Building a Hackintosh Successful Attempt #1

Since getting a Mac Book Pro for work, I’ve become quite the fan of OS X. As a unix/software guy, I really enjoy having the power of a BSD/Unix system readily available, without having to install some hack like cygwin. (I’m not knocking cygwin, it’s a really nice Windows add-on, but I prefer not to run Windows, in general.) I also like the OS X user interface, and lately, that it runs the very cool boxee media center software. So, I wanted to build a boxee box. My options were AppleTV, Mac Mini, or Hackintosh. The Mac Mini was more money than I wanted to spend for an untested solution. The AppleTV would probably be a good solution, especially now that it’s getting more testing from the boxee¬†community, but I wasn’t sure about it. Finally, I thought that a Hackintosh would be a cool project, give me not just boxee but a full OS X system, and I could buy the parts for $235 from newegg. That’s a cheap computer, and especially a cheap Mac.

I went with an Intel D945GCLF2 motherboard. It’s a mini-ITX board with built in dual Atom 330 processors, the kind of CPU’s used in the new and inexpensive NetBook computers. It’s a very low power solution, but with the dual processors most of the research I did suggested it should do 720p HD content. It has a S/PDIF header for digital audio out, but requires an extra cable and I have yet to test it. VGA out is less preferable than DVI, but again, this is cheap, and my Samsung 46″ LCD has VGA-input, so it certainly works. Also, it’s limited to a single 2GB DIMM, so max out that RAM early. ūüôā

I bought the following from newegg:

  • D945GCLF2 motherboard – $80
  • Any old PATA (SATA should work, too) DVD Burner – $25
  • 2GB Kingston 240-pin DDR2 667 SDRAM – $21
  • APEX MI-100 Black/Silver Mini-ITX Case w/ 250w PSU – $56
  • 80GB Western Digital SATA Hard Drive – $37
  • Shipping/Handling + rush processing – $15

Total cost: $234
Full disclosure: I later bought a cheap USB bluetooth dongle ($25) and Apple’s Bluetooth keyboard and mouse (full retail, ouch) as that was the best wireless control solution, but any USB keyboard and mouse combo should work fine for normal usage.

INSTALL GUIDE FOR RETAIL OS X on D945GCLF2


Original info from: http://forum.insanelymac.com/index.php?showtopic=138881 

You’ll need to download the following items:

You’ll need access to all these files once you get your system running, so you should have them available on a USB drive of some kind.

Also note, the driver/patch package includes an ISO image:¬†D945GCLF2_boot_132.iso . ¬†You’ll need to burn that to a blank CD. This is a helper boot CD.¬†Everything referenced below that needs to be installed or used is part of the Driver/Patch package except for the OSx86 Tools and the Combo Updater.

HARDWARE SETUP

  • D945GCLF2 motherboard
  • 2GB memory, 240-pin DDR2 SDRAM 533MHz DIMM
  • IDE (PATA) DVD-ROM, jumper set to IDE MASTER
  • SATA 80GB HD

This can be critical; not having the jumper set properly gave me serious issues with booting.

BIOS SETUP

  • Reset D945GCLF2 BIOS to defaults
This can be critical; not having default settings caused me problems with the video driver.

INITIAL BOOT

  1. Boot with boot132.iso CD
  2. when prompted, insert retail OSX 10.5.4 dvd.
  3. when disk has spun up, hit enter until prompted to boot by DVD
  4. hit F8, type ” -v ” and hit enter (This turns on verbose mode, as I like to know WHY when something breaks)

INITIAL INSTALL

  1. Choose language
  2. From Utilities Menu,  choose Disk Utility
  3. Repartition hard drive as GUID
  4. Quit Disk Utility
  5. Proceed with normal installation
  6. (optional) to speed up my install, i customized and removed X11, Language Translations, and Printer Drivers. I can add what I need later. This saves almost 5GB (almost half the default 11.2GB needed for install)
  7. when finished, reboot.

BOOT SYSTEM FROM CD

  1. after reboot, re-insert boot123.iso CD
  2. when promtped hit ESC and type 80 (81, if installed OSX to second HD),  hit enter
  3. hit enter to boot, OR type “-v” then hit enter for verbose

BASIC SETUP AND UPDATE

  1. follow normal setup (likely you’ll have to identify your keyboard, then create a user)
  2. Update to 10.5.6 using downloaded combo update, manual install. 
  3. Reboot using BOOT SYSTEM FROM CD above (restart may require hard reset/power cycle)

CUSTOMIZE DRIVERS

  1. Using the OSX86 Tool:
    1. Install custom video kexts (drivers) — optionally backup Extensions first
    2. repair permissions
    3. clear extension cache 
  2. Reboot using BOOT SYSTEM FROM CD above (restart may require hard reset/power cycle)
  3. Using OSX86 Tool:
    1. Install custom System and Audio kexts (drivers) 
    2. repair permissions
    3. clear extension cache . 
  4. Reboot using BOOT SYSTEM FROM CD above

FINAL TWEAKS

  1. Patch the DSDT using patcher
  2. when the “Terminal” script asks what OS to emulate, type 0 (for Darwin) and hit enter
  3. when it completes there will be a “dsdt.aml” file in the same directory as the DSDT patcher. drag that onto your “Hard Drive”
  4. Install the chameleon bootloader version 1.0.12
  5. Ensure the hard drive is bootable. Open Terminal and type:
    sudo fdisk -e /dev/rdisk0
    p (view partition list)
    f 1 (activate first partition, only do different if you are REALLY sure)
    w (writes changes to disk)
    y (when prompted that a reboot will be needed)
    q (quit fdisk)
  6. Make sure you eject the boot123.iso CD then reboot normally.

