05 March 2010

Hackintosh: Dell 10v into Mac OS X 10.6

Hi -

The Favalora household is trying to keep its purse-strings tight, but would sure enjoy having another Mac around for checking email and messing around on the web. Gizmodo's articles about inexpensive Dell Netbooks - like the Dell 10v for $249 - and their how-to on loading OS X into it - sure caught our eye.

The Dell arrived this week. It has a 10.1" screen, 160 GB HD, and 1 GB RAM. The keyboard is respectable, the screen is bright, but...

Bummer Alert: ...the trackpad is too small to accommodate "pointing with index finger and clicking with thumb," especially since the buttons are under the flexible trackpad surface. It takes some of the fun out of having a tiny PC for couch-web-surfing, but hopefully we'll get used to it.

I bought Mac OS X Snow Leopard at the Apple store for $30 and an 8 GB flash drive for another $30.

Here goes...

Just following Gizmodo's directions, I:
  • Set up our MacBook and Dell 10v side-by-side
  • Downloaded and installed Netbook BootMaker
  • Sigh. Netbook BootMaker does not execute on our MacBook running 10.4.
  • (give up for the day)
The Apple store employee warned me that if I install 10.6 on my 10.4 machine, it's possible for the iLife apps (e.g. iPhoto) to stop working. Some forum-posts also suggested that our years of photographs, such as our photos of Toby and Gabe growing up, might be deleted, too.

The next night...

  • I backup up our MacBook using SuperDuper!, which is great for easily backing up hard drives and making them bootable (assuming you have a Mac-friendly backup drive, like LaCie). Repartitioned the LaCie because I forgot that I had upgraded the HD in our MacBook.
  • I had some trouble "ejecting" the backup drive, so I turned it off. The MacBook hung, so I power cycled it. I hope I won't regret not trying the backup drive again.
  • At 10.45pm, I started to install OS X 10.6 on the MacBook...
  • ...and wrote this blog post while cursing the Dell 10v's idiotic trackpad button-placement...
  • ...and would really prefer to get some sleep now, but Jenn needs the machine tomorrow for work, and it would suck if 10.6 broke Office 2008 compatibility, so I really need to see this through...
  • I read David Gelernter's "Time to start taking the Internet seriously" piece on Edge.org, which starts after the usual self-important Edge introduction material. Meanwhile, 10.6 continues to install, telling me it'll be 45 minutes, then 38 minutes, then 40, 30, ...
  • Took me long enough to figure out that Hulu is the killer app for this netbook. Oh, hey, the 10.6 installation-bell just dinged! Wonder if my MacBook still works! It's 11.30pm now.
  • Woah, 10.6 has a trippy post-install video. But it works, everything works. Whew! Now I need to learn about the wacky changes in the dock, like, next time I'm awake.
Returning to the Hackintoshing
  • Installed the mother-of-all 8 GB flash drives, and the 10.6 CD
  • ...see you on the other side..
The Next Day
  • Used Netbook BootMaker to do some mysterious magic to the USB stick
  • Told the netbook to boot from USB & followed the other instructions at Gizmodo
  • Woah! My netbook looks like a Mac installing 10.6. This is one of the freakier things I've seen on a computer.
  • While I waited, I learned about the Sci-Tech Award Winners for the 2010 Academy Awards. Yes, the creative nerds who invent the things which let actors and studios make billions of dollars are usually hidden away in a different ceremony. Learn about them. Hooray, TI's Scott Dewald! Yay, lighting-master Paul Debevec!

Hooray, it worked. Everything seems to work fine. I still need to figure out Gizmodo's instructions regarding improving the response of the trackpad, but other than that, we're happy campers. It's pretty freaky. The thing boots and shuts off quickly, and the response is just fine. Also there's a trick for squooshing the vertical aspect of the screen when needed for things like the System Preferences window.

Much ado about nothing,


jofish said...

I spent the day playing with configurations at dell.com before seeing this.

160GB? 250GB? new? refurb? N270 or N280 in there? thoughts?


G-Fav said...

Hmm, I don't know. You're probably just going to surf the web on it. I didn't try Xcode or anything else that would let me tell you if it's fair to assume that writing code would be any good. Jenn and I really like it but the trackpad hampers our fun because drag-and-drop is difficult. I finally did get multitouch working but drag-and-drop is a drag (hah!).

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