Last Updated: May 1, 2008
What is OSx86?
OSx86 is the "art" of installing and running Mac OS X on a normal ordinary PC rather than a mac. It has evolved a lot over the many years and now we are very close to perfection.
What is the difference between a native install and a virtual (VMware) install?
A native install is actually installing Mac OS X as a separate operating system and booting it independently like you would boot any other normal OS. A virtual VMware install runs within another operating system (Windows, Linux, etc.) within the VMware application. Native installs are much easier and faster than a virtual machine install and probably the only reason you would want a VMware install nowadays is if you just want to try it out lightly, or if you don't have a place where you can install it.
How hard is it to get OSx86 running?
This really depends. If you have well supported hardware, then it should be easy as installing Windows or any other operating system. If you have tricky hardware that hasn't been tested, then you may experience problems and you may need to take matters into your own hands. One thing is for sure though, if you are uncomfortable with command line operations or troubleshooting, Mac OSx86 won't be nice for you.
What version of OS X should I install?
Right now, you can choose to install Mac OS X Tiger 10.4 or Mac OS X Leopard 10.5. Tiger is more smoothed out, so if you are a beginner it may be best to start out with Tiger, get some experience on the way it works and then gradually move towards Leopard. If you have some previous experience, you can try and make the jump to Leopard. Also, you may have some hardware that only works with one version or the other, so in that case the decision will already be made for you.
Will my hardware work with Mac OSx86?
The first and most important requirement your system MUST have is a processor that supports SSE2 and/or SSE3 instruction sets. You can check this by using CPU-Z for Windows. SSE3 is preferred for running Mac OS X, and SSE2 is getting harder and harder to get to work as the new versions come.
The next step is to find out if your other hardware works. This you can find out pretty easily. There is 2 ways to do this. One is by using the wiki and the other way is to use a search engine. The wiki is generally easier so that's where you should start. Go to the wiki homepage and in the middle of the page, there is a list of HCLs (Hardware Compatibility Lists). Choose the right version of OS X that you are planning to install and choose the right sub category (Desktop computers, Laptops, or Components). Check the lists out and see if your hardware is listed. If your hardware is listed, check the information and see whether it works or not, and what patches or drivers were required to make it work. If your hardware is not listed anywhere, you will have to either just go for it and try it out yourself, or try and find info on it using the second method: using a search engine
If you use a search engine to search for your hardware compatibility with OSx86, then it will cover a much wider range and it will be much more likely that you find info. There are 2 ways to search. One way is to use Google with modifiers:
Replace Query with your hardware and check the forum results for any information on your specific hardware. The second way is easier, and it uses my Mac OSx86 Search Engine. Type your hardware query into the "InsanelyMac & OSx86 Project Wiki" search box and go.
What is the best hardware for OSx86?
You can find the best hardware by looking at other people's experiences, or looking in the wiki for hardware thats listed as fully compatible. But in a nutshell, this would be generally: A motherboard with a Intel P35 or 975 based chipset (e.g. Gigabyte GA-P35 series, Intel Bad Axe 2, ASUS P5W DH), a GeForce 6600 card or above or an ATI X1300 or higher, and an Intel Core 2 based CPU. There are tons of components that work so its ultimately your decision and your needs that decide what you get.
There are so many distributions available. Which one do I choose?
This will be divided into OS X Tiger and OS X Leopard:
OS X Tiger
For OS X Tiger, there are a ton of distributions you can go with. Eliminate the really old ones (10.4.1-10.4.7) and go for one that is at least 10.4.8. Here is a table of the most popular distributions and their requirements (use this table to choose one that matches your needs):
JaS 10.4.8 AMD Intel SSE2 SSE3 - Compatible with anything
Uphuck 10.4.9 1.3 Series - Yet another universal DVD that is compatible with just about anything
Uphuck 10.4.9 1.4i Series - Intel only installation DVD, and it comes at a tiny file size as well
Uphuck 10.4.9 1.4a - The AMD version of the 1.4i DVD
Kalyway 10.4.10 Intel SSE3 only - Intel SSE3 only 10.4.10 installation DVD
XxX 10.4.10 - Another Intel only DVD but this one supports SSE2 as well
Tubgirl 10.4.10 - An AMD installation DVD for 10.4.10
XxX 10.4.11 - The only 10.4.11 DVD, SSE2 support is untested and some issues with it were reported
OS X Leopard
Leopard doesn't have as many distributions as Tiger but it still has quite a few choices:
Leopard Flat Image - Preinstalled image of Leopard that you write on a hard drive ; outdated
ToH 10.5.0 RC2 - The first OS X installer DVD ; compatible with SSE2/SSE3 but Intel only
BrazilMac - This is the only DVD that uses an original Leopard DVD and patches it to be hackintosh compatible ; Intel only, SSE2 compatible with a patched kernel
iATKOS 10.5.1 v1.0ir2 - Intel only SSE2/SSE3 installation DVD 10.5.1. Many bootloader issues have been reported with this latest creation from the osx86.turk team
Zephyroth 10.5.1 AMD DVD - AMD only DVD for 10.5.1 installs
Kalyway 10.5.1 - Intel only SSE2/SSE3 DVD, many success stories with this DVD
Zephyroth 10.5.2 Rev. 1 - The first 10.5.2 DVD and its AMD only
Leo4All 10.5.2 Universal - Leo4All is a rather new distro of Leopard OSx86 that works on any Intel/AMD SSE2/SSE3 system
Kalyway 10.5.2 Intel/AMD SSE2/SSE3 Universal - The new 10.5.2 version of the popular Kalyway DVD with AMD test support!
