Blog Archives

Hackintosh Updates Like a Charm to 10.6.3 [Updates]

Good news, Hackintoshers! If you followed our most recent guides to installing Snow Leopard on a PC from start to finish or the updated guide to building a Hackintosh with Snow Leopard, no hacking required, yesterday’s OS X 10.6.3 update should go off without a hitch. More »






How-To: Create a Custom User Template in Snow Leopard

Setting up your OS to your liking can be an art for some. What if you need to set up Snow Leopard to present every user with the same look and settings? By following these steps you can have every user who logs into the machine receive the same look, feel and preferences that you desire. What we’ll be doing is creating a new user, setting it up to look how we want, then copying the settings so every new user will get those preferences.

Setting Everything Up

  1. Login under your admin account and open up Accounts pane in System Preferences.
  2. Click the + to create a new Standard user.
  3. As an example, we’ll use the name testuser.

  4. Log off and log back in as testuser.
  5. Set everything up the way you want. I customized the Dock, Safari’s home page and the Finder preferences.
  6. When you are done customizing, log off the testuser account.

Copying the Files

  1. Login under your admin account.
  2. Navigate to the /System/Library folder in Finder.
  3. Right-click on the User Template folder and choose Get info.
  4. By default, you cannot browse this folder. Change the permissions so Everyone has Read & Write permissions.
  5. Now we can open up the User Template folder & copy the English.lproj folder to your desktop. This will be our backup copy in case we want to restore it back.
  6. Open up Terminal and navigate to the User Template folder.
    cd /System/Library/User Template/English.lproj
  7. Copy the testuser folder over, which will replace the defaults. You may get errors about some files that can’t be replaced. I haven’t seen it cause any issues though.
    sudo cp -R ~testuser/* .
    sudo cp -R ~testuser/.* .
  8. Change the permissions for the User Template folder back so everyone has No Access again.

Test it Out

  1. Create a new user to verify everything worked. I used the name testuser2.
  2. Log off as admin and log back in as testuser2.
  3. You will now see your customized settings. These will be used for all new users created on the system from this point on.

Conclusion

To put everything back the way it was, log in as admin and copy the English.lproj backup file on your desktop back to the /System/Library/User Template folder.

If you have a lab of Macs but aren’t using Open Directory, this is a nice solution to maintain some control over the OS presentation. This change will only affect new users. It has no effect on existing users, so keep that in mind. If you start getting constant requests for more customizations similar to this, setup a Snow Leopard Server and start using Workgroup Manager. The changes can be much easier to implement but the Server solution has a larger price-tag for that convenience.

How-To: Use Time Machine Over a Network

I love Time Machine for its simplicity and the fact that it’s free. Apple did the right thing in creating a backup utility that was integrated into the OS and was actually useful. Anyone who has fought with Windows Backup can tell you, this has been needed for a long time. Apple created a beautiful backup  utility and then made money on hardware that seamlessly works with it. For the home user, nothing could be more simple.

In the office environment however, users tend to backup to server shares and not local external drives. So, let’s take a look at how to use Time Machine over a network.

Setting it Up

It’s easy to do this in Leopard Xserve by sharing a backup folder. Under Server Admin, you can check the box “Enable as Time Machine backup destination.”

This worked great in Leopard but in Snow Leopard, Time Machine no longer saw this as an available destination. Luckily, changing a property for System Preferences solves this.

Enter this command in Terminal:

sudo defaults write com.apple.systempreferences TMShowUnsupportedNetworkVolumes 1

This tells Time Machine to treat network shares as possible backup locations. Now, when I go to select a disk in the Time Machine preferences, I see my mounted AFP share listed.

Restoring

So that’s how you get the Time Machine backup working, but what about restoring. Most people don’t test the restore functionality but it’s the most important thing you can do. To restore a Time Machine backup over an AFP connection,  first boot off the Snow Leopard install DVD. Then, Launch Terminal by clicking on the Utilities menu. In the terminal window, type the following commands.

mkdir /Volumes/TimeMachine
mount -t afp user:password@afpserver.local/ShareName /Volumes/TimeMachine

This will mount your AFP share and make it available to restore from. Quit Terminal and then run “Restore from Backup” from the Utilities menu. You will see your backup listed and you should now be able to restore from it.

