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Use Boot Camp Windows installation without rebooting System
A couple years ago, when the Intel transition was just beginning, Apple introduced Boot Camp. Probably you've heard of it -- Boot Camp lets you boot your Mac natively into Windows, with full driver support for all hardware. Really, if you need the best Windows performance from your Mac, Boot Camp tops all the virtualization applications. I, however, hate running Boot Camp, because it requires a reboot. Looking for a way around this problem -- I wanted the power of Boot Camp without a reboot -- I dug deep into the guts of OS X, going crazy with strings - in Terminal on a slew of binary files.

Finally, after much digging, I found a solution! Of course, you're probably thinking, "that's impossible!" Often, though, what seems impossible isn't, and such is the case here. Look, I didn't believe it myself until I tried it and it worked. So let's get started...

Fire up Terminal, enter this command, and press Return when done:
defaults write com.apple.StarTrek BootCampLive -bool true
That's it, you're done with the hard part (Star Trek was the code name of an old Apple project that involved porting the Mac OS to run on Intel-powered machines; Apple's engineers have apparently repurposed this word!).

Now, in the Finder, navigate to your Boot Camp partition (assuming Windows XP Pro, which is what I use), then drill down into Windows » System32, and double-click on bootcfg.exe. With the command above in place -- which creates a special file in your user's Preferences folder -- the bootcfg.exe file will launch, and soon enough, you'll see Windows booting in a window of its own!

What you see is real -- it's the full Boot Camp Windows installation booting directly on top of OS X, but not as an application. Instead, it's more like one of those TV tuner cards that puts an overlay on your screen. You won't be able to take screenshots, copy and paste into or out of the Windows window, or drag and drop to/from the window. (If you hold down Command and Option, you can resize and move the window, and you'll see the Boot Camp identifier, as seen in the photo at right -- sorry for the quality, but I had to use my digital camera to capture it). But everything else works! Hardware mounts natively, my iSight worked (it would disable itself in iChat, for instance, if I activated it in a Windows chat client), and even my Wacom tablet worked. Flight Sim X ran with excellent frame rates, too.

When you're done, just shut down Windows as normal, and the overlay window will vanish.

Note that this is very experimental, and you may experience system instability -- I had one full lockup while testing, so please, proceed at your own risk and make sure you're backup is current! If you've tried this trick, and you're not happy with the results, you can just delete the com.appleStarTrek file that you'll find in your user's Library » Preferences folder, and all will be back to normal.

[robg adds: For those reading this hint at some point in the future, the above was an April Fool's Day entry from April 1st, 2009. I have marked the giveaway characters in the first two paragraphs to make it bit more obvious, and this note to completely reveal the ruse to unsuspecting future readers.]
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Use Boot Camp Windows installation without rebooting
Authored by: metiure on Apr 01, '09 07:50:00AM

Yeah, happy fool's day too :)



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Use Boot Camp Windows installation without rebooting
Authored by: robg on Apr 01, '09 08:16:10AM

Yea, but did you catch the hidden giveaway, other than the absurdity of the hint? :)

-rob.



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Use Boot Camp Windows installation without rebooting
Authored by: rxcfc on Apr 01, '09 08:29:56AM

Apple Remote Desktop?



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Use Boot Camp Windows installation without rebooting
Authored by: meall on Apr 01, '09 08:41:15AM

The IE windows display the "Best April Fool prank", is that it?



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Use Boot Camp Windows installation without rebooting
Authored by: robg on Apr 01, '09 08:52:58AM

Read the first two paragraphs carefully, paying attention to each sentence's structure.

-rob.



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Use Boot Camp Windows installation without rebooting
Authored by: asmeurer on Apr 01, '09 09:06:32AM

Well, they are poorly written. It doesn't sound like the style I am used to here.



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Use Boot Camp Windows installation without rebooting
Authored by: robg on Apr 01, '09 09:11:16AM

That's because they, um, were required to be in a certain style to make the giveaway work :). I had only a couple of choices for the first word in each sentence (hint!).

