A fresh look at the Hackintosh.

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A fresh look at the Hackintosh.

Postposted on Mon May 04, 2009 9:42 am

(cross-posted on Ars Technica, so if you get deja vu, there's a good reason)

From a desktop standpoint, I think I've officially wavered my stance on the usability of OS X on generic PC hardware right this moment. I specifically built a computer to be Hackintosh-friendly...

Core2 Duo processor
Gigabyte P45 motherboard
Radeon 3850
SATA drives

And it's pretty freaking astounding. As mentioned before in other threads, I own the family pack and have a spare OS X license. I have successfully booted a completely unmodified version of OS X on this computer, installed the OS without modifying any kexts, and boot from the hard drive using the Chameleon v2 RC boot loader.

I did have to add a couple modified driver kexts (specifically for the Realtek audio and ethernet onboard my specific motherboard) and run a utility that adds some text to com.apple.Boot.plist so that my video card, LAN, and audio are found upon boot, but those are easier than most Windows driver wizards, and WAY easier than using Device Manager to install drivers manually.

So what's the result? A very fast machine for very little money and everything works - Time Machine is backing up to my Airport Extreme's Airdisk (and I HAVE restored from it successfully), printing to the Canon printer attached to the Airport Extreme, talks to the other "real" Macs on my network, outputs 5.1 digital AND stereo front-panel headphone sound, fully accelerates Quartz Extreme/Core Image, plays WoW very fast, and has a graphical boot loader to select either OS X or Windows.

No modified OS X DVD, no modified installation...the only hint of anything non-Mac is that there's a folder buried in the EFI partition called "Extra" that contains the generic PC boot files, and you have to dig to find it by manually mounting that EFI partition.

I suppose Apple could wisen up to this install method and wipe that partition, but that could also break people using rEFIt on their Intel Macs to boot Linux.

I don't see a downside. Apple gets money for their OS X license and I get to use OS X on a computer I otherwise couldn't.
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Re: A fresh look at the Hackintosh.

Postposted on Mon May 04, 2009 10:43 am

I've been thinking about installing OS X on my XPS M1330. Maybe when I have some free time soon.
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Re: A fresh look at the Hackintosh.

Postposted on Mon May 04, 2009 1:30 pm

If you buy hardware that is tailored to OS X (such as I did) there's really nothing to it.

If you have hardware that Apple never supported...such as the GMA X4k series...you're pretty much out of luck.

So, to me, that means that installing on laptops is going to be significantly more difficult unless you have older models. Your XPS M1330 might do alright, as it seems from what I can find online that they use the 965 mobile chipset, which uses GMA X3100 for graphics. Assuming your ethernet/wireless/audio chips are supported, it might not be too hard.

I've got a used Compal HEL81 coming that I'd like to turn into a 15" Hackbook that'll dual-boot Vista Business (seeing as how it has a COA sticker attached, I see no reason not to). From all the specs online it looks like a winner - Express 945 chipset, GMA950, Realtek 883 audio, Realtek LAN (8111), and a mini-PCIe slot for an Intel 3945 wireless card (or maybe something else, depending on what will fit), which I may or may not do. All that hardware is "supported" and the files can be just dropped into that /Extra/Extensions folder. Should be like magic, and again, an unmodified OS X install.
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Re: A fresh look at the Hackintosh.

Postposted on Mon May 04, 2009 2:30 pm

It's been awhile since I messed around with Hackintoshes. And I've never seen a Hackintosh that had an unmodified install. Do you need a special motherboard with EFI instead of BIOS or are you using one of the EFI boot adapters that I've seen around?
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Re: A fresh look at the Hackintosh.

