Daniel Eran Dilger
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Snow Leopard’s Boot Camp to support HFS+ under Windows

Daniel Eran Dilger

The next version of Apple’s Boot Camp utility, shipping with Mac OS X Snow Leopard, will enable a natively-installed Windows partition to read HFS+ Mac partitions, sources say.The finding, initially reported by MacRumors, will enable Mac users who install Windows natively to access their Mac files directly, bringing the same kind of cross-platform integration that virtualization programs such as Fusion, Parallels, and Sun’s VirtualBox provide.

While the Mac OS has long had the capacity to read DOS or Window volumes formatted using Microsoft’s FAT (File Allocation Table) file system, and in Leopard has gained the capacity to read NTFS, the preferred file system for more recent releases of Windows, Microsoft has never given Windows the native capacity to read the HFS+ volumes used by the Mac OS. Windows also lacks any support for working with disk images.

Snow Leopard is expected to deliver improved NTFS support for accessing Windows volumes, and the MacFUSE open source project already offers advanced NTFS read and write support for Macs running at least 10.4 Tiger on either PowerPC or Intel Macs.

The Boot Camp drill

Apple’s Boot Camp is a two-stage tool that initially prepares an Intel Mac to install Windows by repartitioning the boot volume in place and then configuring the Mac’s EFI firmware to allow booting into the new partition and installing Windows from a conventional installation disc.

The second stage of Boot Camp installs a variety of custom Windows drivers, developed by Apple, which enable the operating system to work correctly with hardware such as the iSight video camera, Firewire, multitouch trackpad, optical digital audio interfaces, illuminating keyboard, and other hardware custom to Macs.

Apple isn’t yet talking about the new HFS+ drivers supplied in Snow Leopard’s Boot Camp, and whether they will be made available separately to allow Windows PC users to access HFS+ volumes. Currently, using a Mac formatted drive within Windows requires one of a variety of commercial programs that enable HFS+ support for Windows, such as Mediafour’s MacDrive or Erik Larsson’s free HFSExplorer, a Java utility that provides read-only access to Mac files and disk images from Windows.

  • http://bkpfd.org qka

    Hey Dan-

    Your RSS feed is hosed again! This came thru RSS on May 28.

    I love your writing, but I wish I would find out about it in a timely manner.

    Thanks!

  • http://jimeh.me/ jimeh

    Good article as always :)… You do however have one fact wrong. And that’s that Leopard added NTFS support to Mac OS X.

    Read-only NTFS support has existed at least since Pather (10.3). There was some bugs and issues with it tho if I remember right which weren’t fixed till 10.4.1.

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