is anyone actually doing Windows on XO work here?

Mitch Bradley wmb at laptop.org
Tue Jul 21 04:33:14 EDT 2009


>
> 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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