-rob.



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Use Boot Camp Windows installation without rebooting
Authored by: gabester on Apr 01, '09 09:15:56AM

Actually people really ideally look for only obvious links sometimes.
Good one, Rob! You got me for about 7 seconds of hope and wonder. Then I remembered what day it is... and the writing did seem a little off, but I couldn't place it until you gave this hint.



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Use Boot Camp Windows installation without rebooting
Authored by: jsturtridge on Apr 01, '09 08:04:53AM
I'm surprised that you've not found the "Yoda" variant of this ... just simply type:
defaults write com.apple.StarWars BootCampLive -bool true



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Use Boot Camp Windows installation without rebooting
Authored by: McSvenster on Apr 01, '09 08:20:10AM

You absolutely have to give it a try with solaris: Make another BootCamp Partition and install OpenSolaris on it. It's so amazingly fast ... You'll never waste time again.

;-))))))



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Use Boot Camp Windows installation without rebooting
Authored by: Spinnetti on Apr 01, '09 07:54:36PM

that was mean.. suckered me in



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Use Boot Camp Windows installation without rebooting
Authored by: micmoo on Apr 01, '09 09:50:00PM

This was the only trick I fell for today!!! CURSE YOU MACOSXHINTS!!! ;)



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Use Boot Camp Windows installation without rebooting
Authored by: genglefins on Apr 02, '09 01:00:49AM

Re: Sentence Structure — A.P.R.I.L.F.O.O.L.S.

The style also reminded me of those "Kipkay" videos on YouTube.

well done.



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Use Boot Camp Windows installation without rebooting
Authored by: S Barman on Apr 02, '09 05:24:21AM

Oh drat... I figured this out before scrolling down! :-)

That was very subtle and very good!!



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Use Boot Camp Windows installation without rebooting
Authored by: DVD Plaza on Apr 04, '09 12:02:40AM

April Fools only applies until midday, so fool on you for not appending a retraction even days later.



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Use Boot Camp Windows installation without rebooting
Authored by: MacsAre1 on Apr 04, '09 11:34:07AM

Tell me about it! I'm perusing RSS Feeds here and wasn't suspecting anything fishy. April 1 is April Fools, not days later. You need to change the headline or something, the joke's over.



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Use Boot Camp Windows installation without rebooting
Authored by: robg on May 07, '09 07:05:27AM
With one exception (noted below), I've left all the April Fool's pranks online, dating back to 2003: To make it clearer that this was a prank, I've edited the first two grafs to make it a bit more obvious, and added a note at the end.

-rob.

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Use Boot Camp Windows installation without rebooting
Authored by: _AbE_ on Apr 06, '09 05:49:02PM
There is a real program to do this: BootChamp (www.kainjow.com)

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Use Boot Camp Windows installation without rebooting
Authored by: arglborps on Apr 07, '09 12:28:27PM
BootChamp doesn't, but there's a free solution to do this:

VirtualBox (http://www.virtualbox.org/)

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Use Boot Camp Windows installation without rebooting
Authored by: mobimation on Aug 04, '11 02:00:17AM

Parallels changed this into less of a joke



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You can do this now
Authored by: wfolta on Dec 05, '11 11:43:28AM

You can do this now, for free. There are a couple of websites that have detailed instructions on how to use an existing Bootcamp partition with Virtualbox. (It's different from running Virtualbox from a disk image. Read user comments, since a Lion installation will have 3 partitions before the BOOTCAMP partition, not the 2 that Leopard had.)

You have to use Terminal and you have to make sure you get the commands right to set it up. Not sure how Virtualbox's drivers and Apple's Bootcamp drivers work together. I haven't actually tried it yet because I installed an OEM version of Windows 7 under Bootcamp and have heard that booting it in a VM looks like a different motherboard so Windows requires a second activation, which you may or may not be able to get for an OEM version.

I believe Fusion and Parallels also now support running off of a Bootcamp partition as well. We really should have a serious posting on this topic.



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