Last night I published a couple of tweets on a project I’ve been working on in the evening this week – building a Hackintosh, or installing Mac OS X, dual boot — on my quad-core desktop at home. After years of gentle ribbing from my friends, plus a desire to understand more about the Mac itself, I went this route because (honestly) I’m cheap and don’t want to shell out several thousand dollars to play with a Mac. At this point I consider myself a died-in-the-wool PC, but I do want to know more. If I like the experience enough, who knows, maybe I’ll eventually buy Apple’s hardware as well. For now, I just want to learn.
The goal was to be able to dual-boot OS X or Windows 7 on my Acer Aspire M5620. The tools I used:
- 1 Mac OS X “Snow Leopard” disk, purchased legally at my local Future Shop.
- 1 WD 500G eSATA drive and connector cable. Most hackintosh devotees recommend installing to a new hard disk rather than partitioning.
- 1 copy of Psystar’s Rebel EFI downloaded from the Internet. This software allows you to boot the OS X disk and install it on the PC. I tried several other packages, including one called Empire EFI, but the Psystar disk was the only one that worked reliably for me.
Total cost: around $100.
After two evenings poking at it, the job is partly done.
- OS X boots from a combination of an external hard disk and the Rebel EFI CD, not the internal disk I had intended to use originally. The reason? OS X doesn’t like the RAID controller on my motherboard, and the motherboard can’t be set to OS X’s preferred AHCI mode. As a result, the installer hung with the message “Still waiting for root device”. The solution was to install to a USB controlled external drive. I had a 30G portable – vintage 2004 – which did the job. It’s very slow, however, and OS X wouldn’t “bless” the drive (Mac-lingo for installing a boot loader), so I still have to boot from the Rebel EFI CD until that can be fixed. Clearly, the 30G external drive is not a long term option.
- I have no sound because OS X doesn’t come with a driver (or in Mac-lingo, a kext) for the Intel 82801i audio controller.
- Graphics are lower resolution than Windows 7, and both displays show the same image, not a dual monitor image. Again, this appears to be a driver problem.
- Printing doesn’t work because, again, there is no driver for the HP CLJ 1600 printer that I own in OS X.
It works, kind of. And here’s a picture of my desktop to prove it.
- I’m going to buy an enclosure for the 500G HDD I previously acquired to be the OS X disk. I’m looking at a firewire / USB enclosure to try and maximize the performance. I plan to re-install OS X to this disk, rather than continue with my pokey 30G external. Hopefully this will allow the external disk to be “blessed” as well.
- Drivers for the sound chip, printer and graphics card I have appear to be readily available on the internet. Once up and running on the external HD, I’ll try installing those drivers.