Wednesday, August 24, 2011

How Do You Like Them Apples?

     Someone I know asked me "Why are you posting all these things about your Mac?" , and it dawned on me that not all people know what it is that I, along with the rest of the OSX86 community, are doing or are showing (by means of this blog or by means of a few forums on the Internet).  I realized that only a very few among the population probably know what the big deal is about why we get so giddy and euphoric when we get successful system updates, or when we finally have the sound card functioning, or when we attain full resolution with our graphics cards, when every one and their uncle can update their Macs with a few mouse clicks.

     The fact of the matter is:  I don't have a Mac.  I have a Hac(k).

   A Hac(k) is when you assemble your own system "almost entirely" (more on this later) out of non-Apple branded parts.  You buy a regular motherboard (from Fry's or Newegg or wherever you get your electronic jollies) and buy a standard hard drive, and a standard DVD-RW drive, and a standard graphics card, and whatever else you need to assemble a functioning computer system.  The one thing (not the only thing, though) that you should buy from Apple is Mac OSX.  You should not download from some torrent site, nor should you get some copy from someone else.  Once you get all these, that's when the magic begins.  It is like putting a Maserati engine inside a Japanese car.  You tweak it, you curse it, you love it, you spend too much time on it - until it works just like the way you want it to.

     A little backgrounder: Mac OSX is designed and supposed to work only on things made by Apple.  But.... when one can make it work without modifications (Vanilla install) on other systems, it makes for a very enjoyable hobby (if you are into this sort of thing, but if you're the type who thinks being a geek means just being able to play DoTA, or that you watch Anime, then save yourself from the headaches that follow).  

     Don't get me wrong, I do like Apple products, and I do own quite a few of them. But the thing is, an Apple product is like a steel vault - it functions the way it should almost without failing and will last for a long, long time, and it almost never fails you and your high expectations, but in the end, it is all it is, a steel vault.  You can tweak it a little bit, and modify it here and there somewhat.  But when it does fail, and you have to talk to some half-wit kid in a blue t-shirt who thinks he is your personal conduit to Palo Alto and who does not have any idea what a Boolean or an EFI string is and he tells you that you need to buy a $400 graphics processing card to replace the one that died on you (and you can only get it from Apple, of course), you might be happy accepting your fate in your little corner of the world.

     This is the reason why there are OSX86 or Hackintosh forums.  When you take a look at Hackintosh forums, you see all these people from every country in the world doing some kind of show-and-tell, doing whatever marvels or miracles they're accomplishing with their systems. And the best thing is, they are all excited to share their solutions (like this blog) to anyone and everyone in the Hackintosh community who might be interested, and help anyone who are in need of solutions in running their systems.  Most, if not all, of these people own real Apple and Mac products, but they would like to go beyond the buying, the fad-surfing and the posing. They don't feel the need to be proud of what they can buy ready-made from a store (like some people you, or I, may know or are acquainted with).   There's no fun in that, as anyone can buy anything these days no matter what, because this is the new way of the world.  Buy now, think of the consequences tomorrow.

     What most people in the OSX86 community like is the challenge, and the challenge is in the what-does-not-work, not in what works.  "What works" is boring, you can buy "what works", and "what works" comes to you gift-wrapped in a box.      

     You have to realize that we do this because we are proud of the possibility to bend (not break) programming and system rules, to have fun, and to be involved in intellectual interaction along the process.  So for those who did not know before, well, now you do.  So now, how do you like them Apples?

Thursday, August 18, 2011

10.7.1 Success

I updated my system using the combo update.  There are two ways to fix sound (for this particular motherboard - a Gigabyte H55M-S2V F3):

1) If using VoodooHDA, the 10.7.1 update will cause a kernel panic after reboot.  Don't panic. Boot with Hackboot, reinstall Voodoo kexts using Multibeast 3.8.0 and everything will be ok after the next reboot.

2) If using GigabyteALC888bautoHP.kext, then reinstall AppleHDA.kext from 10.6.4 and HDAEnabler.kext into Lion/Library/Extensions using Kext Utility or Kext Helper B7, run System Utilities from Multibeast to rebuild cache and permissions, and you're good to go.
         Everything else works, and I noticed a faster boot up sequence after the update.  I had my Xeon X3440 running at 3.55 GHz before, but decided that I did not need that much horsepower.  I toggled it down to 3.4 GHz instead, and the idle temps are running at a cool and steady 35-37 degrees Celsius for all 4 cores (maxing out at around 54-58 degrees Celsius at full load).

    Now Running (With The) Lion

         Finally, I've had success with my Lion install. I have tried several paths for a good week and a half before determining the best way to do it (in my situation and with my hardware).  I first followed Tonymacx86's guide to the letter by upgrading my fully working 10.6.8 system to 10.7, but I could not get past [PCI Configuration Begin].  

         I learned of two ways that I could boot into Lion when I got this error: either delete GeForce.kext (which allowed me all resolutions from my graphics card, with all functionally in the system EXCEPT QE/CI, which prevented me from playing Starcraft 2, or use Aperture/iMovie/Frontrow/etc) OR replace AppleACPIPlatform.kext and IOPCIFamily.kext to their Snow Leopard 10.6.7 counterparts, but also blitzed my video card and only allowed for 1280x1080 resolution. 

         I've tried all kinds of fixes, from replacing all the GeForce and GL kexts to the previous versions, to booting with npci=0x2000, PCIRootUID=1, -v, -x and all kinds of flags, but all to no avail. Good thing I made working clones of my 10.6.8 system, as well as all my installs with close to full functionality including the xMove installer partition, which really came in handy later in the process.

         After trying several ways and reading various forum topics, I was able to come upon Hackboot, which in function is just like iBoot except it allows you to boot into Lion and the xMove Lion installer.  I decided it was better to go ahead and do a clean install of Lion after acquiring a copy of Hackboot. I was disappointed that even after doing a clean install, I still came upon the same errors, and still could not get QE/CI from my video card even with a fresh Lion partition. I still had to delete GeForce.kext to fully boot the system, get all resolutions but no Quartz extreme at all. 

