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hackintoshes and open Macs
 


2016-10-01 at 16:21 #6476   (81)
Guest
To me, when using the Duo Dock it always felt like I was loading a large cassette tape into the player. Just seemed odd when compared to the docking systems found in the PC world. Another one I have used in the past was the BookEndz for earlier MacBook Pros.

https://eshop.macsales.com/item/BookEndz/BEMBP15FUB/

Never had any real problems with any of these. Preferred Dell's D-series docks and port replicators over anything available from the Apple tree.


2016-10-01 at 17:16 #6480   (82)
(2016-10-01 at 14:14)pteeson wrote:  My Mac Pro 4,1 (early 2009) is still humming along. It can be upgraded to rival a 2013 in performance.
...
In my case I have no need to do so and for the cost of doing it I could build a pretty decent Hackintosh.
I agree with you about the processor upgrade, my Quad-core 2.66 Gz Xeon is still plenty fast enough, but I think that 16GB of RAM and a small SSD (leaving room for 3 or 4 big hard drives) provides a huge increase in performance. But that’s the whole point isn’t it? We have the flexibility to upgrade or not depending on our own current and future needs.

The firmware upgrade you mentioned (at zero cost) has enabled my machine to run Sierra. Since with the new firmware it looks like a MacPro5,1 (which was the model identifier used through September 2013) I think it’s a reasonable bet that it will run next year’s macOS as well. We’ll have to see.


2016-10-01 at 19:01 #6486   (83)
Nice stroll down memory lane. Even though Jobs always wanted the Mac to be a toaster (well documented), he or someone finally gave into modifiable systems.

First among my favorites would have to be my original "skinny Mac," one of the fabled first "50,000." Woeful by modern standards but for me - coming from a tortured background in UNIX and IBM sys 360 - it blew my mind. The moment I saw one, I "got it." To get one, however, I had to trade my entire student loan for the year. Lots of Ramen back in the day.

When the IIci arrived with color, wow, one of the great moments in Apple's history. I was in better financial condition by then, so I bought just the box, and everything else was 3rd-party, starting a trend I still follow.

I liked the multicolored wind tunnels and had a couple, but I never had the sense that the machine was a connected tool to assist and provoke thought and creativity. When the "old new Mac Pro" - the silver tower - came out, I was in a state of lust.

I had two over the years with the second being a 2010 dual quad 2.4GHz. Got ahold of an incredible 30" Sony medical imaging CRT (think it was $100), mucked about a bit to connect, but let me tell you, the hot rodders had nothing on me. Went to max RAM, the 1st GPU upgrade, used eSATA for fast connections to external drives, and finally put OWC's PCI-e 256GB SSD card in as the boot drive. That along with an early SSD data drive. Well as they used to say in my part of the world, "I was cooking with gas." Frankly, I used DOS boxes fairly often, but for a long time didn't encounter anything that could stick with it.

Yeah, PageMaker, FreeHand, FileMaker, the very first Photoshop, Word till v6.0 - I finally began to see that the computer could and should be an amplifier for the mind. I wrote several books with it, did a fair amount of CAD, lots of multivariate analysis and modeling, Theorist as an advanced calculus calculator, significant photo processing, etc. It was a brilliant moment.

I hung on to my silver tower for 5+ years - much longer than my normal duty/fully depreciated cycle. I couldn't see how to get more out of it other than the $500 graphic card upgrade. I never really considered a processor swap - lot of money and effort. I kept holding out for the new new Mac Pro.

Well, we got the trash can. Actually it - when fully loaded with RAM, big SSD, top end GPU - is quite a smoking machine. Serious sticker shock. Still I was utterly dismayed that it couldn't be hacked or modded. Everything moved outside, and I couldn't change anything. We were back to the toaster. I gave up and got the latest, greatest iMac, and frankly it is a decent machine, and, guess what, I still had to build a complete external support system with Thunderbolt and USB3 enclosures.

I find it a fascinating irony that after Jobs died, Apple went back to the toaster even so far as to only allow its top end iMac to upgrade RAM. Forget drive changes.

I realize that it is now "Apple Inc." and macOS, as in iOS. The money is in the phones, the tablets some, the watch? Can't imagine, but who knows. I've also witnessed the seismic shift in use, people now consume voraciously from a variety of sources and do it white driving. Communication is 140 characters long, though you can now send a pix of yourself. I suppose it's progress particularly as I see this is an interim stage to some sort of small wearable device that has a holograph projectable interface which can be manipulated via voice and hand. I suppose some would go for an implant, but I already have enough weird stuff in my head so would pass on that.   ;-)

Robert


2016-10-01 at 19:36 #6488   (84)
(2016-09-28 at 19:14)moondigger wrote:  That design, which allowed taking a computer from fully assembled to a fully disassembled state requiring the removal of only a single standard screw, is pretty slick. I don't think they -- or any other manufacturer -- has replicated it.
Apple definitely did this better than anyone else, but I have personal experience with many Dell workstation/server PCs that have tool-free disassembly of most components.

For instance, the Precision T3400 I use at work (a really nice Linux workstation, despite its age) allows an almost-complete takeapart without tools. And even more unusual, Dell tells you how. Chapter 13 of the owner's manual gives you the procedure for replacing absolutely every part.

(2016-09-30 at 06:05)Apple ][ Forever wrote:  Aside from its elegant simplicity, the great thing about the IIcx/ci/Q700 case was the size. It was user expandable, and still very compact. It's the kind of machine I wish Apple still made today, and given the reduction in modern component sizes, it could be made even smaller.
...
But I still prefer the IIci for its mini-tower form factor.
Agreed. I would love a chassis like the IIci with modern equipment in it. A motherboard similar to a modern mini or iMac would have no problem fitting in there, and there would be plenty of room for an optical drive and two 3.5" hard drives, as well as a few PCIe slots. It would be the "mini pro" that so many of us have been wanting ever since the demise of the PPC-era systems.


2016-10-02 at 18:54 #6511   (85)
(2016-09-30 at 16:03)kevinp wrote:  ...the fact that the Nehalem processor was on a removable tray. I was naive enough to think that this would be a future upgrade path; alas this was not the case.
This type of part-based upgrade path has been the dream of the industry and its competitors for quite some time now, and it seems like every time someone builds a product based on the premise, people rave then it fails.