Time Machine is a very nice utility and if you aren’t using it, you should be. I even have other Xserves backing themselves up to this share using Time Machine. Sure, there are third-party applications out there can do so much more, but I’m for just getting the job done. Integration with the OS is also important to me. It’s the main reasons I use Safari as my main browser. As with all backup solutions though, you need to test the restore functionality once in a while. If anything, you might sleep better at night knowing your data is not only safe but recoverable.

How-To: Connect to a Cisco VPN Using Snow Leopard or the iPhone OS

Snow Leopard has more than its fair share of improvements. If you work in the corporate world then Cisco IPsec VPN is a great addition.

Before Apple added this feature, you had to use Cisco’s client to connect up to its VPN. With Snow Leopard and the iPhone OS, this support is built in. You may need to get together with your Network Admin to get all the correct passwords, group name and such but anything that can be done in the OS versus a third-party app is good by me.

  1. Open up Network in System Preferences.
  2. Click the + sign to create a new connection. Select VPN as the interface, Cisco IPSec as the VPN Type and name it what you want.
  3. The VPN connection will now be in your list. Fill in your Server Address and Account Name. Our VPN checks authentication against Active Directory so my Account name is domainusername. Also be sure to check the Show VPN Status box so you can easily start and stop your VPN connection.
  4. Click Authentication Settings and enter your Shared Secret and Group Name. Once again, your Network Admin should have this information for you.
  5. Go ahead and apply your settings and close System Preferences. You should see a new VPN status icon in the menu bar that when you click, gives a drop-down menu to start your VPN connection.
  6. Click Connect and you should receive a Password prompt.
  7. After you are connected, notice the menu bar icon indicates how long you have been connected. This can be a nice reminder to disconnect if you aren’t using the VPN anymore.

Setting up your iPhone or iPod touch is just as easy.

  1. Launch Settings and then click on General.
  2. Click Network.
  3. Click VPN.
  4. Click Add VPN Configuration.
  5. Click on the IPSec button and fill in all your information just as you did in Snow Leopard. Click Save when you are done.
  6. Try it out by flipping the VPN switch to On.
  7. If all is good, you’ll see you are now connected.

Things to remember when accessing shares over a VPN are that you may need to use fully qualified domain names or IP addresses. Every network is different so get friendly with your Network Admin and he/she will hopefully help you out. It’s nice to see Apple developing things like this on the business side of the market. It does it so simple and to the point, that it puts everyone else to shame.

Related GigaOM Pro Research: Cisco’s Big Bet on Consumer Telepresence

Run Snow Leopard in a Virtual Machine in Windows [VMWare]

VMware is a great tool for running Windows and Linux anywhere, but OS X clients are not supported. Snow Leopard can be made to run on Windows, and Mac-hacking blog iHackintosh has the nitty-gritty on getting it working.

In order to get Snow Leopard working in VMware, you’ll need to be on an Intel-based Windows machine (AMD currently isn’t supported) with a retail copy of Snow Leopard, as well as a Snow Leopard VMware disk file, downloadable from many sources (iHackintosh lists a few). The process requires tweaking a lot of settings in VMware, as well as some disk switching and fast finger work, but overall the process isn’t too difficult. We talk a lot about using VMware to run Windows on a Mac, which is often the more necessary case, but this is certainly a nice option if, say, you’re thinking about making the Mac switch but want to extensively test drive the OS first. Hit the link for instructions on how to get set up.






Get More Precise Font Smoothing in Snow Leopard [Mac OS X Tip]

Among the many changes in OS X 10.6 was a simplification of the font smoothing options to a yes or no toggle. If your monitor text isn’t quite right, Macworld offers up a quick terminal tip to get nitty-gritty control.

You should only undertake this fix if you believe Snow Leopard has made your font rendering somehow worse than Leopard. In the Macworld writer’s case, that’s because his Hackintosh-ed Dell Mini 10v screen doesn’t support the kind of pixel smoothing that OS X presumes it does; you may have the same experience with older, or off-brand, monitors.

The fix is a terminal command with a single, three-setting variable:

Just open Terminal (in Applications -> Utilities) and paste this command, then press Return:

defaults -currentHost write -globalDomain AppleFontSmoothing -int 2

The 2 at the end is equivalent to the old “Medium – Best for flat panel” setting in 10.5. You can also use 1 for light smoothing, and 3 for strong smoothing.