         I played around with this new clean install for a couple of days albeit sans QE/CI, just so can  look under the hood and play around with it as I was able to get on the internet.  After a while, I decided to do another clean install on a separate partition.  I wanted to just gut out whatever kexts were not functional without having to worry since I already had that other partially functioning partition to go back to in case.  At this point I was already strongly contemplating buying new hardware due to frustration, and I was already looking at new graphics cards and mobo/processor combinations, while checking the forums to see which ones are most functional.

         A funny thing happened on this new partition/install, as I noticed that during Lion installation I was able to boot into the installer with full 1920x1080 resolution.  When it finished installing, I had full QE/CI on this new installation BUT no WiFi or bluetooth detection and NO WRITE permissions (so I could not run Multibeast, can't get into the S/L/E folders, no write access at all). It dawned on me that I just had to keep on trying new ways of getting functionality, and realized that my hardware was not at fault.  

         I tried to re-install on this new partition, but still I can't get any WRITE access at all, even if I created a separate partition and do yet another fresh install. I then decided to fully erase my hard drive (I had the partition images saved to external drives anyway) after I read somewhere online that my MBR might be corrupt from all the many re-installs and re-partitioning. 

         I tried the regular erase method  but it did not work (still had NO WRITE permissions) and so I used the 7-pass method in the Mac OSX installer Disk Utility. After this, I made the necessary partitions (three in my case, Lion, Installer, and Storage) including the 8 GB Lion Installer partition, and restored the image I created before on it.  Finally, here are my steps to getting a fully functional Lion Hackie:

    1) Inserted Hackboot CD and booted from it.

    2) Chose Installer from the partition choices. Hackboot always boots in verbose so it takes a little while. Once in the Mac OSX installer environment, I installed Lion.

    3) Still using Hackboot, I booted into my new Lion install.

    4) I used Multibeast 3.7.2 in order to use Chameleon loader instead of Chimera (Chimera was buggy for me in my first few tries, and Chameleon was very stable), and at first, I could not run System Utilities (results in an error with Multibeast).

    5) Installed GA-H55M-S2V f3 DSDT first, then installed Voodoo kexts for sound. Only after installing these two did I run System Utilities but ONE at a time (for some reason, this method works, I did this on a hunch) - repair permissions first, then rebuild caches after. This did not result in the previous error.

    6) Installed AppleACPIPlatform.kext and IOPCIFamily.kext from Snow Leopard 10.6.7 (10.6.8 results in [DSMOS has arrived] and [PCI Config error]) using Kext Utility. Ran System Utilities again (can run them together now instead of one at a time).

    7) Installed Chameleon bootloader, Mac 3,1 definition, JMicron36xSATA and IOAHCIBlockStorageInjector with System Utilities.

    8) Edited with npci=0x2000 kernel flag, GraphicsEnabler=Yes, Graphics Mode = 1920x1080x32 (for boot screen), Timeout=1.

    9) Edited smbios.plist for Xeon recognition (About This Mac showed Intel i7) with SMcputype=1281. Ran System Utilities.

    10) Rebooted to see if I don't get any errors at boot time.

    11) Boot was okay with no errors but NO QE/CI yet, and no resolution choices at this time. The older IOPCIFamily.kext and AppleACPIPlatform.kext knocked out my WiFi functionality (no WiFi card detected even though I had a DIY BCM94321MC Apple card stuck into a PCI-E x1 adapter, go figure).

    12) Instead of installing NVIDIA drivers (the NVIDIA drivers was what got me into that having-to-delete-Geforce.kext mess so I decided to go on a different route), I ran OSX86Tools and got the custom hex data for my PNY Verto 9600 GT 512 mb 256-bit.

    13) Edited again, this time to add device-properties=[9600 hex data].
    After running System Utilities for the Nth time, I rebooted, and finally got full QE/CI with my 9600 GT.  I also used EFIStudio to grab the EFI string for my ethernet device to prevent "This computer or device could not be verified" error in App Store.  I spliced the ethernet and video card EFI strings together, and inserted it into

    14) For the WiFi solution, I have junglistmassive and Gravewyrm to thank []. I downloaded the Broadcom43XXFamilyrev2.kext and installed it using Kext utility. At first, it was a no-go. After reading down the topic, I came upon Gravewyrm's post, which instructed deleting IO80211Family.kext, then installing the Broadcom next. This gave me WiFi after reboot.

    15) Edited for one last time to add Quiet Boot=Yes.  I also edited smbios.plist to make sure About This Mac identified processor as Xeon instead of Core i7.  Rebooted.

    16) Fully functioning Lion at last.

    17) I was getting the CMOS reset error, and even when I used ElliotForceLegacyRTC.kext, I was still getting a BIOS reset after restart whenever I let the machine sleep. I replaced AppleRTC.kext with the version from 10.6.7, and that fixed it.

         Hope this helps anyone out there. All I could advise people is make clones and images, and copies of all the things important (especially the ones that work) before doing anything, and keep at it. There are so many people with great ideas out there. Thank you to Tony, Macman, Insanelymac, junglistmassive, Gravewyrm, netkas,, and all the other contributors to the Hackintosh community.

    Sunday, July 10, 2011

    Whatever The Brand Of Choice, There Will Always Be A$$h0<#$

         Pardon me for deviating from this blog's usual content, which is the making and tweaking of Hackintoshes.  For the longest time, I have strongly felt the need to address an issue that has been around for as long as I can remember playing with cameras.  People closest to me know I have three interests in life: computers, photography and eating out with the missus (actually, four interests if you count a certain civic group that I belong to).    