Postposted on Mon May 04, 2009 3:58 pm

I do it like so:

1.) Downloaded an ISO tailored to the EP43-UD3L (I have an EP45-UD3L which has the same hardware other than the chipset).
2.) Boot from it. It'll load a special boot loader with some additional drivers that lets you install OS X. Swap the CD and finish booting.
3.) Partition your HDD with Disk Utility (specifying GUID partition mapping)
4.) Install OS X. It'll "fail" but the only failure is the installer won't be able to tell the computer what drive to boot from.
5.) Reboot with your boot disc.
6.) setup Leopard as normal. If you intend to restore from Time Machine, don't create your account yet; you can't restore during the setup process
7.) Install Chameleon boot loader and any necessary kexts (including the ones from the .img file on the boot CD and anything extra for your LAN/audio/other hardware) to /Extra/Extensions
8.) Use a program called EFISTUDIO or possibel OSX86Tools to write some EFI strings to com.apple.Boot.plist
9.) Reboot
10.) Restore from Time Machine

Not really all that complicated compared to hacked distributions or even a real Mac. You still do steps:

2.) but no CD swap
3.)
4.) but it won't fail
6.) but you can restore from Time Machine right away, so you don't have to set up a "dummy" account.

What you need is a motherboard that more-or-less matches what is available in a Mac. This EP45-UD3L is close enough. It's significantly more difficult on nVidia chipsets for Intel and for any AMD system. Your video card needs to be something supported on Macs (which is any single-GPU AMD/ATi card you can think of starting with the 2400 series, and any nVidia card from the 7000, 8000, and 9000 series. GT200-based cards will be supported soon, since they're producing a Quadro and according to the rumor mills also a GTX285), as well as audio and ethernet/wireless.

If you're careful choosing your components (as I was; I built this thing with OS X in mind), it will be a "set it up and forget about it" experience. Just for testing's sake, I installed the 10.5.6 combo update over the top of my 10.5.6 install and it still booted right up - that means that at least with 10.5.6 Apple has not tried to disable this hack. Same was true for software update after installing iLife, iWork, and Logic.

For reference (I can help you with this hardware):

Allendale E4400
EP45-UD3L (Realtek 8111 ethernet/Realtek ALC888 audio) - AHCI mode set in BIOS, leave all onboard peripherals enabled
4GB DDR2 800
Visiontek Radeon 3850 512MB
LiteOn DVD-RW (SATA)
Hitachi 7200RPM 320GB drive
Seagate 7200RPM 500GB drive for Windows plus a partition for my music/video library
Last edited by derFunkenstein on Thu May 14, 2009 8:13 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: A fresh look at the Hackintosh.

Postposted on Mon May 04, 2009 4:40 pm

I priced that out, and that's pretty cheap. I wish my roommate would get a job and pay me back. So many purchases I've had postpone because the bum owes me about $3200
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Re: A fresh look at the Hackintosh.

Postposted on Mon May 04, 2009 5:06 pm

If you wanted more GPU performance, the GeForce 9800 family is supposed to be a little easier to deal with compared to the Radeons (mostly because my Radeon 3850 requires starting everything in "safe mode" until you use EFISTUDIO, or else the system continues to function but you can't see anything).

If you're just building a Hackintosh and don't plan to play any games, I'd probably get an E5200 and GeForce 7600GS, which adds up in total to about $100. Don't skimp on the motherboard, though. This board has been an absolute dream to get going, and the motherboard is the biggest single factor in having a successful Hackintosh build.

Or go beat down your roommate and build a Q9400 system with a Radeon 4870. :p
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Re: A fresh look at the Hackintosh.

Postposted on Mon May 04, 2009 5:38 pm

Hmm, I built a hackintosh but it didn't handle updates so I think it's still on 10.5.2. I haven't really done anything with it other than some testing simply because of it not being able to update. I just use my macbook for everything else.

Sooo, this approach is tempting to say the least. Looks like another visit to newegg for me today.

*edit* Mobo + family pack = friggin cheap.
*edit2* So a question, last time I looked there was serious compatibility issues with video cards, as in resolution issues and the fact that some dvi ports won't work unless you make a custom kext.
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Re: A fresh look at the Hackintosh.

Postposted on Mon May 04, 2009 6:10 pm

Convert, you can get around weird things like crazy DVI ports if you use hardware that's on (oddly enough) EFi-X's hardware compatibility list. What EFi-X does for most hardware is just add EFI strings for what it detects into its own on-board boot config file (com.apple.Boot.plist, which is normally found in /Library/Preferences/SystemConfiguration). My mobo is on their list as well, and I didn't need a single modified driver file, just the EFI strings, all of which were supplied by EFIStudio_extended (the regular EFIStudio didn't support my graphics card).