It’s also worth noting that the fix won’t apply to currently open applications, so you might want to re-open a browser or text editor to test out the difference.






Install Snow Leopard on Your Hackintosh PC, No Hacking Required [How To]

Two weeks ago I detailed how to build a Hackintosh with Snow Leopard, start to finish, with a little Terminal work. If you’re not comfortable with command-line hacking, you can now install Snow Leopard on your Hackintosh with just a few point-and-clicks.

So what’s changed between my last guide and this one? In short, one of the incredibly helpful and generous people who helped walk me through the installation process last time was kind enough to wrap all the tedious Terminal work into one dead simple installer. Where two weeks ago I showed you how to prepare your thumb drive (and after that, hard drive) with a custom bootloader that allows you to boot into OS X on regular old PC hardware, now all you have to do is run a package, point it at the drive you want to prepare, and then let it take care of all the nitty gritty. It could not be more simple.

Now onto the revised process!

NOTE: Just like the last post, this guide is focused specifically on the hardware I suggested in the previous guide—specifically the motherboard. If you try following this guide on other hardware, there's a very good chance it won't work as advertised.

What You’ll Need

  • Supported hardware. I laid out my list of supported hardware in my previous post here. It’s not the only hardware that will work with OS X, but it’s the only hardware that’s guaranteed to work with this guide.
  • A USB thumb drive that’s at least 8GB in size (I’m using this 16GB Corsair drive, but obviously any sufficiently sized thumb drive should do just fine.)
  • A copy of the Snow Leopard Install DVD. You can use the $29 “Upgrade” disc to install, even though this is a fresh installation. Note: If you feel like being completely honest, go ahead and buy the Mac Box Set-though, honestly, Apple’s practically made it hard *not* to buy the fully functional install disc.
  • Another Mac to prepare your thumb drive. (You’ll only need this other Mac for a few steps. I used my MacBook Pro, but you could also borrow a friend’s for an hour or so, too.)
  • The EP45UD3P Snow Leopard install package. This package allows you to skip all the command line work in my last guide, and you can download it here.

Step One: Prepare Your Thumb Drive

In this step, you’re going to format your thumb drive and then restore the Snow Leopard DVD image to the thumb drive because later we’ll be installing Snow Leopard to your hard drive using this thumb drive rather than the DVD. “Why?” you ask. Because in order to boot the installer, we need to customize the disk image with some special helper files of our own.

I went into great detail on this process last time, so this time I’m just going to include the step-by-step video below (made by the same generous man who created the EP45UD3P Snow Leopard installer package). If you want to read the very detailed version for a thorough explanation of how to rip the Snow Leopard install DVD to a disk image and then restore that image to your thumb drive, go here. (Come back when you get to the “Semi-heavy Terminal work” warning. That’s when you’re ready for the new and improved easy part.)


Note: Watch the video in HD and fullscreen to get a closer look at everything that’s happening.

As you can see in the video, after you restore the Snow Leopard install DVD to your thumb drive, all you’ve got to do is fire up the EP45UD3P Snow Leopard.pkg file (if you haven’t already downloaded and unzipped it, you can grab it here), select your thumb drive, and, let the installer take care of all the dirty work that you previously had to do one line at a time in Terminal.

Once you’ve finished there, you’re ready to set your BIOS and install Snow Leopard.

Step 2: Set Your BIOS

Before you can boot into or install OS X on your Hackintosh, you’ve got to make some small adjustments to your system BIOS (press Delete at system startup to tweak your BIOS settings). Rather than taking you step by step through every change you need to make, I’ve simply snapped a picture of the relevant BIOS screens and added some notes. Just click through these images and make sure your BIOS settings match up.

Step 3: Install Snow Leopard

If you've made it this far, the hard part is over. Now it's time to install Snow Leopard, which—unlike what we've done so far—is extremely easy.

