[Rob] sent in his Dell mini 9 3G install. He bought the Dell without the 3G option, but found that he really wanted it. He installed a mini pcie bracket and found a sim connector that matched the specs he needed. Apparently they use one that it rare as it uses the first pin to indicate whether or not there’s a card loaded. He pulled the mini pcie 3G card from a cheap USB adapter. After soldering it all in place and firing up OS X, he was able to connect, without issue. He says the reception wasn’t great, so he’ll need to add an antenna. This is similar to the process seen on the Acer aspire one 3G hack. Since you’re already in there, you might as well add a GPS while you’re at it.
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.
[strider_mt2k] sent in this new Dell Mini 9 hack. After seeing the recent GPS in a Dell Mini9 project, he decided to jump in and do some hacking of his own. His idea was to integrate his Logitech wireless mouse receiver internally. He basically added an internal usb port, allowing for future replacements if the mouse should it get broken or upgraded. The final result is completely hidden. There was plenty of space in the case, so there’s no bulge at all.
[acabtp] has already started hacking on his Dell Mini 9. He wanted to add GPS functionality, but didn’t want a dongle or anything external. After ordering the smallest GPS unit he could find, he found a place to wire it in internally. The end result had no bearing on the external looks of the computer. I wonder if he used the modification guide dell released?
Marketed as direct competition for the EEEPC, we’ll probably start seeing a lot more hacks for these. We’ve already seen the EEEPC taken hacked more than we ever expected.
The service manuals show the proper way to gain access to the various parts of the Mini 9 right down to the motherboard itself. It’s nice to know that the Mini 9 isn’t locked down where simple things like replacing the RAM or upgrading to a larger SSD won’t void your warranty.
[Rob928] has done a fantastic job converting his Dell mini9 into a tablet. He has done several updates, such as an SSD hard drive and touchscreen. The final product looks quite nice. From a few feet away, we wouldn’t have noticed that it was a home made one. We’ve seen several tablet conversions before from macbooks to EeePCs.
In an era where everything seems to be getting “smarter” every year, it will probably come as no surprise to find that even relatively middling networking hardware is now packing advanced features and considerable computational power. A case in point is the Dell N1108T-ON Ethernet switch. Despite only costing around $100 USD on the second hand market, [Ben Cox] discovered this particular switch was capable of a lot more than what was advertised by poking around its onboard operating system.
It all started by plugging into the serial port on the front of the switch, which [Ben] happily notes is an integrated FTDI USB serial adapter to make life easy. Booting into recovery mode gave him local shell access, and some poking around determines it’s the sort of BusyBox-powered Linux system that you’d expect on an embedded device. The biggest discoveries were that it was running a relatively recent kernel (3.8.1), and that it apparently had Python installed.
From there, [Ben] found out that these switches have a feature where the administrator can install and run Python “applications” by packaging them up as tarballs and copying them from a USB flash drive. So he wrote up a simple Python program that used the socket library to open up a reverse shell to his desktop computer, and to his surprise, it worked perfectly on the first try. Now with root access, the fun really started.
The next step was getting an SSH installed and running on the switch, so that he didn’t have to do the reverse shell trick every time. He then started installing the packages necessary to turn the switch into a secure VPN tunnel with Wireguard. This took a little fiddling as [Ben] didn’t have the option of installing the normal Wireguard kernel module, but he eventually got the necessary tools modified and cross-compiled to ARM. He believes this is just the start of what’s capable on devices like this, and we’re interested in seeing where the community goes from here.