The most recent most public iteration of this is probably Google's Ara phone project. Modular phones! Put a better camera in! Add more storage! Project is dead.

At the end of the day, the problem is so often interfaces. Secondary problems around design manifest themselves.

Putting a CPU on a daughterboard so it can be swapped out is a great idea -- until the CPU's speed exceeds the capacity of the daughterboard connector. Suddenly you have a machine that can't access RAM in an optimal way, or the GPU etc.

Bigger picture, the problem is such things are designed around connectors of the time, and those connectors change; even Lightning seems likely to have its day, and it's a pretty damn good connector.

Technology is stabilizing a bit, and the new no longer seems to make the old so rapidly and completely obsolete. (I still run a backup drive on USB 2.0... because who cares? It's a Time Machine drive. Doesn't take long.) Maybe we'll get back to this design philosophy, but that Project Ara cancellation doesn't make me overconfident.


2016-10-03 at 10:12 #6522   (86)
It's worth mentioning that while Apple had some great machine cases in the past, it wasn't a consistent pattern, as there were no shortages of Apple cases that would leave you with bloodied hands if you even thought of upgrading the RAM. PowerMac 7100, I'm looking at you!


2016-10-03 at 10:31 #6526   (87)
(2016-10-01 at 19:01)bizbeblu wrote:  Nice stroll down memory lane. Even though Jobs always wanted the Mac to be a toaster (well documented), he or someone finally gave into modifiable systems.
The vast majority of the models that people have mentioned didn't happen under Steve Jobs' tenure at Apple; they happened under the leadership of Sculley/Amelio/Spindler.

Good days those, the ones that led to a slide in Apple's sales so bad that it became irrelevant and perched on the precipice of death.

(I'm not saying that happened only because the systems were "highly modifiable", but it seems pretty clear that it didn't help.)


2016-10-03 at 14:25 #6543   (88)
(2016-10-01 at 17:16)kevinp wrote:  I agree with you about the processor upgrade, my Quad-core 2.66 Gz Xeon is still plenty fast enough, .....
I concluded that the order in which to upgrade (if I was going to do it) is:
  0: Upgrade firmware to 5,1
  1: SSD for OS X
  2: Better video card
  3: CPUs (I have dual 2.66GHz quad cores)
  4: faster RAM and more of it.


Russ Brown Show this Post
2016-10-03 at 14:33 #6545   (89)
Russ Brown
With a second display my 2009 MacBook Pro 17" was nice for document work, but once I got a MacBook Air with SSD, it seemed really slow. I replaced the hard drive with an SSD and the optical drive with a 1-Terabyte hard drive. Then, with the help of Dave Nanian of Shirt Pocket Software, I used the Sandbox feature of the SuperDuper backup utility to put the system on the smaller SSD, while the user files and data are on the large hard drive. The combination is amazingly responsive, as most I/O is the system where all the tmp and caches are, while the large data disk has very little I/O. This gave new life to my old big-screen laptop, and it is in daily use.


2016-10-03 at 14:50 #6546   (90)
My impression is that Apple has looked at the future of desktop computing and seen it as a shrinking market - and I would agree with that. So they have decided to abandon the heavy lifting hardware development and focus instead on mobile (the i-devices and other baubles). It makes good business sense.

Meanwhile, those of us who still relish the past glories, like my Mac Pro 4,1 and my 17-year-old 1999 Cadillac, can still hang on to them. And if we are still among the few hundred software developers who need that kind of power, we have to look elsewhere for the hardware. Que sera sera.

To me, that implies a Hackintosh if I want to run macOS. But IMHO I think that will be increasing difficult to do. There is some evidence that Apple is withdrawing from the kernel open source policy (USB family re-write for the latest example).

Now it doesn't impact me, because I'm in my 8th decade and just fool around for my own pleasure these days. I wouldn't look into taking a CompSci degree to become a "real" programmer; I'd go for Data Science instead.

FWIW


2016-10-04 at 01:54 #6597   (91)
(2016-10-01 at 16:21)Guest wrote:  To me, when using the Duo Dock it always felt like I was loading a large cassette tape into the player. Just seemed odd when compared to the docking systems found in the PC world. Another one I have used in the past was the BookEndz for earlier MacBook Pros.
  https://eshop.macsales.com/item/BookEndz/BEMBP15FUB/
Never had any real problems with any of these. Preferred Dell's D-series docks and port replicators over anything available from the Apple tree.
We had several Duo Docks at a previous employer, and when they worked, they were great. The CEO's dock died with the Duo in it, and that was that....

I had forgotten about BookEndz! I got my wife one for her 15" TiBook and she loved it. Haven't found anything equivalent for our 2011 17" MacBook Pros...

Also agree on the Dell D-series docks. We sent feedback to Apply innumerable times over the decades for a similar dock solution. crickets


2017-03-01 at 13:09 #15993   (92)
I ran across this page today: MacTester57's HemiMac G4. This person gutted an old iMac G4 and retrofitted an Intel i5 NUC inside, fitting its various ports to the cutouts on the original Apple. It is currently running Sierra. There are some YouTube videos embedded on the page as well.


2017-07-04 at 08:53 #21832   (93)
This guy scrounged together a very capable hackintosh for extremely little money:

Snazzy Labs wrote:Is a $70 Hackintosh Any Good? (YouTube)

What I did not expect was to build a $70 computer that could outperform the $2000 13-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar.


2017-12-17 at 02:47 #30201   (94)
I regard all this bitterly and bemusedly, since I'm contemplating at the conundrum I'd be in right now if I hadn't -- after 33 years as the most loyal and enthusiastic Macintosh customer Apple could ever wish for -- made the jump to Hackintosh this year.

As a self-employed creator of cinematic content (editing, compositing and CGI rendering for the big screen and the small), as well as prepress design, websites (less and less) and some freelance writing, including a couple of published books, I'd been suffering for years. My cheese grater Mac Pro, which cost me far more than I could afford, had reached what was painfully obvious as its extreme limits of utility: it was becoming a serious professional embarrassment how long my renders would take and how sluggishly I therefore responded to clients' needs.