Make sure you’ve set the boot priority in your BIOS to boot from your thumb drive (you can see how in this pic), then simply plug your prepared thumb drive into your Hackintosh and power it up. Since screenshots aren't really an option—and since it's a fairly easy process—my install instructions come in video format:

The quick version goes like this: Boot into the Snow Leopard installer, format the hard drive you want to install Snow Leopard to (go to Utilities -> Disk Utility, then click on the drive, select 1 Partition, Mac OS X Journaled (Case-Sensitive Update: Several readers have suggested that case-sensitive formatting can cause problems with some applications, like Adobe’s Creative Suite, so you may be better off sticking with plain old Mac OS X Journaled.), give it a name, and make sure GUID Partition Table is set in the Options. After you Apply the new partition, go back to the installer and install like normal to that drive. When you reboot after the install completes, press the arrow keys at the graphical boot menu and select the drive you just installed Snow Leopard to.

Two Last Tweaks

You could just stop there and be pretty happy at your new Hackintosh, but there are two little, easily performed tweaks you’ll want to tackle to get everything in tip top shape: The first will get your sound fully working, and the second will allow you to boot into Snow Leopard without your thumb drive.

Tweak One: Snow Leopard should be up and running on your Hackintosh like a dream—with one exception: Sound isn't entirely working yet. You may notice that sound actually does work in some instances, but not all. In the old guide, you needed to install a custom audio kext (your Mac’s equivalent to a driver); the setup has been slightly tweaked in this new method, so all you should actually need to do is open up the Sound preference pane in System Preferences (/Applications/System Preferences), click the Output tab, and change the output device to Built-in Line output (I haven’t tested with digital out, but it should work fine in theory).

Tweak Two: At this point, in order to boot to your newly installed Snow Leopard installation, you need to have your thumb drive plugged in so it loads the custom bootloader, from which you can select your new Snow Leopard hard drive. To install the custom bootloader to your hard drive (so you no longer need the thumb drive to boot), again download the EP45UD3P Snow Leopard.pkg zip file and run it, but this time, instead of choosing to install the package to your thumb drive, select the hard drive you’ve installed Snow Leopard to. Once the installer completes, you’ll no longer need your thumb drive plugged in to boot into Snow Leopard.

Congratulations! You've Got a Fully Functional Hackintosh—the Easy Way

Where the method I covered previously required a good amount of time and care in Terminal, this new and improved method is a breeze, and it works even better. (Sound works out of the box without any custom kexts, for example.)

It’s also worth noting that you can go ahead and upgrade to OS X 10.6.1 without any problems.


If you’ve given the Hackintosh route a try since my first post, let’s hear how it’s been working out for you in the comments. If this extra ease-of-installation was just what the doctor ordered, go grab the parts listed in the last post and get ready for a fun weekend.

Adam Pash is the editor of Lifehacker; he loves a good hack, enjoys his Macintosh, and craves the power of a Mac Pro, so building a Hack Pro was a perfect fit. His special feature Hack Attack appears on Lifehacker. Subscribe to the Hack Attack RSS feed to get new installments in your newsreader.






Hackintosh Upgrades Without Problems to 10.6.1 [Updates]

If you happened to follow along with my guide to building a Hackintosh with Snow Leopard, start to finish, you may be curious as to whether you need to do anything special to upgrade to yesterday’s Snow Leopard 10.6.1 release. In short: You don’t. Just upgrade like normal; your Hackintosh should handle it like a charm. (Mine did.)

If you were intrigued by the guide but were a little intimidated by all the command-line work, stick around—next week, I'll show you how to install Snow Leopard on my Hackintosh build without any of that tedious command-line hacking.






How to Build a Hackintosh with Snow Leopard, Start to Finish [How To]

Two years ago, I detailed how to build a Hackintosh for under $800—then covered how to do the same with less hacking. Now that Snow Leopard’s out, we’re revisiting the Hackintosh, building a Hack Pro from scratch for roughly $900.

For folks eager to try a Mac but never wanted to plunk down the high price tag to get it, the Hackintosh—that is, a regular PC tweaked to run OS X—has always been an attractive option. That said, it's not something you should take on lightly unless you're willing—even enthusiastic—to build and maintain a PC entirely from scratch. I can't guarantee it'll be easy, but if you follow this guide step-for-step (it's exhaustive) and stick with the same (or at least roughly the same) hardware as I am, I can vouch for a rock solid system that also happens to cost a good deal less than you'd pay for a comparable Mac.

