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Old Jul 22nd, 2009, 01:24 PM   #1
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Hacking your way to a Mac netbook

Despite all the rumours about an impending Mac netbook, the real deal has yet to materialize, so as a Mac user, there aren't really any existing options for a small netbook that can run Mac OS X. Unless, of course, you're prepared to make one yourself.
Hey everyone!

One of our newest writers, Gadjo Sevilla, at MacWorld Canada wrote this piece for the site, and we wanted to get feedback from the community. Gadjo has been running OSX on a Dell Mini 9 netbook for a couple of months, and finds it to be a (mostly) smooth experience.

Anyone else out there tried to make a hackintosh netbook? Is it worth doing?
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Old Jul 22nd, 2009, 01:29 PM   #2
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I've done it to a Dell Mini 9 also, and I love it. Only drawback with the SSD models is there's not much HD room to play with. Otherwise, I'd do it again in a heartbeat.
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Old Jul 22nd, 2009, 01:42 PM   #3
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I made my first and last Hackintosh. The worst part was that it was all the caveats added up to a computer tha is unusable for the most part. I made one with a Intel dual core Atom, which is faster than the single one in netbooks, plus I put in 2GB of Ram , which is also twice what is i most netbooks, as well as a faster desktop hard drive..
If you can be happy with the same performance of say, oh an 800Mhz G4 iBook, that's about the speed you will get out of a Atom at 1.6. BUt it will be much more buggy than that G4 iBook
It's a total dog and combine it with Intel GMA 950, and it's even worse than he iBook, add in the various glitches and problems and hassles and unsupported hardware and hacking hassles, and you have a very unsatisfactory time in my opinion. The GMA950 graphics saps off 128 MB from the 1GB you get in a netbook Ram.
Oh and sometimes the graphics will have artifacts and glitches.

If you have a choice between a used Powerbook, iBook or MacBook or unsupported NetBook, go the vintage Apple route, you will have the better experience.

I m waiting for Apple to come out with a tablet device that will serve my portable needs, which are pretty minimal, but I want a bigger screen than an iPod Touch, mabe 6 to 10 inches and no keyboard, jut a touch keyboard and a usb port.

On the other hand, Ubuntu or WinXP seem to work ok on Netbooks, but they arent Mac then.
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Old Jul 22nd, 2009, 01:45 PM   #4
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Yea just get a used 12" iBook G4 or PowerBook G4, they're both compact, you get an optical drive, and for the most part they're more powerful than a lot of netbooks out there despite having 4 year old processors. A PowerPC G4 1.2Ghz can outrun an Atom 1.6Ghz EASILY despite the lower clock speed, and you get 6 hours of battery life with a new battery.

The only caveat is that Leopard is the end of the line for OS X upgrades on the G4s and G5s, but it's still less frustrating than trying to get Snow Leopard to work on a PC. I'd rather use Vista than go through that.
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Old Jul 22nd, 2009, 01:58 PM   #5
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I have to concur with dona83. I tried a Mini 9, and to be fair it was fun. I enjoyed the process of doing something "off road" that was a little tricky and felt like I'd accomplished something. But really, that's about it. The Mini 9 is usable, sure, but I would still go with an old 12" Mac, even if it's a bit bigger and heavier.

Realistically, there is no support for the Dell other than what some enthusiasts have put together. Getting actual support from Dell is a nightmare, just because they're a terrible company when it comes to customer service. My Mini 9 arrived with a damaged battery. It took literally 3 hours on the phone, being transferred from one department to another, most of the reps totally incomprehensible (phone lines had tons of noise too), and just got the impression that either no one knew how to help me, or would just rather pass it off than take some initiative. Of course, each of the reps asked me the same questions, like they were reading off a sheet. In the end I just gave up, and as luck would have it, the battery started working the next day. I'd put up with this if the machine was reliable, but it isn't. It feels cheap and especially with the constant workarounds required to keep up the Mac facade, I just don't trust it to keep working when I need it to, which is basically the main Mac selling point. As others have stated, it's not like it's even that much more powerful than a 5 year old iBook.

I'd say if you have the cash and you enjoy the process of making and modifying it to come up with a useful and unique computer (some people have even cut apple-shaped holes in the Dell's case to make it look like a tiny Macbook), go for it. But if you just need a tiny Mac for practical purposes, I don't think it's worth the hassle personally.
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Old Jul 22nd, 2009, 03:30 PM   #6
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I've played with Hackintosh MSI Winds, HP Mini 1000s and EEEPc 1000HE's. All three have been pretty decent machines. I even gave my mom a $249 HP Mini 1000 when her G4 iBook logicboard died.

Especially with the MSI Wind, there's almost no "hacking" involved. The machines are stable, and compare nicely to a late model G4. There are a bunch of tradeoffs either way - boot is faster with the Atom, but graphics are worse, etc...
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Old Jul 22nd, 2009, 03:44 PM   #7
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**double post** please delete
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Last edited by fyrefly; Jul 22nd, 2009 at 04:08 PM. Reason: double post
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Old Jul 22nd, 2009, 04:32 PM   #8
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I recently "hackbooked" an HP Mini 1035nr. The process went very smoothly, and everything works well. I'm really happy with the HP Mini, this is a piece of hardware that I really wish Apple would make. It's very well built, solid, well featured, and works significantly better than I expected from something so small and cheap. I'm particularly impressed with how well this thing handles video.
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Old Jul 22nd, 2009, 04:47 PM   #9
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I've loaded OSX Leopard on an Aspire One. It started out with the 8GB SSD which is too small for an install of the Kellaway hack.

Wound up installing a 16GB CF card with SSD adaptor in order to load OSX. It ran slow due to the slow write speed of the card and all functions weren't available.

Win 7 actually ran better on the CF card though still hampered by the slow write speed of the CF card.

Eventually reinstalled the SSD and installed Ubuntu which runs fine.

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Old Jul 22nd, 2009, 04:58 PM   #10
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Thanks TeddyK - The reason I became engrossed with the idea of Mac subportable was that we really haven't had this option since about 11 years ago when Apple discontinued the PowerBook 2400c which was (ironically) an IBM-built Apple subnotebook which was similar to today's netbooks. The Dell Mini 9 running OS X was an attempt to recapture that niche subnotebook Apple device.
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