For years I'd toyed with the idea of getting a new Mac Pro, but there was no way to justify the expense of not just the machine but of the inevitable "outrigger" components that would make it usable to me, since my existing hard drives, cards and peripherals would now require a total commitment to external Thunderbolt arrays and chassis (and, Thunderbolt itself was looking like a shaky technology with multiple conflicting standards and conspicuously untrustworthy commitment from third-party manufacturers and from Apple themselves).

So I got myself a Hackintosh, from a California concern that configures machines for people like me doing VFX and video/cinema projects. I had to spend some additional money on reconfiguring the OS (which has its non-trivial hurdles; you can't really use Migration Assistant, so getting everything up and running took me two weeks of continuous labor). But I'm using all my SATA drives and cards and peripherals; I have a faster and more capable GPU than Apple supplies, and I was able to do it all at a tiny fraction of what I'd be paying to Apple. Everything is completely stable, fast, efficient, and "real," and I've stopped even thinking about the fact that I'm not using a genuine Macintosh. It literally never enters my head.

Looking at the new iMac, I feel like Willam Shatner's character in that Twilight Zone where he and his wife barely make it out of the town with the addictive fortune telling machines in the diner, looking back in horror at the less fortunate couple who've remain trapped. If I'd waited (and continued to rule out the Hackintosh), I'd be tortuously examining the specs of this ill-conceived new machine, wondering if I should take the plunge or wait another year for Apple to perform the seemingly elementary task of, you know, making their signature product in such a way that a devoted customer myself would want to buy it.

This situation makes me very sad, because I've been buying Macs since Steve first introduced them, but what can I do? The company is behaving like it's lost its mind. I have to keep afloat, professionally, so I have to "Think Different."


2017-12-17 at 22:25 #30219   (95)
(2017-12-17 at 02:47)Jordan Orlando wrote:  ...So I got myself a Hackintosh, from a California concern that configures machines for people like me doing VFX and video/cinema projects. I had to spend some additional money on reconfiguring the OS (which has its non-trivial hurdles; you can't really use Migration Assistant, so getting everything up and running took me two weeks of continuous labor). But I'm using all my SATA drives and cards and peripherals; I have a faster and more capable GPU than Apple supplies, and I was able to do it all at a tiny fraction of what I'd be paying to Apple. Everything is completely stable, fast, efficient, and "real," and I've stopped even thinking about the fact that I'm not using a genuine Macintosh. It literally never enters my head.
Jordan, thank you for sharing your experience moving to the Hackintosh. I would be very interested in a follow-up post with more details about the quoted paragraph if you'd consider it, please.


2017-12-18 at 11:44 #30233   (96)
David
(2017-12-17 at 02:47)Jordan Orlando wrote:  So I got myself a Hackintosh, from a California concern that configures machines for people like me doing VFX and video/cinema projects. I had to spend some additional money on reconfiguring the OS (which has its non-trivial hurdles; you can't really use Migration Assistant, so getting everything up and running took me two weeks of continuous labor). But I'm using all my SATA drives and cards and peripherals; I have a faster and more capable GPU than Apple supplies, and I was able to do it all at a tiny fraction of what I'd be paying to Apple.
At what rate do you bill your hours out? Given that, what did the "two weeks of continuous labor" cost you in billables?


2017-12-18 at 13:02 #30242   (97)
(2017-12-17 at 02:47)Jordan Orlando wrote:  ...So I got myself a Hackintosh, from a California concern that configures machines for people like me doing VFX and video/cinema projects....
Would love to have the name of that company, Jordan. Thanks!


2017-12-18 at 13:24 #30244   (98)
(2017-12-18 at 11:44)David wrote:  At what rate do you bill your hours out? Given that, what did the "two weeks of continuous labor" cost you in billables?
First, configuring a new machine (particularly for video-related work) is a non-trivial task, no matter what, particularly for those of us who choose to do a fresh install of the OS and all applications rather than simply migrating (which is always a good idea given how much even the most carefully-maintained Macintosh can "silt up" with stray files and other detritus).

Second, given the contrast between the $1,200 I spent on the (used) machine, as contrasted to the thousands and thousands I'd have to lay out for an equivalent Mac Pro -- which, as I've explained, doesn't exist; the available GPU and RAM options aren't comparable -- not to mention the aforementioned need for Thunderbolt chassis, new peripherals, etc. -- the time I spent on the new machine is a "sunk cost" I'm entirely willing to part with.

Third, I was (in retrospect) vastly more cautious, circumspect and redundant than I needed to be, simply because the Hackintosh experience was new and scary, and I knew I was operating without a net -- no Apple Genius Bar; no warranties; no nothing -- so I was doing everything at the slowest speed, ensuring that I had at least two copies of all data at any one time; not trusting my Time Machine backups; not erasing my old boot drive until I was doubly and triply sure I didn't need it any more, etc. If I had it to do over again, it would have only taken a couple days, now that I know my way around the Hackintosh experience.


Doug183a Show this Post
2017-12-19 at 10:57 #30301   (99)
Doug183a
(2017-12-17 at 02:47)Jordan Orlando wrote:  I regard all this bitterly and bemusedly, since I'm contemplating at the conundrum I'd be in right now if I hadn't -- after 33 years as the most loyal and enthusiastic Macintosh customer Apple could ever wish for -- made the jump to Hackintosh this year....
Does your hack do Thunderbolt?


2017-12-19 at 14:17 #30329   (100)
Guest
(2017-12-19 at 10:57)Doug183a wrote:  Does your hack do Thunderbolt?
A quick search reveals that hackintoshes with Thunderbolt 3 support do exist:
   https://www.tonymacx86.com/threads/tonym...0k.199242/

The only drawback is that any Thunderbolt peripheral must be plugged-in at boot time. That is, there is no "hot swap" capability.

But really, for a dekstop there is less need of a Thunderbolt interface, as everything can be added internally. USB3 will cover most of the needs for a fast external interface--at a much lower cost.


2017-12-20 at 00:39 #30372   (101)
(2017-07-04 at 08:53)Ric Ford wrote:  This guy scrounged together a very capable hackintosh for extremely little money:
  Is a $70 Hackintosh Any Good? (YouTube)
It's a cute video, but unless you are a hard core geek, there is a steep learning curve on building a hackintosh. He probably used this guide:
   https://www.tonymacx86.com/threads/guide...ac.224812/

I just built my second hackintosh and, like him, I opted for HP hardware. It's incredibly well-suited to the task. The HP route is much easier and cheaper than building a system from scratch.


