Hackintosh: Why?

There’s no typo in the title, actually. Hackintosh stands for hack + Macintosh. But, what is that you may ask? Odds are, you’re probably already familiar with the word hack when hearing about hackers, but how does Apple Macs fit into the name? Mac X OS is the answer. Hackintosh is a non-Apple computer, built to run Mac X OS. A non-Apple laptop to run this operating system is called a Hackbook.

Hackintosh: Why?

For years, Mac X OS has been a crash-proof, virus free OS with a lot of amazing apps and on-line services in a bundle. While lots of Windows users, myself included, can swear that the Microsoft OS can make you kind of paranoid; “Back up thy data, oh User! And may the recovery points be with you!”, the first commandment says. The second, is about buying antivirus’ license every year. But if you think Kaspersky is a surname of a Romanian vampire and Avast is a new console game, then you’re a happy Mac X OS user. Alas, Macs, iMacs and Macbooks are way too expensive and overpriced for most.

But, if the crucial point is the operating system, why not buy and install it on any IBM or even custom-built desktop? The problem is, that legally you are only allowed to run it on Apple computers. After his comeback in 1997, Steve Jobs thwarted the negotiations about licensing this OS for other computers in the future. By that time, a number of companies in USA and around the world had already been officially cloning Apple PCs, Motorola and a number of smaller computing ventures. Obviously, the people in Apple wouldn’t want to follow the IBM path and lose their control over their own platform.

Until June 2005, the migration to non-Apple computers had been technically impossible. In a nutshell, the OS wouldn’t “recognize” the machine as an Apple one, and “refused” to be installed. At the time, there was absolutely no way to get around this problem. But then Apple announced switching from Power PC to Intel processors, which opened the door to patching. At that point, the OSx86 hacking project was born. Its ultimate goal was to run the OS X operating system on any non-Apple PCs with an x86 architecture or x86-64 processors.

The patch releases started with the release of Mac OS X v10.4 “Tiger” on January 10, 2006. It took the first patch a bit more than a month to be released. Apple answered with the 10.4.5 update, which was patched in less than two weeks. Since then, it’s been a never-ending patch vs. update war. The Hackintosh community has grown and accumulated millions of fans. Some of them view it as a challenging problem in reverse engineering and coding, some – despise the Apple copyright policy.

The first step in getting yourself a Hackintosh, is to build a desktop from the components identical or almost identical to the native ones. As Apple used the components manufactured by third parties, it’s not a very hard task to do. Short googling will bring you an arm-long list of components to build a customized iMac, Mac mini or Mac Pro and every tiny bit of it is available in your local RadioShack store, or on-line. Of course, you’ll have to forget about sleek, all-aluminum-and-glass casings, but Customacs aren’t about looks, they are about performance.

After you’ve purchased the whole kit and assembled it, you are then supposed to install the operating system. There are different ways of doing it; however, you need to be an advanced PC user to accomplish it. The easiest way is the emulation, since 2007 it is also possible to use a live DVD or flash drive. Another way is by a virtual machine. Check our Precise Guide in Hackintosh for further details.

It is important to note that even installing the legally obtained Mac X OS on a non-Apple computer is a violation of the End-User License Agreement (EULA). Patching the OS means hacking it, which in its turn is a violation of DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act). Whatever your decision is, you must be willing to accept all the consequences; hardware conflicts included.

The yet unsolved problem of Hachintosh, is the hardware conflict. The Mac X OS may not recognize Wi-Fi, Bluetooth modules, or sound cards. Crashes after a long sleep, freezes, video or sound cards malfunctions are also frequently seen and critical Hackintosh issues. Hackintosh may be cheaper, but it can eat up a lot of your time and energy, while testing your patience as well. Topics like “It can’t see my Wi-Fi, please, help” on Hacintosh message boards can have as many as several dozens of pages, with no satisfactory solution so far. We believe this fact is the most important disadvantage of the project, because it lacks what most users so highly appreciate about Apple products – comfort. You can’t entirely trust your system.

So, it’s your call entirely whether to save up for a genial Macintosh, or try a Hackintosh. If you feel you’re a good expert in computers, then welcome to the dark side! Otherwise, stay with the light side of the Force!


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