Hardware, Software

How to make an Apple OSX Hackintosh with a Dell Inspirion Mini 9 Netbook

The following is a  description of how I installed OSX on my Netbook in case you were wondering. Update: Later I also wrote a post about how fix potential Mini 9 battery issues (blinking led lights), upgrading the RAM and installing an SSD with a Dell Mini 10.

Operation #Hackintosh seems to have worked. Still no wifi, btooth tho.

UPDATE: I’m now 100% Apple / Mac. :)

As a short disclaimer I’d better tell you that I’m not a Mac. Never been. I’m pragmatic. To me, operating systems are just a means to an end. I don’t really care if it is from Finland, Redmond or Cupertino as long as it gets my job done. To date, Microsoft Windows got the job done just fine for me. Your mileage may however vary and I respect that.

But as Apple’s hardware and software has been improving from insanely overpriced and terribly underpowered to just slightly overpriced and adequately powered I’ve been thinking of making the switch. As my Netbook is currently my primary computer (after the iPhone, if you will), I figured installing OSX on it would be a low cost entry point to the weird and hopefully wonderful World of Apple OSX – I like to try before I buy. That and the fact that it makes for a nice talking piece in business meetings. ;)

I will get back to you with my experiences with the Hackintosh Netbook and OSX in a later post.

If you’re looking to upgrade your Mini (Inspiron) 9, I recommend getting the 2GB RAM upgrade from Crucial and the 32GB or 64GB SSD upgrade from RunCore. If you do decide to get a new battery, you might want to get a more affordable 3rd party battery replacement – or if you want to play it safe – the more expensive original Dell battery. I personally also found the smaller Dell power adaptor more convenient to carry than the bulky brick.

Enough gay banter. Let’s talk shop.

Hardware

  • Dell Inspirion Mini 9

I don’t think you can get these directly from Dell anymore. I got mine refurbished for ca. 200,- € on eBay with 16 GB SSD and 2 GB RAM.

If you can’t find one on eBay you can buy new and refurbished Dell Inspiron Mini 9 on Amazon,  but I’d recommend the better, more usable Dell Inspiron Mini 10 model 1011 (model number 1011 A MUST for 100% OSX compatibility! Check this compatibility chart.) that you can also get new and refurbished on Amazon.

  • 8 GB USB memory stick

This is what you’ll first be installing OSX and Netbook Installer on. See below.

  • A real OSX Mac with a DVD drive and admin priveleges

Access to a Mac is not strictly necessary, but it’s how I did it. Check out the other guides for more install options.

Software

This is the (OSX) software that does all the magic, making OSX think your Netbook is a Mac, installing necessary modifications and making your USB memory stick boot.

  • Original Apple OSX DVD

Regardless if you love or hate Apple, please show the developers some respect and buy an original DVD. A Snow Leopard upgrade DVD will also work and is cheaper than the whole hog. However, I’m not sure about the legality of installing from the upgrade DVD alone so do not consider this an endorsement of such a procedure.

The Recipe

All set? Got all the ingredients listed above at hand? Good. Now go follow the excellent instructions from mechdrew. FOLLOW. EACH. AND. EVERY. SINGLE. STEP. That’s it! Hopefully. And as always – consider paying your dues and donate to the developer(s).

Whoops

I almost got it right on the first try. Almost. Seems like I skipped a little too much of the instructions. Don’t be as stupid as me. Read the instructions carefully and follow each and every step – no matter how silly or weird they might seem. My mistake was not turning on WiFi and Bluetooth using Dell’s tool before turning off the Netbook and installing OSX.

Here’s an overview what you might need if you screw up like me and feel adventurous enough to give it a second or hundredth try:

Optional hardware

  • USB DVD drive

To reinstall your Dell Windows XP OEM CD and Dell Recovery DVD.

  • Another USB memory stick

To install PE the Builder image on. See below.

Optional software

  • Dell Windows XP Home OEM CD

To reinstall XP if need be. Came with your purchase – hopefully.

  • Dell Recovery DVD

To reinstall Netbook specific drivers if need be. Came with your purchase – hopefully.

To create a bootable image of XP to put on a USB memory stick if need be. PE Builder will create a minimal version of your Windows OEM CD and comes with a handy set of tools of it’s own. Consider paying respect and donate to the developer if you like it.

IMPORTANT: When creating your PE Builder image, open the plugins prefs in the PE Builder application and enable “RpcSS needs to launch DComLaunch Service first – SP2 only”. You won’t be able to partition your disk(s) using diskpart without this plugin enabled.

To put your PE Builder created image on your other memory stick and make it bootable.

The Optional Recipe

I experienced a world of pain trying to reinstall XP and Dell’s tools just so I could turn wireless on again. However, you may fare better. The point is not to give up.

Sometimes the OSX install will stop with an error message – just boot your PE image (see below) and reformat the disk and try again. Sometimes OSX won’t boot after installation – just turn the Netbook off and on again. It will eventually boot for you. I hope.

I dealt with disk problems during install by making an image of the Dell Windows XP Home OEM CD with PE Builder (remember to activate plugin – see above), copying it to another memory stick using UBUSB and booting from said stick. I would format, partition and rebuild as needed.

To reinstall Windows I needed a USB DVD drive to boot the Dell Windows XP Home OEM CD. Nothing else worked for me. My Samsung USB DVD writer worked just fine, though. If installing Windows gives you trouble, boot your PE Builder image and partition/activate/format your disk and fiddle about as needed.

After sucessfully installing the Dell Windows XP OEM CD, I installed the Dell specific drivers from the Dell Recovery DVD. You’ll have to install every driver and utility one after another manually using Dell’s interface (as far as I could gather). It’s a usability nightmare. Don’t get me started.

The important part is to reinstall all wireless drivers and the utility to turn wireless on and off. There’s a chance you won’t be able to install the Bluetooth drivers. I know I wasn’t. If it happens, just google for the Windows drivers.

After successfully installing all drivers for WiFi and Bluetooth, start the utility to turn wireless on and off from the sys tray and turn everything on. Shut down Windows. Install OSX – now with wireless capability.

If you’re looking to upgrade your Dell (Inspiron) Mini 10 (the bigger better sibling to the Mini 9), I recommend the OCZ 120GB Vertex Plus R2 2.5″ SSD and 2GB Crucial RAM. If you are looking for a replacement battery for the Mini 10, I recommend getting this cheaper 3rd party battery – or if you want to play it safe – get the more expensive original Dell replacement battery. I also find the smaller Dell power adaptor more practical to travel with – and it works with both the Mini 9 and the Mini 10.

Feedback

Have you installed OSX on your Netbook? What was your experience? How did you do it?

After installing
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