2017-12-20 at 15:41 #30422   (102)
Having posted my pro-Hackintosh sentiments here the other day (or, over on the iMac Pro thread), I feel I should provide a cautionary counterargument, prompted by what happened today:

App Store notifications had been bothering me about an incremental Sierra security update (along with iTunes, etc.). As with all macOS components, App Store and all software update utilities have absolutely no idea that they're not running on a real Macintosh (my particular OS "thinks" its running on the latest cylindrical Mac Pro). When I went ahead and performed the upgrade, I rebooted... to a black screen.

The problem was trivial: the NVidia drivers (as well as the CUDA components) had dependencies that had broken. The actual fix took about five minutes... but the important part is, I knew what to do, since I'd taken careful notes during my initial re-construction of this Hackintosh earlier this year. I was a little rusty on the procedure, but it didn't take long to get back up to speed.

But booting to a black screen is scary, especially when you know that you have to solve it, without Genius Bars, warranties or anything else. I admit to nearly panicking for about half an hour while I tried to remember the arcane procedure for skipping the video drivers during boot (the equivalent of "Safe Boot," which, for a Clover-based Hackintosh, is nowhere near as easy as simply holding down the Shift key -- most Hackintoshes can't even "see" their keyboards until they're well past the EFI boot.)

What I'm trying to say is, yes, you get an incredibly powerful full-featured Macintosh at a fraction of what you'd be paying to Apple. But make no mistake: you're in a twilight world, flying "by the seat of your pants" at all times. It can be fun -- a whole slew of people in the Hackintosh community are in the process of corralling High Sierra, and their incremental triumphs are exciting, etc. But if this is not what you're looking for, stay away.


2017-12-20 at 16:02 #30426   (103)
(2017-12-20 at 15:41)Jordan Orlando wrote:  ... The problem was trivial: the NVidia drivers (as well as the CUDA components) had dependencies that had broken. The actual fix took about five minutes... but the important part is, I knew what to do, since I'd taken careful notes during my initial re-construction of this Hackintosh earlier this year. I was a little rusty on the procedure, but it didn't take long to get back up to speed....
Doesn't that same exact thing happen with a real Apple Mac Pro using third-party graphics cards? If so (and I think that's the case), it isn't an especially good justification for avoiding a hackintosh, though it might argue for something like an iMac Pro, where everything's sealed shut.


2017-12-20 at 16:57 #30429   (104)
(2017-12-20 at 16:02)Ric Ford wrote:  
(2017-12-20 at 15:41)Jordan Orlando wrote:  ... The problem was trivial: the NVidia drivers (as well as the CUDA components) had dependencies that had broken. The actual fix took about five minutes... but the important part is, I knew what to do, since I'd taken careful notes during my initial re-construction of this Hackintosh earlier this year. I was a little rusty on the procedure, but it didn't take long to get back up to speed....
Doesn't that same exact thing happen with a real Apple Mac Pro using third-party graphics cards? If so (and I think that's the case), it isn't an especially good justification for avoiding a hackintosh, though it might argue for something like an iMac Pro, where everything's sealed shut.
Yes, that's a very good point; thanks, Ric. However, although in this case the software problem was comparable to special-case Macintosh scenarios, while configuring my Hackintosh I've had similar problems -- basic functionality not working, in a way that creates a serious obstacle to problem-solving -- with USB, sound, optical drives, and other subsystems that can't be fixed from within the OS, since the action's happening in the EFI bootloader (which is the main arena of Hackintosh functionality), requiring more serious trickery to repair -- not only are the EFI partitions invisible to the macOS Finder, even Disk Utility can't see them, so getting them working right can be a real challenge.

More broadly, my point was about how: 1) Basic Mac troubleshooting routines that we've all memorized over the decades -- boot with the shift key down; boot from a USB drive; "Target Disk Mode," verbose logging, etc. -- are totally unavailable with Hackintoshes (there are equivalent procedures, but they don't work the same way and aren't consistently available) and 2) No tech-support call or Apple Genius or warranty will ever be there for you; you're totally on your own (and, get ready for the Hackintosh to be blamed for any and all problems you have with peripherals, software etc. whether it's actually the cause or not).

Again, I'm not warning people away -- I love the Hackintosh experience. This is without question the best Mac I've ever had; it just makes me sad that Apple didn't create it. I'm just saying, go into the experience with the full understanding that the safety net you've been tacitly depending on throughout your Macintosh experience will be gone.


2017-12-20 at 17:00 #30430   (105)
(2017-12-20 at 16:02)Ric Ford wrote:  Doesn't that same exact thing happen with a real Apple Mac Pro using third-party graphics cards? If so (and I think that's the case), it isn't an especially good justification for avoiding a hackintosh, though it might argue for something like an iMac Pro, where everything's sealed shut.
Depends on the third-party card.

If you get one designed for a Mac (with Mac firmware) or one that has been re-flashed with Mac-compatible firmware, then this isn't an issue. The Mac boot ROM will see and use the card just like Apple's own video cards.

If you use a card that doesn't have Mac firmware (e.g. one sold for PCs with the original firmware) then you get no image until the device driver loads. But even then, you have the option of putting the original Apple video card back (or leaving it installed in another slot and moving the video cable) to get a picture while you reinstall the drivers.

Ditto for people with Macs without slots, using Thunderbolt-based video. If the device has no Mac firmware, you can always move your display's cable to the built-in video port to get an image.

For a hackintosh, there is no original Apple video device to fall back on, so the job becomes a bit more difficult.


2017-12-21 at 12:35 #30478   (106)
(2017-12-20 at 15:41)Jordan Orlando wrote:  Having posted my pro-Hackintosh sentiments here the other day (or, over on the iMac Pro thread), I feel I should provide a cautionary counterargument....
Jordan - excellent post. My experience with my hack as well. Those dark screen boots had me calling my hack-guru buddy right away! Same issue - nVidia drivers. Love my hack but definitely not for the faint of heart. I use dual GPU's (MacOS doesn't recognize the 2nd GPU, but Windows 10 does), and that was a bit of work at first...but now? Love it!


