Monthly Archive for May, 2007

We Had a Great Time

Dan and Josie came to the city for a visit last night. We cabbed it over to Vietnam Resturant and had awesome food and silly named drinks. We walked back to the apartment in the perfect weather.

Then we went to Flannery's:

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In the usual Flannery's tradition, Butch provided a free round. We had a great time.

Thanks for coming down guys! Sorry I forgot to charge the air mattress pump!


When Apple announced they were moving to Intel hardware, a lot of folks (myself included) realized that there must be a way to crack it such that OS X can be installed on non-Apple Intel hardware.

Enter the OSx86 Project. These guys are amazing. In particular, a fellow by the moniker of JaS has set about patching the various releases of OS X such that a normal DVD can be burned that vanilla Intel gear will boot from, and subsequently allow the installation of OS X.

In the previous post, I mentioned I had obtained a copy of such software. So, I tried it out.

Keep in mind, that this is illegal. In addition, one of the great things about Apple is that they are a closed eco-system: they build the hardware, they write the software for that hardware. They marry the ends together in a perfectly seamless, stable and powerful way. This marriage of hardware and software makes sense: they only have to write drivers for hardware they know they have to support. Which is precisely why they don't allow installation of OS X on vanilla hardware, because there are too many variables. It would be a black eye for Apple to have some schmoe install OS X on his two hundred dollar POS dell, but then not have any internet or sound support. For true blue Apple hardware, as the saying goes, it just works.

Using modified/patched software to circumvent intentional hardware limitations is sort-of asking for trouble.  Apple's Intel hardware has something called a TPM (Trusted Platform Module) that the software checks for. If the TPM is not present, the machine won't boot, or the software can't be installed. The patched copy by JaS gets around this, and allows the generic PC to boot from the DVD, as well as install the OS.

It came as little surprise then, that some stuff didn't work after installing. Firstly, the DVD didn't recognize the capacious 500 GB SATA drive because… there's no SATA support for my motherboard. No problem: there's a 10 GB IDE drive, just in case. It recognized the IDE drive, which I erased and formatted as HFS+. 

The installer hung up and crashed about 70% of the way through the first attempt. So I tried again, only this time everything went smoothly. 

Upon rebooting, I was greeted with a screen image that was rotated -90 degrees. I went through the registration process (which I didn't send, BTW) and rebooted again. This time, it came up rotated correctly, only it took up 1/3 of the screen. So, after some googling and terminal tinkering, I had added some resolution modes that were more reliable for my graphics card/LCD combo. One more reboot, and it looks perfect.

At this point, since it was a fully installed and native copy of OS X, I took a minute to click around in the search for what various forum dwellers would call "teh [sic] snappy" – and boy did I find it. Safari launches in less than one bounce. Mail, iCal, Address Book – pretty much all of the standard apps are blazingly speedy. Resizing of windows and moving windows around is ultra smooth.

So, next, I found that the built-in ethernet port on the MOBO isn't supported. It's a Realtek RTL8211 – so far no patches are available. As a workaround, I think I can install a PCI wi-fi card, which should be natively supported.

Also, the MOBO's built-in audio chip is not supported, either. I guess I could get a PCI audio card that I know to be supported, but I'm going to try looking for patched AppleHDA.kext's first. 

In any case, despite the crazy speed, the machine is not really usable as a production machine just yet. 

Maybe I should just round up all my hardware and sell it on craigslist – and take the money and buy a new Mac Pro

New Machine

I finally got around to it: I built my own computer.

I didn't expect for it to be quite as easy as it ended up being. I bought the parts, plugged them all in, plopped it all in a case, plugged in the power, turned it on… and it booted right up. 

The specs:

  • MSI P6N nVidia SLi 650i Premium  (Socket 775)
  • Intel Core 2 Duo 2.14 GHz
  • 1 GB ram
  • 500 GB SATA drive
  • 10 GB IDE drive (just in case!)
  • nVidia GeForce 256 MB DDR2 PCI-X x16
  • Hauppauge WinTV-PVR-500 tuner card
  • 650W ThermalTake Tough Power PSU

It runs exceptionally quietly. Compared to my G4 Sawtooth, this thing is silent.

It runs ubuntu like a champ, and I'm having fun with exploring the wide world of free and open source software. I'm fond of beryl.

I managed to get my hands on a copy of the JaS patched install DVD for OS X 10.4.8 – a little birdy told me that OS X running on new Intel gear is super speedy. Can't wait to try it.

Really, this is sort of a dream come true – I've always wanted to build a computer, but never had sufficient justification for doing so. On top of that, I've pretty much always used Macs (by choice, not by circumstance) and for the Apple hardware, there is no option of "build you own machine."