By Joseph Delli Gatti
I was watching the MacWorld Expo about four years ago when Steve Jobs explained the workings and advancements with the PowerPC chip. He sadly explained that the shortening and thinning of the wires on the processor were what allowed for the speed increases and performance boosts, and that the wires had become so thin and short that they stopped carrying a charge. The G5 PowerPC chip had been maxed out. You could nearly hear a in drop as Steve explained this. I imagined people quickly texting all of their traders at investment companies with the message “SELL AAPL!”
But no sooner had Mr. Jobs said this, he began talking about plan B. He zoomed in on a building on the Apple campus – very top-secret like. He explained that every version of OS X had been running on Intel processors in addition to the PPC chips. He revealed that new macs were going to be built using Intel. I ran out and bought a PC from a thrift shop that day to try and install it. I had no luck.
My curiosity and desire to get it to work began to take over. Although I’m not a mega-techie, I have enjoyed putting Windows 98 and XP on my G4 PowerMac just to show off that it could be done. Back then, I was using Virtual PC for the Mac. I had even gotten it to play Quake 3 and Ghost Recon at about 12 frames per second. Essentially, it ran windows as if it were a Pentium 2. Perhaps it was this same motivation that caused me to try installing Mac’s OS X onto a PC.
Well, I’ve successfully used about five methods of getting OS X onto my new(er) PC. After a couple hundred hours of trying many different installation types of OS X, I’ve found a favorite one that works great for the hardware listed below:
- Motherboard: Asus P5GC-MX/1333 LGA 775 Intel 945GC Micro ATX
- Processor: 2.2 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo (socket 775)
- RAM: 3 GB of 800 MHz DDR2 SDRAM
- Hard Drive: two 500 GB SATA Seagate Barracuda hard drives
- Video Card: integrated video (Intel GMA 950) or MSI Nvidia 8500 GT (512 MB)
- Audio Card: onboard Realtek ALC883 with 5.1 surround HD audio
- DVD Burner: Pioneer DVR-117D DVD burner
This doesn’t mean that you can’t use whatever you want. The important components with this setup are the motherboard and the video card. If the method I share doesn’t work for you, try eliminating sound cards and other peripherals until you are able to make your system work. Before I go any further, I should also throw out a general disclaimer.
As a long-time loyal Apple/Mac user, who laughs even more at the “I am a PC” ads than he laughs during the “I’m a Mac – I’m a PC.” ads, who would rather be playing PAWS on an Apple 2E than Doom 3 on a PC, who has been earning a living doing wedding videos on Macs since 2001 (I’m sure you get the point), I do not condone illegal downloads and pirating software, etc.
I love my Macs. I don’t believe that a pimped out PC running OS X can truly compare to owning a genuine Apple product. I think a Hackintosh is a fun project, and that it can be a fun way to learn the workings of the Mac OS, etc. In short, don’t build a Hackintosh to actually replace a Mac or to sell for profit.
I think that companies like Pystar are the equivalent of third-world street vendors of pirated merchandise. They also remind me of people trying to sell OpenOffice at a profit. In other words, they intentionally take advantage of the open-source and hobbyist developers around the world, and profit without paying these people what their work is worth. They are dirty companies.
In my view, the efforts of the Hackintosh community are not intended as for-profit work. In fact, taking the community efforts and work and using them for commercial purposes is reminiscent of slave labor. It seems Microsoft-esqe. In fact, I have a sneaky suspicion that Pystar’s legal money does not come from Pystar itself, but comes from Microsoft as another attempt to crush out competition and underhandedly reenforce its monopoly.
In addition to this devotion for genuine Apple products, disapproval of illegally obtaining software, and disgust towards Pystar and financial backers, I also need to tell you that if your stuff breaks while trying to install or use OS X on your Hackintosh PC, you are the sole responsible party. By continuing with this method of installation, you accept full responsibility for your own actions (also including any legal or mechanical issues you may encounter). I am not a professional, but am a Hackintosh hobbyist.
Now On With The Installation Process
Below are the basic steps that we’ll cover here.
- First Step: Set up your hardware correctly.
- Second Step: Purchase OS X Leopard (I used version 10.5.1)
- Third Step: Download any drivers and additional software you might need and burn them to CD-RWs or DVD±RWs.
