A friend recently commissioned us to install OSX on a netbook. We advised him to purchase the Dell Vostro A90. It’s essentially a rebadged Dell Mini 9, a model that has been discontinued, but is well suited for OSX. It’s only available with a 1.6GHz Atom processor, 1GB RAM, and 16GB SSD. Depending on what deals are available, it’s $250-$300. We also had him purchase a 2GB stick of RAM which is the upper limit supported by the BIOS.
Having read Gizmodo’s guide earlier, we knew that process would not be too difficult. The install has actually gotten even easier in the last few months. We followed the DellEFI guide hosted on mechdrew without many problems. The only equipment we needed was a retail Leopard disk, a Mac, and our trusty USB/SATA adapter attached to an old 120GB laptop drive. We copied our image of a legitimate 10.5.6 retail disk to the harddrive and then used DellEFIBootMaker to make it bootable. We copied the DellEFI 1.2a5 program and the 10.5.7 cumulative update to the drive as well. With this, the drive had everything we needed to complete the install.
Plugging the drive into the Vostro A90 we dropped into the BIOS setup to turn on USB legacy support so we could boot the drive. We found that we’d often have to go to BIOS first, then exit in order to give the drive time to spin up and appear in the boot menu. After partitioning the laptop drive, the installation is identical to any other Leopard install. The process froze on us on two separate occasions before we got a complete install. It was just a matter of try, try again to get it to work. We think it may have been the fault of the drive we were using. After that completed, we were able to boot our brand new OSX machine and install the 10.5.7 update. We used DellEFI to install the permanent bootloader.
Everything seems to work fine and it’s a lovely little machine. We highly recommend the DellEFI single USB drive method which was Version 3.02 at time of writing.
[Bonus: Hack a Day wallpaper design by John Keppel]