Thursday, November 13, 2008


For some time, I've been keeping an eye on the Sub-Notebook or "Netbook" market, hoping against hope that Apple would decide to get in the game. After the last MacBook event in October when it became clear that they had no interest in it (at least at this time) I decided to take the plunge. I went with the Dell Inspiron Mini 9, and after a rather lengthy wait, it finally arrived on Tuesday. I opted to save money and get the version with the Ubunto Linux distro on it, figuring that from everything I'd read it was a mature OS and I should be able to do what I wanted with it. It didn't take me 5 minutes to discover that I was wrong - when I got the Mini home, she refused to connect to my internal Wi-Fi network. The problem stemmed from the fact that in the wi-fi setup in Ubuntu, you are required to enter in a password to connect. Well, what if you don't use a password? There were options for WEP, WPA, etc., etc., but no "none" option. This, in a nutshell, is what's wrong with Linux - I can easily imagine the dude who wrote that particular line of code thinking to himself "well, everybody should use a password on a wi-fi network, so they don't need a option for no password". Sorry, Linux dude, hiding the SSID will keep 98% of interlopers off my network, and MAC address filtering will keep out the other .9%. SO with that in mind, I decided to do what I had been thinking about doing anyway - getting rid of its Linux OS and installing OS X instead.

I headed out to Best Buy to pick up a USB DVD drive and some blank DVD's. Stopped at Arby's and had a large roast beef sandwich, but that's not what's important right now. Once home, I started with this guy's method, but didn't get very far. The "special slipstreamed version" 10.5 iso he used refused to let itself be burned, crashing my Vista box. I was able to burn it on my MacBook, but the Mini wouldn't boot from it at all. Feeling frustrated (no one else seemed to have this problem) and hoping that I didn't just blow a decent amount of dough on a USB DVD drive for no reason whatsoever, I headed over to the Dell Mini 9 wiki at the OSX86 project. I tried "darkten's" method, and burned the special bootloader onto CD. The Mini happily booted from it, which lifted my spirits quite a bit. Next up I entered a few commands and switched out the bootloader with a retail Leopard DVD. I won't bore you with the rest of the instructions, as it did get pretty technical, but I have to say there was only one real "sacrificing a chicken" moment. After the Leopard install fails you have to start from the bootloader again, and for some reason it just froze during that process. I remembered someone in the forums saying they had to unplug the DVD drive and plug it back in, so I did that and for some reason it came back to life. Anyway, the whole process took about 3 hours, but a lot of that was screwing with that first iso that didn't work.

So what works? Almost everything! The SD card reader won't work, nor can you successfully wake it from sleep, but other than that it's a walking, talking OS X laptop. Things have gotten a little hairy here tonight though, as after loading the Cisco VPN on it it will now kernel panic on a shutdown, though oddly only if running on battery power - it's fine if plugged in. Weird. Anywho, the final question is whether or not this is "legal". It is legal provided you own an OS X license that you're going to use. It is, however, a violation of the Apple EULA. Steve, if you're reading, given the absurd number of people in this world that I have personally switched to Macs, I think you can look the other way just this once. I have to say that I was quite proud of myself - though other people who are far more intelligent than I came up with this Hackintosh, it was still a pretty big leap for this lowly sys admin. Praise be to Mr. Yates, whose immortal words of "Morgan, don't be a restart monkey" rang in my ears every time I hit a roadblock. Translation: don't just give up - find a way to solve the problem. I'm glad I listened (this time)....

1 comment:

Bill Wheatley said...

You don't consider the Macbook Air a subnotebook? I'm not very familar with the requirements so thats why i say that.

I got a new Macbook Pro for my new job and i have to say i like it. Good battery life. Nix at a prompt. It's a little annoying with some of the mac idiosyncrasies but all in all i'm glad i finally got one without having to pay a$$ rape prices.

So the 2nd set of directions worked for you? Will it work on any intel based pC? I might want to run my laptop on OS 10. I can buy a copy of leopard from the apple store qui aff?

Peace brother