- Fourth Step: Configure your hard drive and Install OS X from the original OS X Installation DVD.
- Fifth Step: Apply post patches, drivers, and updates
1. Set Up Your Hardware Correctly
- Boot up and hold down the delete key to get to the bios settings.
- Set your bios settings to the default settings and ensure that the following settings match these:
- Enable “USB”
- Disable “Legacy USB Support” (unless you’re using a USB Mac keyboard and that’s all you have like me; however, sleep won’t work right with it enabled.)
- Enable USB 2.0 Controller
- Set “DVMT Mode Select” to “Fixed Mode”
- Set “DVMT/Fixed Memory” to “64 MB”
- Set “Suspend Mode” to “S3 Only”
- Enable “HDAudio Controller”
- Enable “Execute Disable Bit”
- Shut down the computer, open your case, look on the motherboard in the lower-right corner, find the three pins labeled “PS2 USBPWR” and move the jumper clip from 1-2 to 2-3.
- Make sure that your monitor is plugged into the onboard video (it doesn’t absolutely have to be, but ensures initial compatibility that will allow the initial install). I think I actually left my monitor connected to my PCI-X NVidia 8500 GT video card the first few times.
That should be it for your hardware configuration. I also recommend starting without having any extra peripherals plugged in to the USB ports or PCI slots during installation and first startup.
2. Purchase the OS X Leopard Install Disc
Honestly, support Apple! Unlike XP and Vista, you don’t have to “activate” your operating system every time that you re-install it. In addition, your disc legitimately allows you unlimited installs on one machine. It only costs $99 and is even a better operating system than the more expensive Windows operating systems. Even if it is just a hobby project, just include it in your hardware costs and don’t rethink it.
3. Download any drivers and additional software you might need and burn them to CD-RWs or DVD±RWs
Below are a list of the drivers you’ll need for the hardware configuration that I listed at the top. If you need other drivers, search the Web and online discussions. At the time of this article, all of the links work. I won’t update them though when they eventually become invalid links though. To ensure proper credit, I didn’t create any of these downloads. They were created by members of the Hackintosh community with the intention that the files would be free downloads. They all carry the disclaimer “use at your own risk”. That being said, these are the files that I use with my own Hackintosh (which works great, by the way).
- Boot132.dmg.zip (used during install process)
- Chameleonforharddisk.zip (for bootloader)
- ALC883.pkg.zip (for onboard audio)
- ASUSP5GC-MX1333VideoCard.zip (onboard-video drivers)
- NVInstallerV.41.pkg.zip (for the 8500 GT if you need it)
- Lankext.zip (for onboard LAN – use at your own risk. I heard this works really well; however, I don’t use LAN for my Internet. Currently, I share Internet through firewire with my G5 iMac.)
- MacOSXUpdCombo10.5.4.dmg (10.5.4 updater from Apple’s Web site)
- OSX86Tools.zip (extra helpful utility)
Basically, the reason this method is my favorite is because to get a functioning system, the only two vital components are the Boot132.dmg.zip and the Chameleonforharddisk.zip in addition to the OS X Leopard Install disc. These two alone will give you a functioning system with basic graphics and no onboard sound. The rest of the files are install if you need them files after the OS installation is complete.
- The Boot132.dmg is a Mac image file. If you’re doing this from a PC, you may want this file instead: Boot132.iso. Convert/burn this to a CD. You should see multiple files on the CD, not just an iso or a zip file.
- Take all the rest of the files that you downloaded and burn them all to another CD.
4. Configure your hard drive and Install OS X from the original OS X Installation DVD.
The first half of this article is about disclaimers and obtaining all of the hardware and files. Once you have your two CDs, you’re set. Be sure to test out your BOOT132 disc before getting too into this.
Now for the actual fun part.
- Insert the BOOT132 disc into the DVD drive and start up your future Hackintosh.
- Hold down the F8 key to get the boot menu.
- Select the DVD drive and press Return (“Enter” for all of you PC people with PC keyboards).