         For some people, the world revolves around two brands: Nikon or Canon.  I've played with either brand at the start, then made a decision based on my personal needs.  The key word here is "personal", and in no way related to image quality or speed or strap length or what-not from either company's offerings.  I settled for Nikon, and have stuck with it ever since because as one gets deeper into the hobby, one makes a substantial investment into lenses and other equipment that is only compatible with either brand.  Such is the law of brand management for if one can hybridize everything, then I'd probably drive an Infiniti G37 with a Prius' engine, the chassis of a Mercedes and the interior of one of the newer Cadillacs.  We will never have this luxury.  And so, in turn, we get to have "brand loyalty" dumped on our laps.  

         When I first started shooting pictures years ago, I remember being asked by a Canon-using friend "Why Nikon?" then proceeded to lecture me about the advantages of his brand of choice.  I can understand brand loyalty, but what I can't understand is why focus so much energy on it?  A monkey with a 5D Mark II (or a Nikon D3x) is, in the end, still a monkey.  In a lot of ways, the monkey has better insight because it knows it is still a monkey, and knows it has no use for the camera (or the camera has no use for him).  I can think of a lot of people who should stay farther from cameras than this monkey.  I have seen amazing pictures taken by someone with an old XT, and have seen horrible pictures taken by another with a state-of-the-art 1D Mark IV.  I'll give a dollar to anyone who can tell me which one is the photographer and which one is the monkey.

         The incendiary that ignited me to write about this, though, is that whenever we have competing brands, it is always a given that we have to have brand-bashing from either side.  And what is additionally irritating is that the loudest voices from either side always come from the ones who are the most ignorant.  Canon is this, Nikon is that, Canon is white, Nikon is black, etc etc.  Who actually gives a rat's ass about expeed and throughput and digic?  Why can't we let these two companies worry about the specs and let them one-up each other to our benefit?  Why can't we let the images we create tell the story?  

         The simple answer is: because culturally we can't.  Bet you did not see this answer coming.

         Why cultural?  What does camera brand have to do with anything about Filipino culture?  Let me give you the "Good Will Hunting" abbreviated version of the answer to this question: because the 300-year Spanish conquest really did a very good stomping on our self-esteem, our pride and our self-worth.  Now comes the long version, so read carefully.

         We have always been a culture of short-lived fads (remember jetskis and waverunners, badminton, bowling, cycling? Remember Guns N' Roses? or Milli 'effin Vanilli? ).  Then again, most fads are short-lived, but we Filipinos really take it to the extreme.  We actually invented the "Here Today, Gone Tomorrow" doctrine.  We seize the day, live for the day, plan only for the day.  It does not matter if the new goddamn D7000 is PHP60,000 and Juan only earns PHP12,000 a month, he has gotta have it, right?  

         Please don't get me wrong as I'm all for getting the most out of life, and one must do what makes one happy, but really, didn't you say that too when you purchased that PHP50,000 road bike not too long ago because it was the new thing, or when you invested in bowling shoes and a bowling bag and a bowling ball that is now collecting dust in your closet?  Remember that high end computer you bought because you thought you could make a career out of playing Ragnarok and World of Warcraft?  If one can afford it, by all means, be my guest, but in our country, most ONEs can't afford it.  Yet they force themselves to, because what if your friends post a picture on Facebook and you're the only one without a DSLR hanging around your neck (or a road bike hanging around your neck?)  What if you're running a marathon and you're the only one with the old pair of Asics from your older brother while the rest of the guys have their Vibram Fivefingers on?   You shudder at the thought.  It is also sad that a lot of the ones who can afford it get into the hobby for the wrong reasons.  All of a sudden, people I know from way back when who can't even draw a goddamn circle or can't hold a 2B and HB pencil right (or can't tell one from the other) are now into photography.  Please don't tell me you found your calling, because until further notice, you are still supposed to use a camera for taking artistic images and not use it as a fashion accessory.

         Now, Juan with DSLR in hand (thinking of what interesting things he can take snapshots of at work, although to be honest, all he wants to do is show it off), goes to work and coworker Juana sees the shiny new camera that Juan flaunts around with shameless bravado.  Now Juana has to have one, too.  Now, it is at this exact moment where "Spanish conquest" wiggles into the socio-genetic psyche that Juana has inherited from the many generations of Juanas before her.  When we were slaves (oops, I shouldn't say "slaves", I should say "conquered natives") from the 1500s on to the late 1800s, we can only dream of what the Spanish can own and do.  

         For three hundred years, Juan's and Juana's ancestors can only salivate at the material things their Spanish masters flaunt around in their vast haciendas.  They can only dream of marrying someone as beautiful as Dona Narcisa or Don Felipe, as they have been told and indoctrinated every single day of their lives that the ideal beauty is what the Spanish look like: aquiline noses, small faces, broad shoulders and fair skin.  One can never take a second look at Procopio, no, Procopio is ugly, he is short, has a flat nose, dark skin and a wide forehead that even the latest widest Asian fit Oakley Half-Jacket can't fit right!  From that moment on, it was all about the Christmas wrapper for the rest of us, because Juan's ancestors got brainwashed.

         And so we've been made to believe every single day for 300 years (that's 109,500 days, give or take) that we were second class animals, and we can only own what the Spanish allowed us to.  We can only get in their good graces, get promoted, serve them dinner or attend their parties and galas if we kissed starting from the gravel underneath their feet, right along their fair-skinned long legs, and all the way up to the glorious and Friar-blessed crack of their aquiline asses.  The same thing happened with employment, with government, with social standing, with attending church.  I remember a history professor of mine who mentioned that even how hot chocolate was served to Spanish guests was different from that of "indios" (Filipinos).  So, we got our first taste of crab mentality and never looked back since, as every single one of our ancestors tried to one up every one else by being favored by the master, by trying to get in the master's good graces, by conforming to what he deemed (and what the church at the time deemed) was right.  Sadly, our ancestors did not realize at the time that at the end of the day, they were all still dogs.

