Setting Up (and Quickly Reverting) a Hackintosh

The screenshot at the top of this post doesn’t make a lot of sense. Look as hard as you like, but you will not find an iMac with those specs. The reason for this is that I tried to “Hackintosh” a PC yesterday to see how that whole process works. I successfully created a Hackintosh boot media, installed macOS High Sierra on an HP machine, and had many things working, but ultimately reverted back to Linux. Let’s explore what happened.

Getting a PC

Many people in the Hackintosh community will build their own PC from scratch. They do this so that they maximize hardware compatibility. Drivers are not something we ever really have to think about in the Mac community, but they certainly are when you’re installing macOS on something not made by Apple. Things like CPUs and graphics cards may not work if macOS doesn;t know how to talk to them.

I did not build my own PC for this, and am instead using a 2 year old HP desktop that I got for free1. The machine has an Intel Core i5 3.2GHz (4 core, Haswell) as well as 12GB RAM on board. There is space for a graphics card, but I don’t have one installed at the moment. It also has a 1TB spinning disk, which is not ideal for 2018, but cost me $50 and seemed right for a “maybe I’ll keep this, maybe I won’t” computer.

Why macOS?

It was stupid easy to install Linux on this machine, and everything works as you would expect, so why do the extra work to use macOS? Well, outside of me liking macOS a hell of a lot more than any flavor of Linux, I was tempted by the quad core processor, which has more bandwidth than my dual core 2015 MacBook Pro. Geekbench showed 18% better single core and 80% faster multi-core performance and I thought this might be useful as an Xcode/Final Cut rig. The MacBook Pro is good at both of those, but I’ll take anything that gets my compile times down in Xcode or my render times down in Final Cut Pro X.

Installing macOS

This went surprisingly smoothly. I used Lifehacker’s Always Up-to-Date Guide to Building a Hackintosh guide to create a bootable USB drive in about 20 minutes. You should read their guide, but essentially I had to download macOS High Sierra from the Mac App Store on my Mac and then run the UniBeast app on that Mac to flash the macOS installer onto the flash drive.

The guide says you need a 16GB or larger drive to use as the install media, but I was able to do it with an 8GB one.

After that, the process will be shockingly similar to anyone who has installed macOS on a Mac from a USB drive. You essentially boot the computer with the drive plugged in, select the macOS installer, use Disk Utility to wipe the internal hard drive, and then walk through the installer like normal. It was incredibly easy!

Once the installer was done, I walked through the macOS setup process, and there it was, the macOS desktop running on this HP workstation.

Using macOS

This is truly a mixed bag, and thus was the reason I had to revert my machine back to Ubuntu.

First, the good. I was able to install the current version of macOS on my computer. Not an old version, and not some hacky version I had to torrent from somewhere, but the real deal.

Also, things mostly worked on first boot. Apps seemed to launch fine, my iCloud account knew what was going on and started syncing my files, and even iMessage worked just fine. As far as I could tell, this was the full Masc experience just as it should be.

Sadly, there were some quirks. First, there were noticeable graphical errors in numerous places in the OS. Transparencies seemed to be an issue, as many icons and images on the web displayed with black, flickering backgrounds. This was clearly a GPU driver issue, but none of the provided drivers (or ones I could find online) fixed this. For a computer to be used for video editing, this was not good. Additionally, when I tried rebooting, it booted successfully, but I lost internet and my settings said the ethernet cable was unplugged when it certainly was not. Numerous reboots, reinstalling drivers, and re-p[lugging in the cable did not fix the issue. No internet is a deal-breaker.

I could have spent more time looking for solutions to these problems, and maybe I will one day, but it really hit me that what I want from this computer is not something that’s hanging on by a thread. A faster editing/coding rig would be nice, but I’d rather have a reliable computer that’s a little slower than one that’s faster, but can’t be trusted.

And thus, here I am, back on Linux (Ubuntu 17.10). And while I don’t like using Linux for anything full time, it seems like the best option for a computer like this. I’ve moved my Plex library onto it and plan to do some more server-style things with it in the near future. I’m glad I tried this, and I may try it again one day, but for now it’s not the right thing for me.


