the UEFI standard, presents a standardized way for allowing computer hardware and operating systems to interact. Thus its proponents say it can speed boot times and cut down on conflicts that affect system stability. It also allows for pre-boot applications.
Apple adopted the firmware in developing its new Macs. The company has said that working with EFI presents a relatively swift way to add features, in addition to doubling the speed of its Intel Macs boot times.
Microsoft admitted earlier this month that Windows XP and the first version of Windows Vista cannot run natively on the Mac hardware, because the two operating systems use BIOS firmware and lack both EFI support and a so-called compatibility module, which would bridge the two and emulate certain key BIOS functions for EFI.
Online documentation written by Hucek says he got Gentoo Linux to run by modifying Intels open-source Elilo, the EFI Linux bootloader, which is available from the open-source EFI organization TianoCore.
Hucek was able to "boot from a USB hard disk on the [17-inch] iMac Core Duo," he said in a Linux-Watch interview. "We are using the hacked vesafb driver to inherit the bootloaders frame buffer, keyboard and a USB network card work."
The results are still imperfect. Hucek wrote in his documentation that his implementation might not be ready for broad consumption and that driver availability was still an issue.
"The kernel boots, and you can interact with the system on the command line, but thats as much as you can do with it at the moment," he wrote in the FAQ included with documentation for the procedure.
Still, "If youre a developer, though, thats a starting point," he wrote.