Building a Hackintosh – Part 2: OS Nirvana

2 days later and 10 hours less sleep.  Eyes are glazed and dry, wrists cracking and fingers aching from hours of grinding bits of odd unfamiliar code into kext files… kext files… I didn’t even know what those were before I started this project.  They are like drivers for Windows, but since Macs basically come preloaded with specific hardware the OS doesn’t have plug and play- auto detect functions like Windows does.  Well, they do… but those settings don’t expect you to be launching OS X off your home personal computer.

Let me get to the good stuff.  I turn on my computer and a crazy chameleon looks me in the eyes, below him is an apple and a windows symbol.  I can click either one.  If I want Mac OS X or Windows 7, it’s up to me.  I can flip on my computer and decide what I’m working on tonight.  If it’s video or audio editing lets fire up the Hackintosh, Office 2010 and some Networking nonsense with the Xbox- I’ll take Windows 7.  Actually, for the first time in YEARS- I will not only cut Micro$oft some slack, but I will give them props for Windows 7.  They finally made a product that works like it says it will AND it actually has a plug in play OS environment that WORKS!  It works!  I can plug in some random USB drive or a printer and BOOM- Windows detects and installs the driver without me having to do a damn thing.  I regress- this post is about Hackintosh, not Windows.

So, if I had to talk you through this thing from start to finish I doubt I could.  It was a mess, nothing in the softmod world ever goes as planned.  Trust me, I know… to date I have softmodded the following systems: iPhone, iPad, PC, Windows (multiple builds), PS2, Xbox, Xbox 360, and now Hackintosh (PC running Mac OS X).  The actual name of this underground network of OS rebels is known as OSX86.  Pretty hilarious really- if you’re a nerd like me… if you don’t get it.. nevermind.  I decided to let loose on this post and not worry about proper grammar or spelling because #1 this is my blog, #2 I’m tired, and #3 You like moldy bagels.

I pulled off this softmod on my old HP pavilion a820n.  It originally was a dual core Pentium 4 with 1 stick of 512 RAM and a 40 GB HDD and DVD burner.  Now it’s a dual core P4 with 4 sticks of 1 GB RAM for around 3.8 GB actual RAM, a 500 GB drive running Windows 7 & a 500 GB drive running Mac OS X Leopard.  I tried to get Snow Leopard to work, but it had so many annoying problems with my hardware I finally gave up.  If you have an older P4 HP machine with SSE2 & SSE4 I would recommend just starting off running Leopard since I wasted almost the entire 2 days trying to get Snow Leopard to boot without a kernel panic!  It’s funny, every time I got one of those error screens with the kernel panic I would just picture a tiny unpopped kernel of corn in the kettle with arms and legs and the kernel for a head just screaming at the top of it’s lungs.  PANIC!

The 2 major problems I ran into with running Leopard ended up having to do with the display adapter and wireless network card.  Even though a lot of the kext files (once again- windows users picture “drivers”) said my WIFI card would work just fine it would not.  Since I am close to my wireless router I just ran a CAT5 behind the couch and plugged her in.  I seriously lucked out and my onboard 10/100 somehow was working without a single modification on my part.  That’s always the clincher when it comes to working on any computer or computing device- I MUST BE ONLINE!  I need unrestrained access to every single possible file I might need to get things up and running.

On a side note, I fixed a relatives computer last night.  It would have been impossible if not for bringing along a WIFI USB dongle, the driver install disc for the dongle, and my iPhone.  (In retrospect I grabbed these last items on my way out the door without even thinking about it and boy did they come in handy.)  My iPhone is hacked of course and I have a program called PDA NET.  I pop in the CD, install the driver, plug in USB, search for WIFI connection, flip on iPhone, open PDA NET- activate an unlocked WIFI hotspot, hop on the computer and access the free WIFI 3G connection on my iPhone and grab the files I need to get the network card fired up on the new OS (since Windows can’t find ANY drivers without internet access).  DONE.  That sounds confusing and lengthy, but it’s not.  Driving all over town trying to buy shit is lengthy.  I am the king of grabbing old school technology and my box of goodies (audio and computer cables in a jumbled mess that look like a D&D monster about to fucking strangle you).. and making anything work like new.

I’m sending you this post courtesy of my new Hackintosh and now I’m off to design iPhone/iPad – iOS apps while listening to Nirvana and Operation Ivy.  I’ll see you on the app store!

Oh- one more thing: if you have a hp a820n and are building a hackintosh comment below and I will give you all the dirt on how to avoid problems and fix errors.  Also if you have an ATI Radeon X1300 Video card, I have the kexts that fix the white screen or kernel panic!

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About Jonathan G. Nelson

Jonathan G. Nelson is the editor-in-chief and owner of NERD TREK. He is also owner/publisher at AAW Games /, a tabletop gaming company based in Snoqualmie, WA. Connect with Jonathan via Facebook.