Price Comparisons

Most Hackintosh enthusiasts will say you shouldn’t build a Hackintosh primarily to save money, as it’s more than just an insert-disc-and-click install. Still, I always enjoy looking at the price differences between my Hackintosh and Apple’s current offerings. At the moment, the cheapest Mac in the Apple store is a Mac mini sporting a 2.0GHz Core 2 Duo processor, 1GB of RAM, and a 120GB hard drive. For $300 more, I’m running a 3.0GHz Quad-Core processor, 8GB of RAM, a 1TB hard drive, and a damn saucy video card. I could have made this build much cheaper by skimping on hardware and still ended up with a great little machine, but I liked aiming for around the $800 price point from my last build—plus I really wanted to make it fly.

The most expensive iMac, by comparison, has only a 3.06GHz Core 2 Duo with 4GB of memory for $2,200 ($1,300 more than my build, but it is built into a monitor), while the cheapest Mac Pro has a single 2.66GHz Quad-Core processor, 3GB of RAM, and a 640GB hard drive—and it costs $2,500 ($1,600 more than mine, though it’s a different and better processor and DDR3 rather than DDR2 RAM). In short, my $900 “Hack Pro” sports nearly as good or better hardware than any Mac that Apple sells short of the $3,300 8-Core Mac Pro (which can, incidentally, get more expensive, but it won’t get much better).

The Hardware

You can find plenty of hardware capable of supporting OS X on a Hackintosh—there's no definitive build—but we're not going to go into that here. I've put together a list of hardware that I'm using and that I can guarantee will (or at least has) run Snow Leopard like a dream.

Here’s a link to everything I bought over at Newegg:

The Build

Rather than detail every step necessary to put the actual pieces of your new computer together (this guide already reads like the Bible as is), I’m just going to point you to our first-timer’s guide to building a PC from scratch. Do your building, make sure everything’s booting up as it should be (i.e., you can boot the computer to the point where it does nothing, because you have nothing installed on it), then let’s move on.

What Else You’ll Need

Assuming you’ve purchased all the necessary parts for your build (linked above), you’ll still need a few other things before you get started:

  • A USB thumb drive that’s at least 8GB in size (I’m using this 16GB Corsair drive, but obviously any sufficiently sized thumb drive should do just fine.)
  • A copy of the Snow Leopard Install DVD. You can use the $29 “Upgrade” disc to install, even though this is a fresh installation. Note: If you feel like being completely honest, go ahead and buy the Mac Box Set—though, honestly, Apple's practically made it hard *not* to buy the fully functional install disc.
  • Another Mac to do some Terminal work on. (You’ll only need this other Mac for a few steps. I used my MacBook Pro, but you could also borrow a friends for an hour or so, too.)

Step One: Prepare Your Thumb Drive

We’re going to be installing Snow Leopard to your Hackintosh from your thumb drive rather than from the Snow Leopard install DVD, since in order to run the installer on your PC to begin with, you’ll need to slightly customize the way the installer is loaded. (More specifically, we’ll be loading a custom bootloader onto the thumb drive that will make booting into the install work like a charm.*)

So first things first: You need to format your thumb drive and then turn your Snow Leopard install disc into a disk image on your desktop. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Launch the Disk Utility application on your borrowed Mac (located at /Applications/Utilities/Disk Utility)
  2. Format and partition your thumb drive: Insert your thumb drive; after a second, it should show up in the Disk Utility Sidebar. When it does, (1) click on it, then (2) click on Partition. (3) Choose 1 Partition from the Volume Scheme, (4) give it a name (I called my HackintoshInstall) and select Mac OS Extended (Case-sensitive, Journaled) from the Format drop-down. Now—and this is important—(5) hit the Options button and make sure GUID Partition Table is selected as the partition scheme. Once you've made sure to set all the appropriate settings, just (6) click Apply and Disk Utility will get to partitioning your thumb drive.
  3. Copy the Snow Leopard Install DVD image to your hard drive: In the following step we’ll be turning your thumb drive into a Snow Leopard Install drive, but before we do that, we need to get the installer off your DVD and onto your hard drive. To achieve this, insert the Snow Leopard DVD. When it shows up in the Disk Utility sidebar, (1) click on it, then (2) click New Image in the Disk Utility toolbar. Choose where you want to save it (for the sake of convenience, I put it on my Desktop), then click the Save button. Now go grab yourself a cold drink. This will take some time. When it finishes, move on to the next step.
  4. Restore the Snow Leopard Install disk image to your thumb drive: Now, in Disk Utility, (1) click on HackintoshInstall (or whatever you called your partitioned thumb drive) and (2) click on Restore. (3) Drag and drop Mac OS X Install DVD.dmg from the sidebar to the Source field, then (4) drag and drop your thumb drive from the sidebar to the Destination field. Now simply (5) click on Restore and enter your password when prompted. Disk Utility will take everything on the Snow Leopard Install DVD and restore that image to your thumb drive—since, like I said above, we'll be installing Snow Leopard from our thumb drive instead of the DVD. Again, go grab yourself another drink; this will take a few minutes. When it finishes, your thumb drive has basically been turned into a Snow Leopard installation drive.

