Simple dual-boot OSX and WindowsXP on Lenovo IdeaPad


If you want OS X running on your Lenovo S10 then a retail copy of Snow Leopard and the Snow Leopard Enabler are clearly the way to go. So far pretty much everything seems to work except sleep and ethernet (though I’ve not tried the latter) on my S10-2. Crucially, sound does work. The web cam even works in PhotoBooth if you crank up iChat first and tick the menu option to show video effects first.

I previously had a triple-boot thing with OS X, Windows XP Home Edition and Ubuntu Netbook Remix going on, but I realised there wasn’t much I wanted to do in Linux that I couldn’t do in OS X or Windows – so I decided to simplify it a bit and make the machine a bit more elegant. Instead of a text menu I would have a machine that would boot into OS X without delay unless I told it I wanted to go into Windows – as I will be using OS X almost all the time.

An easy, elegant way to switch between Windows and OS X is to use Apple’s Darwin bootloader – but when I wiped the disk and reinstalled both operating systems I found that the OS X bootloader couldn’t see Windows, only OS X. Configuring the Darwin bootloader seems to be a dark art, and there’s not much info on the web. But I discovered that the order you install them in seems to matter. Here’s how I got it working.

1) Wipe the whole hard drive clean. Do this by booting off your OS X install USB stick, use Disk Utility to partition the disk in 2 parts. I have a 250GB hard drive in my IdeaPad. I made the 1st partition 160GB OS X, HFS+ MacOS Journalled, using Master Boot Record. I left the rest of the disk blank and I did not install OS X at this point.

2) I booted off a WindowsXP Home Edition install CD and made a 15GB NTFS partition in the free space and installed Windows on it. (I found that making FAT32 partitions in Apple Disk Utility seemed to give me disk errors when it came to installing Windows, even if I made it NTFS later, so it’s best to get the Windows installer to make the Windows partition.)

3) I then booted off the OS X install USB stick again and installed OS X on the OS X / Mac-formatted 160GB partition.

4) When you reboot the machine will go into OS X unless you press F8 on startup – just after the Lenovo splash screen and just before the Apple logo.

choose os x

And you get two logos – cursor left or right to choose the OS you want to boot from.

choose windows

Next I plan to use some of the spare space to make a FAT32 disk I can use to swap data between OS X and Windows. And maybe leave a sliver free for Linux in the future…

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8 Responses to Simple dual-boot OSX and WindowsXP on Lenovo IdeaPad

  1. jon says:

    cool! thanks. when you do get linux on as a third boot, would much appreciate a write-up–i’d love to have ubuntu sitting next to win 7 and OS X

  2. blogmywiki says:

    I don’t think it’s possible to get the Apple Darwin bootloader to boot linux with a graphical user interface like this – would be cool though…

  3. jon says:

    have you had trouble after updating to 10.6.2?
    i updated and now hold F8 for a long time but after lenovo splash screen it just goes straight to OSX

  4. Ben says:

    Wondering same as above for 10.6.3. Before I wipe everything, curious to know if it will still work. Used 10.6.3 combo update after installing Snow Leopard with enabler.


  5. Ben says:

    It does still work, however, I had a difficult time getting Windows to boot correctly after loading OSX. Windows ran fine before loading OSX, but then when I would hit F8, I would get the Windows XP screen (black) to load, followed by a pixelated Windows screen (blue). The solution I found to correct this was to repartition with FAT32 in OSX, then load Windows by reformatting to NTFS. I believe it was a partition issue but not sure. Anyway, it corrected it, and now I can dual boot, so I hope this hellos someone else out there.

    Thanks to blogmywiki for this great post. By far the easiest dual boot instructions I’ve found.

  6. Christian says:

    does that mean that i can install as many os’es before os x, and then after i’ve installed os x and so on, i can just press f8, and choose which os i want to boot? :)

  7. blogmywiki says:

    I think this method only works for Windows XP and OS X.

  8. ygnaz says:

    I regret to notice, that neither XP-Sp3 nor OS X 10.6 can be installed following your
    procedure on a Lenovo S10e. OS X needs GUID-Partition and XP reports, that its
    installation is impossible…

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