Macintosh Hackintosh

I recently bought a Mac. I wanted a small, easy to use media centre to sit next to my TV and while I originally looked into getting a Dell Zino I thought it’d be a perfect time to get an unintrusive Mac and headed off to the Apple Store and picked up a Mac Mini.

So far I’m loving it (even after having to return the first Mini due to a faulty graphics card and then the wireless keyboard due to a faulty space bar!) and as an introduction to Mac’s it’s been worth it. I don’t really do anything ‘Maccy’ on it other than use XBMC, browse the internet and use Aperture but I’m actually enjoying the experience rather than wanting to throw the machine out of the window (having said that, I’ll still dual boot to Windows should I want to do any hobby development with XNA).

Since I was so impressed with it, I thought it’d be worth trying to install Mac OS X on my little Dell Mini 9. I love my Mini 9 but even with a fresh install it’s been struggling even running Windows XP (taking 10 minutes to boot up(!), constantly freezing and generally being pretty naff). Installing OS X, I hoped, might give it a bit of a kick up the backside.

I also network the two machines, using the Dell as a little media server and Time Machine seemed to meet my server back up needs and it’s free out of the box. What’s not to like?

I was worried that this would involve kernel hacking, boot strap loaders, luck and quite a bit of swearing but surprisingly it was stupidly easy… Following the Hackintosh instructions for the Dell Mini 10 resulted in a Mac powered Mini 9 in about 90 minutes.

But then things got a little bit complicated. Anyone keeping track of the Hackintosh ‘scene’ will know that OS X 10.6.2 dropped support for Atom processors, put it back in, then dropped it in the final release, which would mean no OS X on my Dell Mini. But not updating an OS isn’t really that good an idea.

A few quick hits on Google brought up a possible hack. Changing various kernel files, kernel panics (seriously I’d panic trying this) and any other number of things that can go wrong (I’m not worried about anything breaking because it’s not going to be the end of the world. I just don’t really have the time to try and figure out what I need to do and do it, rather than it just working out of the box).

But there really are some cool people on the internet. Using NetBook Installer (a sister project to the Netbook BootMaker tool which was used to install OS X in the first place).

Updating from OS X 10.6.0 to 10.6.2 was as simple as

(I probably didn’t need to run Netbook Installer the first time but it only take 5 minutes).

And literally that was is. A smooth copy of OS X 10.6.2 running on my compact Dell Mini 9 as a quiet, low power media server.

It’s all good.

(It might be noticed that I’ve not been blogging much recently. I’ve not run out of things to say it’s just that with moving house, Christmas and lots (and lots) of DIY, the time has just not been there. Service will resume at some point – soon)

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