My wife has been having issues with her older Mac laptop, and and examination determined that it was indeed on its last legs. Not being able to afford to buy her a new Mac laptop right now, I looked around for options. Getting her a Windows or Linux box was not at option, so began to explore the possibility of building her a Hackintosh – a netbook that would normally run Windows or Linux, but was capable of running OS X as well.
Boing Boing has a chart comparing various netbooks and what functions worked and did not work when OS X was installed on them. From this chart and additional research I determined that a Dell Mini 9 was the most likely candidate to attempt this on. I ordered one directly from Dell online ($340 with 16G SSD), and purchased a copy of Snow Leopard at the UHH bookstore to install on it.
I also located several tutorials on how to install OS X on the Mini 9, but this one seemed to be the most recent and easiest way to accomplish it. After the Mini 9 arrived I borrowed a large jump drive, copied the installers on it, ran the NetbookBootMaker, and had no problem at all getting the OS X installer working. After restart the normal configuration dialogs showed up, and in no time I was looking at the OS X Finder on a 9″ screen. I was suprised at how quickly it boots up – significantly faster than my MacBook Pro. It has frozen on startup just once, but a simple restart was all it took.
My biggest fear was not failing to get OS X installed and running, but how my wife would take to this smaller netbook after using a 15″ laptop for so long. She loved it – what a relief.
There are rumors on the net that Apple will disable the ability of OS X 10.6.2 to run on Atom processors, like the one that the Mini 9 runs. If that is correct then this one may be stuck on 10.6.1 indefinitely – at least until someone in the Hackintosh community figures out a workaround.
UPDATE: It appears that 10.6.2 may not specifically disable computers running the Atom processor.