MacMini Hackintosh?

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by 50BMG, Aug 25, 2015.

  1. 50BMG macrumors member

    Nov 13, 2011
    Whacko thread title eh?

    I can hardly believe it myself, but that's just what I'm contemplating.


    I now have a collection of MacMinis, but none are "current" enough to run the newest OSX. In fact, this has been true for quite a while. The "Newest" MacMini I have is a 2007(?) 2,1. (I also have a 2006 1,1 that was re-flashed to 2,1) The newest supported OSX I can run on any of my Apple machines is Snow Leopard, which is the problem.

    The machines are fully upgraded with 4GB RAM (3GB recognized and usable) 2.33Ghz Core2-Duo CPU and 1TB HD. However, they are 32-bit EFI, not 64.

    The Problem:

    In addition to the mounting number of OSX and Safari security issues, I have been told that iTunes for Snow Leopard is obsolete (iTunes 11.4) does not support iOS 8.4 and definitely will not support iOS 9 going forward.

    I'm holding off updating my iOS devices beyond 8.3 in order to keep them accessible from the Macs. If the information I have is wrong, and iOS 8.4 (now 8.4.1) IS SUPPORTED on iTunes 11.4 - please let me know an I'll table this whole issue for a while.

    Hardware Upgrade Path:

    I've been saving cash for a desperately wanted MacPro 2013, but I'm not there yet. I could derail that effort a little with a cheap MacMini (the $499 one) but it's a throw-away as a PC and I'd hate to do it.

    Windows PC: (Ugh!)

    Nope, not gonna go back there with a current MSFT OS. I'm told there is an iTunes 12 for XP (which I could do) but it really looks like it's got to be 64-bit, which I don't have.

    MacMini 2,1 - Hackintosh:

    Well, we got here. Is this an option? Is anyone else crazy enough to have done this? It needn't be a current OSX, running Mavericks would get me out of this corner for the time being. (Wouldn't it?)
  2. bradl macrumors 68040


    Jun 16, 2008

    Yes, this has been done, and then some.

    I did this with Mountain Lion to see if I could get all my data moved over from a Linux box I got tired of administering, which worked great. Then took it a step further and moved everything to my MBA.

    Obviously, Apple will not support this, so you are on your own should any issues arise at the OS level. But I will say that my mini Hackintosh was definitely stable.

    I went further and built this:

    Obviously with some slight updates (more SSDs, updated video card) for a windows box, but since it uses the same parts, is easily able to be converted into a hackintosh (though I won't; I'm perfectly happy with my MBA). But you should be perfectly fine with this; again, don't go to Apple for support on this, as they won't support it at all.

  3. 50BMG thread starter macrumors member

    Nov 13, 2011
    Thanks for the reply.

    I get that this is totally ironic, but I want to install to genuine Apple hardware. Unibeast doesn't show support for that AFAIK. (?)
  4. MacUser2525 macrumors 68000


    Mar 17, 2007
    It will install anywhere you want it to probably will not work but it will install. You will want to look at this thread and see if it will work for your machines. It is for MPs but a boot.efi is a boot.efi there is nothing special that I know of anyways between the models so should work I am thinking. Most likely best done with an external boot drive so if it fails you still have working machine.
  5. 50BMG thread starter macrumors member

    Nov 13, 2011
    That link and the Piker-Alpha bootloader documentation, while very informative, leaves me with many questions and quite a bit still to gather in the way of prerequisite files to even make the attempt. (which might fail to run anyway - as you say, since I don't have a MacPro the package was intended for)

    Of course, your suggestion of a scratch disk goes without question. ;)

    I did buy Snow Leopard on DVD a while back, how does that enable me to obtain Mavericks or Yosemite? (is Mavericks even still obtainable?) I seem to recall trying the Apple download mechanism for Mavericks from my MacMini with SL only to have it say it's not for my computer.