Most of those, from what I can tell, were on things like GeForce 5/6 cards and Radeon 2400-series cards. As long as the right EFI string gets written, unmodified drivers should be usable.

But yeah, you can get a family pack on Amazon for about $150, plus a $95 mobo = less than an OEM copy of Vista Ultimate, plus the full "Mac Experience" of iLife and iWork to boot.
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Re: A fresh look at the Hackintosh.

Postposted on Tue May 05, 2009 7:58 am

I picked up the family pack from newegg for 135 with free shipping, with the mobo included it was less than a copy of Vista Business. Comparing it to Ultimate I still have $40 left over to spend on something else.

I didn't know about EFIStudio, I had an 8 series card in my prior hackintosh that I had to make a custom kext for, was rather confusing at first but was fun to figure out.
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Re: A fresh look at the Hackintosh.

Postposted on Tue May 05, 2009 8:23 am

EFI studio is awesome because it'll let you skip the custom kext. :) Grab the "extended" version from here. I *had* to use the extended version because of the way that Apple's Radeon drivers detected my card wrong. GeForce cards probably don't need the extra "extended" support, but it's nice to have the latest version. :)

Good luck with your install. If you have any questions, feel free to post in the thread. I know there are a couple other Hacky users on the forums that may also be able to help, but I'm certainly more than willing to try.
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Re: A fresh look at the Hackintosh.

Postposted on Sun May 17, 2009 1:56 am

Actually, you can now get more information (and the actual EFi-X) from this site: http://www.expresshd.com/. That site has everything www.efi-x.com has AND the actual EFi-X USB dongle available now in North America.
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Re: A fresh look at the Hackintosh.

Postposted on Sun May 17, 2009 8:40 am

hello there
could you please tell me more about the iso for your particular MBoard sorry bit slow and trying to work out why it's so important
used to have an older kallyway boot disk but is this one different? :-?

Much appreciated
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Re: A fresh look at the Hackintosh.

Postposted on Sun May 17, 2009 9:03 am

adamkun wrote:hello there
could you please tell me more about the iso for your particular MBoard sorry bit slow and trying to work out why it's so important
used to have an older kallyway boot disk but is this one different? :-?

Much appreciated


Welcome to the forums! www.hackint0sh.org/forums should be able to answer that question. As for EFi-X, drop by www.efi-x.com and look for resellers in North America. That way you will not need to worry about boot disks when you use the EFi-X USB Boot Processor unit.
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Re: A fresh look at the Hackintosh.

Postposted on Sun May 17, 2009 9:28 am

Are the 4000 series Radeons supported? I've got a Asus N81Vp notebook. The specs are:

Core 2 Duo T9550 (2.6 Ghz)
Intel ICH9 chipset (P35 express I think)
ATI Radeon 4650 Video
Realtek HD Audio
Realtek 8168 Ethernet
Atheros 928X wireless
320 GB Seagate Hard Drive, Asus optical drive, 4 GB RAM

Do you think this would install MacOS X without a lot of problems?

(Thanks, and pardon the "me me me" question. Me me me! :-)
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Re: A fresh look at the Hackintosh.

Postposted on Sun May 17, 2009 11:49 am

Now that 10.5.7 is out, the 4000 series should be working. Well, the 4800 series anyway. Not sure about the 4600 series. The rest of your setup should be fine.

adamkun, the disc that I have allows OS X to boot cleanly with an unmodified installation of the OS. That's mostly useful when it comes to updates - nothing is going to get broken if it hasn't been modified. As one InsanelyMac member said, let modified distributions die like the dinosaurs they are.

And don't give your money to EFi-X. It's jsut a glorified USB flash drive. You could make your own flash drive if that's what you wanted.
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Re: A fresh look at the Hackintosh.

Postposted on Sun May 17, 2009 12:00 pm

derFunkenstein wrote:Now that 10.5.7 is out, the 4000 series should be working. Well, the 4800 series anyway. Not sure about the 4600 series. The rest of your setup should be fine.

adamkun, the disc that I have allows OS X to boot cleanly with an unmodified installation of the OS. That's mostly useful when it comes to updates - nothing is going to get broken if it hasn't been modified. As one InsanelyMac member said, let modified distributions die like the dinosaurs they are.

