JAW's Hackintosh: scraping together a Mac out of PC parts

I like the challenge of a good hack, even if all the hard work has been done by others.

Such is the way of "Hackintosh", putting together an Intel based CPU computer and making Mac OS run on it. Tony Mac x86 has everything you need, there is so much information there it is overwhelming. "What's the point JAW" you say, "you aren't an Apple fanboi?"


At my kids school Garageband, an Apple product, is taught. My eldest got top marks for it, the boy is just starting out on in and I'm sure the youngest will be doing it too. But they don't get to practise at home. Initially I looked for a windows equivalent, got them to try some stuff, basically there is no substitute for Garageband in Windows land. Then I set up a Virtual Machine that ran up Mac OS, but it was too laggy.

Now at work they regularly dispose of old computers, I asked my mate in IT to save a couple for me, I got my hands on some Dell Optiplex 790s, Intel i5-2400 3.1GHz, filled with RAM, no HDD, AMD graphics card. There was enough talk on the internet that you could make Mac OS work on the bare metal box.

The legalities of this project are flakey. Mac OS is free, Garageband is free, having an Apple ID to download these is free, but you are supposed to run it on Apple hardware and you aren't supposed to modify the operating system. I didn't dig any deeper than that- the only reason I am building this was so my kids can practise Garageband at home, certainly not to make any money. "Is this a slippery slope JAW?" Probably. But in the last month or two of it being up and running I have heard plenty of cool Garageband music being made and no other activity - they all have Windows boxes for everything else.


So they way Hackintoshes work is you get the PC to boot into Mac OS, you apply some hacks to the standard OS that fools it into believing it is running on a real Mac and you load up some "drivers" so the Mac OS knows what to do with hardware in your box that the OS wasn't built for.

It was an interesting adventure, and like any hack when it is going well it's easy but when some part doesn't work you have to learn and research a lot in order to overcome the hurdle. I got there in the end but not without some frustration and many hours over many days lost - but in the pursuit of understanding so they aren't really "lost".

Now there might be a few people who are attempting to do exactly the same thing and have come across this story via search so I will offer my advice on the pitfalls of Hackintoshing a Dell Optiplex 790. Use the Tony Mac x86 Multibeast and Unibeast guides - they work - but here are some additional notes:

I have to admit now I have a new found respect for Apple. It is Unix at it's heart, I had to do a lot of terminal bash commands and it was nice to be in the land of Unix again. Although I spend my life on Windows based computers, whenever I have a hack on Android, or Raspberry Pi and all the other multitudes of Linux based equipment I come across, it puts a smile on my face.

Finished product.