         And then, we were suddenly free after 109,500 days, give or take.  But the stigma of the mindjob they did on us is as damning as genetics.  Scarred for eternity as a people and as a culture.  Our view of beauty, our restraint for emotion (say or portray something emotional and people will immediately say "That's corny!"), our reluctance to express ourselves artistically (write poetry and you will hear snickers immediately) - every single nuance that resembles humanity has been mutilated to this mutated culture that we have right now.  And from the carcass of all that is supposed to be beautifully Filipino comes the stench of crab mentality, nepotism, corruption and greed.  I have to disagree when people say one of our traits is "hiya".  It is actually "walang hiya", when we laud politicians for having mistresses and for holding office for several generations and for building palaces out of the people's hard earned money.  It is "walang hiya" when we pay to be served first in front of people who have been lining up to get services from government offices since 3 in the morning.  It is "walang hiya" when we are the only Air Force in the world without a single jet fighter acquired which was produced within the last four decades, and yet, we still have an Air Force!  

         Our ancestors have been in awe for so long at the special treatment the Spanish received for 300 years, that they can not wait to be in their shoes and do the same. They yearned for that special treatment.  They yearned for that recognition that when they enter an establishment, people had to show them false respect.  They yearned to be special.  And very sadly, they handed all the yearning to the rest of us.  The yearning to be regarded in high esteem no matter how false, and the yearning to be special, no matter how shallow.  We are all consumed the yearning to look rich, no matter how material.

         I could ramble on and on, I mean this is a personal blog, for chrissakes.  But I can't stray too far from my opener.  So by now, Juana is itching and raring to get the Nikon D7000.  But she has a problem.  She can only get a Canon, since all her friends have Canons, and she can get one a little cheaper from someone she knows (possibly from's forums where she can twist someone's arm into letting her pay in installments, or possibly trade in her pre-loved Chanel purse and an Asus netbook that she rarely uses as she can't figure out Linux), and she can borrow lenses from her friends.  

         Well, human nature tells us that when Juan and Juana meet in the pantry and have their cameras side by side, they will discuss the differences.  And when they do, they will discuss why they like their cameras.  And when they disagree as to which features are there and which ones are not, then they will discuss (and argue as to) which is better, and when this happens, the proverbial crack becomes wider.  And wider.  Juan creates a Nikon users group, Juana makes a Canon users group.  Juan starts an online forum, Juana starts an online forum.  Juan puts up an exhibit featuring Nikon users, Juana puts up an exhibit featuring Canon users.  They go at it for the longest time, flaunting lenses, jeering at each other during events, etc etc.  This is crab mentality at its finest.  They get so busy focusing on their differences that they forget to do what matters most - TAKING PICTURES.

         I can't for the life of me remember a single instance when any single person I stood next to in any photographic exhibit (REAL photography exhibits, not after-workshop ones, or one that is organized by your own rotary or personal friend, I'm talking big budget ones in LA or Nevada) has said "Oh, look at this, he must be using Nikon as the skin color is yellowish and not natural-looking and the reds are exaggerated."  Not ONE single instance.  There was one time when I did hear a rather over-enthusiastic gearhead-seeming individual ask a curator IF a Canon was used, and the curator smiled in a sad sort of way, "No, the artist used a Linhof-Teknika."  The guy looked at the curator rather puzzled and walked away without additional questions.  Such is the sad world of Nikon/Canon bashers - that they don't realize that the big photographic ocean is populated by other wonderful, if not better, species, such as Hasselblads, Linhofs, Mamiyas, Pentax(s), Leicas, Holgas, Tachiharas, Sony(s), Voigtlanders, Arca-Swiss(s), Horsemans, Wistas, Zeiss, and Phase Ones to name a few.

         By this time, it is the Sinulog festival, and Juan and Juana are in the middle of the Ayala Business Park trying to hold back their respective sides from killing each other.  Rumble time!  Suddenly, out of nowhere, a Nano-coated 24-70 flew out of nowhere just as a Canon 1Ds Mark III flew off from somewhere among the throng of Canon masses, both projectiles hitting their respective targets.  There was no stopping both sides now.  It took the local police 8 hours to sort through the wreckage and separate the two rival factions (this is still record time as the police can take 8 hours just drinking one cup of coffee), and reported that although there were several minor injuries (a lens stuck here, a tripod stabbed there), there was sadly one fatality.  Upon close inspection, they saw that the person lying dead between the two hordes was, in fact, a Sony A900 user.  The story was that he was trying to catch the parade as it passed through the park, got caught in the fray, and was an innocent casualty of war.  He was the only one there who had the right purpose with the right tool, and died because of it.  When they viewed the pictures in the memory stick of his camera, they saw that he had actually taken excellent pictures.  So the story goes that they put up an exhibit of his images and posthumously honored him to be a Sony endorser.  They named a school of photography after him, and declared his birthday a national holiday.  Now everyone in Cebu wants to use Sony, hooray!

         So, this is why culturally, we have to have brand-bashing.  We can't allow other people to be potentially better than us, and we can't allow other people to have better things than what we have, no!  We believe that we have to have the best no matter what the cost, and other people have to see that we have the best.  You would be surprised as to how many people I know who feel the need purchase a whole new wardrobe everytime they go back to the Philippines just so when they get home, and people see them, everyone says, "Sweet Jeeeezus, you are a balikbayan, aren't you?"  Camera user groups back home consist of people with insane gear lust who get together, and everyone always wants to be friends with the guy with the ridiculously expensive camera equipment.  Never mind whether said guy has any remote idea about what a DOF scale is or how to use it on his PHP300,000 lens, everybody still loves him - and everybody loves to BE him.  There is almost always nothing mentioned about artistry, or technique, or even a subtle hint about DOF and the effect of filters.

         This is basically the essence of what our Spanish masters wanted each and every one of our ancestors to do in the past - start stepping on each other's heads so they can get to the top and sit right next to the master so they can be patted for a good job of pushing every one else down.  That was the best way to quell an uprising by the indios, right? Our ancestors wanted what the Spanish had for so long, that they even hated to be Filipinos.  How many times have you met someone and talked about ancestry, and they always have to plug it in there that they have Spanish or Chinese blood even if their looks are a far cry from it?  Nowadays, we all love to be Filipinos, and I see a lot of Filipinos wearing those shirts with the flags on the their chests as they are so en vogue, yet we hate each other's guts to kingdom come.

