FAQ: Is It Possible?

Was this FAQ helpful to you?

  • Yes!

    Votes: 10 41.7%
  • No!

    Votes: 4 16.7%
  • Maybe...

    Votes: 1 4.2%
  • We'll see.

    Votes: 9 37.5%

  • Total voters

May 17, 2010

- Can I Run Windows?
- Can I run Xbox/PS2/Gamecube/Saturn/Dreamcast/DS/GBA/Game King games by "porting" them?
- Can I run games without Linux (unless the person who wrote the game is very dedicated)?
- Can I run Windows apps with WINE?


Can I Run Windows?

Short Answer: No

Short Reason: Pandora is different hardware to a PC. Microsoft doesn't support it.

Long Answer:

It cannot run a modern Windows operating system, although with an emulator it can run very early incarnations from the early 1990's. The latest version of Windows for which you can expect to run is 'Windows 3.11 For Workgroups'. Due to the extreme age of these older versions, they aren't able to run applications targetted for Windows 95/98, XP, Vista or Windows 7.

The Pandora has a different type of proccessor compared to a standard computer. Microsoft has developed Windows so as to run only on Intel based chips, and they don't support the type of CPU used in the Pandora.

For our machine, we use an ARM design, which is used in many portable devices such as mobile phones, the Ipod range, the Iphone and Ipod Touch models and the Nintendo DS (although this doesn't make the Pandora compatible with those machines; ARM designs vary greatly, unlike Intel x86).

The main advantage of using an ARM processor is greatly impoved battery life, as the Intel x86 CPU design (used in your PC, laptop of netbook) is a continuation of a design established in the 1980's for the original IBM PC. Have you ever noticed your PC uses the same power cord as your kettle? That's because it uses hundreds of watts! For a handheld, the power consumption is required to be roughly less than 5 Watts.

Dosbox is an emulator for many platforms that supports running applications for early PCs. The earliest editions of Windows were built on DOS technology and will run on this emulator, but you'll be limited to very old application software.

Can I run Xbox/PS2/Gamecube/Saturn/Dreamcast/DS/GBA/Game King games by "porting" them?

Short Answer: No

Short Reason: Those games were made for specific systems. The Pandora is a different system.

Long Answer:

Unfortunately not. Any software created for a closed platform -- that doesn't have source code available -- cannot be ported, except by the original author(s).

Source code is the long document of programming instructions which becomes converted, or 'compiled' into machine code. It is called 'source' because this is where the created machine code executable has 'come from'.

Machine code is the millions or billions of instructions sent every second to the CPU in order to make your computer... compute! Because CPU designs differ (for example between Intel and ARM) the mahcine code from one machine will not be compatible with another that has a different CPU. Rebuilding a machine code executable from available source code effectively creates a translated copy that the target machine can understand.

'Porting' is the term used to create an application from source for a new machine. The computer term 'port' literally means to take something from one place to another - the name derives from shipping port, the means by which goods are taken into or out of a country. Without a shipping port, or an airport, an island cannot send or recieve goods.

Can I run games without Linux (unless the person who wrote the game is very dedicated)?

Short Answer: No

Short Reason: Hardware is now too complicated for this, unlike in the past.

Long Answer:

It isn't very likely. Having an operating system on your computer provides functions which save people writing software from repeating the same work as each other. For example, it will provide functions to access sound, video, hardware sockets, showing windows onto the screen and provide the ability to use networking.

Very early systems from the 1980's didn't have an operating system, and provided many of the system functions using an onboard chip called a 'ROM' or 'BIOS'. Because the CPU was not needed to provide this, games could take full advtange.

Since the IBM PC became the standard format for computers, hardware has since become modular; parts in a PC based system can be changed and upgraded and this was one of the reasons the PC succeeded. Because the amount of hardware combinations grew so large, software couldn't support it all! An operating system was needed - essentially an application that could interface with all the included hardware so that software developers can relax and concentrate on the functions of their application.

Linux today is such an operating system. It is open source and can be recompiled for many CPU types, and as such was chosen for the Pandora in order to re-use all the work that had already been completed by other Linux developers. Without Linux, the Pandora would require a development team of hundreds to support the sophisticated hardware of today. Four or five people adapted Linux for the Pandora, although working out the many bugs and issues was (and still is) a significant task.

Replicating all the man hours required for creating Linux (or any other operating system) for a single game isn't feasible, although it is technically possible! A more likely scenario is that developers will create a customised version of Linux that is made very small without any uneeded features - and then bundle this with a game. This game could then be put onto an SD card and booted, similar to disks or cartridges from early computers and consoles!

Can I run Windows apps with WINE?

Short Answer: Not yet.

Short Reason: It requires CPU emulation combined with Wine. This isn't available for the Pandora yet. The result when released will also be pretty slow.

Long Answer:

Not at the moment. Wine is a compatibility layer that translates all the functions given to programs by Windows - such as creating buttons, menus and other features provided by the operating system. It looks at what functions the program is asking for, and serves an approximation of that request for the Linux operating system.

The diadvantage with Wine is that because it doesn't emulate the Intel based CPU of a PC, it doesn't function on systems with an alternative CPU such as ARM. This includes the Pandora, which has an ARM CPU.

Qemu, is a CPU emulator that can translate machine code from one to another in real time. It can also be used in conjuction with the Wine compatibility layer to allow Windows programs to function on a machine other than a PC.

Qemu with Wine isn't available for the Pandora at the time of writing.

The performance will be approximately the equivalent of a Pentium 100, because of the computational requirements of translation. This may not be fast enough to run your intended software. It won't be fast enough to run anything intensive, especially games from the last 15 years.
I was thinking, I could put the long answers in spoiler tags? Does that require javascript?
atomicthumbs said:
this would probably be a better thread than mine to have pinned

Just PM me stuff if you have any ideas of what to add. I'm not really sure myself.

Good sport! Glad you weren't annoyed or anything. B)
Last edited by a moderator:
Nice :)
It would still be cool if a Mod would add that missing 't' in the forums title ;)
mali said:
Nice :)
It would still be cool if a Mod would add that missing 't' in the forums title ;)

Agreed. We're pedantic bastards. :D
Last edited by a moderator:
Hey, my thread hit the big time!

Come on post, this aint Software Hacking. Show some decorum.

*serious pose*
gba emulation is not possible on the pandora? elaborate please, sry if its a noob question, but ultimately my dingoo can do it why cant my pandora?!
SomeGuy99 said:
I was thinking, I could put the long answers in spoiler tags? Does that require javascript?

Last edited by a moderator:
Gruso said:
Yep, we have two GBA emulators. :) The FAQ says that GBA games can't be ported, not that they can't be emulated. ;)

Two? :eek:

Are you counting gpSP in GINGE?
Last edited by a moderator: