Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Creating a Hackintosh - the build process

Previously I outlined my first steps in defining my requirements for a DIY Apple netbook (more commonly known as a Hackintosh), and the components I selected to start the "project".

Unfortunately it took much longer than expected to get started initially because of supplier issues and then FedEx lost the netbook. However eventually all the bits ended up where they were required and I was finally able to get started.

In this entry I'll explain the process of installing the software and hardware onto the Dell Mini 9. If you want a lot of gory technical details I'm afraid I'm going to disappoint you. I chose to load OS X onto a RunCore SSD using my MacBook Pro. You can download the instructions from the myDellMini web site. The beauty of the RunCore is that you can connect it directly to a Mac via a standard micro USB cable (which is provided with the SSD). The beauty of the myDellMini web site is that it is a one stop shop for everything you need to know, and this is where you can get your fill of technical information.

Truth is that the installation guide is so comprehensive that there is little for me to add. Print out the guide and check off each item as you complete it. Steps 1 to 11 are very straightforward and shouldn't cause you any cause for concern. There are no "heart stopping" moments. However, I will endorse the comment that you need to take care with the USB connection on the RunCore. It is incredibly tight and you need to tease the cable out very gently when you've completed your installation. At this point, it's again worth taking heed of the instructions and install any other software now, while you've still got the SSD attached to a host Mac. It'll save a lot of hassle later on.

Steps 12 to 19 involve installing the RunCore into the Dell Mini 9. This is where things get a bit more tense, and you'll end up crossing fingers, toes and anything else you can find! As before however, the instructions are clear and concise, and the SSD can be inserted without any trouble. Some minor changes to the BIOS are also required.

The moment of truth comes when the card is fitted and it's time to power up. After a few nail biting seconds the Apple logo appeared on the screen and the familiar power up sequence ran through. And there it was OS X 10.5.7 in all it's glory on an 8.5 inch screen. Happy days...

If you are serious about undertaking such a project it pays to do your homework in advance.

  1. Set your expectations in advance - there's no point in trying this if you want a cheap Mac. A Hackintosh is complementary to your existing Apple set-up, and if you expect it to replace a MacBook or MacBook Pro you will be disappointed.

  2. Do some research and work out what hardware you are going to use, and find the guides to help you. I chose a hardware set-up that was appropriate for my level of technical ability. If you're more confident, you may find a more suitable configuration.

  3. Get everything in the right place and allow plenty of time to undertake the conversion. Also, take any precautions necessary in terms of backing stuff up. But you'd do that anyway wouldn't you ?!?!

  4. Have fun and enjoy yourself! I did...

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