Tutorial: Triple-boot Win XP, Linux and OS X on an Intel Mac

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Moving your entire product line of both hardware and software from one CPU architecture to another isn't an easy job, but given its progress so far I'd say that Apple could write the book on it. In the last few months Apple has released Intel versions of its iMac and Mac mini systems, as well as the remarkable MacBook Pro, finally answering those that criticised Apple's failure to bring a PowerBook G5 to market.

Apple's biggest surprise so far though has been Boot Camp -- the official but unsupported method of installing Windows XP on Intel-based Macs. Apple had said on several occasions that it would do nothing to prevent running alternative operating systems, but it certainly came as a surprise to me to see the company actively encouraging it. But why can't Intel Macs boot XP in the first place, and what does Boot Camp do to allow it to work?

Welcome, soldiers

Boot Camp is actually a collection of technologies. The key is in the firmware upgrades that Apple has released for each of its Intel systems. Intel Macs use the Extensible Firmware Interface (EFI), a modern, but incompatible, replacement for the age-old BIOS. Intel has been touting EFI for many years, but until now it has been seen mainly on Itanium systems.

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