For my portion of the HP Mini 1000 Team review, I volunteered to ‘hackintosh’ the netbook. Hackintoshing is where you get a windows/linux computer running a hacked version of the Mac OS. So, in this review I will be discussing the level of difficulty of acquiring and installing the hacked OSX, usability on the Mini 1000, and comparative look at it against real Macbooks.
To begin, I was a complete newbie to downloading this size of file, reconstructing it into a single, usable file, installing, tweaking, using terminal, etc….. So, the learning curve was pretty steep. But with the assistance of Julie, Rob, and several other helpful souls out on the Net, I was able to stumble my way through the process.
When I was researching how to make this transformation happen, all the threads would discuss the various different ‘builds’ of the hacked OSX and (for the most part) only elude to where to acquire it/them – saying that it was available at ‘the usual places’. With her MSI Wind experience, Julie pointed me in the right direction to download the 36 – 100mb pieces that the OS was chopped into. Downloading these took a long time and there were errors in several of the downloaded files. So, during this process, I had to determine which of the 36 were corrupt and replace them. Once that was done, I had to figure out how to put them together.
There are many programs out there that can do this task. I played with three, UNrarX, Split & Concat, and Stuffit Deluxe. After trying this and that with each of these applications (failing many times), I finally got Stuffit Deluxe to successfully complete the operation. What came out the other end, was a 4.4gb .iso file ready to be restored or burned to a media that the Mini can boot from.
This is the step in the process that really slowed me down. I read in the threads that many people were installing the hacked OSX via ‘the thumb drive method’. It seemed like the easiest/simplest method to me….but let me tell you, it was far from that. I tried for DAYS to get the Mini to boot from the thumb drive. I read so many threads I lost count. I tweaked the thumb drive 50 times hoping that some little change would get the process moving forward. I was just about to give up, when I decided to try burning the iso file to a DVD and loading it onto the Mini via an external DVD drive.
Low and behold it worked like a champ. The Mini booted into the OSX installer and off I went :). I cannot tell you how happy I was that it finally was working. So, during the install process, you have to choose the specific drivers necessary to get your former Windows laptop/netbook operational. But with all the threads I had read, I knew just which ones needed to be selected during the install. And about half an hour later, the Mini 1000 was transformed into a Macbook Mini. But that was not the end of the tweaking to get my Macbook Mini fully operational and for the most part, stable.
The next step was to load the video kext (Mac version of a driver) that changed the resolution from 800×600 to 1024×600. After that, I had to use Terminal (for the first time) to get the WiFi working, using scripts provided out on the net. The final step was to load approximately ten kext files (once again downloaded from the net) to get everything working correctly and the system stable. I need to mention, that after each step you had to ‘repair the permission files’ using Disk Utility and reboot the system. Once I figured out how to start the boot process, the installation took less about an hour.
Loading my software onto the Macbook Mini went well enough, Office, Lotus Notus, FireFox, and Stuffit Deluxe installed just fine. Adobe CS3 was not able to load, it had nothing to do with the hackintosh but the screen resolution of the Mini 1000. The screen resolution was too small for CS3 to install. The system is pretty stable, only crashing once due to a thumb drive hanging during an operation. Other than that, it runs perfectly fine, but it does hang/crash during shutdown about every tenth time. (UPDATE: I found a workaround for installing CS3 on the threads. It involved loading SwitchResX and forcing the Mini to the minimum resolution CS3 can load with (1024×768). CS3 loaded just fine, after that all you have to do is put the resolution back to 1024×600).
In the netbook hackintoshing world, the HP Mini 1000 is one of the more difficult to transform into a Mini Mac. Boing Boing has created a good chart detailing what has been accomplished on each of the netbooks. The short of it is that the MSI Wind and Dell Mini 9 are both completely transformable where as the Mini 1000 still needs the audio and ethernet drivers to be developed (although I believe the ethernet issue has been overcome). Neither issue was a deal killer for me. I would much prefer the Mini 1000 (or Mini-Note) as a piece of hardware versus any of the other netbooks.
As for speed and performance, the Macbook Mini is very similar to the Macbook Air (I upgraded the ram in my Mini to 2gb the day I opened the box). It is zippy enough to do email, IM’ing, dancing the Net, writing a review, etc (although, it is really slow to startup). And like the Air, the Mini does not have the computing horse-power to do video editing or enough screen real estate to do much photo work (although I do the tweaking for my review photos on my Air, but that is about it). I can definitely see why kids, college students, and travelers find netbooks a compact useful tool.
As a piece of hardware, I really like the quality and performance of the Mini 1000. That said, its compact size is a bit too cramped and screen too little for me (although I am going to write my next couple of reviews on it). However, I did enjoy the challenge of hackintoshing the Mini and creating my very own Macbook Mini (something Apple should do….). I learned a great deal during this effort that I can take away with me to potentially use on other geeky projects For my next Mini project, I hope to install a larger (& faster) hard drive in the Mini and make it dual bootable into the Mac OSX and Windows 7 beta.