So you’ve picked your OSX86 package of choice and you’re about to try and get it running on your PC. This post will cover some the preparations and things to be aware of before attempting an install. Not only will they make life simpler, but they’ll help you understand what’s going on and how to deal with any problems.
(I’m going to assume that you’ve decided to use Kalyway but if you’re using iATKOS don’t fret, these still apply and I’ll cover any differences).
Your OSX86 emergency kit.
It’s best to assume that something is going to go wrong, and when it does these items will help you recover from it. These are vital if you’re trying to install OSX on a separate partition for a dual boot system.
- A backup of anything you care about on your machine. Accidents can happen..
- A boot disc that allows you to change the boot partition on your harddrive (I recommend the GParted Live CD)
- A way to repair the boot record of your existing OS. (E.g. the Vista install DVD).
Your OSX86 wishlist Kit
While not strictly necessary, these items can make the install process a whole lot easier and less time consuming. The first will certainly make things a lot easier if you encounter problems, particularly if you can’t boot back into your other OS or get your network adapter working.
- Access to the Internet by some other mean than the computer your installing.
- A spare external/internal drive or partition drive with around 10GB or so free space. When you have the basic install working you can then clone it before adding drivers/10.5.2 etc incase anything goes wrong.
- A good book/magazine to read.
- a kext file for your network adapter on a thumbdrive or similar (see below).
To install OSX you need a separate partition of at least 5GB. It can be empty/full and formatted to whatever filesystem you like. During install your first step will be to use DiskUtility to format it to “HFS+ Journaled”, the Mac filesystem.
The partition must be a primary partition, you cannot use an extended partition. As a refresher; You may only have four primary partitions on a hard disk. If you wish to have more than four the others must be logical partitions located within a primary-extended partition.
If you need to create an empty partition (or resize an existing one) I highly recommend using the GParted Live CD. Burn the CD, reboot, and it will boot into a Linux shell that allows you to move/resize/create/delete partitions. Two notes;
- If you are using Vista and move your Windows partition then you may have to use your Vista install DVD to repair it afterwards.
- If you encounter a graphics related error when booting GParted, just select the “Vesa” option from the startup menu.
If you’re like me you’re probably planning to install OSX on a small partition and resize it later if you decide to stick with it. This is a mistake.
Moving/Resizing HFS+ partitions is a fucking pain you really want to avoid. Try googling on the subject and you’ll see what I mean. While you cannot easily move/resize HFS+ partitions, it’s easy to merge one with an adjacent partition to increase the size. For this reason, if you’re going to start with a small partition for OSX be sure that after this partition there is enough free space (or partitions that can be erased/shrunk) that can be merged into it. Don’t create a small partition at the end of your drive. The chances are you’ll have to reinstall at a later date.
The kernel is the heart of an operating system, on OSX the kernel is named “Mach”. When it comes to OSX86 you have two choices; The vanilla/stock kernel that is provided by Apple, or a patched/hacked kernel.
Actually you don’t really have a choice. If you are using a Core Duo (or Core 2 Duo) CPU, and a motherboard that is either Intel manufactured or uses an Intel chipset, then there’s a chance you may be able to use the vanilla kernel. If not you will have to use a patched kernel that has support for other processors. Patched kernels are necessary to solve problems with hardware that is different from that used in regular Macs.
(As a side note a Pentium D is not a Core Duo. They’re both Intel chips, both contain multiple Cores, and both use SSE3. But you will still need a patched kernel for a Pentium D).
With the 10.5.1 Kalyway disc you can check before installing whether your system will work with the vanilla kernel. After booting from the install DVD at the prompt type “kernel” (no quotes) and your machine will attempt to boot using the vanilla kernel. If this fails (hangs, or goes into a reboot loop) you’ll have to join those of us with patched kernels.
If you are using iATKOS then unfortunately the only way to tell is by performing an install using the vanilla kernel and seeing what happens!
You should also find out beforehand whether your CPU has support for SSE3. SSE3 is a set of CPU instructions found on more recent Intel processors and is used by parts of OSX, particularly for Rosetta (the PowerPC emulator). You can use Everest 2.2 to check your processor. If it doesn’t support SSE3 you’ll need to select an SSE2 patch during install.
Aside from ATI/Nvidia cards, both Kalyway and iATKOS come with a limited set of drivers in their install packages. Unless you’re very lucky you will almost certainly have to track down and install the correct kext (Kernel Extension, a Mac term for a driver) files afterwards.
To do this it’s important to know exactly what hardware you have in your PC. Often the name displayed is somewhat generic, for example my network Adapter was displayed as a “Broadcom 57XX”, so you must find out the exact device ID. To do this you must open up Device Manager, view the Properties for the device, select the “Details” tab and select Device Instance Id from the list.
In the above example you can see the Vendor ID is 10EC, with the Device ID being 8029. For each piece of hardware you should record these details along with the displayed name. It’s a lot easier to get this information within Windows than it is to find it later on.
The most important piece of hardware is going to be your network adapter so try and find the correct kext file ahead of time. When you get your network adapter working you can hunt the others down from within OSX. (for the device above you would try googling “osx86 kext 8029″). The insanelymac OSX86 forums are a great source of information, but be prepared to do some searching.
Although I managed to get by Broadcom 57XX adapter (device ID 1677) and Sigmatel Audio card (9210) working with very little trouble some people aren’t so lucky. The good news is that you can get a cheap USB network adapter for about $20 that’s supported without the need for additional drivers. The bad news is that for other hardware such workarounds becomes progressively harder.
Successfully installing OSX86 on your PC can range from trivial to extremely difficult, most of which will depend upon the hardware in your computer and how you approach the install process. The information above should give you some tips for preparation and clarify a few things you might not be aware of.
Next up I’ll cover the basic steps to take during installation and explain a few terms such as Guid/MBR/EFI and how they may (or may not) apply to you.