         I think that the time most people in our culture start feeling they don't have the best equipment is the time when somebody else has something more expensive.  Which should not be so.  I, for one, believe that I always have the best equipment.  These are not the most expensive, nor are these the most unique, nor are these the brand that all of my friends use.  I have the best equipment because I know how to use them.  I have the best equipment because I spend time learning how to use them.  I have the best equipment because I make the most out of them in any situation.  I have the best equipment because I use them for their intended purpose.  I don't bring my 200mm f/2.8 to parties so people can see how big it is.  I actually don't bring a DSLR to parties as it is cumbersome and heavy.  I use the camera on my phone.  That's how much quality I need for that situation.  I love taking pictures no matter what medium, no matter what sensor size.  I take pictures during my lunch break with my phone's camera.  I take pictures for this blog with an old, antiquated point and shoot.  I take panoramas with a 12-24mm lens.  I take macros and portraits with a bargain basement manual lens.  I take long hikes to nowhere in pursuit of something beautiful, even if it turns out to be nothing at the end of the walk.  I practice photography, and live photography.  The point in time I will stop is the minute I start thinking too much and worrying about what brand I'm using.

    Tuesday, July 5, 2011

    Pushed To 3.52 GHz

    I decided to push the envelope a little further even though I mentioned in my previous entry that I might not go beyond 3.21 GHz my system.  I noticed that at 3.21 GHz, everything seemed very stable, and the temps hovered at around 38-49 degrees Celsius.  When I pushed it to 3.3 GHz, I was still getting the same idle and loaded temps, so I thought why not push to a 1 GHz gain (stock is 2.53 GHz on my Xeon X3440).  After benchmarking, I received the above score of 10504.  I posted my score together with another but more costly and supposed to be faster (spec-wise system) - an i7-950 with 12 gigs of RAM - for comparison.   I left my 8 gigs of 1333 RAM at the 8x multiplier, and got it up to 1480 after OC.  There was another system posted on the benchmarking website - one with an i7 2600K - that score 10310.  I am still getting the same temps at 3.52 GHz (both idle and loaded) as I was with 3.21 GHz.  Not bad for a processor that costs about $70-100 less than the other two i7 processors I have mentioned above.

    Sunday, July 3, 2011

    3.21 GHz Reached

    After much testing and benchmarking, I have reached my overclocking goal for this system.  I am going no further (unless the OC bug bites me again although not likely with this system anymore as I need it stable) as this is much more than I have originally planned.  Prime95 torture for 12 hours yielded average temps of ~65 degrees Celsius for all 4 cores/8 threads with no errors or KPs.  With Cinebench, this system scored higher than the sample i7-960 (also with 4 cores/8 threads), so for about $100 less in cost of a Core i7, I have achieved the same if not better performance than the more expensive processor.  This affirms my decision at the start of this project to get a Xeon instead of a Core i5 of the same price.  True that you can overclock the hell out of the Core i5 as well, but you get 4 threads instead of 8, plus of course the stability and quality of Xeons.

    At this point, I am waiting for HD 2000/3000 QE/CI functionality to be achieved in iBoot and Multibeast, as this is the final ingredient in my next project.  Once again, I would like to show my gratitude to the Hackintosh community, iBoot and Multibeast god Tonymacx86 and his legion of geniuses, and Apple for deciding to use Intel processors and for creating such wonderful software.

    Saturday, July 2, 2011

    Stable Overclock At 3 GHz

    I have been able to achieve a stable overclock of 3 GHz so far (2.53 Ghz stock), but with voltage adjustments and air flow modification inside the case.  Temps on all 4 cores/8 threads usually spike to a 58 degree Celsius average high, but quickly drop and hover at an average of 43 degrees Celsius.  I have been unsuccessful in the past with anything beyond a BCLK of 145, as I did not disable Turbo mode for the RAM.  Once I did, as well as turn off Turbo mode for the processor and disabled C states (except C1), temps and stability greatly improved.  

    I attached an additional Silenx 80mm fan to the CPU cooler for a better push-pull configuration, and installed two 120mm fans on the inside front of the G5 case to pull warm air out, and this decreased the temps ~4-5 degrees Celsius further.  I also had to increase the voltage to the RAM up to 1.600 V but brought the multiplier down to 8x.  Starcraft 2 and Simcity 4 barely increase the temps, and with heavy prolonged use of photo editing software, the increase is only ~ 6-8 degrees Celsius.  I have not experienced a single kernel panic or crash since.

    Saturday, June 25, 2011

    Updated to Snow Leopard 10.6.8

    I just upgraded to the new update from Apple which is Snow Leopard 10.6.8.  I must say this update has been the most stressful one so far, as the previous updates have been uneventful.  Here is a screenshot of my current system, with the brand new update complete with a picture I took of the Grand Canyon May of this year as wallpaper :

    Here are the steps I have gone and agonized through to get this update going.  I was getting a kernel panic like a lot of people out there and I tried to do the update about 3 times, to no avail.  But I'm the type who never stops until I get what I want, so I took the bull by the horns.  Computer Update 101: NEVER do an update without performing several backups (I did a regular Time Machine backup, a Carbon Copy clone of my hard drive, and a manual of a few folders I have sensitive files in) to my second partition, to my NAS system, AND to an external hard drive, so if one fails, I still have other sources.  Here is what happened in a nutshell:

    1) I tried doing the update using software update.  I was able to update my system this way with 10.6.6 to 10.6.7 which went smoothly and without any need for reinstalling kexts except for deleting SleepEnabler.  Rebooted (I thought I would not need to reinstall any kexts at all like before).

    2) Got a kernel panic, and I was not able to boot even with pmVersion=23 flag.