  1. DM me on Twitter if you want details, but it’s not very exciting. 

Transmit for iOS Bites the Dust

This is a sad day:

Transmit iOS made about $35k in revenue in the last year, representing a minuscule fraction of our overall 2017 app revenue. That’s not enough to cover even a half-time developer working on the app. And the app needs full-time work — we’d love to be adding all of the new protocols we added in Transmit 5, as well as some dream features, but the low revenue would render that effort a guaranteed money-loser.

I totally understand where Panic is coming from, and I’m sure it’s the right decision for them, but it still makes me sad. I have transmit on the second page on my iPhone and the first page of my iPad. It’s one of the first apps I mention when talking about how much more I like iOS than Android as well as being one of the apps that lets me go Mac-free more easily.

This does not affect Transmit 5 for Mac. It’s doing extremely well

This also does not affect Coda iOS and Prompt iOS, both of which are still going strong

I’m happy to hear that Coda and Prompt for iOS, as well as Transmit for Mac are doing well, but Transmit has been my keystone in that set for a long time.

Transmit for iOS will disappear from the App Store soon, so if you want to pick it up before it goes away, you can buy it from the App Store.

Paul Thurrott says Intel Mislead (and continues to mislead) the Industry

Paul Thurrott has some choice words for Intel in how they have handled the recent Spectre/Meltdown exploits:

But if I were to point the finger of blame at one company here, and I will, it would have to be Intel. The microprocessor giant has behaved in an irresponsible manner that is just hard to explain.

and

It’s unclear why Intel put quotes around the words “bug” and “flaw” since there are in fact two bugs—or flaws—in all of its microprocessors. Are they unique to Intel chips? No. But Intel is hit the hardest here, because it has the most affected microprocessors still in use in the market, in particular in server and cloud workloads. And there is no fix for one of the flaws.

and

Put simply, each of these statements is irresponsible. And Intel needs to be held accountable for this misinformation.

A vulnerability at such a low level in the system is scary, and one hopes that these exploits (although very real) never result in much actual trouble in the real world. This is outside my technical wheelhouse so I won’t weigh in too much, but the message I’m hearing from people who do know about this stuff are saying it’s bad, bad, and bad again. Intel downplaying the issue is not a good look.

Unlock Your Mac Easily with Unlox

There are 5 reasons you probably want to get Unlox for iOS and macOS (formerly MacID).

One, if you have a strong password on your Mac and you don’t want to enter that long code every time you open your computer, Unlox lets you authenticate with your iPhone via Touch ID or Face ID. It’s easy, and fast. Apple Watch users already have an unlock option from Apple, and this gives everyone a similar bit of magic.

Two, if you don’t like entering that same long password when you’re installing something on your Mac, Unlox can fill in your admin password for you, again by authenticating with your finger or face on your iPhone.

Three, Unlox lets you unlock your Mac with patterns on your trackpad of Magic Trackpad. Maybe my iPhone isn’t around and I still want an easier, but secure way to log into my Mac. This feature lets me set up a pattern of taps on my trackpad that unlocks my computer. For example, tapping 3, 4, 2, 2, and then 4 fingers could unlock the computer instead of typing in a password.

Forur is media controls from your iPhone to your Mac. A lot of people use their Macs to play music throughout the room or even house, and there is no good remote control option to play/pause or skip to the next/previous track. Unlox gives you this ability and it works great. You can either open the app on your iPhone and use the control there, or like me, you can open the Apple Watch app and control things from your wrist.

Five, you can send your clipboard contents from one device to another. Again, iOS and macOS can do this already, but some people don’t have this feature turned on and others find it slower than they’d like. This is a fool-proof way of sending whatever you have copied from one device to another.


Unlox is $3.99 on the App Store and the Mac companion app is free from the Unlox website.

iFixit Tears Down the iMac Pro

iMac Pro Teardown – iFixit:

We’re betting the opening procedure will be the same as it was on the iMac 5K—which is to say, if you can use a pizza cutter, you can open an iMac Pro.

And I’m happy they did because damn, that’s a good looking machine!