> 28th July 2009, 01:16       Duss

last update: > 11th September 2009, 02:09      [Snow leopard]

Hackintosh-ing

2 weeks ago, I decided to give it a try, and install OsX Leopard on my PC. This is a rather recent machine, with a P45 motherboard, quad core Q9550, and 8 gigas. I have a newer one, less powerful machine, as my Linux box, with an Asus P5N7A-VM mobo and a E5200 cpu, but Ubuntu is happily installed there, no need to mess it up.

There were two reasons to try:

  1. My Vista 64 bits installation had gone berserk. Just the day before I had done a full partition backup, so there was nothing lost -at least-.
  2. I had a valid OsX Leopard license. I had bought it in UK for 90 euros, deciding finally to upgrade my Mac Mini, which was still using the original Tiger installation. The main reason for this was to be finally able to use Java 6, but alas, my MacMini uses a Core Duo cpu, limited to 32 bits, and Java 6 is exclusively 64 bits. Then, my girlfriend started complaining that the programs she usually run were much slower, so I restored the Tiger installation.

I know -more or less- about licensing issues, etc, installing on PCs probably not legal, but there I was, having a useless Leopard disk and a useless PC -until I would restore the Vista partition-, so I went for it.

Result: a lot of hours lost, but a fully working PC with OsX (and Vista and Ubuntu). And now I would like to say that I am not really sure it is worth. There are two good points:

  1. You end up with a rather powerful configuration at a great price (by Apple standards, that is). This is the fault of Apple, segmenting the market on powerful configurations (Mac Pro) or basic ones (Mac Mini), letting a big product hole in the middle. In any case, I am sure that Apple has studied the market, and the current situation is the optimal for them (No, I do not consider iMac in the same level).
  2. The experience is quite interesting, from a geek point of view. The process does not seem to me so different as trying to install Linux... 14 years ago!

However:

  1. You miss the full experience.
    • I consider my PC as being totally configured under OsX. But once I let the machine sleep once, the next reboot/shutdown won't work.
    • My system works today. I am not sure that it will do it on the next update. In fact, this helps me being finally up to date with my backups :-)
    • Worse, once Snow Leopard comes into play, I am sure I will have to wait a long time before being able to install it, if I am ever able to do it. Update: well, not really, I installed Snow Leopard quite quickly, but reading again a lot of posts and losing couple of days trying multiple configurations.
    • I have several iPods. Packaging -and my unpacking- was a great experience. I can fully understand why there are so many places and/or reviews dedicating a lot of effort to speak about it. I had bought an Apple Keyboard 4 months ago, and I really enjoyed unpacking it. I know, this is shallow, this is definitely not a reason to buy Apple, but it is really a part of the full experience.
  2. Perhaps you are experiencing much more than the Apple way.
    • The installation is a full try and error experience. The audio does not work? Check it on the forums, where you get finally some solution, meaning installing some Kext. That is, installing a driver in your system, that you download from the internet, giving to it full access privileges. Sounds secure?
    • In some cases, it is needed to patch the Bios. Patching the Bios is that kind of operation that can brick immediately the computer. Motherboards manufacturers recommend avoiding flashing the Bios, and yet it is needed to download a version from unknown sources, and install it. It is risky, but, more importantly, is is all but secure. If I wanted to install a keylogger in a machine, the very best place to do so would be... in the Bios!
    • Note:Now, this is probably not the case. You can download the sources of the Kexts, compile them, ensure that there are not alien instructions. And you can patch the Bios on your own, although is not that easy, and you can now brick the computer out of your own efforts :-)

  3. The carrot on the stick.

    You can download OsX for free. It envolves some illegal activities, but Apple does not seem to oppose it, at least not very strongly. The installation seems to have no associated DRM, when even iLife has a serial number. The platform is there, but is not enforced on the operative system.

    Perhaps I could think that Apple prefers to extend its presence. Users fall, with few exceptions, in love with the cute system, and they can easily choose Apple hardware on the next iteration (if I needed now a laptop, I know it would be Apple).

    Well, nothing to oppose here, but:

    • Even if you have an Apple machine, things do not always work. If you trace the forums, you will read about problems after updates, or even hardware problems, overheating, etc. Definitely less problematic than Vista, but well, Vista supports a great-great-great-....-greater number of configuration than OsX does.
    • Apple, like Microsoft, is a closed system. I have a rather new machine -my Mac Mini is less than 3 years old-, where I cannot install Java 6 (or not easily). In fact, my impression is that Apple makes old hardware useless pretty quickly (I refer here to PowerPC, or soon to any pre-Core 2 Duo cpus, etc).

    This has, in fact, nothing to do with a hackintosh, and I am just ranting against Apple. As I said, my secondary machine -or primary one, where I am now writing this post- is Linux, and Kubuntu 9.04 looks really fantastic on it, and I doubt I will ever want to bother installing OsX on it.

But on the meantime, I am positive about my hackintosh installation. If Snow Leopard can't be installed there, perhaps I will get back to Vista 64, or play with Windows 7. And then, perhaps, I will get rid of problems and buy Mac Pro next time, but that shouldn't be before 3 years, under OsX Snow Jaunty, or so... And, on the meantime, I will always have a proper Linux installation.

Update: in fact, I have finally installed OsX also on my secondary machine, as detailed in this post. However, I have done it, mainly, for the sake and the fun of it.

Update, related to 10.5.8 upgrade

After some short holidays, I updated my two hackintoshes to 10.5.8; the hell didn't freeze, but lost the sound. The experience was fully Linux-like, where things start misbehaving and some effort is needed to get the chaos back to being tolerable. But while in Linux-land the efforts are quite organized (ahh-m) and well documented (AHH-M!), hackintosh-land seems a bit more challenging. Fortunately, the backup system works far too good, and the updates happen not that often...

On the positive side (hackintosh+, that is), I was informed on the disadvantages of the Mac Pro (infernal noise), and my search for a solution on the lack of sound on my system guided me to Apple forums where owners of original Apple hardware reported the same problem.

I think I will get back to Vista, just waiting for the hell to freeze..., where is my ZX Spectrum????

New update, for Snow Leopard

The game goes on! [updates on Snow Leopard okay, further software updates to 10.6.1 and 10.6.2, fine on both my hackinstoshes]