    3) Rebooted, then reset my BIOS settings to remove any overclocking. I also downloaded a new version of iBoot as I have a 3-versions-ago one.

    4) Got past cpuPM=21 (verbose mode with pmVersion=23) but got stuck at PCI configuration.  I couldn't get past this no matter how many times I have rebooted (I read some people get a KP the first time, reboot and then the system is ok), and no matter what flags I used at boot time.

    5) Popped in the original Snow Leopard disk after booting with iBoot, then used Terminal to replace the kexts that were affected as mentioned in this forum by others (IO and ACPI), and to get to the to change pmVersion (I had 21 in my old system, so I switched it to 23).  Still a no go after reboot.

    6) I rebooted, used the original SL disk again, deleted the whole /SL/Extra folder, and installed Snow Leopard over my old installation, and so in the process went back to 10.6.3.

    7) I was able to boot the system with iBoot into 10.6.3, and luckily still had everything as before except for retrogression to the old version.  I reinstalled the 10.6.7 combo update which I had an old backup copy of, installed multibeast + system utilities + Chimera loader + all other drivers required for my system.  Rebooted.

    8) Got back my 10.6.7 system, which was a relief.  Now to get this doggone 10.6.8 update going.  I decided to go the combo update route, and downloaded it from Apple (man, this download is slow, everybody in the world must be updating right now).

    9) Installed the update, then before rebooting, I installed IOPCIFamily.kext and AppleCIPPlatform.kext from 10.6.7 via Kext Utility.  I also installed GigabyteALC888bautoHP.kext (for some reason, my GA-H55M-S2V works with this rather than the straightforward ALC888a kext from multibeast).  I rebuilt system caches and repaired permissions before rebooting.

    10) Got another kernel panic(!!!) after rebooting, so I rebooted with iBoot, and saw that I lost QE/CI on my 9600GT.  I got 1280x1024 resolution once I got into my system, so I reinstalled Chimera, NVenabler and also installed the NVIDIA update from Tony.  Did system utilities again and rebooted.

    11) I still got no QE/CI from my 9600GT, and was cursing to the heavens at this time.  I got an older version of Chameleon from an older version of multibeast, installed with system utilities and rebooted.

    12) Still no go ($&%7!!), and so I decided to take a break as I felt I have been already spending too much time on this update.  After an hour, I came back, and decided to view S/L/E folder in my 10.6.7 backup and compared this against the current 10.6.8 S/L/E.

    13) I saw that GeForceVADriver.bundle, NVDANV50Hal.kext, NVDAN40Hal.kext, NVDAResman.kext, GeForce.kext, GeForce7xxxGLDriver.bundle, GeForceGA.plugin and GeForceGLDriver.bundle were missing in my new S/L/E.

    14) I installed each and every kext, bundle and driver I mentioned in the previous step using Kext Utility, and then rebuilt caches and repaired permissions for the nth time today.  By this time, it was already 4 AM.

    15) Finally, I got my system back with full QE/CI, plus I am running 10.6.8.  Tested Starcraft, Civilization IV and Simcity 4: Rush Hour and each played wonderfully.  All is right with the world again.

    What I learned from this is that no two identical systems are exactly the same so even if people in different forums say everything went well, be ready to get any kind of SNAFU.  Make sure you always have backups (and backups of your backups, hehe).  A lot of good has come from this update, one of which is that Sleep capability has been fixed for me in my system.  Before it has always been buggy, and sometimes, after Wake from Sleep, my WiFi would not be working, and Bluetooth needed re-pairing with devices (although very rarely).  I am also able to get faster framerates with my old 9600GT video card.  Once again, here is my current system (with a little OC on the CPU and RAM):

    I already have an idea for my next project, although I would not say too much at this time.  I could say it involves mini-ITX and the new onboard GT430 one company has installed on their boards (hint!).  I also have to get some more knowledge in shaping and constructing with aluminum (another hint!).  More to come, more to come.

    Replaced GPU

    I decided to replace my HiS ATi Radeon 5450 1 GB 64-bit DDR3 on my current system with an older PNY Verto 9600GT 512MB 256-bit DDR3.  As much as I liked to love the ATi, I felt that it was slow for my needs and it was a little too fragile for something as unpredictable as a Hackintosh.  While the ATi can do DirectX 11 and was a cool, quiet (fanless) graphics card, the framerate I was getting from it was too low, and I know that it was the bottleneck to my system.  I also felt that this was one of the reasons the Sleep ability on my current system was buggy - sometimes after Wake from Sleep, Bluetooth needs re-pairing with some devices (rarely) and sometimes, my WiFi card does not get detected.

    So here I am, with my PNY Verto 9600GT 512MB 256-bit DDR3 installed.  The replacement was uneventful, with the only step I took was to remove the Ati5000 kexts and other related kexts from my S/L/Extra folder, and edited a little bit.  I installed the NVIDIA update from tonymacx86, rebuilt caches and repaired permissions, and after reboot, everything was working with full QE/CI.  I tested with framerates with Cinebench and received about 3 times the framerates I was getting from the ATi card.  I tested all my photography editing software, as well as Starcraft 2, Civilization IV and Simcity 4: Rush Hour, and everything played better, faster and nicer.  As far as I can see, there was no difference in color rendering or detail to my desktop or to any programs I ran.

    I plan on testing Sleep and Wake from Sleep with this 9600GT, but I will do this after I update to the new 10.6.8 Snow Leopard from Apple.

    Tuesday, May 24, 2011

    Stable Overclock

    This is my current setting for the Xeon X3440, showing a stable overclock of 2.7 GHz.  I tried to push BCLK past 142, but at 145 the system instead slowed down (using Cinebench, Geekbench and XBench), and at 150 I had a kernel panic and did not go past the gray Apple splash screen.  I know that if I increase the VCore and Dynamic VCore, I could probably go past 150 and things would remain stable, but at this point I do not think I need it.  I am happy to push my system from 2.53 GHz to 2.7 GHz without too many tweaks.

