Okay this article might be about something old, but it was a whole new experience for me. Like many, I had to look for alternatives to Microsoft Windows for well known problems like stability, security, virus, etc. I moved to the Kubuntu Linux operating system and have been there very happily ever since. After Psystar, I had been toying with the idea of giving the Mac OS a shot on my PC. Yesterday I dived into it. Here’s how my experience went.
First of all, installing Mac OS on a PC is something that one should undertake at their own risk. Installing the Mac OS can be questioned legally. Also the software used is not from Apple, so do not expect any support. I installed Mac OS as the only operating system on my PC. These instructions are for that. It is also possible to have Mac OS coexisting with other systems. I recommend a quick googling for more info on that.
What you need
There are a few ISO images that can be used to install Mac OS, the popular ones being Kalyway and iATKOS. I chose Kalyway because the forums had a lot of information on it and apparently its the distribution of choice for most. There is no direct link from where you can download the Kalyway image. So torrent sites are your best bet. I used the Kalyway Mac OS 10.5.2 for Intel/AMD SSE2/SSE3 image. Here are some things that you would be needing:
- The Kalyway ISO image : This contains the patched Mac OS software
- GParted live cd : GParted is a partition manager. This CD helps you partition your drives using a nice GUI frontend
- Quite a few blank DVDs : For backups and some extra ones just in case
- Loads of patience : The most important thing
I installed the Mac OS on a Shuttle XPC (SG31G2). Its a standard Intel Core 2 Quad machine, with 4GB of RAM, a Phoenix BIOS, one 150GB SATA hard drive, one 650GB SATA hard drive and a SATA DVD writer. I use the integrated sound and video drivers that come with the system. Pretty standard. I guess any system with similar configurations should work fine. There have been issues with IDE drives and there is a lot of information on that in the forums. Be sure to check them out before you attempt the installation.
Take backup of all your important data and programs because you would need to delete all partitions on your drives.
Download and burn the Kalyway image onto a DVD. Use a lesser burn speed(I used 8x). The image file is about 4GB in size. Downloading from torrents does take time and you have to be patient with it. Once burnt, the DVD will show only two files taking a meagre amount of space. Stay calm. That’s how it is. Rest assured that all the software is there.
Burn the GParted ISO image to a seperate DVD.
Both the DVDs are bootable. Make sure that your first boot device is the DVD drive. This can be setup using the BIOS. Different BIOS-es have this option under different menus. So check out the documentation for your BIOS. It should be fairly easy.
Slot in the GParted disk and reboot your PC. GParted should boot up a spartan flavor of Linux and drop you into a GUI with the GParted software already running. The software is quite intuitive to use. I had two disks on my system and both showed up in the drop down box at the top-right corner. I recommend you delete all partitions on all disks using GParted. I had a few failures when I tried to format the disks to FAT32 or ext2 formats. Both times Mac OS failed to install. So just go ahead and delete all partitions on all disks. GParted should show all your drive space as unallocated. Alternatively, if you have more than one disk, you can opt to delete all the partitions in the one on which you intend to install the MacOS. Once you are done with this step, reboot your PC. (Use the Exit icon on the top left corner of the GParted Linux shell).
GParted ejects the DVD before rebooting. When this happens, just slot in your Kalyway DVD and reboot the PC. The Kalyway DVD is also a bootable disk so your PC should try to boot from it directly. Now the fun begins. 😉
On my PC, after booting from the DVD, I got a ‘boot:’ prompt. There was a message on top of it that says “hit enter to begin booting”. I did that but the prompt kept on appearing with a brief flashing message that complained about some com.*.Apple.plist file not being found. (Checking the forums brought me to a posting where there was a patch for this. I installed the patch into the Kalyway ISO image, burned a fresh disk and tried the installation, but got the same results. The image from which I successfull installed Mac OS did not have this patch and so I don’t think this is necessary)
However, before the ‘boot:’ prompt appeared, there was a timed message asking the user to “press any key to continue booting from the CD or press F8 for more options”. This message appears for about 5 seconds and then the system proceeds to the ‘boot:’ prompt. Before this message expires hit any key on your keyboard to start booting from the DVD.
Once the boot process starts, you would see a whole lot of text messages scrolling up the screen. Be patient it takes some time. The process changes the display so that the fonts become smaller but brighter. The messages pause after some time. At this stage, on my PC, I had either of the two following messages at the bottom of the screen:
- One saying SAM Multimedia Read or Write failure
- One saying some flag was cleared with p41[configd]
The system virtually hangs at this point. Be patient now. It’s seriously testing your patience. There are numerous messages on the forums that say that the SAM message is due to bad DVD. But in my case, I received this message while using about 4 different DVDs that I had burnt at speeds ranging from 2x to 16x.
It’s a good time now to take a coffee break. The system stays in limbo for quite some time but then things start happening. 🙂
The screen turns grey with Apple’s revolving multi-colored ball which I came to know later is referred to as the beach ball. The Apple logo appears and then a screen showing up the language selection window. Hurray! But wait we are still not out of the woods.
Follow the prompts on the screen until the window to select the disks on which to install the OS comes up. On my PC it just listed my DVD drive and nothing else. If this happens, to go to the Disk Utilities software by clicking on the ‘Go’ option on the menu bar that appears at the top of the screen. The Disk Utility software lists all your disks on the left pane. Select the one where you want to install the OS, on the right pane specifiy a name (if you are using a USB keyboard through a PS2 port using a USB-PS2 adapter, it won’t work. Try using it through a USB port) and select the file system type (I used the extended Mac FS with journal support) and click on Erase. This prepares your disk for installation. Quit the Disk Utility. This returns you to the media selector screen and this time your disk should show up. 🙂
Just select the disk and follow the prompts and you should have your system installed in a few minutes.
Once the installation was completed, I removed the DVD and rebooted the system. The ‘boot:’ prompt came up. I just hit enter there. A gray screen with the Apple logo showed up with a revolving loading icon. This icon kept of revolving and nothing seemed to happen. So I reset the PC. This time at the boot prompt I checked the other options available (type in ? and hit enter for a full list). I used the -v option. This sets the system in a verbose mode. Again a flurry of text messages and then the system paused at a message complaing about some index problem. I had no idea what that meant. So I reset the PC one more. This time at the boot prompt, I tried the ‘-x platform=X86PC’ flags. Voila! It booted and brought to the screens where I had to create my account, choose the keyboard layout, etc. Finally I was into my Mac OS. I played around a bit and then tried a reboot. This time at the prompt I did not specifiy any flags and it still booted me into the system. Looked like things were working fine.
Anyway since it was getting late, I decided to quit for day and hit shutdown. The dock, the menu bar and the desktop icons all disappeared and were replaced by the revolving icon. But the system did not shutdown. The PC became very quite but the screen still showed the revolving icon thing. This was frustrating. I again rebooted in verbose mode and then tried to shutdown. This time I could see what was happening since there were messages on the screen. The final message that I saw was “CPU halted”. But the machine was still on. Frustrated I gave up and just switched off the PC.
Even though it was tiresome and frustrating, it was a great feeling when finally I could get into my Mac OS. I am yet to get a feel of the system since I have no prior experience with Macs.
Still to do
- Fix the shutdown problem
- Get my wireless USB adapter working. This adapter was recognized by Kubuntu and worked right out of the box. But with MacOS it was not recognized.
- Get drivers for my display system
Hackingtoshes are possible because of the following people/organizations:
- The OSX86 project that made Mac OS on the PC a possibility
- The guys at Kalyway have a made it easier for users through their DVD images
- The InsanelyMac forum helps the first timer with a wealth of knowledge
A big thanks to all of them.