    Helpful pointers though - thank you.
  6. MacUser2525 macrumors 68000


    Mar 17, 2007
    Your welcome. I am thinking it can work looks like it is the boot.efi replaced to translate 64 to 32 bit calls only so should be good chance it will work on mini as well. You need to get access to newer machine that supports Mavericks it looks like you may want to download the installer and make install disk with it using the method in that thread. Perhaps a post there asking if anyone has tried mini could be helpful.
  7. 50BMG thread starter macrumors member

    Nov 13, 2011
    Looks like the Piker-Alpha works by translating 64 to 32 bit EFI calls then passing them to the original EFI, so it may very well work on a MacMini if nothing is missing. I couldn't access the pre-compiled Piker-Alpha, so I downloaded the github version. Curious, it appears to be compiled on VC.

    Is this for real? Looks like the correct size. Guess I'll report back on that one.

    I'm still hoping we'll hear from someone who has already paved this road a little more for me. That last hurdle of video compatibility concerns me most. Others with MacPros indicate they needed to update to newer video adapters before it would work.

    I'm still reading and collecting, a phase that will likely last a while. I'll keep checking here for more comments.
  8. 50BMG thread starter macrumors member

    Nov 13, 2011
    I just now realized there may be another "out" I hadn't considered, at least for the iOS issue...

    The real MacMini 2,1 here should natively support Lion (OSX 10.7) if an installer can be located for it. Lion had it's last iTunes update July 2015, which tells me it's current to at least iOS 8.4.1 support.

    While it would re-enable staying current with iOS a bit longer, it would sacrifice the idea of most other security fixes, so it's not optimal. (regular OS updates stopped in October 2012)

    Since I'm already on this research path to try a latter OSX that's still getting updates and would free me from doing this again - longer, I'll continue as if Mavericks or Yosemite is the way I'm going. It's nice to have a plan "B" though. :)
  9. paulrbeers macrumors 68040

    Dec 17, 2009
    The 2,1 (and the 1,1 flashed to 2,1 with a hack) will run Lion. All you have to do is install 10.6.8 onto your Mini and then it should grant you access to the App store where you can download Lion. It has to be 10.6.8 (the late Snow Leopard release that adds app store to Snow Leopard).

    Now once you get 2,1 on your actual 2,1 you could also then target disk mode your 1,1 (flashed to 2,1) remove the board check and load Lion on to the flashed 1,1 as well (I did this to both of my 1,1's flashed to 2,1).

    The problem with loading the latest OS on to the Mini's is that Apple never released GPU Kexts/drivers for the Intel 950 in any OS past Lion so you are more than likely going to run OSX without GPU acceleration which will be awful.

    I'd stick to Lion if you need support for the latest iTunes. Snow Leopard if you didn't....
  10. 50BMG thread starter macrumors member

    Nov 13, 2011
    Thanks paulbeers - MacRumors is such a wonderful resource... this thread is about getting a GMA950 video driver to work in 10.8. I'm still wading thru it, but they claim to have it working in 64-bit mode with acceleration - not on a MacMini but another EFI32 Mac.

    Between the 64BIT EFI solution and this video driver heads-up, it seems the pieces are all there if I can put em together.

    Thanks for the clue about getting Lion from Apple - we'll look into that next. I pretty much figured that "install then transfer/clone" path would work for both minis since the machine prohibition was only in the OSX installer. (read that elsewhere) Great to get your confirmation. ;)

    I've pretty much decided to work both directions - Lion should be dead easy and just "work". A disk image of installed Lion can then be saved for future or transfer (I'm an archivist at heart) Working Lion will then stay on the drive as a boot alternative. (I do this with 10.4 and 10.6 now)

    But the tinker in me just can't resist seeing how deep the rabbit hole goes.

    Thanks to all - I'm having fun.
  11. MacVidCards Suspended

    Nov 17, 2008
    Hollywood, CA
    I have a 1,1/2,1 Mini running Yosemite. Use an SSD or you will be watching beach balls all day.

    The 64bit 10.6.4 kexts give some help with the 950A, not the full monty but a definite improvement.

    There is even a guy who worked out using the Mini PCIE slot to adapt a real GPU on his Mini, would solve the issue entirely but leave you with no WiFi.

