is anyone actually doing Windows on XO work here?

Bastien bastienguerry at
Tue Jul 21 04:45:07 EDT 2009

Thanks *very much* for these explanations.

I hope this kind of information can find its way through the OLPC blog,
maybe with a little more context.  Then we can fight the FUD by linking
to these explanations.

Coyping sj, as I think he's responsible for OLPC's blog, but I might be
wrong about this.

Mitch Bradley <wmb at> writes:

>> Now AFAIK, there's little to no Windows work being done in-house by
>> the OLPC team, and it's all or mostly at Microsoft's side that the
>> work's being done.
> At the moment, OLPC is doing approximately zero work on Windows.  That 
> wasn't true last year.  I spent several months last year making it 
> possible to boot Windows from Open Firmware.  The reason I did that was 
> to prevent Microsoft from "taking over" the XO machine.  Their plan was 
> to purchase machines and instruct the factory to reflash their SPI FLASH 
> boot ROM with a conventional BIOS - which would have prevented OLPC's 
> Linux from working.  It would have been possible to boot a different 
> Linux distro from that BIOS, but it would not have been bootable from 
> NAND FLASH, the OLPC security would not have been available, OLPC's 
> special power management would not have worked, and the OFW-resident 
> management features like diagnostics and NAND update would have been 
> lost.  Essentially it would have been a one-way ticket to Microsoft land.
> That one-way road was unacceptable to Nicholas.  He insisted that, if 
> any machines were to be able to run Windows, they must be able to dual-boot.
> Microsoft already had the one-way solution working, with only the barest 
> amount of involvement from the OLPC team - essentially, I answered a few 
> questions that Microsoft's rep posed to me.  The time I spent doing that 
> was comparable to the time I spent answering similar questions from 
> people porting other operating systems, such as Minix, Plan 9, and ReactOS.
> The big chunks of time that I spent on Microsoft-related stuff were not 
> to make Windows run on the XO - that was already a done deal.  I spent 
> the time to enable OFW to dual-boot Windows and Linux, thus preventing 
> "Windows only" XOs.
> That work paid off in another way for XO-1.5.  The ACPI infrastructure 
> necessary to run Windows on XO-1 let us to use a more "standard" Linux 
> kernel for XO-1.5.  That's good in that it helps our chances of meeting 
> our tight schedule with our modest system software resources, and 
> reduces the amount of upstream merging that we must do.  It's bad from 
> the standpoint that XO-1.5 is looking more and more like a conventional 
> PC, thus bringing it dangerously close to the "black hole" of the PC 
> industry that sucks everything into the commodity ecosystem in which 
> Intel has near-total control over the evolution of the system architecture.
> It's possible - even likely - that I will have to spend some time in the 
> next few months to make Windows boot on XO-1.5.  I expect that will go 
> quite quickly compared to the last effort, as the XO-1 work should carry 
> over.
> Mitch
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