Hackintosh Rig – Reloaded with Lion

Screen Shot 2012-01-02 at 7.57.44 PM.png My Hackintosh rig suffered a major outage thanks to my playing around. You would think I would just leave well enough alone since I need the machine to be online. I was playing around with some of the System Information to make it more custom and I ended up losing my sound kext. I thought it would be a simple re-install of the sound driver – however, it turned into a complete system rebuild (well, at least the OS) after I kept crashing the machine with the “backup” driver I had.

No worries, no stress at all – I hadn’t backed up in months, I was moving out of state, etc. Now it’s been close to 3 months without my machine and I’ve been making do on a 13″ Macbook. I was home for the holidays, so I figured I’d go ahead and try to bring the beast back. If you haven’t read my previous posts, here is my build.

Originally I used Kalyway build and over the years I eventually went to a vanilla OS install using LifeHacker’s process. Not to let any learning opportunity pass me by, I decided to upgrade to Lion and use a new method – UniBeast (with Chimera Bootloader.) Of course, all of this was possible thanks to the tonymacx86 site. Incredibly awesome sight/resource.

Now, in the past, my rig has been extremely stable. It’s fast, powerful and can handle all that I throw at it — even if it’s a bit dated compared to newer machines. My $300 video card now is a joke and can be outperformed with a $50 video card. But no matter – the rig works for me and I thought I give it a go. (Besides, with moving costs, I don’t need to be buying upgraded computer equipment.) As a matter of fact, the only thing that I had to purchase for this go around was Lion. As I have a number of MacBooks in the house, I went ahead and got the retail version of Lion DMG from the Mac App Store.Screen Shot 2012-01-02 at 8.29.03 PM.png

After playing around for literally DAYS, I gave up on trying to fix my install. I decidedly made everything worse by hacking away at the Hackintosh. I was lucky to be able to get the machine back up and running in single user mode. Once I got it there, I manually mounted a USB drive and started the long copy process to back up all of my apps and data — especially my email!

Once the back up was completed, I disconnected my secondary drive on my machine. This drive contains two partitions; another OSX partition that contains all my Adobe software – including all my Lightroom catalogs, and my gaming Vista partition. I didn’t want any experimentation to find and remove those partitions.

The entire process took an entire day – only because of a number of false starts and bad choices of Kexts. However, once it was completed, I have to say that now that I know how it all works and understand some of the terminology a bit better, it was probably the easiest of any of the builds I’ve put together in the past.

Instead of repeating all of the steps and all the issues I had with them, I think it’s more informative to give you an overview of what I did and some key bits of “very high level” information that you may find useful when you review the information on the tonymacx86 site.

Key terms:

  • Kext – these are basically Mac drivers. There are a ton of resources on the internet that has them, but you’ll see that iBoot & MultiBeast combines a lot of the more popular ones together for you.
  • DSDT.aml – this is special file that the Mac OS uses to discover what kind of machine you are using. It defines all kinds of hardware settings and capabilities. There are a number of ways of getting OSX on your pc, however, using a method that uses a customized DSDT.aml will make your life sooo much easier. The tonymacx86 site has a database of these files for your motherboard and BIOS version. Do yourself a favor, build a box with motherboard that is listed in this database!
  • bootloader – this a program that gets executed when you boot your machine and it loads up the OS kernel. Different boot loaders have different capabilities. I’m using the Chimera bootloader in this install. In the previous build I used Chameleon, however, Chimera is a project that supposedly takes the best parts of Chameleon, etc, etc. (Okay, okay, it’s new and I wanted to do only new stuff… plus tonymacx86 site said to use Chimera..)

Overview of process:

First you’re going to build a bootable USB flash drive with Lion and Unibeast. You HAVE to do this on another Mac! Sorry.

After ensuring that all of your BIOS settings are correct, you will boot up on the USB. If all goes well, you should see the Lion installer.

At this point you can suspend the installation process, and use some of the built in tools to prepare your system. For instance you can use Disk Utility application from the Utilities menu. This will allow you to create/delete/modify disk partitions. Also you can use the Terminal program from the Utilities menu as well so that you can interact with your system if something goes wrong.

Once you’ve created your partition, you simply follow through the installation process.

Note – at this time, you will have a disk partition with OSX installed on it – however you will not be able to boot from it until you install a bootloader! Thus you will need to boot again from the USB flash drive you created. However, this time, you will given two sources to chose to boot from – the USB stick or your newly installed OSX partition. Chose the latter.

Once you are booted up, hopefully you have enough functionality to run Multibeast. The installation you’ve just perform will install what it thinks is the best kexts for you to get you up. However, you may not have fun functionality. You may not have audio or network drivers or even a good video resolution. You’ll need to execute MultiBeast to get the correct drivers installed. (Well, MultiBeast has the most common ones..)

You may need to have MultiBeast on another USB drive or other media to get it on the machine. In my case, I was lucky enough to have a working network card so I was able to download it directly to the machine.

BE SURE TO READ ALL OF THE OPTIONS AND THE DOCUMENTATION FOR MULTIBEAST. You CANNOT simply pick what you think sounds right. This is where you need to determine if the DSDT method is the right one for your setup. It was for mine!! 🙂

Once you’ve selected the appropriate drivers, ensure that you install a bootloader or you’ve selected an option that automatically installs a bootloader for you. Otherwise, you’ll need to keep booting from your USB stick.

Tips:

  • Have patience – this will take time! and it may get frustrating. Just keep at it. If you are using a setup that someone else has built, you’re chances of success are pretty good.
  • Read! Start with the links I’ve included in this blog entry. Then branch out from there. There are forums that you can participate in on tonymacx86 site and other internet sites. However, I think that tonymacx86 has pretty much everything you would need.
  • Although, you can use the same process to upgrade an existing install (which I did originally) it’s better to start with a clean drive.
  • Curious thing about my install: whenever I installed OSX, it would time out and blank the screen. I would then hit a key and the screen would come back and everything seem fine. Until I went to reboot. I got the dreaded Boot 0 error – basically the system didn’t recognize my partition as an active partition and I had to go into Terminal and muck around to get it to work. Unfortunately, my changes didn’t stick at all. I ended up reinstalling over and over again trying different things with Disk Utility and settings to see if I can get past the error – with no luck. What solve the issue was a blog post I read which stated that you should move the mouse every so often so that the installer doesn’t time out. Sounded weird, but I tried it… it worked. I know, I know, it doesn’t make too much sense to me either… but, damn! it worked…. and I didn’t do anything funny with Disk Utility – simple OSX Journaled GUID partition.
  • Put your DSDT.AML file on your Mac OSX desktop – this will allow MultiBeast to install it for you.

Here are the options I selected for my MultiBeast:

UserDSDT Install

System Utilities\Repair Permissions

Drivers & Bootloaders\Bootloaders\Chimera v.1.7.0 r1394

Drivers & Bootloaders\Kexts & Enablers\Audio\Realtek ALC8xx\AppleHDA RollBack ( or ALC8xxHDA depends on the version of Lion)

Drivers & Bootloaders\Kexts & Enablers\Network\Lnx2Max’s RealtekRTL81xx Ethernet v0.0.90

The reason I have two options for the sound driver is that with standard install, the combined sound driver worked for me. After running software update, the sound was disable and I ran MultiBeast again with the same sound driver and had no joy. I had to use the RollBack drivers in order to get sound back.

Good Luck with your Build!

-JT

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