    By the way, I did purchase an aftermarket processor fan - a Coolermaster 101i.  It is one of the less expensive ones but as I have read good reviews about it comparing it to more costly models, I decided that $14+ tax is worth the investment.  Even with the overclocked CPU settings and while running Prime95 for about 3 hours, this little cooler was able to keep the temperatures of all cores at around 51 degrees Celsius. Not bad at all.

    Sunday, May 1, 2011

    Final Touches to the Project

    Finally, I have completed my project.  I finally received my two aluminum displays, a 20" and a 23" (this one is sporting the 23").  Looking at it, it looks just like any Mac Pro/Powermac system, which was my primary objective when I first started with this Hackintosh.  I switched out my Apple bluetooth keyboard with this wired one as I need the numpad.  I'm still going to use the bluetooth one for my next project, which is to convert my wife's desktop, an HP a6814y which I'm putting inside another G5 case.  The HP system already uses the 20" aluminum display.  The only thing is, I'm probably gonna stick with Windows 7 on the HP desktop.

    Here is a shot of the home-made Airport card before I installed it:

    This is the back view, where you can see the home-made Airport card antenna sticking out.

    Here is a shot of the home-made bluetooth dongle I assembled before I put it in.  I used a 3.3-to-5 volt converter and attached it to a USB connected which goes into the internal USB header.

    And here is another screenshot with Wi-fi, Bluetooth and everything else working as it should.

    Now that I'm done.. 

    Saturday, March 26, 2011

    Starcraft II on my Hackintosh

    I purchased a copy of Starcraft II the day it was released, and have been playing the game ever since on my HP desktop PC.  I decided to try installing the Mac version on my Hackintosh build, and sure enough, I was able to download the installer from Blizzard's website.

    Since I already have an account, I was able to install the game and instead of activating it, skipped this step and just let the installation finish.  When I ran the game, all I had to do was put in my user name and password, and there was the familiar game interface before my eyes.  I am glad Blizzard decided on this single-account-on-multiple-machines feature, as it allows me to install the game on all my computers be it PC or Mac, and only have to remember my user name and password.

    I was able play a couple of skirmishes with good graphics acceleration and framerates, without any lag whatsoever.

    Intel Xeon X3440 2.53 GHz Quad Core

    Today I replaced the Intel Core i3 550 3.20 GHz on my Hackintosh build with an Intel Xeon X3440 2.53 GHz Quad Core. At first, the system did not recognize the processor right away, and kept identifying it as a Core i7.  Putting the following key on smbios.plist fixed the problem:


    After the fix, here's how "About This Mac" looks:

    I am enjoying every minute of this project, and can not wait to proceed to the next part.  More to come..

    Wednesday, March 23, 2011

    Homemade Mac Pro Project

    I bought this discarded Powermac G5 case from a Mac repair shop in L.A. The shop is a half a block away from High Voltage Tattoo Shop (Kat Von D's) on La Brea. I was lucky the owner relented to my named price. He is one of the funniest and most hyperactive guys you can ever meet. He even threw in a couple of extra items although he did make me disassemble these items from the other cases in his shop but it was fun nevertheless.

    There's no way I can find a motherboard that can fit this back panel on the case, so I had to do some retrofitting.

    Below is a view of the inside of the front panel (power, usb, audio, firewire). Glad to see the ports as well as the front panel board are in there, otherwise, it is gonna cost me again for a third-party front panel from Lian Li.

    The least enjoyable part of the project - CLEANING. But the thing looked like a rat's nest when I first got it.


    Ordered one of these 24x24 metal sheets from Amazon to use as a custom back plate.

    Bought this from Fry's. Such a nice case to dismantle, but it has to be done. The first casualty of war or so they say.

    Another view of the inside of the Coolermaster case. Gotta make sure the innards fit well inside the G5 case. I also saved all of the wiring, connectors and fans so I can use these for rewiring the G5 later.

    And now for some Dremel work... hopefully the neighbors won't complain about the noise. My wife is already inside our room with the door closed in anticipation of the ruckus I am about to create.

    This little piece of equipment can cut through metal like I can eat a whole cheese pizza. Halfway through cutting, my wife tells me to stop and asks me to sharpen all of our kitchen knives, for which this Dremel has an accessory to use for sharpening. I had to stop my powertool bliss for a while to make our knives useable again, hehehe.

    I marked out with yellow tape the area I'm about to cut up. I'm already having second thoughts about desecrating this great piece of modern architecture and design.

    I know I'm upsetting a lot of hardcore purist Mac fans out there as soon as I cut this up, so PG-13 everyone. Watch at your own risk.

    The second casualty of the project, the cut up G5 back plate. I was thinking of making some throwing ninja stars later out of this hehehe.

    Putting the finishing touches on the custom back plate.

    A comparison of the Coolermaster back plate (and the motherboard tray) with the custom back plate I have made for the G5. I made sure the lever for opening the side panel fully functions.

    I wonder if Apple flipped over everything upside down on purpose to make Macs as different from PCs as possible. I will be doing the same with this back plate/motherboard tray when it goes inside the G5 case. Take note of the opening for the PC power supply on the bottom whereas normally you will find this on the top part of a PC case.

    Here is how it looks after trimming the Coolermaster to make a good fit on the G5. I kept the PCI card holding mechanisms of the Coolermaster because I really like the screw-less design.

    Here's the custom back plate with the Coolermaster back plate bolted to it. I wanted to make it look neat, sleek and simple to conform with Apple design.

    I cut the stand-offs of the inside of the G5 case to 5 mm to make the motherboard tray of the Coolermaster fit just right...

    I did not even know what 5 mm looks like before this, so I am actually learning something here.

    And it was just right...

    I bolted everything together, and made sure there are no sharp edges on any metal surfaces since I will be sticking my hand in and out of this thing.