- A Darwin prompt will show up (if not, go back into the bios and go back through the hardware setup instructions again or re-burn the BOOT123.iso disc properly, ie. not just burn the iso file or zipped iso file to a CD). Take out the disc, insert the OS X.5 retail install DVD, and press “Return/Enter”.
- If it asks if you want to boot from the CD, press “Enter”.
- After continuing, the Apple logo should appear and the DVD should boot. It may take a while before the Welcome screen shows up. When it does, select your language and click continue.
- Select the “Utilities menu from the menu bar at the top, and choose DiskUtility.
- When the DiskUility app has loaded, select the hard drive that you want to install on (I used a SATA drive). Select “Erase” and choose “Mac Extended (journaled)” from the options.
- You may also create an extra partition by clicking the “Partition” tab in the DiskUtility window. On my setup, I backed up my OS on the second partition later on after completing all of the steps for the initial install.
- Once the partition has been created, exit DiskUtility.
- Just follow the instructions on your screen and install whatever you want.
- Go outside and enjoy the sunshine wile your disc is installing.
- When you come back from your 15-30 minute break, you’ll notice that a warning error shows up saying that the OS couldn’t be successfully installed. This is normal! Everything is installed right. Just select the reboot button, and replace the OS X.5 install disc with the BOOT132 disk when the computer restarts
- Hold down the F8 key again on reboot and select the DVD drive again.
- This time, when the initial Darwin screen shows up on the CD, press “Return/Enter”.
- At the next screen, type your hard-drive number (try 80 or 81), and continue. A boot loader should show up and should show the installation as an option (probably the only option for right now). Select the installation and press “Return”.
- OS X will start up and will take you through the setup and registration process. When you’re all done completing that process, you’ll be all set up to start tinkering with your new Hackintosh!
Woo hoo! Woot woot! Oh, but wait. You still have to complete the fifth step – “Apply post patches, drivers, and updates:
5: Apply post patches, drivers, and updates
The step with a star (*) must be done in order to make your installation fully functional. Other steps are good to do as well. They’ll enable the high-quality video, audio, etc. and will ensure that everything is backed up for any later mishaps. Try to do these things in order though.
- If you want to update to OS X.5.4, do that first. Just move the file from your second CD and double click it to install.
- Then install the sound drivers by dragging the ALC883 installer to the desktop, and double clicking it to get started.
- a. If you’re using the onboard video, “ASUSP5GC-MX1333VideoCard.zip” is the next file you’ll need.
- Unzip the file.
- Open the folder that is created.
- Inside the “ASUSP5GC-MX1333VideoCard” folder is a “GMA900 Pack r2” folder, there are several files and two folders. Open the KextHelper b7 app.
- Click and drag (the contents of) the first folder labeled “2592” into the window of the KextHelper app along with “AppleIntelGMA950GA.plugin”, “AppleIntelGMA950GLDriver.bundle”, “AppleIntelGMA950VADriver.bundle”, and “AppleIntelIntegratedFrameBuffer.kext”.
- type in your password and install all of the files in that window.
- If you’re using the MSI NVidia 8500GT video card, then wait until after you do a backup of everything to install it. In fact, I would suggest waiting to do any other installs until after you do a backup of everything.
- Open up the OSX86Tools app, select “backup Kernel”, create a new folder in the root directory (aka: your main hard drive folder) and title it something unique and fancy like “BackupStuff”, and backup the kernel to that folder. Then select the “Backup Extensions” button, choose your installation drive, and select the folder you created as the destination for the backup. You can now even move that folder to a CD or a jump drive.
- * This step is important. If you’re going to do the other steps listed above, do them first though.
- Click and drag the “Chameleonforharddisk.zip” from your second CD to your desktop.
- Unzip it. It will create a folder called “Chameleon for hard disk”.
- Open the folder and select “Chameleon_DFE_for_Hard_Disk.pkg” and follow the instructions.
- Your computer will now automatically boot up properly without the BOOT132 CD. YIPPEEE!
- Reboot your computer with no CD in the DVD drive.
Note: If your bios has your OS X installation (which is now a working Hackintosh OSX86), your computer will boot up to a screen that lets you choose your OS 10.5 installation. You can use the OSX86Tools app’s “Add EFI Strings/Boot Flag” to customize the new built-in boot loader.
