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.

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2 thoughts on “Dell Mini 9 Hackintosh

  1. I’m thinking of getting 4 of these for each of my family members and hackintoshing them all. I have 2 teenagers that go to school and would benefit from having a computer in the classroom. Add in the “thats not windows” to the mix and “why doesn’t your get viruses” and my kids may be the talk of the town. Actually, the latter is all I’m really worried about and since we’re a mac family already the kids are use to being able to do things on the mac with less worry than their friends that use windows.

    I’d like to know how this goes for your wife. I currently have a HP Pavilion running Leopard (haven’t tried snow leopard on it yet) and love the thing. It’s massive and a pain to take places which is why im looking at the Dell Mini 9 as a better alternative.

  2. Aloha. Main limitation is the small screen (obviously) and small SSD drive. Mini 9’s most common configuation is 4G, I paid to have it build with 16. 8G is minimum to do a Hackintosh (I’ve been told) but 16 preferable.

    For the younger folks, the drive side is an issue with music in iTunes and pic in iPhoto. Fortunately both now support multiple libraries, so you could keep larger libraries on an external USB drive and smaller collections internally. I still haven’t migrated my wife’s data from her old laptop to this, need to work out that and a backup scheme as doing updates seems to be hit and miss. Need to make sure I can restore if things go awry. Will post new findings as they happen.

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