Hackintosh – running MacOS on non-Apple hardware, How it works?

If you are interested in computer building, you might have noticed a common thread and most of the how to guides out there on the internet, they almost all end up showing you how to configure Windows OS, after you are done setting up everything together.

But what if you have grown tired of Cortana, the Start menu or something else Windows lacks and hat frowny face blue screen of death and you want a diffrent kind of computing experience. Well, you could choose one of a number of free Linux distributions, like Ubuntu or Red hat.

But some people find themselves irresistible drawn to the interface of Mac OS, just not to the high price tag. Apple says tough luck to you buddy!! But fear not, a community has popped up around building “Hackintosh”. PC that runs Mac OS on non-apple hardware, but how does this process work?

Just throw Mac OS onto a USB Drive, boot from it and click install? Nope… first of all Apple only guarantees compatibility for Mac OS with a very limited number of Hardware configurations. Which comes with quite the high price tag.

Unlike Windows, which is supposed to work on any x86 or x86_64 based system provided meets the minimum requirements, so how in the world then are you supposed to know what will be compatible?

Well, though there is not really a good way to know, if the High end gaming Motherboard will work with MacOS outside of just trying it and seeing what happens. The Hackintosh community has actually compiled lists of components that users have had good luck with. On websites like OSx86 and DSDT.

All right then, so once you have built your system or verified that your existing one is compatible, the next step is to get a copy of MacOS. Typically, this means using an actual Mac to download the latest version, through the app store or buying an older version on optical media directly from Apple.

So, you got your grubby little hands on Mac OS, now you need to create a bootable USB drive using some special software, UniBeast is a popular one, simply click through the menus and indicate whether you will be installing Mac OS on a newer UEFI campable system or an older computer and your boot media will be ready.

But before you shove it into your PC, you will want to tweak your BIOS settings, this typically involves disabling features designed for Wintel machines, that Mac OS will not play nicely with, Such as VT-D, CFG-lock, secure boot, IO Serial port and even USB 3.0. Disabling those is necessary, if you are rocking with something older like a motherboard with an Intel 5 Series chipset.

Note: If you are wondering about Wintel machines than Wintel is just a generic term for PC with intel processor and Microsoft Windows OS.

Enable XHCI hand off and you are ready to install Mac OS from your USB Drive. But after you have done this, now you got to make your Mac OS target disk Bootable, as it doesn’t happen automatically, a popular option is to use a utility called MultiBeast, which will not only make your machine bootable, but will attempt to install aditional necessary software, like drivers.

Note however that you will probably still need to find Mac Drivers for your graphics card on your own and that’s it. Theoretically, by this point you are good to go, but hold on a minute. I have heard that Apple is extremely unhappy with people building Hackintoshes.

Will I get in trouble? Will Apple sue me? Will I do hard time in a white collar minimum security prison? So, here is the deal with that. Downloading Mac OS from the Apple store is “Free”, but the fine print stipulates that you may only install it on a bonafide Mac system.

So, that means that technically even though you downloaded it for free from Apple, it is software piracy, because you are in breach of the end user License Agreement. So, Apple indeed does strongly frown upon people building and using Hackintosh systems.

But with that said that chances of Apple coming a single user that just wants to use a Hackintosh at home are virtually nil and if they do find out somehow, the most they are likely to do is something like ban your machine from the App Store.

Though it should be noted, they did Sue a Company back in 2009 that was marketing and selling Hackintoshes. Which could actually be considered a crime under US federal law, so the takeaway then is that we are not telling you what you should do, we are not your legal advisers, but if you are going to dabble in Hackintoshing do it for personal use, but not to make a quick money.

And in any event you are far more likely to run into technical rather than legal issues, iMessage is infamously tough to run on a Hackintosh and you will probably find other things small or deal breaking that are not exactly on par with the Authentic Mac experience.

But there are plenty of resources online to help both newbies and veterans, so go check them out and just hope that Steve Jobs isn’t watching you from the beyond the grave.

So, what do you think about Hackintosh? Let me know in comments below.


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