As I said earlier, the thumb drive needs a little finesse before you can boot the Snow Leopard installer on your PC hardware; let’s apply that finesse now.

Warning: Semi-heavy Terminal work ahead. It’s not that difficult, and I’ve gone into a lot of detail to make it as easy to follow along as possible, but if you’re not at least a little comfortable with the command line, it may make you pretty uncomfortable. Beg or borrow a command line geek for an afternoon, if needed.

  1. Make sure your thumb drive is still plugged in, open Terminal (/Applications/Utilities/Terminal) and type in:
    diskutil list


    We’re interested in two pieces of information here. The first is the root identifier for your thumb drive (mine looks like disk2, as you can see in the screenshot). The second is the specific identifier for the portion of the thumb drive that contains the Snow Leopard installer. (Again, see the screenshot.) In my case, the first is disk2 and the second is disk2s2. Yours may vary depending on how many disks are on your system. Copy your identifiers down somewhere. We’ll need them later.

  2. Head to the Chameleon homepage, find the Latest Releases section of the site’s sidebar, and download the latest version of Chameleon. (As of this writing, it’s Chameleon-2.0-RC2-r640.) Uncompress the download and move the Chameleon folder to someplace that’s easy to access. I’m putting it on my Desktop.
  3. Now, in Terminal, cd to the i386 folder of the Chameleon folder. On my Mac, the command looks like this:


    (1)

    cd /Users/adam/Desktop/Chameleon-2.0-RC2-r640-bin/i386/

    Yours should look similar if the Chameleon folder is on your Desktop, except your username should replace mine. (Quick shortcut: In Terminal, type cd , then drag and drop i386 folder inside Chameleon-2.0-RC2-r640 to Terminal.) Hit Enter.

  4. You’re going to be running a couple of Terminal commands that will use Chameleon to make your thumb drive friendly to booting up the OS X installer. They are, as follows:

    (2)

    sudo fdisk -f boot0 -u -y /dev/rdisk2

    IMPORTANT: On your computer, replace rdisk2 with whatever you copied down above. In my case, the thumb drive’s root identifier was disk2, so /dev/rdisk2 is as it should be.

    After you type in that command and hit Enter, you’ll need to enter your user password to execute it. Do so, then execute the following command, again paying special attention to the disk identifier we took note of above:

    (3)

    sudo dd if=boot1h of=/dev/rdisk2s2

    IMPORTANT: As I noted, my Snow Leopard partition was disk2s2, so that command is right for me. You should replace the disk2s2 portion of the command with whatever you noted as the portion of your thumb drive that contains the Snow Leopard installer.

  5. Now we’re going to place an awesome, custom EFI bootloader on your thumb drive that lets us load into the installer (and into Snow Leopard in general). So first, head over to netkas.org and download the bootloader from the bootloader link. Make sure you download it somewhere convenient. (Again, I’ve just downloaded it to my Desktop.)

    Now head back into Terminal, where we’re going to copy the boot file to your thumb drive. (One might think that you could just do this using Finder via drag-and-drop, but in this case, doing it via Terminal is necessary.) So, in Terminal, your command should look similar to this:

    sudo cp /Users/adam/Desktop/boot /Volumes/HackintoshInstall

    The easiest way to do this is simply type in sudo cp , (1) drag and drop the boot file into Terminal, then (2) drag and drop your mounted thumb drive from the desktop into Terminal. (The drag-and-drop method is a quick Terminal trick that pastes the full path to each file or directory.) After that, simply hit Enter. (Enter your password if necessary.)