    I use the Mini to test WiFi cards that enable Continuity & handoff so I haven't done much but boot, check function, turn off.

    The Mini works fine and is generally responsive, but I am not using many apps or features, but it definitely boots just fine.
  12. 50BMG thread starter macrumors member

    Nov 13, 2011
    Thanks MacVidCards, that confirmation is what I was hoping for.

    • The Mini PCIE GPU is a cute idea. Turns out the WiFi adapters on both of the Intel Minis went bad over time and had to be removed. (they prevented booting) so the slots are open. I'd rather use em for an SSD if I could figure that out, but that would be yet another project.
    • The most stressful things I do on the "MainMini" is play HD video and UT99. It does these well because it's hardware's as upgraded as it can get (T7600/4GB/1TB - what CPU and Memory does your Mini have?) and because I use VLC to play video content, which is a miserly app when it comes to CPU usage. If an OS update didn't upset that balance, I could consider it for daily use.
    • My thinking is to hack one mini primarily to maintain iOS compatibility after September's release of iOS 9. It would serve secondarily as an experiment platform. In this scenario that machine would not be my "daily driver". Of course, I'd update both machines if the conversion were highly successful, but it need not be to make the effort worthwhile. That machine sits unused 99% of the time.
    • I'd really appreciate hearing more of your process. Is there a particular guide you could point me to, along with caveats of your experience? Did you use the Snow Leopard's GMA 950 drivers over the ones from Lion for any reason? (That thread I linked reported best success with 10.7's) Did you have to use the 64-32EFI translator? Details please!
    Let me think what else...
    • Would you please confirm/test one thing? - Please log into your Apple ID under iTunes (if possible backup an iPhone) and report the versions of both here. That would tell me for certain that this hack would accomplish what I need. No one has ever reported a gotcha that should interfere with it, but there's always a first time.

    Getting OSX:

    I can pass along some info about getting Lion. Many people have discovered and noted that you can't download an old OSX from the App store (under your Apple ID) unless you bought it or downloaded it before. I hadn't - so I bought it. Still waiting for the redemption code they email.

    However, I never tried to associate my previous purchase of Snow Leopard (on Disk) with any Apple ID. Since I have subsequently gotten an Apple ID, I was curious to do that if I could. (I find it odd that RUNNING Snow Leopard didn't automatically qualify one to download it?)

    Anyway, I had a web-chat during the Lion purchase with a support rep about that very thing. I needn't have bothered - what a numb skull. The discussion went so bad I ended up asking if they were a computer or a person! ( apparently computers CAN lie ) Anyway, there is no way for me to get Mavericks thru a legit apple channel that I can find. Yosemite can't be gotten on my Mini because they won't download it to a Machine that can't run it.

    That GetIntoPC link (see post #7) claims to have 2 Mavericks versions - one may, or may not, be virgin (unmolested) but the second (the ISO) is prepped for installation to a VM on Windows. I'm not sure either would be of use.

    Thank you again - your response clears away any doubt that it can be done, and that I'm not alone. (even if our uses are different)
  13. 50BMG, Aug 27, 2015
    Last edited: Aug 27, 2015

    50BMG thread starter macrumors member

    Nov 13, 2011
    Jeeze what a rigamarole... (This is a little of a tangent, but still on-topic as far as I'm concerned.)

    So the purchasing experience for Mac Apps (Lion in this case) is quite different from that of getting an App for iOS, even though the same Apple ID and App Store is used. There are some extra wrinkles having to do with my Mac situation too.

    For openers - to complete the purchase of OSX Lion from the App Store (Mac Application) Apple required a shipping address, even though the product would only be emailed. They also delayed "shipment" of those email(s) until 11:47am the next day.

    Yes, emails - plural. The first real email contained a password with which to open a PDF attachment in the second email. That email, contained the redemption code to actually be entered into the Redeem page in the App Store Mac application... ok so far?

