Installing OSX on commodity PC hardware has advanced a lot since the early days of OSx86 when Apple switched to Intel. With the advent of netbooks, a new target platform has emerged; one that doesn’t have an official Apple equivalent. The small subset of models means that it’s easy to find someone else that has the same machine as you, but it still takes some forum walking to bring all the pieces together. Gizmodo has done this and compiled a comprehensive guide for the Dell Mini 9. The Mini 9 is a very nice machine and according to Boing Boing Gadgets’ chart, one of the most compatible with OSX. Earlier this week you could purchase a new one for just $200.
For Gizmodo’s install, they used a Leopard retail DVD with [Type11]’s bootloader. They’re breaking the EULA, but at least it’s not piracy. They had to use both a DVD drive and a USB hard drive because device recognition was flakey. Despite this, the actual install process doesn’t appear to be too difficult. They say all the hardware works, “The Mini 9 is a beautiful OS X machine.” Check out this Hackit to learn about netbook OSX experiences from other Hack a Day readers.
[tnkgrl] has concluded her Sony Vaio P by adding GSM support. We covered the switch to XP earlier, but this should work on Vista too. The Vaio P is sold in the US with support for Verizon’s EVDO wireless broadband, but it uses the same hardware as the European model that uses GSM. This is possible because of the the Qualcomm Gobi radio module. To get GSM support, you trick the VZAccess Manager into loading a different firmware than the stock EVDO. The difficult part is that the Vaio P doesn’t come with a SIM card slot, so you’ll have to solder in your own. When you’ve got the computer reassembled, just change VZAccess Manager to use your carrier.
UPDATE: Wired has an article on the Gobi chipset.
Sony recently started to shipping the VAIO P don’t-call-it-a-netbook netbook. It comes stock with 2GB of RAM, which means it’s not eligible for Microsoft’s XP ultra low cost pc licensing. Hackers wanting to exorcise Vista have run into a few issues. After doing her unboxing photoshoot, [tnkgrl] wrote a guide for replacing Vista with XP on the Vaio P. She used the Universal Extractor to pop open the driver downloads and remove the Vista check. This got the WWAN radio and GPS working in XP. The only casualty was the volume and mute buttons are no longer working. You can see an annotated image verifying all the components here.
AppleDifferent decided to run some benchmarks on their MSI Wind hackintosh to see how it stacked up to real Apple hardware. It comes in under the MacBook Air in most cases and they conclude that it performs about as well as a four year old G4. Being so small and inexpensive, you can’t really expect much better. As a counterpoint, Obsessable posted a video demoing just how slow a first generation Eee PC can be (embedded below). Boing Boing Gadgets is maintaining an OSX netbook compatibility chart. It shows that the MSI Wind is probably the best case for OSX usability. If we were buying today, we’d probably pick up a Dell Mini 9 even though it requires an SSD upgrade before it will sleep properly.
Are any of you running OSX as the primary OS on your netbooks? What has your experience been?
Continue reading “Hackit: Are you running OSX on your netbook?”
[Steven] managed to get his hands on a Panasonic CF-R1 for pretty cheap. Though it is a decently powerful machine, it was built in 2002 and didn’t come with an internal wireless card. It did, however have a mini-PCI slot. [Steven] promptly installed a wireless card, but found the internal antenna lacking. The solution was to custom mount an external antenna. Mounting it was fairly easy, he removed the phone jack and epoxied the connector in its place. The reception was greatly improved. He says he went from seeing 6 access points to 31 as soon as he installed it. Similar things have been done to the Eee PC 900.
[revolvingdork] etched his Eeepc with the entire level map of Super Mario Land for Game boy. He set the laser to 70% speed and 40% power to get it to turn out this way. This is a far safer way of expressing your self and playing with laser etching than tattooing yourself with the laser.
Wired Gadget Lab has taken down a video made by [Brian X. Chen] in which he gives a brief overview and demonstration of how to install OSX on an MSI Wind netbook. This apparently didn’t sit well with Apple, who contacted Wired and complained; Wired agreed and removed the video. Frankly, we’re disappointed with Wired’s response. While they were technically posting content which is questionable at best—in the video, Brian mentions that this is illegal and that it would be a good idea to have a retail copy of OSX on hand, but then goes on to point out that you can also download the hacked operating system off The Pirate Bay, Isohunt, etc—the video in and of itself wasn’t illegal, and thus Wired comes off as susceptible to what amounts to bullying by Apple. We’re all about creativity and innovation, and stifling that innovative spirit has never worked well in the long run.
Fortunately, if you’re feeling like you’ve missed out on the video, don’t despair: Gizmodo has posted the video on their website for you to view and enjoy.
[photo: Brian X. Chen]