And don't give your money to EFi-X. It's jsut a glorified USB flash drive. You could make your own flash drive if that's what you wanted.


OK. Well, where are we supposed to get the right programs for this? Both www.hackint0sh.org and www.insanelymac.com are getting database errors and cannot be accessed.
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Re: A fresh look at the Hackintosh.

Postposted on Sun May 17, 2009 5:56 pm

well, once those sites are up, those are about the two best resources out there, along with www.infinitemac.com
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Re: A fresh look at the Hackintosh.

Postposted on Fri Sep 30, 2011 10:21 pm

This is interesting looking. I've got a C2D 6400, and a Brisbane BE-2400 waiting for better use (one of the 2 is in a cardboard box). I assume the former would make the more compatible Hackintosh, though whatever board I can find cheapest for it will determine the chipset unless it makes a big difference. I forgot the large number of chipsets Intel went through in their Core 2 years. I'd probably avoid a G41 (and I think a P43?) just so I can use some old DDR2, but given how cheap DDR3 has become I could change my mind.

The thing I'm most concerned about is the video card. I haven't got an ATi/AMD made since the 1990's, and that makes me wonder if I'd have to get a more recent model, or if the nVidias I've seen on the Hackintosh sites would really work out in which case one of mine would hopefully work.

Another question: are there any better sites to look through besides the 3 listed in the previous 2 posts? I looked at them a bit and well, things are starting to look dated, though maybe that's because of something I'm unaware of.

Anyway, it looks like lots of reading will be useful before I make any decisions.
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Re: A fresh look at the Hackintosh.

Postposted on Sat Oct 01, 2011 12:04 pm

If you have a GeForce 7000/8000/9000/200 series, they all work very well with Snow Leopard. Most of the very Hackintoshes are running like an 8400GS or similar. (although now that Sandy Bridge graphics are supported, you can get away with a Core i3 2105 with HD 3000 graphics)
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Re: A fresh look at the Hackintosh.

Postposted on Sat Oct 01, 2011 10:00 pm

Well, I've got an 8800GT but with 256MB, a 9600GSO (I forget, but that may be the same as an 8400 GS), and I also may be able to use a GTS 450. I'll probably get the box folding@home, and I don't recall seeing any Mac GPU software for that, so it would have to use... what? I'm unaware of any Wine type thing for Mac, but then I'm unaware of most things about Macs.

One thing your reply and other things I've seen make me wonder about is Snow Leopard, which is a revision before the Lion version, and why I would want to or have to use that. Care to explain? Did Apple wipe out some compatibilities in their latest update that makes generic mobos less likely to work?

One plan for the system is to do some development on it if necessary. If I could do that from my Windows box I'd be happier, but everything I've seen about that looks underwhelming so far.
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Re: A fresh look at the Hackintosh.

Postposted on Sun Oct 02, 2011 12:28 pm

I'm just adverse to many of the changes in Lion. Hidden scroll bars that only show up when you use them, the weirdo iOS-like changes. Lion would be equally well supported - Lion only supports x64, but all Core 2 CPUs support that, and all the GeForce 8000 series are supported as well. No idea about F@H stuff.
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Re: A fresh look at the Hackintosh.

Postposted on Sun Oct 02, 2011 1:44 pm

Ragnar Dan wrote:Well, I've got an 8800GT but with 256MB, a 9600GSO (I forget, but that may be the same as an 8400 GS), and I also may be able to use a GTS 450. I'll probably get the box folding@home, and I don't recall seeing any Mac GPU software for that, so it would have to use... what? I'm unaware of any Wine type thing for Mac, but then I'm unaware of most things about Macs.

One thing your reply and other things I've seen make me wonder about is Snow Leopard, which is a revision before the Lion version, and why I would want to or have to use that. Care to explain? Did Apple wipe out some compatibilities in their latest update that makes generic mobos less likely to work?

One plan for the system is to do some development on it if necessary. If I could do that from my Windows box I'd be happier, but everything I've seen about that looks underwhelming so far.

