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OS X on an MSI Wind – Initial Theory…

by on Feb.05, 2009, under Life, Security, Technology

I’ve been researching what would be involved in putting some form of Mac OS X on my new MSI Wind netbook and there appear to be two major mechanisms one could use.

First some background on the OSx86 scene…

Hackintosh (or PC running OSx86), is the idea of putting the Mac OS X operating system on regular (non Apple) PC hardware using a variety of patches. Provided you use compatible hardware, you can create a pretty stable Mac clone – however there is likely always something which doesn’t 100% work correctly.

Some good background links and sites for this include:

Installing OS X on a NetBook has been gaining popularity with the rising popularity of NetBooks in general and if you are interested in general in this space then BoingBoing has an excellent OS X netbook compatability table indicating which netbooks are most compatable with OS X installs and what features work with each.

There are basically two main methods for installing OS X onto a PC…

The older original method to install OS X on non apple hardware was to use a premodified OS X (with patched kernels and patched extensions) installation disc to load OS X onto the machine. To this end a number of distributions have been released with various names like Kalyway, ToH, iATKOS, Leo4All and iPC. In the case of the MSI Wind this culminated in a release specifically for it so the best release for this type of mechanism was to obtain the MSIWindOSx86 ISO distribution (this is actually a slipstreamed boot-132+EFI method install – see below) which allows you to just boot the DVD and install (10.5.4).

Some good links for this method on the Wind include:

Disclaimer: This first method more than likely violates various laws given that you need to download a hacked pirated version of Apple’s OS X operating system to do it.

The primary reason these hacked builds were required was because “real” Intel Mac’s have EFI (Extensible Firmware Interface) and not the BIOS used in (Windows) PC’s. This is what allows the Mac to work like a Mac and be recognized like a Mac. However netkas developed a PC EFI system where the EFI code is injected into the bootloader, making OS X think that you are using a real Mac. This allows for the installation of default Apple extensions and kernels (VANILLA kernels) from the standard retail Leopard DVD. It also means that you can update your software directly from Apple software update without damaging it.

The second major recent innovation was when David Eliott (DFE) developed his modified boot-132 bootloader. It acts like a linux kernel (patched syslinux was used) bootloader which load kexts (Kernel Extensions) from an .img file (the ramdisk or initrd, as it’s known by the linux users) which contains kexts (or even an mkext) and boots OS X (the standard retail Leopard) and all the special custom files needed to boot live in the bootloader.

Short digression – What is the Kernel? – this is basically the core of the operating system and on OS X it is /mach_kernel. What are Kernel Extensions? – these live in /System/Library/Extensions on a standard Leopard install (and they are really folders of files disguised as files on OS X) – and you can think of them as drivers which allow for hardware support in the kernel and are dynamically loaded. In the case of OSx86 they may replace Apple’s original or add new support for hardware in the non Apple PCs.

So the new install method is called “boot-132″ and some good links for this method on the Wind include:

Disclaimer: This second process potentially violates Apple’s End User License Agreement for Mac OS X. Please ensure you own a copy of Mac OS X Leopard if you wish to follow the procedure.

The following are some other excellent Hackintosh and MSI Wind related resources:

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