Powerbook runs XP

It’s done. The contest has been won.

Windows XP is installable on a MacBook Pro and it even boots from there after the installation.

This solves a big problem I’m having: In the office, I’m using a 30″ cinema display connected to a Windows XP box which I had to custom-build because no out-of-the box systems have graphics cards with dual-link DVI ports which is needed for all resolutions bigger than 1920×1080 (technically, the limit is even 1600×1200, but 1920 still works somehow).

Now, custom-built boxes are nice, but they have two flaws: The first is the noise. Even though I got it to run very quiet despite the kick-ass graphics card I had to put in, it’s louder than your average laptop (it was even louder before I unplugged the chipset fan. As it’s working stable since more than a year now, I guess it doesn’t matter). The second problem is the problem of data redundancy:

If you prefer and have the ability, like I do, to both work at home and in the office, you are dependant of having current data at both places. Version control systems help a lot here, but they don’t solve all the problems (unfinished revisions which I don’t like to commit and binary files). In the end, the only way to have your data where you need it is to maintain it only at one place at a time.

This is the main advantage I’m seeing in laptops (beside the quietness).

Looking at the current laptop pc market, it’s even worse in respect of dual-link DVI outputs: Usually, you don’t even get single-link DVI. And custom-building one is no option unfortunately. There are some barebones, but what comes out of such an operation is a loud, badly manufactured “thing” with short battery life.

So, hardware-wise, powerbooks were always perfect because all of them have my direly needed dual-link DVI port.

The problem was the software. I’m dependant on Delphi for my daily work. Even if days can pass without me actually using it, it still happens that I need it. And when I do, it must be quick.

The other thing is multimedia. No matter what you are now going to tell me: Nothing on the Mac matches the perfect architecture of DirectShow which allows media players and codecs to be developped independently. Core Media Player with the right codec pack is unbeatable in performance, usability (at least for me) and versatility. Sorry Quicktime (only quicktime and maybe DivX). Sorry MPlayer (always uses 100% CPU, awkward GUI). You just don’t beat that.

Also multimedia related is my passion for speedruns and superplay movies in particular. For the latter ones, you need the emulator and the original ROM and especially the emulators (some of which are patched for the movies to work) don’t run on the Mac Platform and if they do, they only do with some limitations (like pausing the emulation stopping the playback of the movie in Snes9x).

If I want a single computer to work both at home and in the office, it must do both: Provide an environement to work with and an environement to play with.

OS X allows me to do some developement (TextMate comes to mind), but not all. It allows me to do some multimedia (XVid works sometimes), but not all. Thus, OS X is currently not a solution for me. At least not the single one (I’d love to work in TextMate for PHP and Ruby, eclipse for Java, but I can’t do Delphi or Windows CE).

So what I need is Windows (where the software does everything I need) on a Macintosh Laptop (where the hardware does everything I need).

Up until today, this was not possible.

Now it is. This wonderous hack (which is not completely disclosed yet, but I have a very good idea how it works) solves my problem in allowing me to combine the optimal software (for me. I know lots of people who can be perfectly happy with OS X) with the optimal hardware (for me).

Needless to say that I’ve ordered a MacBook Pro at our hardware distributor. They even had 13 on stock, so I’ll be getting mine tomorrow.

I hope the hack gets disclosed shortly, so I can do that nice dual-boot configuration :-)

Or maybe Virtual PC just works good enough for delphi and the speedruns…

Update: A howto with needed tools is now ready to be donwnloaded