So, it may seem like a hard choice but just choose one and try
Where do I download these DVDs?
These forums do not support pirating so no links will be posted, but you can find most of these easily by searching for the DVD name + torrent. Anyway, most of these are available at the usual torrent places, the bay of pirates, a small nova, a place where rocks are broken, and some others. They will come in ISO files, ZIP files, or RAR files ranging anywhere from 1GB to 4.7GB.
How do I partition and format my drive for OSx86
You can partition and format your hard drive for OSx86 by using Disk Utility, which you can access by booting from your OSx86 DVD and going to the Utilities >> Disk Utility option. You have to format your partitions as either Mac OS Extended or Mac OS Extended (Journaled) to be able to boot OS X. You have a couple bootloader options too, GUID or MBR. MBR is recommended if you are installing on a separate hard drive or if you are installing Tiger, and GUID is good for Leopard dual boot installs.
How do I install OS X?
This is not general at all, in the case of most DVDs you just pop it in, boot from it in install. Others like BrazilMac you have to go through a patching, with Leopard flat, you have wriite it to a hard drive. Anyway, some require post install steps, and depending on your hardware you may need specific drivers and patches. This is way too broad of an area so the key word to this is research. Google is your friend.
Some of my hardware is not working. What do I do to get it working?
The first place you should look for solutions to your hardware problems is Rammjet's excellent series of how to's for various hardware. He has tutorials for Video, Keyboards/Trackpads/Mice, Wireless, Ethernet, Audio, and Micellaneous solutions. You will likely find solutions for your hardware in there. If you don't find solutions, the other way to get info is to use the research tips I outlined in "What hardware will work with OSx86" (using Google with modifiers, the OSx86 Search Engine, or the wiki).
You can also manually search for drivers in the X Labs.
Where can I get a general installation guide?
You can find general installation guides in several places. Once place would be the Installation Guides section of the wiki. Another place would be the InsanelyMac Genius Bar. And the other place is the OSx86 10.4 and OSx86 10.5 forums. You can also find guides that are on external sites other than InsanelyMac and the OSx86 Project by using Google.
Where can I get a specific installation guide for my hardware?
The first place to look would be the Genius Bar in InsanelyMac. There are tons of tutorials for various video cards, motherboards, audio, and just about everything else. Search through a few pages and see if you can find anything. If you can't find a tutorial manually, once again, research using...once again: Google with search modifiers, the OSx86 Search Engine, or the wiki. You can also find guides that are on external sites other than InsanelyMac and the OSx86 Project by using Google.
Can I update my software using Apple Software Update?
This depends. First of all, any OSx86 machine will probably take any update except for the system updates that update your system to a new version (e.g. 10.4.9 --> 10.4.10). If you have PC EFI installed (covered next), then you can install any update without worry. If you are using patched kernels and extensions, then you can't install system updates without using a specialized OSx86 updater package or without restoring the patched kernel and extensions. If you install an Apple system update while using patched kernels and extensions you will break your installation. NOTE: The new 10.5.2 update needs a specialized install process.
What is PC EFI?
EFI stands for Extensible Firmware Interface which is the "BIOS" used in Intel Macs. This is what allows the mac to work like a mac and be recognized like a mac. Up until now, we had to used patched kernels and patched extensions to make it work. But now, hacker netkas has developed an PC EFI system where the EFI code is injected into the bootloader, making OS X think that you are using a real mac. This allows for the installation of default Apple extensions and kernels (AKA vanilal kernels). This also means that you can update your software directly from Apple software update without damaging it.
What are the system requirements for PC EFI?
The system requirements for PC EFI are quite simple. For just plain old PC EFI with no vanilla kernel all you need is a working Leopard or Tiger install and that's it. But if you want to use a vanilla kernel (Apple's kernel), then you also need a Core 2 series or a Pentium Dual Core (NOT Pentium D) processor.
How do I install PC EFI?
