DIY Mac OS X netbook

DIY Mac OS X netbook

Summary: While it would be nice if Apple released a small, light and cheap netbook, it doesn't appear to be likely any time soon.Not only is Apple not announcing any new hardware this year, when asked about netbooks during November’s Q4′08 earnings conference call Apple CEO Steve Jobs told analysts that the company was taking a “wait and see" approach.


While it would be nice if Apple released a small, light and cheap netbook, it doesn't appear to be likely any time soon.

Not only is Apple not announcing any new hardware this year, when asked about netbooks during November’s Q4′08 earnings conference call Apple CEO Steve Jobs told analysts that the company was taking a “wait and see" approach. Jobs also said "we don't know how to make a $500 computer that's not a piece of junk; our DNA will not let us do that."

And let's not forget that Apple already has a pseudo-netbook in the MacBook Air, and that it doesn't release new notebook hardware – especially in an entirely new category – but once every decade or so.

If you can't wait for Apple to make up its mind you can create your own Mac OS X netbook today courtesy of a DIY tutorial posted by Wired's Gadget Lab. In it Brian Chen provides explicit instructions on where to download the hacked OS and the OSX86 tools necessary to do the trick. Then it's just a matter of installing the OS on a flash drive and copying it to the netbook. For bonus points Chen also demonstrates how to swap out the netbook's Wi-Fi card with a Mac-compatible one – which costs about $10 on eBay.

Boom! MSI Wind netbook running OS X.

Topics: Operating Systems, Apple, Hardware, Software

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  • Netbooks are a fad.

    Apple has had the good sense not to get into that product line. Just like
    UMPCs, netbooks are too big to be REALLY portable, and too small to be
    REALLY usable. Look for dropouts in the ranks of netbook manufacturers
    next year.
    • For me it is price point

      I believe that there will be a device that fits between a mobile phone and a lap top.

      Unless most laptops get down to the 10-12 inch screen, less than 2 pounds weight category, many people will look for something else.

      For me I like having a larger notebook for productivity, It is portable enough to move around but I don't like just sticking it into a bag and head out for a coffee shop. It is very expensive so I don't want it to get damaged and it is about 6 pounds so it doesn't carry well.

      I don't like the small screens on mobile phones. People are trying very hard to convince themselves that they are o.k. with a 2-3 inch screen but for me my eyes get sore and my patience doesn't last long enough to use a cell phone for anything else but calls.

      I would like a cheap device, that is light, and has a large screen that I don't mind throwing around. A long batterylife would be great as well allowing me to leave home the A/C charger.

      Now if some one made a very portable clamshell screen and keypad that could plug into a cell phone, I might thing about that. The down side is most cell data plans truly suck.
  • Very illegal.......

    That's clearly illegal and a violations of Apples copyright,
    secondly there is no way to know what's inside a hacked
    operating system or what was done to it you have to be out
    of your mind to install an os from an untrusted source.
    • I believe....

      I believe it's only illegal if you tried to sell it after doing it. Now, it does violate the terms of the EULA in which case you're SOL if you have any problems.

      Please correct me if I'm wrong.
  • Mac users relish buying off the shelf

    The notion of building your own goes against everything Mac users hold true re: the overwhelming goodness of Mac and their reasons for using one.

    Brian Chen is exception to this rule, but he's NOT an exclusive Mac user. He's a multi-platform user, which by definition is not an exclusiver user of Apple products like Mac enthusiasts are.

    Those types of users still are Apple's bread and butter, and why we'll not see any Apple netbooks any time soon. The people who buy Macs would echo Job's sentiment exactly. For them the price they paid does equal its worth.

    This runs counter to the prevailing techie, comp geek ethos which holds anything off the shelf is way overpriced, and buying brand name is nothing more than a guarantee that you will get you the Least bang and Lowest quality for your buck.

    And both sentiments are true for each crowd.

    Mac fans rarely are so technically proficient.

    Asking a typical Mac user to or explain to them they could build their own Mac following the instructions above, would be no more sensible or welcome than suggesting they build their own car even after providing them all the parts.

    The Tech/geek crowd, well they by definition will have that skill, and usually develop the purchasing savvy to know where to get the best parts for the lowest price and build truly spectacularly powerful machines for a fraction of off the shelf albeit usually with the aesthetics Mac Users worship sacrificed without any more thought than a diner trims the excess fat off a good piece of meat.

