Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Hackintosh - Three Months On

We had our first proper frost at the Apple Harvest last night. That, along with the rapidly diminishing hours of daylight, reminded me that it has now been three months since my last post dedicated to my Hackintosh. I've mentioned it in passing, but it is about time for a proper update, since my Google web tools tell me that it's still the most popular subject that I've written about.

The truth is that there really hasn't been much to report. For new readers, my Hackintosh is a Dell Mini 9 with a 32Gb RunCore SSD, currently running OS X 10.5.8. I wanted a netbook to sit alongside my iMac, MacBook Pro and iPhone and complement my existing Apple environment. Specifically, I wanted something small and light to take on short journeys without having to drag the MBP around so that I could get on-line, jot down notes and blog posts and check mail. Admittedly, I haven't made that many short journeys, so perhaps the Hackintosh hasn't been subjected to quite what it was intended for, but it did get a fair bit of use when the MBP was 'hors de combat' earlier in the autumn.

As expected it isn't a permanent replacement for the MBP. The single biggest issue is that screen real estate is so restricted that some internet applications can be a little difficult to use. I don't have the same problems with the keyboard that some people have reported, and my bluetooth mouse works like a treat. The machine can be a bit temperamental when I start it up, sometimes requiring a restart after a minute or so, but generally that doesn't cause too much inconvenience. I've had the same problem with Windows laptops costing three or four times what the Hackintosh cost.

The only thing that keeps nagging at me is the fact that I'm still running Leopard on the Hackintosh, whilst the rest of the Apple Harvest is now on Snow Leopard 10.6.2. Now I know that 10.6.2 will not work on the Dell's Atom processor, but I wouldn't mind being a bit more consistent in terms of running some of the native OS X apps like Mail.

Last night I finally found some instructions on how to upgrade the Dell Mini 9 using the RunCore. I've printed out all 20 pages (18 pages are comments) and have begun to peruse the contents. It doesn't seem too complicated, especially having made the original modifications, but I have to confess to being a bit nervous. I have a complete Time Machine backup and a Carbon Copy clone, so it'll be easy enough to restore the current system. But do I really want to screw up a perfectly good setup, just to satisfy a technical urge and a bit of curiosity ?

I think I need to sleep on this over several nights before taking the plunge. Watch this space...

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