2017-12-21 at 15:03 #30500   (107)
(2017-12-20 at 15:41)Jordan Orlando wrote:  Having posted my pro-Hackintosh sentiments here the other day (or, over on the iMac Pro thread), I feel I should provide a cautionary counterargument, prompted by what happened today:
Jordan Orlando's description of the Hackintosh experience describes my experience as well. In the last month I spent about 20 hours getting my home server transferred from a dead Mac Mini to a stable HP 8200 Hackintosh. There were a some frustrating moments typing with a keyboard and a blank screen but it was mostly tinkering for an hour here and there. Think "Zen and Art of Motorcycle Maintenance." Everything you need to know is on tonymacx86.com but you need a certain kind of patience and fortitude. If that's not your thing, by all means go to the Apple Store and buy a Mac. But, I have the Snow Leopard server of my dreams hosting 10,000 songs and backing up my laptops automatically in the middle of the night. Total cost $100.


peter teeson Show this Post
2017-12-21 at 16:53 #30510   (108)
peter teeson
(2017-12-20 at 16:57)Jordan Orlando wrote:  -- not only are the EFI partitions invisible to the macOS Finder, even Disk Utility can't see them, so getting them working right can be a real challenge.
Disk Utility on Yosemite can see them after you show the debug menu....
I see one EFI partition per physical hard drive.

FWIW


2017-12-21 at 22:53 #30544   (109)
Having been struggling with justifying the now quickly degrading Apple Macintosh lifespan and Apple user human interface experience and expensive costs to remain in the the Apple environment for sometime, I have been purchasing used Dell machines and loading Linux Ubuntu for family members. The family was able to make the transition successfully.

On one of the machines, I tried one of the Hackintosh guides successfully, and like others have mentioned, it's like riding the edge of a dangerous precipice between safe ground and a cliff. Can be a thrill, but the video support "cliff" is a bit nerve-wracking. I like it, it's a thrill, but it's not for everyone.


2017-12-22 at 12:16 #30575   (110)
(2017-12-17 at 22:25)TimElliott wrote:  
(2017-12-17 at 02:47)Jordan Orlando wrote:  ...So I got myself a Hackintosh, from a California concern that configures machines for people like me doing VFX and video/cinema projects. I had to spend some additional money on reconfiguring the OS (which has its non-trivial hurdles; you can't really use Migration Assistant, so getting everything up and running took me two weeks of continuous labor). But I'm using all my SATA drives and cards and peripherals; I have a faster and more capable GPU than Apple supplies, and I was able to do it all at a tiny fraction of what I'd be paying to Apple. Everything is completely stable, fast, efficient, and "real," and I've stopped even thinking about the fact that I'm not using a genuine Macintosh. It literally never enters my head.
Jordan, thank you for sharing your experience moving to the Hackintosh. I would be very interested in a follow-up post with more details about the quoted paragraph if you'd consider it, please.
I’m assuming MacInTouch readers don’t want a super-detailed account of everything I did to make (and, re-make) my new Hackintosh, but I’d be happy to lay out what I consider to be the important broad strokes:
  1. This isn’t my first attempt at making a Hackintosh. I first did it years ago (when I was given some leftover IBM towers and, in a what-the-hell mood, decided to try it just as an experiment). The results back then were middling to bad. (Apologies in advance for any failures in my memory of the procedure.)

    In those days, one used a utility called “Kalyway” (or equivalent) which worked by re-building and re-creating the Mac OS X installer. You would download Apple’s installer, download the “Kalyway” tool, run the latter to patch the former, then copy the resulting “Frankenstein” hybrid onto a thumb drive and install onto your machine.

    The results were problematic. First, you needed to know a tremendous amount about the specific target hardware, and pre-load drivers and kexts (basically, dynamic system extensions) that worked on your motherboard — if you got it wrong, the machine wouldn’t work. Once you had everything running, peripherals and sound/video issues persisted; you never really got everything going a hundred percent, particularly because the patched OS had many hidden problems that you’d encounter when running (say) video or audio software, or (apparently) games. Most important, whenever Apple changed anything you’d pretty much be screwed. You couldn’t do incremental or security updates at all — if I remember right, every time there was a new system version, you’d have to go back to the “Kalyway” hack and start over. (Again, my memory of this might be exaggerated, but I specifically remember many, many audio failures.)

  2. The new Hackintosh approach is vastly better, because of a basic innovation: the “Clover” approach — which I’m using; there are one or two others that are essentially equivalent, just coded differently — is based on the idea that the Mac OS X installer must be left totally alone and unchanged, to run in its pure, pristine Apple-delivered original form. All the action takes place in the EFI partition, which we know as the “Recovery Partion” which all modern Mac OS installers create during their first run. (Also, you don’t have to worry about messing with BIOS, which is a tremendous relief.)

    Basically, the new approach can be understood in terms of a) the installation/configuration process and b) what happens on every subsequent boot. For a), the normal Mac “boot from the installer thumb drive” routine is co-opted; the PC motherboard is made to see the thumb drive and then boots to a PC-compatible utility that creates the hybrid environment that allows the Mac OS installer to run, but the surrounding system starts patching the OS install on the fly. (I should point out that I don’t have the firmest grasp of this part; someone with a more detailed/granular understanding can correct me.) For b), the normal Mac OS boot occurs but (again) the special kext files necessary to fool the OS into interacting properly with the unfamilar and unauthorized hardware load each time.

    In practice what this means is that the Mac OS on your boot drive is nearly identical to what you’d find on a real Mac. There are one or two changes you have to make to the OS on the boot disk — ordinary .pkg installations you have to download and run in order to get USB3 working right, for example — but these are very minor: the action is all taking place in the “Clover” utility on the invisible EFI partition (again, the “Recovery Partition”) that silently intercedes on every boot, patching the OS on the fly. For this reason, you can trust Apple’s software upgrades, or anybody’s software upgrades; the OS is “running clean,” so you only have to make very minor tweaks, if that, no matter how many times you let Apple make changes.

  3. The end result, as I’ve said elsewhere in this thread, is a stable, dynamic, fast, dependable, rock-solid Macintosh experience that will take anything you throw at it. You can totally forget that you’re not on a real Mac — and I’m not just talking about run-of-the-mill computing; I mean complex situations like Adobe After Effects leveraging the GPU or Final Cut Pro X doing sophisticated video accelleration. It all works perfectly, every time.