Backing Up Your OS X Installation to the Other Partition
If you haven’t created a second partition yet (instructions contained in the Installation section above), you can create a new partition by booting the Hackintosh using the BOOT132 CD, and then using the Install DVD as mentioned earlier. When you get to the install screen, select the “Disk Utility” option from the Utilities menu. Select the disk with OS X on it and select “Partition” from the menu. Add a new partition and resize it using the resize bar between the two partition images. Select the new partition and make sure that it’s formatted as Mac OS Extended (Journaled), and named whatever you want (although I would suggest not using spaces in the names). Exit DiskUtility and reboot without the CD in the drive.
When your computer is booted (if you’ve already made your second partition described in the OS X install instructions above), do the following:
- Go to Applications>Utilities>DiskUtility and open it.
- Select “Restore”.
- Click and drag your OS X installation disk to the “Source” text box.
- Click and drag your backup drive to the “Destination” text box.
- Click the “Restore” button.
- Go to the movies or do the dishes.
- Come back and check it out. You now have a cloned version of your hard drive that you can revert back to if you really messed things up during optional installations or tinkering. You might want to click on the name of the cloned hard drive and rename it “backup” or something.
If you ever need to reinstall your OS because you broke it (really messed up installing drivers, etc), just boot into your backup installation, erase your messed up installation, and do the restore instructions shown above – just with the backup as the source and the messed up installation as the destination. Make sure that you move your important files over to the backup drive before erasing the contents of your main-install partition.
Building a Hackintosh can be a lot of fun. I built my Hackintosh into an eMachines case. I used to have it in my old, broken G4 tower. It was a lot of fun. I removed the innards of the power button and built a switch underneath it that had a tri-colored LED light. Other than a slight modification to the back of the case (to fit the motherboard properly), it looked like a normal old G4… until you turned it on. Then the power button would flicker purple when the hard drive was in use, would glow red when the computer was asleep, and would glow blue when it was turned on or idling.
Although this has been a fun project, it has consumed many hours. In fact, if I had spent those same hours at a temp agency making $8 per hour, I could have purchased an actual Mac outright. If you are looking to build a cheap Mac using PC parts, what you end up with is a Hackintosh, not a Mac. In the end, you’re left with the added hassle of finding drivers, trouble-shooting bugs, and missing out on the luxury of a manufacturer’s guarantee .
People complain that they would buy a Mac, but they’re too expensive. As a Finance major, I can tell you that this is flawed thinking. If you buy a Dell, you pay less up front. If you ever have any problems with it, try getting tech support to take care of it. I actually have had Dell tech support try and sell me new stuff at a hefty premium to replace parts that were still under warranty! In time and maintenance costs down the road, you will likely pay more for a PC than for a Mac.
Don’t let the upfront costs fool you. You are paying upfront for hassle-free customer service, which you likely won’t even ever have to use. Honestly, you’re paying for peace of mind. My choice is to own genuine Macs.
My Hackintosh may be a fun project, but in the end, it doesn’t compare to the sweet harmony of OS X running on native high-quality Mac hardware with stellar Mac tech support. By choosing a Hackintosh PC over a genuine Mac, you end up losing most of the benefits of owning a Mac. Don’t let companies like Pystar fool you into thinking that you’re getting a new high-quality Mac at a discount. It’s a pretty blatant misrepresentation.
My recommendation to people who build and own a Hackintosh is that if you like OS X, make the jump over and buy a real Mac. You won’t likely regret it. In fact, you’ll most likely be much happier.
For questions relating specifically to this article/guide, comment below. For more help with questions or driver instructions, check out insanelymac.com and osx86project.org.
Follow Up and Tips
If you install other drivers or components, etc. and your computer isn’t booting properly, try typing some of these boot flags at the OS selection screen of your bootloader:
-v (this means “verbose”, which will allow you to see what files are causing the computer to not boot properly)
-f (rebuild extensions cache: helpful if you installed kexts, etc and it doesn’t boot right)
-x (this is “safe” mode, which will boot without loading all of the extentions. It’s helpful when you have jacked up audio or video.)
-s (“Single-user” mode: boots into terminal, which is like DOS on Windows)
For other boot options, click here.