Installing Mac OSX on a Dell Mini 9

I’ve just completed something I’ve been thinking about doing for a while – installing OSX on a Dell Mini 9. The process is detailed widely across several blogs online already, so I’ll refrain from explaining exactly how it’s done since that’s been done already. Instead I’ll provide links below to the best online resources for more information.

What I will say though, is that if you start off with the right hardware and software and if you follow the steps in the correct order this is a relatively simple install process and the end result is really fantastic. My Dell Mini 9 (16GB SSD option with no webcam, and Ubuntu pre-installed) cost me 380 Eur inc VAT, inc shipping. The machine runs really nicely, seems pretty-much 100% stable and compatible with all the hardware I’ve thrown at it. So the end result is a very usable, very functional Mac(ish) Netbook 🙂


Online resources for step by step instructions and help

This ZDNet blog post details the step by step process on what you need hardware and software wise to make this happen. That post also refers to the older, but slightly harder to read, Gizmodo post on the same process. If you follow both processes, and set aside 3 to 4 hours to complete it you’ll be ok. One thing that isn’t gone into in either post is how to deal with the recent OS X update to version 10.5.7. Both posts were written when the latest version was 10.5.6, and doing a software update to 10.5.7 needs some special attention.

Installing Mac OSX 10.5.7 on a Dell Mini 9
Once you upgrade to 10.5.7 during the install process, the DellEFI installer mentioned in the requirements won’t work. It will install with errors and when you reboot off the SSD, it will fail with a ‘No Operating System found’ error. When I did this, I looked back and realised that maybe by using the ‘Software Update’ method rather than the ‘Combo Update’ I had made a fatal mistake and would have to go back and start again. Not so. What you need to do at this point is reboot again off the Type11 cd, boot into OSX on the SSD with networking (-f option) and download the DellEFI 1.2 alpha 5 (DellEFI1.2a5.zip) file here. Unzip this and install it on the machine with OSX 10.5.7 running and all will work well. You will now be able to reboot for the last time without the Type11 boot cd and begin playing with your new Dell/Mac Netbook.

Please note that I will not be answering any detailed questions on this process. If you need help, please refer to the MyDellMini forums here.

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Apple Gripe

I really admire Apple’s products, their design, their marketing, the success the company has had in recent years since being on the verge of going bust. They have (or maybe I should say Steve Jobs has) completely turned around the company since coming out with their recent line of Mac computers, Mac OSX and most notably the iPod and iTunes.

While I admire their strategy, applaud their successes, and genuinely love their Mac computers, operating system and iPod range I have one small issue with them. They are beginning to take over the world when it comes to personal music devices. And I don’t like that. Monopolies are bad for the industry, they’re bad for innovation, and they’re bad for consumers.

A recent article published by PC World entitled “Is Apple the New Microsoft?” sums it up nicely as far as I’m concerned. While some of the arguments are a little over the top (Apple aren’t forcing OEM manufacturers to ship their hardware or software), the general jist is true – iPods only work with iTunes. iTunes only works with iPods. Every track ever bought on iTunes will only ever work with an iPod, despite any wishes on the consumers part to buy a Zune, or a Creative Zen Touh, or a …

(ok so maybe the above point doesn’t hold true for me or my peers as the majority of our music is ripped or downloaded from … um … other places, but for the average joe – the guy who isn’t computer-literate, but thanks to his friends or kids can use iTunes – then this applies)

Like the author of the above article said, I’d like to see Apple broaden the support of its hardware and software out to other players – for the benefit of consumers. Allow iTunes to work with any media player. Allow the iPod to play with any music management software. If their products are that good they have nothing to fear and stand to gain from such a move. However, I don’t see this happening anytime soon. As fluffy and cool as their marketing is, the goal of this company, as with any other, is to grow market share and their stock price – not benefit consumers for the good of it.

iTunes Smart Playlists

I’ve been compiling my wedding playlists using iTunes for the last number of months, and intuitive as it is I’ve come across some areas where I needed to do some reading. One such area is Smart Playlists. Again, it’s not as if these are hard to master but the power of them isn’t very obvious. AndyBudd.com has some great tips on using iTunes Smart Playlists. He goes into building playlists that don’t play tracks that have already been played in the last 24hrs, playlists that group together tracks that you’ve added recently, etc.