Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Hackintosh - the latest update with added patience

Last time I wrote about my experiences upgrading my Dell Mini 9 "Hackintosh" to Snow Leopard OS X 10.6.0. I decided to stop relating the story after I'd successfully achieved that because I wanted you all to share the warm feeling (smug,even?) that I had at the time. In reality that was a bit of a fib because the following 24 hours were a bit of a nightmare as I tried to go one better and update the OS to 10.6.3.

Suffice it to say, I've now become rather adept of installing the original retail version of Snow Leopard and I'm really pleased that I decided to keep my Snow Leopard installation USB drive as it has certainly had a lot of use. But the thing I've learnt most from the exercise is that when you're messing about with any Hackintosh project, the most important thing to remember is to be patient. Very, very patient! I now believe that if I had that in mind when I first started the upgrade I would have saved myself hours and hours of extra work and would have not have lost quite so much sleep.

As I mentioned last time, the instructions I had only went as far as upgrading to 10.6.2, which suited me fine, despite knowing that 10.6.3 was already out there, and clever people had successfully installed it onto their Dell Mini 9 netbooks. To be honest, I was happy enough with 10.6.0, but like many people reading this, I'm a bit of a serial upgrader and I can't help myself from tinkering.

After completing the basic Snow Leopard installation I tried installing the stand-alone combo update for 10.6.2, rather than using Software Update to go straight to 10.6.3. This didn't work as the combo update reported a problem with the disk I was trying to install to. There wasn't anything wrong with it (it was the Runcore SSD) but I couldn't argue with the installer.

So I decided to brave the storm and run Software Update and go the whole hog. Everything seemed to download and install without any problems. But this is when patience was required. Instead of waiting a reasonable amount of time after restarting the machine and getting the spinning spoke wheel I had a kind of panic attack and after only a few seconds decided that the machine was knackered. I now know that I should probably have waited at least 10 minutes before allowing pessimism to take hold.

The result of the impatience was a completely useless netbook. Subsequent re-booting simply resulted in kernel panics. So began the first of many reinstallations of the vanilla 10.6.0. After a few long days I finally had the machine working properly again and decided to call it a day and be satisfied with what I'd got (another good lesson!).

Yesterday however, I had a small network crisis and I managed to lose Ethernet functionality on the netbook. I reran the NetbookInstaller programme (0.8.4 RC1) but this had no effect. In a moment of madness I ran the DellEFI programme left over from the initial conversion to Leopard which had a devastating effect. [Reminder to all Dell Mini 9 users - delete the DellEFI app before attempting to use the NetbookInstaller/NetbookBootMaker combination now recommended]

It was time to reinstall for the umpteenth time. This time I decided to have another go at the full 10.6.3 installation but with added patience. The whole process took about four hours, and I left well alone as much as possible. There were one or two moments when I thought everything had stopped, but I managed to refrain from interfering and let things happen at their own pace.

I'm happy to say that the Hackintosh is once again fully functional in its latest incarnation with 10.6.3 and Safari 5.0 no less fully installed. Everything seems to work fine - wireless, ethernet, Bluetooth, sound, video, and even sleep.

So it is possible, it isn't that difficult, but it does require nerves of steel and a whole load of... altogether now... PATIENCE!