    Once entered, there's an acknowledgement and an instruction to proceed to the "Purchased" tab of the App Store (app). After 20 minutes or so, it was clear this tab was never going to contain any purchases, despite closing the App Store (app) and logging back in with my Apple ID a couple times.

    I then re-redeemed the purchase, using the provided code once again. After a second "Acceptance" screen - the "Purchased" tab immediately populated for the first time. However, when attempting to download the purchase I was informed that "We Could Not Complete Your Purchase - This version of Mac OS X 10.7 cannot be installed on this computer."

    To this I have two responses... First - though that Mac is in fact a re-flashed 1,1 model which Lion can't supposedly be installed to - this shows that the App Store is interrogating the actual system Serial Number because it is otherwise a 2,1 by any quality that matters. Not entirely unexpected or a problem since my intent was to use it on the other Real Mac 2,1. However it brings up the question of whether one will be required to keep old hardware on hand to maintain access to older OSX purchases. In other words, can Lion (or any other OSX) be downloaded on a machine that's newer and for which it was never intended or able to be installed? What of other App/OSX combinations? Can such maintenance / activity only be performed in their view on the target machine?

    The Archivist in me is sensing hidden caveats.

    Second issue - the language that the "purchase could not be completed" is odd. Does this imply that a purchase could expire or not be valid until sent to a computer that can use it? I can't buy something now, at an introductory price or discount opportunity with the intent of using it at a later date on hardware I don't presently own but plan to acquire in a future purchase?

    Some of us simply can't afford to buy the most current hardware all the time. We have to be content with some used. A qualification like this makes me concerned that I'm not a fully capable Apple customer. In fact it should concern Apple because it would severely limit the value of Used Apple equipment. It also effects anyone in an I.T. support role and the equipment's applicability to a Business.

    For now, these questions of expiry will go unanswered as my Lion purchase is presently downloading on the other MacMini. I hope it's not going to presume I want to install it right away and just run. (!?)
  14. 50BMG, Aug 27, 2015
    Last edited: Aug 27, 2015

    50BMG thread starter macrumors member

    Nov 13, 2011
    Of course, it did. (I didn't know about holding down "Alt" when selecting download in the App Store (app))

    So I did find the "Install Mac OS X" in the Applications folder, and it's contents include InstallESD.dmg in Contents/SharedSupport. Is this what I'll need to archive to make a stand-alone USB installer from? I don't plan to "Upgrade" this partition, but to make a dual boot configuration.

    I copied that dmg out and mounted it. It sure looks like the traditional install disk contents. I'll put it on a memory stick and test it next.

    Allocation error during memory stick verify - but it created, boots and it's apps run (Disk Utility and Lion installer). Install attempt will have to wait for later.
  15. 50BMG thread starter macrumors member

    Nov 13, 2011
    Lion install from flash drive went fine. It created both a System and a Recovery HD in the partition prepared for it. Booting without error, the System was 10.7.5 and after update iTunes was 12.2.2. There's no doubt it supports iOS 8.4.x and probably iOS 9. The installation ended up Tri-boot configuration (Quad if you count the Recovery HD)

    As observed:
    The installed Lion drive doesn't boot on my ersatz MacMini2,1 - so if you would paulrbeers, please share the specifics on that change?

    This ends my "Emergency" with iOS connectivity for the time being. It only remains to actually do backups of my iOS devices on iTunes prior to updating them wholesale.

    For the record - Lion appears a little faster on the same hardware than Snow Leopard was. I don't think this is my imagination. It's clear there's a lot to learn about the changes in Lion - particularly as regards the Recovery HD - which seemed to get involved when the system update was applied. I also have a few questions about backing up other App purchases in case they need re-install.

    I don't plan to risk buying Mountain Lion unless some more hardware drops in my lap. I'll keep an eye out though - If Snow Leopard and Lion disappear from the App Store, I may weaken - Just take the chance there will be a machine to download it, before it too is gone.

