in Hardware, Mac OS

Making a Hackintosh from a Dell Mini 10v

My Christmas break project was to build a Hackintosh out of a Dell Mini 10v. The Mini 10v is a $299 NetBook that, I swear, is deliberately manufactured with on-board parts suitable for creating a Hackintosh.

There are tons of guides out there with conflicting instructions on how to create a Hackintosh on a Mini 10v. I’ll just share with you what worked for me, in a really brief way, because I know you’re busy and want to get working on your new Hackintosh!

Required Kit of Parts

  1. External USB disk, or a USB key (at least 8 GB). The external USB disk is liable to be faster.
  2. Install DVD for Mac OS X Snow Leopard (10.6). I used the GA build 10a432, which was the original released version. The install DVD must be a retail version and not a restore disk from an existing Mac. (c’mon guys, it’s only $30)
  3. Someone’s (your wife‘s?) Mac that you can borrow for 15 minutes to copy the install DVD to the external hard disk.
  4. Dell BIOS A05 or lower for the 10v
  5. Your Dell Mini 10v (not a Dell Mini 10… they’re two different things)
  6. A few hours to kill.

Directions

  1. Downgrade the BIOS to at least A05 or lower. The linked page says that doing so is scary/perilous but really, it’s not. I couldn’t downgrade using the DOS installer and the external USB disk, so I had to boot into Windows XP Home on the Mini and do it that way. Honestly, this was the most time-consuming part of creating the Hackintosh… the rest was pretty straightforward.
  2. Copy your Mac OS X install DVD to the external drive using the directions on the Gizmodo article. This’ll take about an hour.
  3. Run Netbook BootMaker against the newly-minted USB drive; this patches the install image so that it can boot on the Mini.
  4. Eject the USB drive from the Mac and plug it into the 10v, then boot off the USB device (press F12 on the POST screen to select boot device). Install Mac OS X per normal, as though it were a Mac.
  5. .

  6. When the install finishes, you’ll have a Hackintosh running Mac OS X 10.6.0. I couldn’t run Software Update to get it to 10.6.1, so I had to manually download and apply the 10.6.1 Combo Update from Apple. Reboot the Hackintosh into 10.6.1.
  7. Apple was clever in the 10.6.2 update to remove support for the Intel Atom processor in order to foil Hackintosh users. Don’t fear; run Software Update (under 10.6.1) as usual, but before rebooting, download and run the latest Netbook Installer to patch the new kernel to put Atom support back.
  8. Reboot the system into Snow Leopard 10.6.2!

Operational Notes

Everything’s working great for me, including automatic dual-monitor detection — but do not turn on Mirror Displays in the Display control panel. You’ll end up with a corrupted display on both monitors (which you can fix easily by unplugging the external monitor) but doing so will prevent you from using an external monitor again.

Of course, if you do end up doing this (like I foolishly did), NetBook Installer even includes a handy utility to fix it. To undo the damage:

  1. Start a Terminal.
  2. Type /Extra/bin/mirroring off but do not hit Enter yet.
  3. Plug in the external display. Both it and the screen on your 10v will show a corrupted image.
  4. Hit Enter to execute the command you typed above.
  5. Your display should return to normal.

I don’t remember if I had to use “sudo” before the mirroring command. If it doesn’t work, try it with “sudo”.

Conclusions

The Mini 10v community has done a really great job to turn the 10v into a perfect Hackintosh. Every peripheral just works right out of the box: the wireless card, the SD media reader and the webcam all work flawlessly. Not only that, but the front panel LED throbs when the system goes to sleep, just like a real Mac!

Useful Links

The MyDellMini forum on OS X was really useful, although it can be tough to separate the wheat from the chaff.