You should have a pretty darned happy OS X 10.5.6 install!

 

Update 2008-02-18: Photos from building the box:

19 thoughts on “Building a Hackintosh Successful Attempt #1

  1. Nice write up. Might have to try this out some day. What would you say gave you the most problems? Is there anything you would have done differently now that you have the experience under your belt?

  2. Good job! Very interesting and you give great details on setup.
    Do you have any pics of your Hackintosh (or I missed them)?

    I have wondered about a project such as this using same SFF idea, and SSD drive.
    There are some flavors of XP that might work such as PE and the one on Acer One netbooks.

  3. @Michael It’s a bit embarrassing, but by far the 2 biggest problems were mis-jumpering the DVD drive and not having the BIOS video settings at their defaults. Otherwise, the “trouble” was mostly researching to find hardware that would work.

    I’m not sure I’d build this exact box again just for Boxee. If not needing HD content, I’d probably suggesting trying it on AppleTV. It has awesome A/V hookups and remote support by default. Or for more money, you could do it on a Mac Mini.

    For a basic home user Hackintosh though, this little box is great! It could even double as a low power file server, if you wanted, assuming you used 2 big drives and a different case.

  4. @Randy I’ve been digging around for some photos I took and hope to post them soon. Also, I’m going to try some different hackintosh “distros” which package boot loader and custom drivers on one DVD “slipstreamed” with OS X.

    Yeah, I haven’t really considered XP as when I think media center system, Boxee is my current #1 choice, which means OS X or Ubuntu Linux. I have considered *shudders* Vista with media center.

  5. Hey, i just order 1 of this mobo and read many tutos from insanelymac. 1 thing i still have to ask you about this approach. in other tutos, they did mention the “CUSTOMIZE DRIVERS” where you have to check correct drivers (otherwise it will failed to install), but your guide didn’t mention ANY of these “CUSTOMIZE”.

    i got “iPC OSx86 10 5 6 Universal FINAL”-dvd and i’m just wondering if i have to check those options/drivers as well? i have never install a MacOS (but know how to use basic yes) so i kinda n00b on this one.

  6. My guide is for using a retail version of the OS X DVD, not a combined “hackintosh distribution” like iPC, iAktos, or iDeneb. All of these “distribution” DVD’s have customize requirements for installing drivers, etc on them.

    I have played with them a bit, but in general, I’d just suggest you learn what kind of hardware is on this board, and choose the correct drivers for it.

    Best of luck!

  7. Thanks for the info. It’s hard to find anyone who’s listed out their fully successful hackintosh. this is interesting, might try it as a second machine. But for now I’m going to try to build a big core2duo or quad machine first.

    -g

    1. Thanks, Glen! The difficulty I had finding detailed information is exactly what prompted me to do this write up.

      I fully understand the desire to run a higher power machine, this was meant as a low cost experiment.

  8. I am curious about whether this set-up can stream netflix content via boxee. Have you tried this? The appletv hardware doesn’t allow for netflix streaming (processor is too slow) so I was wondering if this box does the trick.

    1. The hardware is fast enough, though not by much. I’ve run Netflix under Windows and it’s really pretty nice. Under OS X it tended to have a bit of video stutter. My guess is that the Netflix/Sliverlight stack just isn’t optimized for OS X. (at least, not yet, I hope) That said, running as a hackintosh has a few other barriers for would be Netflix users. This CPU isn’t 100% recognized by the OS, so, it doesn’t even show as an Intel CPU in hardware profiler without some hacking. Because of that, you have to hack the Silverlight installer script to run properly. (now that I think about it, this could also maybe be a contributor to the slower performance) Furthermore, you have to do some hacking/tweaking to get certain apps to believe you are on a true Apple platform, thus allowing DRM technologies to run, such as is required with Netflix’s Silverlight video player.

      All that said, yes the hardware will run it, but it’s extra tricky on Hackintosh. ūüôā Best of luck to you!

  9. Ben how did you get Netflix to stream on your Hackintosh? I can get silverlight installed however when I try to watch a movie it gives me an error. guessing this is DRM related. Any helpful hints are greatly appreciated.
    Thanks -m

    1. Mike- That was one of the craziest things. I did get Netflix to stream a few times, but then it stopped and I was not able to achieve it again. Though, I even had problems on my Mac Book Pro, so at the time I thought it may be a Netflix issue. I gave up and haven’t gone back to try making it work again. Sorry for the bade news, but yes, it seemed to be a DRM issue.

  10. The kernel has changed in 10.5.7, and you cannot run the vanilla kernel with hyperthreading turned on. Turning it off in the BIOS will allow you to boot Mac OS X, but the speed is slower. I’m planning on sticking with 10.5.6.

  11. Actually, I will stick with 10.5.5, as I understand it is the most recent vanilla kernel to support the Atom’s hyperthreading. Turning it off just makes everything slow.

  12. Great guide, thank you so much for this. Just got my hackintosh running today. A bit embarrassing was not having sound and trying to figure it out for 2 hours and then realizing I plug the speakers into the input and not the output, duh, it was dark.

    One question and I have searched insanlymac and the web with no definitive answers is: Does virtualbox work on this hackintosh. I cannot get Windows 7 to install using Virtualbox, keeps aborting when either trying with the dvd drive or the iso image. Has anyone out there had success with this? You help would be greatly appreciated.

    Cheers Zapsx

    1. I’m glad the guide was useful for you! Unfortunately, I’m no longer running a hackintosh. The hardware I chose to use was simply not powerful enough for some of my needs, and because it was an Atom and not a processor OS X recognized, certain functionality was broken. I never tried virtualbox, so I can’t give you an answer there, but I would guess it’s a generic virtualbox/mac problem and not hackintosh specific.

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