    The only issue, as I’ve said elsewhere here (and, others have echoed) is when you have to configure, or re-configure, the machine. That’s a tightrope walk — it’s Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, as in Postjosh’s beautiful comparison above. (Here’s to William Persig!) And, as I’ve emphasized, the lack of any support from Apple or anyone else can be really scary. But if you’re willing to sacrifice those hours of tension, fear and uncertainty, the reward is a blazing-fast, super-capable Macintosh for a tiny fraction of Apple’s cost (and, with much greater flexibility with regard to PCI and PCI-e slots; peripherals, RAM etc.) that you can use heavily, every day, without any concerns or worries at all.


2017-12-22 at 13:38 #30584   (111)
(2017-12-22 at 12:16)Jordan Orlando wrote:  I’m assuming MacInTouch readers don’t want a super-detailed account of everything I did to make (and, re-make) my new Hackintosh, but I’d be happy to lay out what I consider to be the important broad strokes...
... All the action takes place in the EFI partition, which we know as the “Recovery Partion” which all modern Mac OS installers create during their first run. (Also, you don’t have to worry about messing with BIOS, which is a tremendous relief.)...
First of all, thank you for the excellent post - it's really helpful and interesting.

Just to pick one tiny nit for the sake of completeness, I want to point out that the EFI paritition and the Apple Recovery HD partition are actually two different things. You can see this with a command line program (or with an app such as Disk Sensei):
diskutil list
/dev/disk0 (internal, physical):
   #:                       TYPE NAME                    SIZE       IDENTIFIER
   0:      GUID_partition_scheme                        *1.0 TB     disk0
   1:                        EFI EFI                     209.7 MB   disk0s1
   2:          Apple_CoreStorage Macintosh HD            977.0 GB   disk0s2
   3:                 Apple_Boot Recovery HD             650.0 MB   disk0s3
...
As I've said before, the boot process is a kind of mysterious modern miracle that almost shouldn't work but does. It's incredibly complex, and I still don't have a good handle on it after spending way too many hours trying (e.g. see discussions re Linux here and here). Clover just takes that another step further.

I'm currently trying to understand what the different boot components are, exactly, and where they are located (and in what order they run). Here's an excellent description from Amit Singh's book, but it was written back in 2003, so I don't know what might have changed, and there are still missing details I'd like to know.

Amit Singh, in Mac OS X Internals: A Systems Approach wrote:Mac OS X System Startup

Some details of the boot process from power-on until the kernel is up and running are covered in Booting Mac OS X and XNU: The Kernel. To recapitulate:
  • Power is turned on.
  • Open Firmware code is executed.
  • Hardware information is collected and hardware is initialized.
  • Something (usually the OS, but also things like the Apple Hardware Test, etc.) is selected to boot. The user may be prompted to select what to boot.
  • Control passes to /System/Library/CoreServices/BootX, the boot loader. BootX loads the kernel and also draws the OS badges, if any.
  • BootX tries to load a previously cached list of device drivers (created/updated by /usr/sbin/kextcache). Such a cache is of the type mkext and contains the info dictionaries and binary files for multiple kernel extensions. Note that if the mkext cache is corrupt or missing, BootX would look in /System/Library/Extensions for extensions that are needed in the current scenario (as determined by the value of the OSBundleRequired property in the Info.plist file of the extension's bundle.
  • The init routine of the kernel is executed. The root device of the booting system is determined. At this point, Open Firmware is not accessible any more.
  • Various Mach/BSD data structures are initialized by the kernel.
  • The I/O Kit is initialized.
  • The kernel starts /sbin/mach_init, the Mach service naming (bootstrap) daemon. mach_init maintains mappings between service names and the Mach ports that provide access to those services.
From here on, the startup becomes user-level...
So what's in actual hardware on the Mac motherboard, what's in ROM chips there (if anything) and what is in files on the boot disk, what are those files, and where are they located exactly in the various standard disk partitions of a boot drive? These are questions I'd love to answer, before trying to figure out how Clover works and how that relates to hackintosh systems.


2017-12-22 at 16:24 #30600   (112)
Guest
(2017-12-22 at 13:38)Ric Ford wrote:  ... I'm currently trying to understand what the different boot components are, exactly, and where they are located (and in what order they run). Here's an excellent description from Amit Singh's book, but it was written back in 2003, so I don't know what might have changed, and there are still missing details I'd like to know.
Amit Singh, in Mac OS X Internals: A Systems Approach wrote:Mac OS X System Startup...
Amit Singh skipped a couple of important steps.

First, after the power is turned on, the CPU and various micro controllers will go through their own power up sequences. For the most part, these are fixed in hardware, and do things like initialize the CPU and micro controllers to known states. The CPU has built in code that executes to help initialize the state, and start reading the EFI boot code. There may also be recovery modes that allow the CPU to recover from bad EFI code or parameters in this stage. (iPhones and iPad have this capability; the CPU essentially runs a simplified OS that allows flash ROM for both the application and baseband processors to be erased and written with a factory clean load.)

The Open Firmware/hardware information collecting stage is actually quite complex and may involve the system loading open firmware code from various devices. For disks, this would be both the EFI partition and an optional vendor partition (not commonly found on Macs), and EFI code can be located in PROM on the motherboard and associated with each piece of hardware in the system, such as graphics adaptors, network interfaces, system buses, etc. The reason for this is to reduce the number of device drivers needed in the OS itself, just as the original BIOS chip reduced the number of drivers needed in the OS. This device-specified open firmware code may also contain diagnostics and other utility code. Note that this latter goal of reducing the need for device drivers has not really happened in practice.


2017-12-22 at 16:51 #30605   (113)
(2017-12-22 at 13:38)Ric Ford wrote:  First of all, thank you for the excellent post - it's really helpful and interesting.
Just to pick one tiny nit for the sake of completeness, I want to point out that the EFI paritition and the Apple Recovery HD partition are actually two different things. ...
Yes. The Recovery partition is a Mac OS X installation, stripped down to its barest minimum, in order to let you run hardware diagnostics, reinstall from Time Machine or other low-level repair/recovery tasks.

On a typical EFI-based computer, the ROM firmware has minimal code in order to mount the EFI partition and start loading software from it. This software initializes hardware (similar to older PC's BIOS firmware that is present on motherboards and on expansion cards) and ultimately loads your OS's boot-loader (typically GRUB for Linux or Microsoft's boot loader for Windows).

