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Hackintosh chez Saunders

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.


Next steps:

  • 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.

{ 5 comments… add one }

  • Andrew April 8, 2010, 4:39 am

    Shaka, When The Walls Fell (At Tanagra).

    • Alec April 8, 2010, 5:50 am

      Don't make me recite Vogon poetry, Mr!

  • Peter Stewart April 10, 2010, 10:02 am

    Wow…that's a whole lot of trouble to go through Alec, I do admire it. I did do something similar for Windows 7 (new memory, new hard drive, BIOS update). To get the Mac experience…I finally bought my wife a 15" MacBook Pro. It is great for surfing the web and watching video. For "work" I still use my trusty Lenovo X60s, which I'll be upgrading soon to the T410s.

  • Alec April 10, 2010, 11:16 am

    It's a bit of tinkering and trial and error, and not for most people, frankly. I know a lot more than I knew before about the Mac, and I probably know a lot more than most Mac users need (or want) to know about the hardware that it will run on.

  • sunny November 22, 2011, 3:01 pm

    hey did you ever get this working fully? tried a new easier method of installing osx on ur aspire 5620?

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