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. Continue reading “Dell Vostro A90 Hackintosh” →
[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.
Gadget blogs have been a fluster the last day about TechCrunch stating that netbooks “just aren’t good enough“. Writing a response post hasn’t proven very hard given the number of factual errors in the original. Boing Boing Gadgets points out that the low-end of the spectrum that TC post seems to cover are almost impossible to purchase because they’re so outdated. Liliputing rightly states that comparing the browsing experience to the iPhone isn’t worthwhile since it’s entirely a software problem. Laptop goes so far as to recommend the HP Mini 1000 and Samsung NC10 specifically for their keyboard. TechCrunch isn’t alone in their opinion; this week Intel stated that using the ultra portable devices was “fine for an hour“. TechCrunch is designing a web tablet right now using the collective wisdom of blog commenters. Looks like they’re just reboxing a netbook for the prototype.
We cover the netbook market for different reasons than most: Their low low price makes people much more willing to hack on the device. For the price of a smartphone, you’re getting a fully capable laptop. The low performance doesn’t matter as much since we’re running different flavors of Linux that are much lighter than Windows. People running OSX86 are doing it to address a market that Apple doesn’t.
What’s your experience with netbooks? Do you have one that you adore or are you annoyed by their shortcomings? Models we’ve covered in the past include the Acer Aspire One, Asus Eee PC, Dell Mini 9, and MSI Wind.
[Photo: Onken Bio-pot]
[tnkgrl] is back with part three of her Acer Aspire One hacking. This time she’s adding in 3G. You may look at the picture the above and think, “Cake. She just plugged the card in”. No, the Acer doesn’t ship with the mini-PCIe slot or the SIM card holder. First you have to solder a right angle mini-PCIe connector to the board pads and bridge two others to provide power. The SIM holder was another problem. She wasn’t able to find a pin compatible one. The one she installed is mounted to a riser so she could change the wiring order (let her know if you can find the correct part). This mod definitely requires some good soldering skills and she warns that even she managed to destroy a SIM in the process.
The Dell Mini 9 is another netbook that doesn’t have the appropriate connectors soldered on board, but JKK has a work-around. You need a 3G modem that has the SIM card on board. You plug it into the WiFi slot after taping over a few pins and then use a USB WiFi card instead.
[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.
One of the things that made the original Asus Eee PC such a big success was the ability to add almost anything you wanted to it. While this might not have anything to do with Dell releasing a service manual showing you how to disassemble your brand new Mini 9, we’re not gonna fault them for making one available.
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.