If you are installing Leopard, you have 2 options: either installing it from your OSx86 DVD (if your OSx86 DVD has an option to install PC EFI) or if you want more control, you can install it manually. If you have Tiger, your only option is to install it manually. If your install DVD contains an option for installing PC EFI, select it and install and PC EFI will automatically be installed. If you are installing manually, then your best option is to use i am...me's EFI v8 installation guide here.
How do I dual boot OSx86 and another OS?
This can get extremely tricky, with all the bootloaders and the mess. If you are dual booting linux and OSx86, your best option is to use the GRUB bootloader or Acronis OS Selector. If you are dual booting OSx86 and Windows XP there is an easy option, chain0. If you are dual booting Vista and OSx86 you can use the existing Vista bootloader with some edits using the EasyBCD tool. There are many dual booting guides available, once again check the places I outlined earlier, the Installation Guides section of the wiki, the InsanelyMac Genius Bar, and use Google to search for tutorials on external sites.
Can I install OS X from a retail Leopard DVD?
Yes, this is possible. Please go here for a very detailed 10.5.2 Retail Leopard install guide. Basically the procedure is you put in the DVD, and using Terminal you start installing OS X from OSInstall.mpkg onto your internal or external HD. Then you would install PC_EFI and install the dsmos.kext decrypter. Then last, you would install some modified kexts.
I have a error or problem while installing. What should I do?
Again, the first thing you should do is research with the research tips I repeated at least 3 times (Google, Mac OSx86 Search Engine, wiki). Thoroughly research any errors you are getting in those three resources and 90% of the time you will find a solution, because chances are that you are not the first one to experience these problems. If you absolutely cannot find anything, then that's your cue to make a nice polite, non-demanding topic on the forums (and I might say, in the CORRECT forum) asking for help. You will need to list your system specifications, what install DVD/method you are using, and any errors you are getting. You will need to post your problem in one of the subforums of the Homebrew Macs (Home of OSx86) section. Make sure you post in the right subforum, use your common sense.
How do I find out device IDs for my hardware?
Device IDs are commonly used to add to kexts to get certain hardware working, or to identify specific versions or revisions or hardware like video cards. The easiest way to find out device IDs is by using a free utility called DPCI Manager. Download and run the utility and it will list your hardware devices and their corresponding device IDs.
How do I install kernels?
One way to install kernels would be through a helper application like PCWiz OS X Kernel Installer, which automatically installs kernels for you through a guided wizard. There is also a manual way to install the kernel. Here's how: Place the kernel file on your desktop and rename it to mach_kernel. Then, open up the Terminal program from Applications >> Utilities and run the following commands:
sudo -s [enter password] cp -R /mach_kernel /mach_kernel.backup cp -R ~/Desktop/mach_kernel /mach_kernel
It is always a good idea to repair permissions after the kernel install using Disk Utility (Applications >> Utilities, select your volume from left pane and click Repair Permissions). Restart the computer for the kernel changes to take effect. If your new kernel is causing mess ups and instability, you can boot using the old kernel by going to the F8 boot prompt (press F8 when OS X is loading) and typing in mach_kernel.toh and pressing Enter (assuming that you used the exact commands above)
How do I install kexts (Kernel Extensions)?
The easiest way to install kexts (Kernel Extensions, usually some sort of driver) is to use a helper application like Kext Helper that automatically installs the kexts for you. The other way is a manual method: Put the kext you want to install on the Desktop. Next, if you are planning to replace a kext that is already installed with a different version, run the following commands from Terminal (Applications >> Utilities) to back it up:
sudo -s [enter password] mkdir /KextBackup/ cp -R /System/Library/Extensions/name_of_kext.kext /KextBackup/
Once you are done backing up (or if you are installing a completely new kext), after making sure the kext is on the Desktop, run these commands with Terminal:
sudo -s [enter password] cp -R ~/Desktop/name_of_kext.kext /System/Library/Extensions/ chown -R root:wheel /System/Library/Extensions/name_of_kext.kext chmod -R 755 /System/Library/Extensions/name_of_kext.kext rm -rf /System/Library/Extensions.mkext
Replace "name_of_kext" in these commands with the actual file name of the kext you are installing. Reboot for the changes to take effect.
Why is there a time difference in Mac OS X and Windows dual boots?
As you may have already noticed, there is always a time change when dual booting Mac OS X and Windows, whether it be with Boot Camp or a hackint0sh. After booting into OS X and going into Windows (or vice versa) the time always gets messed up. Various solutions have been posted, and this page sums up all the solutions so you can try all the various solutions for this problem and see if one works for you.
How can I get 5.1 surround sound on my hackintosh?
Even if your audio is working, to get 5.1 channel audio requires the creation of an aggregate audio device. This will work with any codec/driver. Please go here for a detailed guide on how to do this.