Depending on your hardware and OS configuration, there may be other code in the EFI partition. In general, anything you might need to load before the OS boots can be located here. For example, there may be something to request a password or ID token in order to unlock/mount an encrypted file system. There might be something to get a RAID up and running (so you can boot from it). If your boot partition uses a file system unknown to the ROMs, the EFI code will include a file system driver to allow access.

On Mac hardware, all of this code is stored in the BootROM firmware on the motherboard, and the EFI partition is empty. (macOS will sometimes use the EFI partition for temporary file storage during firmware updates, but it will otherwise be empty.)

On a PC, however, that BootROM software (which needs to run before the macOS boot sequence) must come from somewhere else [since there are no Mac ROM chips or Apple hardware in a Windows PC]. I assume that's what the "Clover" system does - installs software in the EFI partition to take the place of Apple's BootROM in order to set up the hardware environment, such that the rest of macOS can load normally.


2017-12-22 at 18:58 #30612   (114)
Thanks to David and "Guest" for additional details about the Mac boot process and the places where all those pieces of code are scattered.

One thing I forgot to mention earlier is how the iMac Pro is apparently changing this whole process dramatically (presumably to be extended to other Macs in the future). From a post in the iMac Pro topic:

Apple wrote:iMac Pro
... T2 also makes iMac Pro even more secure, thanks to a Secure Enclave coprocessor that provides the foundation for new encrypted storage and secure boot capabilities. ... secure boot ensures that the lowest levels of software aren’t tampered with and that only operating system software trusted by Apple loads at startup.
That doesn't sound like something that's going to work on a hackintosh....


2017-12-23 at 01:34 #30630   (115)
(2017-12-22 at 16:51)David Charlap wrote:  I assume that's what the "Clover" system does - installs software in the EFI partition to take the place of Apple's BootROM in order to set up the hardware environment, such that the rest of macOS can load normally.
Almost right. It puts a BOOT folder in the EFI partition that isn't there in a real Mac and boots from that; the Mac boot process looks in the EFI partition first, because Apple puts some firmware updates in there, and that provides the hook into Clover.

The boot process is modified by a config.plist that is created in the CLOVER folder in the EFI partition after you install Clover. This config file is specific to your hardware, so it addresses CPU model, motherboard model, and network and graphics card models.

After initial OS install, you get a minimal system (meaning no network, no sound, and no graphics options) when booted from your USB stick; then you configure your "post-install" options to address your particular hardware, and that configuration gets saved to your boot drive EFI CLOVER partition, and when you then boot from that, things work as they should.

Writing the config.plist file is handled by Clover software which has a graphic interface for the various options, so it doesn't require any technical knowledge beyond specifying which components are in your machine.

I have been running Hackintosh since the "Kalyway" days on professional audio production workstations, and the occasional frustrations are well worth it. Although you're on your own (no Apple Genius to help), on the other hand, I can fix any hardware problem myself, from replacing bad RAM to a motherboard or power supply swap, since I assembled the components myself. And my current primary workstation is the equivalent in power of the fastest current iMac (Kaby Lake i7 processor), but it has 8 internal drive bays and 6 PCIe slots, a BluRay burner, and card readers for pretty much anything.


2017-12-23 at 08:43 #30639   (116)
For anyone interested, here's Clover:

Clover EFI bootloader
  • Boot OS X, Windows, and Linux in UEFI or legacy mode on Mac or PC with UEFI or BIOS firmware
  • Boot using UEFI firmware directly or CloverEFI UEFI firmware emulation
  • Customizable GUI including themes, icons, fonts, background images, animations, and mouse pointers.
  • Theme database at http://clover-wiki.zetam.org/Theme-database
  • Theme manager and theme repository at http://sourceforge.net/p/cloverefiboot/themes/
  • Native screen resolution in GUI
  • Press Page Up or Page Down to change GUI resolution
  • Press F1 for multilingual help, depending on language setting in configuration
  • Press F2 to save preboot.log from GUI
  • Press F4 to save original (OEM) ACPI tables into /EFI/CLOVER/ACPI/origin
  • Press F5 to test DSDT patching
  • Press F6 to save graphics firmware into /EFI/CLOVER/misc
  • Press F10 to save screenshots from GUI
  • Press F12 to eject CD/DVD
  • GUI refreshes after CD/DVD insertion
  • Ability to boot previously selected boot entry after default timeout
  • Boot entries menu scrolls if screen resolution is too low for menu
  • Create custom boot entries for personalizing boot entries and add support for other operating systems
  • Create Clover boot entry in NVRAM with tool from GUI
  • Launch EFI command shell from GUI
Clover Wiki
Clover is an operating system boot loader for computers already equipped with an UEFI BIOS and for those not equipped. An operating systems(OS) may support EFI (OS X, Windows 7 64-bit, Linux) or not (Windows XP). Legacy boot is used for the last one, that is, the old BIOS system is used to handle boot sectors.
   EFI is not only present during the booting of an OS, but it also creates tables and services that are accessible to the OS, and the operability of the OS depends on the correct functionality of EFI. It is not possible to boot OS X from the built-in UEFI. Neither is it possible to boot OS X with the original DUET. CloverEFI and CloverGUI take care of a great amount of tasks to correct the internal tables and provide a possibility to run OS X.


2017-12-23 at 11:43 #30644   (117)
A couple of additional Hackintosh remarks:

1) Very small point regarding Emmett Gray’s excellent and welcome clarifications:

(2017-12-23 at 01:34)Emmett Gray wrote:  Writing the config.plist file is handled by Clover software which has a graphic interface for the various options, so it doesn't require any technical knowledge beyond specifying which components are in your machine.
Yes, correct: “Clover Configurator” is a simple, clean, multi-paned GUI window for adjusting all Clover boot parameters. You use a rudimentary AppleScript Application called “EFI Mounter.app” to make the correct EFI partition show up on the desktop (you need to know the numerical Disk ID of your boot drive, but Apple’s Disk Utility tells you that), and then Clover Configurator can go to work.

But you can just as easily edit the “config.plist” file directly — it’s just a normal, bread-and-butter XML .plist file, and whenever you’re addressing a specific Hackintosh problem, there will be several helpful pages on TonyMac telling you exactly what needs to happen; you just bust out BBEdit or equivalent, search for the tags in question and make the fix. (And the Clover system always has a backup of the most recent config.plist, whether you're editing it with the GUI or not).