    All in all the groups do not overlap except for exceptions like Chen, so I guess the only reason for this article is to let it be known it's possible, but I'm sure Apple doesn't care, because its users won't dare to try, and the techies who would, never would buy a mac off the shelf anyway.
    • I think you are right and wrong

      I think you are wrong in the sense that if a person was smart enough to do this procedure than they wouldn't buy a mac. I myself am a CE major and easily did this on my Toshiba laptop for fun. I think that the osx86 project does some very nice work. Getting back to my point is that I myself have a Mac and was thinking about doing this jroject so that i could have an msi wind that doesn;t run windows. I am also a big linux fan... but lets not start any debate about that here... so i think that there are a number of people that woul do this for the very reason it was made. a small portable netbok with the operating system that they choose. plus i think that nowadays a "typical" mac (for their first computer) is not tech savvy at all and only go the mac for the bling factor.. not because htey actually know that it is a superior os..
      • Yes. A superior OS is one that uses 1.8GB for itself on a 4GB computer.

        (uh, not...)

        I moved from Windows to OS X because I'm a tech who'd rather study and get a real job. I've *arted around with Windows __ since 3.0. Windows 95 was an abhorrence, even if the populace at large liked it. Think "registry". And once XP came along with "activation", things only got worse. Especially when the abomination known as "Vista" came out. Even one BIOS upgrade and *kaboom*, it's telephone time because Vista no longer things it's the same computer for crying out loud!

        Oh, the populace you brand as being "not tech savvy at all" loved SUVs for a long time too, despite being clueless about a little something whose abbreviation is "MPG". From observation, I think most non-savvy people think Windows is the holy grail, because Microsoft is such a big name. Even back in the OS/2 days, Microsoft used bloat to help keep it from running Windows apps after that little lawsuit... Little did I know that between XP and Vista, would *real* bloat problems begin to develop. nearly 2GB for an OS that sells itself by saying "Unused RAM is wasted RAM" yet on 4GB or higher machines (using the 64-bit edition), it doesn't bother to use more than 1.8GB? That RAM sits there, unused. Microsoft Obfuscation is what they should have called longhorn/vista/garbage.

        I tried linux over the years - several distros. SuSE (until Novell bought 'em and rechristened it SUSE), Fedora, Ubuntu... Even Ubuntu 8.10 is lovely, but don't ask my Epson Perfection 4180 to work with it. Works great on my 24" iMac...

        OS X is a lot more polished and has hardware and software compatibility I need. I tried getting Adobe CS4 Suite running under Wine and Virtualbox... Do you know what the word "slow" means? And I didn't want to go back to little piggy Vista. So I got a Mac.

        People can have their Windows for their games. I need a computer. A tool. I've work to do. And it will play games too. I love popping in "The Sims 2" and getting my simulated people to do all sorts of nasty things to each other, moohahahahaha. :p

        • ditto

          Have we met in a former life? Everything seems the same except I have a 4GB Mac Mini that I use now for everything.
        • What [i]ARE[/i] you talking about??

          I've run three BIOS upgrades on my ASUS notebook (in prep for dual-booting from Vista x86 to Win7 x64) and had not one single issue with [i]either[/i] installation booting or running (neither RC or retail release). If you are going to play with toys (netbooks), expect issues! But then, as a "tech", you should know this!
  • RE: DIY Mac OS X netbook

    I have owned a netbook before, and I am going to tell your right now- THEY ARE A WASTE OF TIME AND MONEY. I sent on back to HP in exchange for a regular laptop. MAC is wise, thwy know that netbooks can't possibly carry the proper hardware to support their operating system. MAC, unlike Microsoft, will not rip off the public with a partial operating system. Bottom line, netbooks are NOT FULL COMPUTERS. My advice is, go stick with your IPOD, at least it does more than a stupid stinking netbook.
  • RE: DIY Mac OS X netbook

    A netbook is designed to be an all around machine, not a high performance, hyper-computational, multi-dimensional, vector correcting, space shuttle docking, planet unicron of a machine. they are great for information retrieval, pictures, movies, music, and everyday use. Putting the Apple OSX operating system on there just seems like a good idea. Nill for viruses, spyware, and Microsoft Windows Garbageware.

    If you're worried about legality, then stop downloading your movies off torrent sites and stop downloading mp3's lest ye be a hypocrite, or worse, an American.