Installing Apple’s operating system Mac OS X on a standard PC is no longer a secret.

The OSx86 scene has gone a long path providing help and support, in a way that no company is prepared (or willing) to do.

Legalities aside, the time has come when it is possible to run Mac OS X on more powerful hardware than those sold by Apple.

The purpose of this post is to help other users to overcome the problems that arise while trying to install this OS on one of the coolest netbooks out there now, the 11-inch Asus Eee PC 1101HA… (which happens to be the one I own ;-)).
The hardware is exactly the same as for the 12-inch 1201HA, so everything here is applicable to this model too.

The beauty of all this, apart from the challenge itself, is the price of these nice netbooks (around 340€ in Europe!).

There are thousands of really great articles and howtos on how to undertake the installation of Mac OS X on a PC, so I won’t reinvent the wheel here.

I personally find very complete the guide written by Prasys on his blog: Installing Snow Leo (retail) for OSx86.

I claim absolutely no merit on this, apart from spending an indecent amount of hours in front of my netbook, relentlessly rebooting and trying all sort of combinations, until I found the right combination of things for these relatively undocumented machines.

What makes the installation on the 1101HA different?

The main showstoppers here are two:

  • The video adapter, the relatively new Intel Graphics Media Accelerator 500 (GMA500).
  • The IDE chipset that comes with it (Intel SCH Family).

For the video card, the applause goes to user ryuu123 at InsanelyMac, who provided the VAIOPEnabler kernel extension, that allows Mac OS X to use the framebuffer mode of the GMA500.

Once you’ve got the graphic installer of Snow Leopard booting successfully thanks to VAIOPenabler, the next issue most people encounter is that no internal hard disks get detected. I’m positively sure that you can get the 1101HA’s SATA disk recognized by tweaking some other driver, like the AppleIntelPIISATA.kext, but I’ve ran into many problems using it.

Eventually, I found a kext that actually did its job very well. I would love to thank the guy who made AppleGenericPCATA.kext but unfortunately, I have no idea where I got this kext from for I was trying different extensions compulsively for months and I’ve totally forgot where I got this one from :(.

What’s working?

In short, not much (yet). Hopefully, YOU will also be capable of helping the OSx86 community to improve the hardware support for this hardware.

Video Intel GMA500 OK – In framebuffer mode
Audio High Definition Audio compatible OK – Using VoodooHDA. Quite buggy and so far I’m still getting some noise.
SATA Hard Disk Intel SCH Family OK. I have got the feeling that the kext I’m using is not the most appropriate. Disks gets recognized as IDE ATA, but otherwise, performance seems to be fine.
Webcam USB UVC 1.3M OK
Built-in SD card reader N/A OK – It does works out of the box, without needing extra extensions. It actually works as another USB storage device.
Bluetooth N/A ?? – I haven’t test this yet. I believe it gets recognized and would work fine using the appropiate kext. I’m not too much into bluetooth.

What does not work.

These does not work for me at the moment of this writing. Particularly, I read that the WLAN chip is rather new and still totally unsupported. But hey, don’t give up. It was also said that OSX would NEVER work on our 1101HAs or any other netbook with a GMA500 chip, and here we are :).

LAN Atheros AR8132 NO
WLAN Atheros AR9285 NO

My girlfriend bought me a D-Link WA-110 Wifi USB stick, for just 12€ on sales that works nicely in Mac OS X, thanks to which, I’m now writing this post from my OSX Asus. There are many other inexpensive USB WiFi adapters.