2) Which leads to another important point, echoing Postjosh’s remarks above: the current Hackintosh scene is almost reminiscent of the classic days of the “HomeBrew Computer Club” in the ‘Seventies — over the years it’s matured into a large, well-organized, encyclopedic, friendly, helpful community (mostly represented on TonyMac), and all of the software is robust, well-crafted, and extremely sophisticated. As I and others have said, it’s scary to operate without Apple’s safety net, but the Hackintosh/TonyMac people are a great substitute — you can post a question and get a useful reply very fast.

3) Thanks to Ric and others for working to straighten out my somewhat garbled explanation of the EFI/bootloader/Clover process. As I said, I don’t have a firm grasp on it, but I do understand that the crucial evolutionary difference between these current systems and older, “Kalyway”-era Hackintosh approaches is the determination to leave Apple’s software alone — the macOS installed on a modern Hackintosh is nearly identical (or, identical; I’m not sure) to what you’ll find on a real Mac, and this makes all the difference in terms of stability, upgradability and performance. It’s akin to what happens in good virtualization systems: Clover etc. is almost akin to a Hypervisor.

4) A minor point: I’ve mentioned how a Hackintosh doesn’t let you use conventional Mac “hold down the shift key for ‘Safe Boot’” type maneuvers, but that’s not entirely true. If you keep on your toes during the boot process, you’ll see a (very professional and non-hacky-looking)* Clover boot screen, which you can freeze by hitting the space bar — which gives you an exhaustive list of boot options to scroll through and select, including all conventional UNIX “verbose boot” parameters as well as Clover-specific utilities like EFI-boot and methods for skipping the video drivers, etc. In fact, it’s better than Apple’s boot options, not just because the choices are so exhaustive, but because you’re looking at a straightforward list rather than trying to remember a series of arcane keystrokes to hold down.

I hope this current discussion continues; it’s very interesting and informative. Thanks, Ric, for keeping it going!

*That particular detail isn't actually mission-critical or important, but it's nice: nobody wants to be in a professional environment, booting a machine, only to have people see some crazy green-and-purple "We're pirates!" graphics all over the boot process... which contemporary Hackintoshes are mercifully free of.


2017-12-23 at 12:11 #30646   (118)
Just one more thing I found regarding boot processes, for what they're worth:

Apple wrote:About the screens you see when your Mac starts up
When you start your Mac from macOS, different screens appear to show you the startup progress, including any issues that might keep your Mac from starting up.
   You might see slight differences in startup screens or sequences mentioned in this article, depending on the model of your Mac, the version of macOS and firmware your Mac has, and which startup options you've selected.
See also my post about startup/boot changes in the iMac Pro topic.


2017-12-23 at 15:45 #30653   (119)
(2017-12-22 at 18:58)Ric Ford wrote:  One thing I forgot to mention earlier is how the iMac Pro is apparently changing this whole process dramatically (presumably to be extended to other Macs in the future). From a post in the iMac Pro topic:

Apple wrote:iMac Pro
... T2 also makes iMac Pro even more secure, thanks to a Secure Enclave coprocessor that provides the foundation for new encrypted storage and secure boot capabilities. ... secure boot ensures that the lowest levels of software aren’t tampered with and that only operating system software trusted by Apple loads at startup.
That doesn't sound like something that's going to work on a hackintosh....
Maybe. I also noted (from an earlier post today) that you can run a tool to disable secure booting.

This looks very much like what a TPM chip does (or can be configured to do) in a normal PC. It can be set up to validate the digital signature of your OS and refuse to boot anything not authorized by your corporate IT department.

From the description Apple provided, the T2 chip is designed to provide similar functionality. So you can't boot a "rogue" OS on the computer (without first disabling secure boot).

You probably won't be able to emulate that on a hackintosh, but (at least for now), you don't need that capability. No other Mac has a T2 chip, so macOS can't require one. And since an iMac Pro can be configured to disable secure boot, that can't be required either. Now, it is likely that Apple will start putting this T2 chip (or some equivalent) in many more Mac models in the future, but Apple can't make macOS require it until they drop support for all their older Macs.

In other words, this may be a problem for hackintoshes at some point in the future, but not for at least a few more years.


2017-12-26 at 01:48 #30686   (120)
A Rutgers computer science course has some interesting historical perspective on boot processes:

Paul Krzyzanowski wrote:Booting an Operating System
An operating sytem is sometimes described as “the first program,” one that allows you to run other programs. However, it is usually stored as a file (or, more commonly, a collection of files) on a disk. How does this “first” program get to run?
   The operating system is loaded through a bootstrapping process, more succinctly known as booting. A boot loader is a program whose task is to load a bigger program, such as the operating system.
   When you turn on a computer, its memory is usually uninitialized. Hence, there is nothing to run. Early computers would have hardware that would enable the operator to press a button to load a sequence of bytes from punched cards, punched paper tape, or a tape drive. Switches on the computer’s front panel would define the source of the data and the target memory address. In some cases, the boot loader software would be hard wired as non-volatile memory (in early computers, this would be a grid of wires with cuts in the appropirate places where a 0-bit was needed).

...The Mac uses UEFI for its system firmware.
   When the Mac starts up, the first code that gets executed is the BootROM. This sets up EFI drivers for relevant hardware devices, initializes some of the hardware interfaces, validates that sufficient memory is available, and performs a brief power-on self-test. Unlike the PC BIOS, which knew nothing about file systems and could only read raw disk blocks, UEFI on the Mac has been extended to parse both FAT (legacy DOS/Windows) and HFS+ (native Mac) filesystems on a disk. It reads the GPT (GUID Partition Table) to identify disk partitions. The default boot volume is stored in NVRAM.
   Instead of specifying a path to a boot loader, the HFS+ volume header (data at the start of an HFS+ file system) points to a blessed file or blessed directory (see the bless command. If a directory is blessed, that tells the EFI firmware to look in that directory for the boot loader. If a file is blessed, that tells the EFI firmware to load that file as the boot loader (there are extra variations, such as booting from an unmounted volume).
   By default, the boot loader is located in /System/Library/CoreServices/boot.efi on the root (often only) partition of the disk....