  6. I know it seems like we’ve already run a marathon, but you’ve got one last step and then it’s relatively smooth sailing from here on. Download Extra.zip, unzip the file, and then drag and drop the Extra folder into your thumb drive. Nothing fancy, a simple drag and drop with your trusty old mouse will do. Once you’ve done that, open up your thumb drive and verify that it looks something like the screenshot below. (Notice the Extra folder, the boot file, and the OS X installer.)

Take a deep breath. By this time, you’ve completed all the hard work. Now it’s time to boot up your machine, tweak your BIOS settings so they’re ready for your OS X install, and then it’s smooth sailing.

Step 2: Set Your BIOS

Before you can boot into or install OS X on your Hackintosh, you’ve got to make some small adjustments to your BIOS. Rather than taking you step by step through every change you need to make, I’ve simply snapped a picture of the relevant BIOS screens and added some notes. Just click through these images and make sure your BIOS settings match up.

Step 3: Install Snow Leopard

If you've made it this far, the hard part is over. Now it's time to install Snow Leopard, which—unlike what we've done so far—is extremely easy.

Make sure you’ve set the boot priority in your BIOS to boot from your thumb drive (you can see how in this pic), then simply plug your prepared thumb drive into your Hackintosh and power it up. Since screenshots aren't really an option—and since it's a fairly easy process—my install instructions come in video format:

The quick version goes like this: Boot into the Snow Leopard installer, format the hard drive you want to install Snow Leopard to (go to Utilities -> Disk Utility, then click on the drive, select 1 Partition, Mac OS X Journaled (Case-Sensitive Update: Several readers have suggested that case-sensitive formatting can cause problems with some applications, like Adobe’s Creative Suite, so you may be better off sticking with plain old Mac OS X Journaled.), give it a name, and make sure GUID Partition Table is set in the Options. After you Apply the new partition, go back to the installer and install like normal to that drive. When you reboot after the install completes, press the arrow keys at the graphical boot menu and select the drive you just installed Snow Leopard to.

A Few Final Tweaks

You’ll notice that, the first time Snow Leopard boots up, you’re not enjoying any sound along with that snazzy intro video. We’ve got one small, but very simple tweak to make to get sound up and running. Here’s how it works:

  1. Download the Kext Utility, then download this audio kext (a kext is kind of the Mac equivalent of a driver) and unzip it to your Desktop. Once you’ve got both in front of you, drag and drop the ALC889.Fix.kext file onto the Kext Utility. You’ll be prompted to enter your password, so go ahead and do that when you’re prompted.
  2. Once the Kext Utility finishes running, open up Disk Utility (/Applications/Utilities/Disk Utility.app). Once it loads up, (1) click on your Snow Leopard drive (mine’s called Hack Leopard), then (2) click Repair Disk Permissions.
  3. Once Disk Utility finishes repairing your disk permissions, just restart. After your computer reboots, your audio should be working like a charm. (If not, open up Sound in your System Preferences and try changing the Output device.)

As things stand on your system right now, you need to have your thumb drive plugged in every time you reboot in order to load the bootloader that allows your Hackintosh to load OS X. There are certain benefits to this (for example, right now you could quite likely unplug this hard drive from your Hackintosh, plug it into a Mac Pro, and it would work just fine), but it can also be a bit of a hassle. At this point, though, you can load the bootloader and other necessary components onto the Snow Leopard hard drive and change that drive to your primary boot drive in your BIOS. All you’ve got to do is head back to the step-by-step bootloader guide above and repeat every step, except this time you’re applying each step to your hard drive rather than your thumb drive.

Congratulations! You’ve Got a Fully Functional Hackintosh

“But for realz,” you ask, “does it actually work well?”

I’ve been using one or another Hackintosh as my main computer for two years now, and while I’ve run into the occasional bump in the road, they’ve generally run extremely well. In fact, things just seem to keep on getting better and better, and the current build I’m running (the one I walked you through above) feels like the fastest, most stable build to date.

