is anyone actually doing Windows on XO work here?

Bastien bastienguerry at
Tue Jul 21 05:16:41 EDT 2009

CC'ing SJ this time...

Bastien <bastienguerry at> writes:

> 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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