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One man's patience with Mac OS X on PC

I've always tried many flavours of Linux and pretty much know quite a lot of what anybody should know about Linux. But I never got to try Mac OS X because it uses a completely different computer architecture, isn't free, and would need me to buy a whole MacBook which would cost me the same as 2 Windows laptops...

... until now!

Yes, I finally got to experience Mac OS X right in my Tablet PC! Here, I will enumerate my experiences.

Day 0

First, I wanted to find a Mac OS X DVD ISO file. I got the latest version 10.5 from [sorry source cannot be mentioned]. It is nicknamed Leopard.

Day 1

I was hoping to try Mac on a virtual PC so that I can avoid having to deal with my hard disk and issues like that. Unfortunately... keep reading!

I downloaded Microsoft Virtual PC 2007, created a new virtual machine, mounted the ISO and started up. Wow. Something is happening. The DVD is booting and files are being loaded.

After about a minute or so of loading several files, *BOOM* Unrecoverable processor error! Ok this is something I can do absolutely NOTHING about. Clearly, the Virtual PC's processor is not capable enough. The source mentioned that only Intel SSE2/SSE3 processors will work.

After further fiddling with Virtual PC with no positive results, I tried to find other virtual machine software. I downloaded the free version of VMware Server and tried creating a virtual machine there. DVD loads up and does file loading.

It proceeds to part 2 of start-up (where M$ crashed) but gets stuck with the error message "ATA disk: checksum cookie not valid." After a while it spits out some more garbage and throws me into a terminal (hmm that looks familiar... similar to Linux!) Anyway I can't do anything with the terminal, so after fiddling more with VMware, I gave up on it.

Next, I searched for emulators and virtual machines that is possibly designed with Mac OS in mind. I found Pear PC and tried it, but quickly gave up on it since it didn't even showed signs of life. I also tried VirtualBox with no positive results. And I happened to find a lot more info too.

In the midst of these, I also put in an empty DVD and fired up InfraRecorder. I burned up the ISO onto the DVD. The virtual machine/emulator solution was looking so hopeless, so I decided I should install to my hard disk, or another hard disk. This was planned for Day 2.

Ah it's time to go to bed, so I pause my Mac pursuing and visit dreamland.

Day 2

One last try with an emulator, I went on to go for a hard disk install. So I selected my 160 GB Maxtor external hard disk. I shrunk the partition to gain a 16 GB unallocated space.

Then I booted up the DVD I burned on Day 1 and it seemed to start up fine without any problem. It took a while (a hell lot of time) but it did work! Viola! For the first time, I see the Mac OS X installer! It's quite cool and simple compared to the Windows installers, but it already gives you a taste of what's yet to come! The installer itself runs in a stripped-down Live DVD version of Mac OS X.

Language selection, preparing installation, and there it is, the welcome message and the top-of-the-screen menu bar, a trademark of Mac OS. I found quite a few utilities can be found in the menu bar, which lets you prepare or troubleshoot your computer. This is something Windows installer lacks. The downside is, only one utility can run at a time and you cannot switch applications (or I don't know how to).

Anyway I was happy to find the Disk Utility. Loaded it up and I found all my drives and partitions. However I was stumped at the fact that the Disk Utility does not recognize unallocated space in a disk, and thus the space cannot be used to create a new partition. All you can do is redefine the entire layout or reformat an existing partition.

Well, I booted back to Vista and created an unformatted undefined partition in the 16 GB space. Went back to OS X installer, silently suffering its ridiculously long startup, and I could format this partition to Mac Extended Journalised (yet to find out what a journal does).

Then I went to installation options. Once again simplicity shines. The core essentials of OS X are grouped into just one item called "Essential System Software," and are not categorized further.

Then there is a set of Printer Drivers. Now what's ridiculous is, all these drivers can easily take up 3.43 GB of space, and what's more ridiculous is, they are all installed by default! I mean, you should be allowed to install only the drivers you need, especially since the drivers take a bloating amount of hard disk space!

Other options were Additional Fonts, Language Translations and X11. That's all! A very simple list. Anyway I installed OS X onto the newly created partition. An optional consistency check was done on the DVD before installation, which took around 10 minutes. Installation took around 20 minutes and everything went well.

Restart. Set the BIOS to boot from external disk and started it up... fingers crossed...

MBR Error 3
MBR Error 1
Press any key to boot from floppy... [pressed]
MBR Error 2
Press any key to boot from floppy... [the last two lines loop endlessly]

Oh no, this can't be! Everything was going on so well...

Emotional side put away, I determined that the installer either did not install a bootloader, or the installed bootloader doesn't work. So I loaded up Vista again and went searching about this error.

I found some info about running a script in Terminal (one of the utilities) in Mac OS X setup. Got that script and files and jotted down the instructions. This hopefully should solve everything.

Back to X installer, started up Terminal (oh yes I played with it earlier), changed to Dvorak keyboard (this is important!) Then I tried to follow the instructions. Unfortunately the Terminal in the installer seems overestimated. It does not have commands that are required by the script and the script itself could not be run. Experimenting, I figured how to run the script and it started up. Unluckily again, it didn't really work the way it should. Now instead of the MBR Error, I simply have a blank screen with constant access to the hard disk. It never changed.

I also tried other things like creating a new entry in the Vista's boot menu using EasyBCD and loading up chain0 and other files that I thought maybe required. Nothing worked, absolutely nothing.