That's not to say that you won't experience an occasional kernel panic—you may very well. But I get crashes on my MacBook Pro, too, and I've never felt that my current Hack Pro has any more problems than any other proper Mac I've used on a regular basis. That may seem a bit crazy, but it's true.

As for upgrading—often, you'll be able to upgrade your Hack Pro without any problems. That said, it's something you normally need to check on beforehand, and you should take all of the upgrade precautions before giving it a go.

I’m planning on letting readers know how my Hack Pro handles various 10.6.x updates shortly after they happen, though, and if it requires a little extra work, I’ll show you how to handle it.


Let's hear your thoughts—whether you've dabbled in the world of Hackintosh, are interested in doing so, or just think it's plain crazy—in the comments.

Adam Pash is the editor of Lifehacker; he loves a good hack, cherishes his Macintosh, and craves a Mac Pro, so building a Hack Pro was a perfect fit. His special feature Hack Attack appears on Lifehacker. Subscribe to the Hack Attack RSS feed to get new installments in your newsreader.

* OS X boots in a different way than, say, Windows, using a boot tool called EFI (Extensible Firmware Interface). On store-bought Macs, EFI is loaded on the hardware by default (in fact, in place of the standard BIOS most of us are used to). In order to boot OS X on our non-factory Macs, we need to create our own custom path to EFI.

Huge thanks to stellarola, Onetrack, and weaksauce12 for all their help in getting me up to speed on installing Snow Leopard on a Hackintosh PC. The Hackintosh community is large and active, and they are awesome.






How to Upgrade from Leopard to Snow Leopard [UltraNewb]

So you’ve checked out the good stuff and decided to take the plunge to Snow Leopard. Upgrading is mind-numbingly easy, but in case you wouldn’t mind a little hand-holding, here’s our quick UltraNewb guide to upgrading from Leopard to Snow Leopard.

Prep Your Mac

If you haven’t already, be sure to prep your Mac for the upgrade. In a nutshell, that means doing a little housekeeping (no need bringing old, unnecessary clutter into your shiny new upgrade), backing up data, and choosing your upgrade path. For our purposes, we’re going to assume your upgrade path is a straight Leopard to Snow Leopard upgrade, though a clean install is always nice if you really want to get that fresh start feeling.

One thing to note: You’ll need at least 5GB of free space to upgrade using the basic Leopard-to-Snow-Leopard upgrade path. If you don’t have enough free space (my laptop didn’t), try an application like GrandPerspective (Original post) to identify large files you don’t need and free up the necessary space.

Install Snow Leopard

This process is exceedingly simple, but as I said above, sometimes it’s nice to watch the canary in the coal mine so you know what to expect. So, here goes:

1. Insert the Snow Leopard DVD: Just insert your Snow Leopard DVD, open it up, and double-click Install Mac OS X.

2. Click Continue and Get Installing: At the first screen, hit Continue. You’ll see a license agreement; read away and agree to continue.

3. Choose Your Install Drive: The Snow Leopard install disc will automatically determine your install drive if it's obvious, but if it's not—or if you don't want to install to the drive it automatically selected—hit the Show All Disks button to select a different install drive. Otherwise, just click Install.

4. Enter Your Password: This is the point of no return. Assuming you’re all prepped, just enter your password and take the plunge to Snow Leopard.

5. Wait
At this point, you’re pretty much done. (We told you it was easy.) Grab a cold drink, put on some music, and wait. The installation will start as soon as you enter your password. On my computer, the install process went on for about 15 minutes, then restarted, then continued for another 50-odd minutes. (It hung for at least 10 minutes when it said “Less than a minute” remaining, but I’ve got an old-ish MacBook Pro, so yours may be a bit faster.)

6. Enjoy Snow Leopard: When it completes, your computer should restart once more. When it starts up, you should be greeted with Snow Leopard’s intro video (it’s actually the same welcome video as you saw when you upgraded to Leopard, which doesn’t help Apple’s case against people who consider Snow Leopard little more than a service pack). You’ll then see the setup assistant. If you’ve taken the straight upgrade path, chances are you don’t need this at all (I cancelled rather than sit through another MobileMe pimp session.) You can always run the Migration Assistant later if you need to. (/Applications/Utilities/Migration Assistant.app).


Now that you’ve upgraded and had a chance to spend a little time poking around, let’s hear what you think about the cold kitty in the comments.






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