It sounds as if you would be better off with a Linux distro. I run a mix of OS X and Linux. Ubuntu 11.04 is very close to Snow Leopard. I made the switch to Ubuntu when I retired my G5.

Lion under VMware Workstation 8 should be an option in the near future http://goo.gl/jhn07
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Re: A fresh look at the Hackintosh.

Postposted on Sun Oct 02, 2011 1:57 pm

derFunkenstein wrote:I'm just adverse to many of the changes in Lion. Hidden scroll bars that only show up when you use them, the weirdo iOS-like changes.

The two major things I see as iOS related, LaunchPad and natural scrolling, are easily ignored and disabled.

When I jump back to Snow Leopard the first thing that hits me is how unrefined the old style scroll bars look.

Mission Control+spaces+full screen apps+Magic Trackpad = a killer combination.
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Re: A fresh look at the Hackintosh.

Postposted on Sun Oct 02, 2011 3:08 pm

I'm so not going to pay $30 just to turn everything off that makes Lion, Lion. :lol:
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Re: A fresh look at the Hackintosh.

Postposted on Sun Oct 02, 2011 3:22 pm

derFunkenstein wrote:I'm so not going to pay $30 just to turn everything off that makes Lion, Lion. :lol:


You think Lion is just about Launchpad and natural scrolling? It has so much more to offer http://www.apple.com/ca/macosx/whats-new/

Spend the $30, throw it on another drive and try it.
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Re: A fresh look at the Hackintosh.

Postposted on Sun Oct 02, 2011 4:29 pm

I guess I could, but the only thing I use OS X for is Pro Tools, and it turns out PT 8.0.5 is not supported on Lion.

Mac OS X Lion Compatibility
Please Note: Pro Tools 9.0.4 and all earlier versions of Pro Tools software are not compatible and will not work with OS X Lion. With the followign (sic) exception: Pro Tools SE 8.0.3 with Patch 003.


http://avid.custkb.com/avid/app/selfser ... cId=353265

PT SE is the freebie throwaway software that comes with M-Audio interfaces. My Mbox has drivers, but without a DAW I wont' bother. That box isn't even online; it sits in my bedroom and I do my tracking in there. So now it's like a $330 upgrade between the upgrade to 9 and buying an iLok.

Still, I guess for anyone who is interested in a Hackintosh for the OS should probably look at Lion. For better or worse, that's where the future of the OS is going.
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Re: A fresh look at the Hackintosh.

Postposted on Mon Oct 03, 2011 5:35 am

Also, I should note that any instructions I've linked here in the past are extra-over-complicated compared to MultiBeast and iBoot.

http://tonymacx86.blogspot.com/2010/04/ ... -x-on.html

Especially if you were to happen to have a Socket 1156 board made by Gigabyte, but even if you don't it's still much easier to do it this way.
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Re: A fresh look at the Hackintosh.

Postposted on Mon Oct 03, 2011 10:14 pm

I was wondering how I'd get an OS after seeing Lion available as an upgrade only. After reading through some places on the Apple Canada link provided above, I saw several complaints about the new OS's problems, so it makes me think I might want to wait until it's updated again before using it.

And... I'm rather surprised how much people are bidding on those Gigabyte P45 boards. I expected them to be ~$60 plus shipping, but they seem to be popular enough to get ~$95+. And considering that latest link of yours, I have to wonder if the best idea wouldn't be just to get another HD (though I'd have to retire one since I've got 4 in it already) and use my current main machine with dual boot. Except for having to perhaps run Windows in a VM to run F@H, that seems simpler and cheaper than any other option.

Thanks for the help! :D
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Re: A fresh look at the Hackintosh.

Postposted on Tue Oct 04, 2011 10:05 am

Ragnar Dan wrote:I was wondering how I'd get an OS after seeing Lion available as an upgrade only.

Apple's use of the term "upgrade" is rather confusing. In order to buy Lion you need Mac OS X 10.6.6 as it was the first version to support the Mac App Store (the only way you could buy Lion initially) but the Lion installer does not require an installed copy of Snow Leopard. I've installed Lion on empty drives without a problem.
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