Day 3

I thought up the idea that if I can boot up a Linux live CD, maybe I can make the script run properly and make Mac OS X boot. I tried Parted Magic which has terminal. I had to edit the script a bit to make it on par with Linux, since it was originally designed for the Mac OS X installer. The script now worked better, but it still didn't solve the blank screen problem which remained.

Giving up on the external hard disk partition, I figured that the only sure-fire way to make this work was to dedicate an entire hard disk to Mac OS X. That way, the hard disk can be redefined using GUID partition table and OS X can be installed AND run without booting problems. Windows uses MBR partition table, and probably might not support anything else. Linux is also perfectly fine with MBR. But somehow, Mac OS X seems to hate it ;)

Now I have two options:
1. Save my hard disk contents as an image or into the external disk, then wipe out my internal hard disk. The drawback is I won't be able to use Windows until I restore the image, and even the restoration is not guaranteed.
2. Buy a new external hard disk. The drawback is, it costs money! A lot!!

Day 4

I tried to save as an image using Disk Utility in Mac OS X installer, but I could not figure out how I will be restoring it. The Restore tab doesn't accept my hard disk as a destination! I am pretty sure that the hard disk image can probably never be restored and is simply useless. Therefore deleting it.

Finally I decided to shell out some cash. Well, even if Mac doesn't work, at least I get some extra storage space!

Day 5

Did nothing today because I had to attend a function.

Day 6

Bought a new 160 GB hard disk, with an external casing! Singapore Dollars 105 *OH MY LORD* Anyway I did some asking around and this is the cheapest I could get. And I bought it at the only shop in the whole wide world that charges 2% surcharge for NETS payment; NETS payment usually is free service (you pay the same amount as you would in cash) and has no surcharge.

Anyway, installed OS X onto the hard disk, with loads of new hope dawning on me. GUID partition table was used, hoping this would solve the problem. Install finished quickly, and I booted...


Once again, my hopes were completely shattered. I was heartbroken today more than any other day in the past few. I spent hard cash to get Mac working, but it still doesn't!

Anyway I switched hard disks and resumed Vista (it was on hibernation ;) and searched for some more info. I found out that Leopard Installer doesn't write the bootloader, which is weird because the older installers do. I also found some option start Terminal in the DVD without starting up the installer, and another one to use a different root device. The option to specify root device means I can start the installed Mac OS X through the DVD.

Back into the installer, I tried the terminal starting option and checked out fdisk. Turns out I can clean out the hard disk and create an 8MB Darwin Boot partition along with one partition spanning the rest of the disk. So I did and reinstalled (what a long day) Mac OS X on it. Tried it... no hope, still the same.

I then tried running the installed Mac OS X through the DVD. After a bit of guessing I figured it out and got it up and running! A little progress after 4 days! The Welcome video started playing, but it was nowhere close to being smooth. Then the welcome screen came up, asking for country, keyboard and transfer from old Mac. Skipping the transfer (obviously!) I clicked Continue. My "Mac" hung for a while, then it went blank. Then the Welcome video started playing again! Then back to the country selection. Once again I went through the steps and it repeats. It's like the welcome screen and wizard loops endlessly!

Argh! I'm almost there! Almost... I remember the squirrel in Ice Age, the scene in which he is almost there reaching out for his nut, then suddenly the wind freezes him! I'm like that. Almost there... frozen!

I discovered few other things like another source offers a Mac that can be extracted onto a hard disk directly in Windows (no installation). I'm going to try that tomorrow. I'm also thinking of creating a tiny partition at the end of the disk and copying down the install DVD onto both the main partition and the tiny one. The idea is to get the bootloader that's already on the DVD to be written down on the hard disk. Then I will try to install from the second partition onto the first (Gotta be faster than DVD)

Day 7

I can't remember much of the day, but I tried the extract to hard disk Mac thing, and it created a 15 GB partition. But it didn't work because it's only for SSE3 processor, and mine is SSE2.

My new hard disk also started failing SMART test, so now if I want to use it as internal hard disk, I have to bear with pressing F1 key every time I switch on the computer.

A week later

I got another version of Mac from another source. This one, everything went well, and I installed Mac into my primary hard disk, where Vista and XP is residing. Fortunately it didn't overwrite the bootloader of my hard disk, so starting Mac OS X was as simple as just adding another entry to the Vista Boot Menu.

I managed to start up and it works very fine and smoothly. Even the welcome video is very smooth, due to nVidia drivers being used instead of basic drivers. Even my wireless card is being recognised now, because this new version already has the drivers in the DVD.

But now, here's the problem. Everything works fine for about 10-15 minutes, then suddenly the whole system freezes. The display is frozen, showing what is being shown, the keyboard doesn't work and the whole system responds to absolutely nothing. It always happens, after 10-15 minutes of uptime.

I'm yet to figure out how I can solve this problem. But, I finally got a working Mac!.. well, almost ;)


  1. You're a more patient man than me and bless you for it! I gave up after the VMWare part minus having tried the VPC part.

  2. The furthest I got was virtualBox, but that was only up to the ATA Checksum error. I don't thing OSX will ever work on a PC but I'm damned if I'm going to spend obscene amounts of money on a new mac.

  3. What "extract to harddrive" image was this?

  4. been working on this for a few days now, used a bunch of different mac os install disks, used several virtual machine softwares. got ata checksum problem, tried running ubuntu inside virtual box, then running virtualbox inside ubuntu inside windows 7 while running virtual box. (virtual pc inside a virtual pc) I've personally given up. If anyone gets this working, post here please.


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