    The motherboard of choice. I've read that Gigabyte motherboards (Intel) are the most compatible for Mac OSX as they have almost the same components. They are also exceptionally well-built and have a plethora of tweaking options. These boards are also very well-supported in the Hackintosh and OSX86 Project online communities.

    The Gigabyte motherboard fits perfectly and I have enough room for extra fans and in the future a custom heatsink for both the processor and the video card, and possibly a RAID dock (although this means cutting up the G5 case some more, so this is still 50/50).

    Bought some screws, nuts, bolts and other knick knacks from the local Home Depot to attach all the cut up parts together. I was so glad they also have JB Cold Weld in stock, and it was cheaper than Amazon.

    The included panel plate from the Gigabyte motherboard fits perfectly unto the custom plate. The added bonus for this motherboard is that it has 8 USB ports as you can see here.

    Finally, all the stuff I ordered from Amazon arrived. It took a whole two weeks as some of the items were not in stock.

    I had to do some research to make sure all of these parts work with Mac OSX Snow Leopard. I'm still iffy about the Radeon 5450 card, but I like that it is 1 GB and DDR3 and has an HDMI port (compared to an NVIDIA 8400 at the same price with only 512mb and DDR2 and no HDMI). Well, there are always some DSDTs out there in the internet wild to make this thing work no matter what.

    I also bought some extra front panel wiresets, extra thermal paste, DVD burner, a 1TB WD 7200 HD, a 460w PS and 4GB of 1333 Corsair memory. I opted for the Core i3-550 processor for now, but will be ordering a Xeon x3440 (hyperthreading!) in two weeks to give this Mac Pro real Mac Pro specs.

    I cut up the original G5 hard drive tray as the flip-locks were busted, and just replaced it with this rubber HDD tray that I superglued onto the G5 hard drive tray base. I cut up some windows on the sides of the rubber tray as the hard disk tends to heat up. I need to put a fan next to the HDD to alleviate this.

    A preliminary test was done and found all the parts to be functional. I just used the front panel of the Coolermaster (with the power and reset buttons) for now, as I have not been able to bootleg the G5 front panel yet.

    You may notice that the G5 case does not have a switch for the DVD burner to open and close, so I soldered a couple of wires inside the DVD burner circuitry and ran these two wires to the back of the case where I connected them to a momentary switch. You can see the two white wires on the bottom side of the DVD burner.

    This is the momentary switch for the DVD burner, as the G5 case does not have any switch in the front of the case. Just press this and ...

    It works!

    The front bezel of the tray gets stuck though, so I had to remove it.

    Some soldering needed to be done on the front panel board so power, usb, the audio jack and the firewire port work.

    After soldering, I insulated each wire to make sure no wires or leads touch each other.

    Everything functions on the front panel. You can see here the white LED all lighted up when the computer is on.

    To test the audio jack, I plugged in a pair of headphones to this jack and listened to Teenage Fanclub, New Order and The Stone Roses for a while. Confirmed functionality 6 songs later.

    More wiring work. It is a mess right now, but I'll clean it up later. At this point, the BIOS tweaks have been done, with AHCI and HPET 64 enabled.

    I found this at Fry's. On eBay, this costs 4.99 plus shipping from the great land of China, but at Fry's it was only 1.29. Sometimes it is good to look around locally at first.

    The power supply socket does not line up with the G5 case socket, so some rewiring was done.

    Here is how the Fry's IEP socket looks like from the outside. Yu can also see the video card and momentary switch for the DVD burner at the top part of the picture.

    And here is how it looks with a power cord attached to it. The fit was pretty snug but good.

    I bought some rubber tubing to arrange the wiring and make it neat. This also serves another purpose because sometimes wiring and connectors make their way into fan blades (Murphy's Law) and before you know it your system is fried due to fan malfunction and overheating.

    A little neater, but I still have more plans for arranging everything later into little metal cubbyholes (RAID, fans, cooling, etc) so this will have to do for now.

    At least, the wires and connectors are nowhere near the fans. I also installed another fan on the upper middle part in between the DVD burner and the hard drive to cool off the hard drive. It also emits a blue LED glow when on which makes the case look cool.

    Bought this from the local Best Buy - a full featured OS for $29 (compared to an OEM Windows 7 disk for $129).

    I'm getting ready for the final touches of the project.

    I'm getting goosebumps as Mac OSX Snow Leopard 10.6.3 boots up and starts installing...

    After preliminary install without the bootloader and DSDTs, this is how it looks. I can see the finish line from here.

    Installed all DSDTs, kexts, drivers, bootloaders, and did some minor wrangling with the wiring to get HD sound from the front audio jack. At this point, I have everything working including the Radeon 5450, I'm proud to say, as a lot of people mentioned online that this card is not supported by Mac OSX. I even got different resolutions, detected my TV and even has 1080p and 1080i as an option under resolution options.

    The only issue left is that the unit can't be put to sleep. It is a minor detail that I can probably fix later, as I don't plan to turn this thing on unless I'm editing pictures anyway.

    Another view of the project with the blue LED on.

    This Mac Pro now recognizes the processor, memory, software and other pieces of hardware inside the unit.

    I connected online and got updates from Apple including Snow Leopard 10.6.6, Java, iTunes, etc. Time Machine works as expected, and is now doing backups while I'm typing this.

    And here it is, my fully functional, fully update-able (not to mention, fully hardware-upgradeable), homemade Mac Pro project. I actually uploaded these pictures and put in the descriptions using this G5 already.

    Cost of a new Mac Pro = $2800 plus tax

    Cost of this project = $650 (plus the option of buying parts slowly to fit the monthly budget)

    As soon as Snow Leopard 10.6.7 was available, I was able to update everything without having to reinstall AppleHDA rollback, USB rollback or video kexts.  Everything worked as before after updates.

    Thank you for looking!

    Special thanks to Tonymac86x, Kabyl and OSX86 Project forums for all the knowledge they impart and all the guidance they keep providing to us who are just following the path they have cleared.  And of course, thanks to Apple for creating such brilliant software that we all enjoy profusely.