Requirements

  • An Asus Eee PC 1101HA netbook ;-)
  • Snow Leopard Retail DVD. BUY IT!. Get your own retail DVD for just 29€, at any store. It is still illegal to install Mac OS X on a non Apple machine, but at least you won’t be stealing. Mac OS X is an excellent operating system, with a top-notch user interface. And honestly, with this price, you really want to play fair. The Snow Leopard disks bundled with Apple computers will not do, since they are specially trimmed for an specific combination of hardware.
  • 1 USB memory of 8GB (at least). I like to use 2 separate pendrives. One for the Snow Leopard Install DVD and another one just for the boot files (less than 5MB). Note that you can also use the SD reader of your Asus netbook. However you can also fit the boot files and Snow Leopard files in the same USB stick.
  • This package 1101HA SL Boot (1.67MB). I’ve packed the following things:
    • Chameleon Boot Loader RC2 NBI. For reasons unknown, the standard Chameleon distribution does not provide the native 1366×768 resolution, rendering the system to just 1024×768. This is the only one I’ve found to work well, but you may be able to get it working with other versions.
    • DSDT.aml Don’t worry if you know nothing about this. In a nutshell is a file that Chameleon uses to patch on-the-fly the Asus BIOS, correcting some stuff so Mac OS X can boot properly.
    • com.apple.Boot.plist to enable verbose logging at boot time as well as 32-bit mode by default.
    • smbios.plist to emulate a MacBook Air machine.
    • My cocktail of different kernel extensions :) Again, these might not be the most adequate, but they worked for me. I thank you for all your suggestions and improvements.
      • ACPIPS2Nub.kext
      • AppleACPIBatteryManager.kext
      • AppleGenericPCATA.kext
      • ApplePS2Controller.kext
      • AppleSMBIOS.kext
      • fakesmc.kext
      • NullCPUPowerManagement.kext
      • OSXRestart.kext
      • PlatformUUID.kext
      • VAIOPEnabler.kext
      • VoodooHDA.kext
    • A patched version of OSInstall.mpkg, the Snow Leopard installer, for disks partitioned the old style (with a Master Boot Record)This will allow you to install Mac OS X and Windows easily on different partitions, otherwise you’ll have to partition you hard disk in GUID format from Disk Utility, as required by Snow Leopard, before being able to select it as a target drive.
  • Highly recommended

  • A working Mac OS X installation. It can either be an original Apple computer, or another hackintosh. This is just for dumping the Snow Leopard DVD into the USB memory, and preparing the USB boot drive.
  • Alternatively, if you are a bit creative, you could find different methods to do this task. I finally ended up booting my Macbook Pro, but if you don’t own a Mac, you could get anywhere with a handy linux distribution with HFS+ support. I would recommend RIP (Rescue Is Possible) linux distro, less than 100MB in size, and bootable from a pendrive.

Hands on

Right, enough talking. Let’s jump straight into the funny part. I have tried to simplify things as much as possible. I TAKE ABSOLUTELY NO RESPONSIBILITY IF THIS DOES NOT WORK FOR YOU.

However, it did work fine for me, and if you are not completely new to the OSx86 scene, you will realise the hardest part is getting all the extra extensions and config files together. Once you have read a bit about all this (elsewhere) and figure out how to put things together, you should get everything working straight away.

For simplicity, this post does not cover partitioning your hard disk, or setting up the dual boot.

Preparation

  1. Format a USB drive as HFS+ (I’d recommend using NOT journaled HFS+).
  2. Dump the Snow Leopard DVD into a USB drive, formatted as HFS+. The easiest way is to do it from Mac OS X using Disk Utility. Check online how to do this, for example, at Prasys’s howto.
  3. Copy the contents of my package into another HFS+ pendrive, or even the same USB drive used for Snow Leopard Installation files.
  4. Make the boot pendrive bootable. Once you’ve copied the files, you just need to make the USB stick bootable by installing Chameleon boot loader onto it. I have included a simple but effective script to do this. Check the file at Chameleon-2-NBI/install.sh. Edit it, review it’s values, and execute it.
  5. Boot your netbook from USB using the boot contents of above, and you should get right into the graphical installation window.
  6. Once you have completed the installation process, you still need to make OSX bootable directly from the hard disk, without the booting pendrive. The easiest thing is to boot again using your boot pendrive, but this time, press TAB or another key as soon as you see the Chameleon logo, so you can select which device to boot. In this case, you want to select the hard disk’s partition that you choose to install Mac OS X.
  7. Now that you are totally logged on Mac OS X, open Terminal to get a comand line that we’ll use to install Chameleon on your hard disk. You can just use the same Chameleon-2-NBI/install.sh script, but editing its values to point accordingly to your hard disk instead of the USB drive.
  8. Copy the Extra extensions (the same ones included in my package that you used for booting the installation) to your Mac OS partition so they are present as well when you boot directly from your hard disk. This is nothing new, and you should also be able to find details on this in any Snow Leopard guide for standard PCs.

… and this is it! If you’ve reached to this point, you should now be able to boot Snow Leopard directly from the hard disk. There are some simple guides to make Mac OS X and Windows to coexist (a.k.a Dual Boot); but the point is that you’ve now got SL on your 1101HA and can read further information targeted to mainstream PCs.

Links & resources

As said, the beauty of the OSx86 scene is the broad and excellent support from all the community members around the globe, from the savvy geeks to the most recent newcomers that throw themselves into forums to share knowledge and experiences. We can’t thank them all enough.

Here are some really good links you’ll need if you need to learn more. Remember this is still very experimental, so be really patient, take your time to get things working, and read a lot :) Apart from this, there’s no other secret or magic.