    Now back to the fun stuff ;)
  16. rctlr, Aug 28, 2015
    Last edited: Aug 28, 2015

    rctlr macrumors 6502a

    May 9, 2012
    This is odd.
    My Mac Mini 2007 (Snow Leopard 1GB Ram), supports iTune 12.2.2
    At least thats whats installed on it at the moment.
    I've not plugged in my iPhone (iOS8.4.1) into it of late - I will give it a go after the bank holiday and let you know.


    OK, it said it supports it, but it's only updated to 11.4 - so I am mistaken. Screen Shot 2015-08-28 at 10.11.10.png
  17. 50BMG thread starter macrumors member

    Nov 13, 2011
    Wow - great reply rctlr! I wasn't expecting that result. According to the folks at the Apple Store, 11.4 won't support iOS 8.4 let alone 8.4.1. Did you actually do a full backup? Can you see the app contents and files for Contacts and such?

    Guess I may be victim of bad information from Apple Genius guys. I don't feel too bad though - the work probably delayed losing support for at least a year, maybe more. Plus it got me going on experimenting with Mavericks and Yosemite. (Sure glad I didn't waste $500 on a cheap MacMini)

    Thanks for the info!
  18. rctlr macrumors 6502a

    May 9, 2012
    I'll have to give this a go on Tuesday, I'll report back.
  19. paulrbeers macrumors 68040

    Dec 17, 2009

    Good info for you...

    I should have mentioned, I believe it has to be an upgraded 1,1 to Core2duo. I could be wrong though....
  20. 50BMG thread starter macrumors member

    Nov 13, 2011
    Thank you for checking rctlr - I'll be looking for that post.

    Thank you again paulrbeers. That page is quite a list, eh? Some people choose to delete the file outright, others edit it and include the missing entry. Some go so far as to fix the Restore HD too. Did you edit or delete?

    I'll have to look at it again, but I can see why things evolved over time into a script-based hack in Mavericks / Yosemite. I'll have a peek at that script to see if I can back-purpose it for Lion.

    Still the manual process doesn't seem bad, just annoying.

    I was curious to see no sound for those who went on to 10.8. There was no mention of that being an issue in the Mavericks hacks, but then again I was really watching for details on the 950 video. MacVidCards - is your audio ok?

    Thank you all for participating. :cool:

    P.S. - I assumed the Core2 Duo (64 bit CPU) was required to run Lion and beyond, but since I already did that - no worries.
  21. paulrbeers macrumors 68040

    Dec 17, 2009
    I just deleted it. Problem solved.
  22. 50BMG thread starter macrumors member

    Nov 13, 2011
    KISS eh? We like it. [​IMG]
  23. rctlr macrumors 6502a

    May 9, 2012
    Plugged into My Mac Mini with Snow Leopard
    Screen shot 2015-09-01 at 18.13.53.png
    It appeared and synced ok.
  24. 50BMG thread starter macrumors member

    Nov 13, 2011
    Well doesn't that just figure!

    I've proceeded to have all this fun based on bad information. It's not the first time, and surely won't be the last.

    Once again thank you. At least I haven't closed any doors as a result and just have extra choices. I don't think Lion is really any safer than Snow Leopard these days as a daily-use machine, at least not the way I use it, so the working Lion install will be set aside as a contingency precaution for now. Thinking about it, it might come in handy for some Xcode maintenance too. (-whatever)

    I'm going to continue to see how far I can get. I'd really like to hear back from MacVidCards on that question of audio still working on his MacMini2,1 running Yosemite.(?)
  25. 50BMG thread starter macrumors member

    Nov 13, 2011
    Just a final confirmation -

    Yep - I just updated my iPhone 4s to iOS 8.4.1 using iTunes 11.4 on 10.6.8 (Snow Leopard).

    Accessibility of the phone from the PC appears pretty much as it did with iOS 8.3. Some things that still bug me are iOS issues, not Mac/iTunes - i.e. sharing of iBooks content, Safari resets on some web controls, poor background app execution - especially those maintaining a VPN connection.

    However, these do not represent a change and have been ongoing since iOS 7.​

    So the whole iOS 8 emergency didn't exist. [​IMG] iOS 9 - who knows. I'll post about that once it's released.

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