Triple Boot on Intel-Based Macs?

by Ming Chow

Intel-based processor? Check.

Sufficient screen size? Check.

Sufficient graphics card? Check.

Sufficient default memory and hard disk size? Check.

Bonus: Energy Star compliant, built-in iSight camera, Superdrive --check.

Affordable price? A system starting with all of the above starting at $1299, that's very good. Check.

Run Windows, Linux, and Mac natively on one box? Well, I am not sure yet. This is the only thing that is holding me back from running out to an Apple Store today and buy a new Intel-based iMac. Last year, we saw a preview of Windows XP running on an Intel-based developer Mac (and that was no April's Fools Day joke). Now, there is news that Windows will not run on an Intel-based Mac because of Apple's use the extensible firmware interface (EFI), not BIOS. I do not know what to believe.

It would be a blessing if one could run all three systems natively on one box. Right now, I have a dual-boot Linux and Windows Intel box, and an iBook. I use my iBook for traveling, and to manage my media (music and photos). I use the Windows partition to primarily play games (locked down from the network). I use the Linux partition for virtualization, research, and everything else.

I am sure that I am not the only one who wants such a system. Remember Scott Granneman's article on SecurityFocus last year, his conversation with an FBI special agent? Recall:

"...Many of the computer security folks back at FBI HQ use Macs running OS X, since those machines can do just about anything: run software for Mac, Unix, or Windows, using either a GUI or the command line. And they're secure out of the box. In the field, however, they don't have as much money to spend, so they have to stretch their dollars by buying WinTel-based hardware. Are you listening, Apple? The FBI wants to buy your stuff. Talk to them!"

Any confirmations of triple-booting on an Intel-based Mac?


2006-01-13 15:13:08
Dual/triple booting is cute, but...
I find rebooting very disruptive to all the tasks I'm trying to do, so every single dual (or more) boot machine I've had eventually settled on one OS (which then typically stays booted for weeks at a time).

A VMWare/Xen virtual machine setup that let me run three or more OS's simultaneously, well, that would be totally cool. I just don't know about this multi-boot hoo-ha.

2006-01-13 17:03:36
BetaNews : XP Won’t Run on Intel MacBook, iMac
    With the announcement of the first Intel based Macs yesterday, many users have rejoiced in being able to dual-boot both Mac OS X and Windows. Unfortunately, this is not the case; due to Apple's use of the extensible firmware interface (EFI) rather than BIOS, current Windows releases will not run on the systems.

Extensible Firmware Interface

    The Extensible Firmware Interface (EFI) is an updated BIOS specification developed by Intel. It allows vendors to create operating-system-independent device drivers that are stored within the hardware itself. In that sense, it is similar to Open Firmware, the hardware-independent firmware used in PowerPC-based Apple Macintosh computers, Sun Microsystems SPARC computers, and others. EFI also allows the operating system to run in a sandbox, delegating networking and memory management issues to the firmware instead of the OS. Attempts by the OS to access the hardware are converted to calls to the EFI drivers. The EFI BIOS is also used to select and load the operating system, replacing the need for a boot loader. EFI is one of the pieces of the framework necessary to implement Trusted Computing.
2006-01-13 18:01:02
Fast OS Switching
Imagine this
Instead of fast user switching "Fast OS Switching"

I am sure someone will hack up a Fast OS Switching no reboot required VMWare type of utility.
Just thinking out loud.


2006-01-13 21:51:32
Dual/triple booting is cute, but...
I agree and would be very suprised if MS doesn't port their VPC 2004 for Windows to OS X to fill the gap. That'd probably be faster than modifying VPC for Mac to not try and translate x86 -> PPC.

2006-01-14 01:21:14
Dual/triple booting is cute, but...
OSes with the ability to safe sleep (OS X), hibernate (Windows), sys-suspend (Solaris), ??? (Linux) make "rebooting" into each of them more convenient.

Of course being able to run them simultaneously is useful but does have some disadvantages such as using more memory.

Personally, I wouldn't want to cold boot a different OS (or even the same one) every time I wanted to use it.

2006-01-14 13:55:13
Dual/triple booting is cute, but...
It would also have the advantages that VPC also offers like ability to cut & paste that are lost in either multi-boot or virtualization solutions.

At least until people come up with a standard method for sharing memory between O/S (which could be a nightmare, but not unimaginable - I can imagine a buffer, mostly used for cut-and-paste, which all O/S could read from, but the O/S that requests the memory is the one responsible for disposal - or they could communicate with each other via networking on the same machine (a popular solution in middleware).

You're still left with either switching desktops, or taking a hit by running an o/s 'inside' a window - which means it's not going to have direct access to the BIOS, only to a VM running in the 'main' O/S. A

2006-01-15 07:28:02
Dual/triple booting is cute, but...
A VPC or VMware solution is the way to go. I and a few of my teaching colleagues use that currently. We love Mac, but are forced to use several Win only programs during the day. With VPC I can switch in and out of Windows instantly, and work live with the same file between the two (I have my Documents folder set as a permanent share. I use one program in windows to generate some java web stuff, then command switch to OSX to use GoLive to integrate it into a website). I also plug in an external LCD screen and let Mac fill the 19” external and windows can have the 12” ibook screen. I am tremendously more productive to have to OSs running full time with the same keyboard and mouse and copying and pasting between them. The only thing holding this back is that VPC runs like a pig. But now ….
2006-03-15 07:40:06
mmmmmmm osx + vista + red hat + solaris... would be nice on a macbook pro... when at home put it on lcd and normal keyboard/mouse and on the road just reboot with a different os...