back to article How to run Mac OS X on a generic PC

Eighteen months ago, if you wanted to run Apple's Mac OS X on a generic Intel box your only option was to fish around on the internet for a hacked version that modified all the relevant low-level calls. And then hope it worked on your hardware. EFiX Mac About panel Not snapped on a Mac Even if you managed to get it up and …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Running OS X on PC s

    Or alternatively, use the £170 markup to buy a mac.

  2. Anonymous Coward


    £253 total to run osx on specific hardware you will have to buy because you probably don't have it already, ok - forget it, why not just buy a mac if you REALLY want to run this OS?

  3. SmallYellowFuzzyDuck, how pweety!
    Thumb Up

    Hey not bad.

    If I can now possibly have my own custom built hardware and install Mac OS on it then that would be perfect for me.

    I'm sure the device will get banned very soon by Apple, but I'm going to keep tabs on this for when I consider my next machine in a few years.

  4. Tony Barnes


    ..if you include the OS.

    Still a good deal I think, if you've already specced up a beast of a PC, but decide that you'd like some fanboi action

  5. Andrew Ducker
    Thumb Down

    I agree

    For £170 you can pay the Mac Premium and get your machine from them.

  6. Jess
    Thumb Down

    Price :(

    £170? That plus the cost of Leopard would cover too much of the price difference to be really worthwile not having a real mac

  7. David Hicks

    That sounds like a lot of money and effort

    When EFI emulators are available on the 'net.

    They may be more hairy, but for 170 quid it seems like that's the way I'd go.

    But then I enjoy messing with computers for hours on end.

  8. Ragarath
    Gates Halo

    RE: Running OS X on PCs

    First a MAC is an Appliance PC so your saying to just pay more for a PC.

    Second, why would you bother to pay for and build your own system just to install an OS on it that is not the purpose of building the machine for?

  9. Anonymous Coward


    ... and as Macs come with a legit installation of OS X you gain another £83 making a total markup of £253 just to run on PC hardware. Paying that premium for the certainty that you'll run into 1 problem or another (e.g. NIC compatibility), why bother?

  10. Bilgepipe
    Gates Horns

    Not Bad

    EFiX looks nice. I'm considering this, bearing in mind how low-powered and expensive desktop Macs are.

  11. Anonymous Coward

    @First 2 AC's

    It's still a whole lot cheaper than buying a real Mac. Geez, if you can get a new Mac for 253 quid, let me know where and I'll buy 5.

  12. Bassey


    Why would you pay an EXTRA £253 to ruin your lovely PC with that piece of unintuitive crap? Do yourself a favour and stick Windows 7 on there.

  13. Annihilator


    "You agree not to install, use or run the Apple Software on any non-Apple-labeled computer, or to enable others to do so."

    Well, I've sure the Windows versions of Safari and iTunes came with exactly that warning - may have changed since, so I wouldn't be worried about using it. Selling it, maybe...

    But come on, be a man and just play with a hacked version and don't let it update. Worked fine for me, even in a VM environment.

  14. Neur0mancer
    Jobs Horns


    I loved the 'apple labelled' computer.

  15. Edwin

    ASEM has a point...

    They've no doubt invested heavily in their product, and if it wasn't encrypted, it'd be on tpb within seconds since the hardware is probably just a flash drive...

  16. Jeremy Chappell

    And the point?

    Why do this? Seriously Mac OS X is only part of the Mac equation (admittedly the biggest part) the other part is Apple's much admired hardware, firstly the build quality is excellent, secondly because they also make the software everything should work properly (after is you control both sides of the hardware/software you really should get it working properly!)

    You also won't get iLife, which is another reason people buy Macs...

    It seems like a great deal, until you think about it... then it seems that getting a Mac wasn't such a bad deal after all. Don't forget, if you want to run Windows on the system part time that's fully supported on Apple's hardware.

  17. Coalescence


    Well there's a saving to be had if you want a Pro machine equivalent.

    May well investigate this to update my old iMac core 2 duo. Logic needs more CPU!! I need more CPU!!

  18. BeefStirFry
    Thumb Up

    I iNstalled OSX 10.5.7 on PC

    I tried installing OSX 10.5.6 on my PC earlier this year and it was a quite complicated and painful, graphics drivers for ATI were non existent, sound drivers were a pain in the ass, and eventually after working for a bit, it crashed and died.

    However, I installed 10.5.7 in the last month, and it was smooth installation using iATKOS v7. No problems whatsoever (apart from my Webcam is not Mac compatible), in fact, I'm starting to use it as my primary OS, although i still find XP useful for certain things sometimes.

    And if anything, its encouraged me to put some money together to one day get a real Mac. Although I'm guessing the equilalvent spec of a Mac Pro, quard core, 4GB mem is going to be £2k plus and my PC probably cost less than £500.

    I have ASUS P5K Premium motherboard, ATI 4850 graphics, Q6600 quadcore processor.

    I must remember to stick an Apple logo on the box now though ;-)

  19. Puck
    Thumb Up


    £170 markup for an OSX-enabling gizmo, wow, well, providing it were vaguely future-proofed, that's in theory half of Apple's business model nicked right there! A fiver says Apple either buy the company and/or issue their own EFIX-type-gizmo, at about the same price.

  20. Chris Pearson

    Snow Leopard...

    Snow Leopard seems to be the only choice now, a quick search Leopard is not in the Apple store any more! That said SL is a bargain £25, with free shipping. Makes me wonder how microsoft think they can have a £150 RRP for the Home version for 7 (though amazon list it for ~£65)

  21. Ryan 7
    Jobs Horns

    @Chris Pearson

    That's for the upgrade version. Full version doesn't have pricing yet.

  22. Dan Price
    Gates Halo

    The wrong way round though!

    Can't say I see the point of OSX on a PC. AFAIC Apple make some of the nicest hardware out there laptop-wise, so I'd rather have a Macbook or MBP boot camped into Windows 7 than stick the backward, over-engineered mess that is OSX on a generic beige box.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Chris Pearson

    "Snow Leopard seems to be the only choice now, a quick search Leopard is not in the Apple store any more! That said SL is a bargain £25, with free shipping. Makes me wonder how microsoft think they can have a £150 RRP for the Home version for 7 (though amazon list it for ~£65)"

    You should really learn what an UPGRADE is. SL for £25 will upgrade your existing L installation. To buy a virgin SL installation will require the Mac Box Set from what I can tell, priced at the princely sum of £129.

    As for Windows 7 Home Premium, even MS are selling it for £79.99, so no idea where you invented £150 from.

  24. Ty
    Jobs Halo


    Awww you poor likkle Windows-sufferers.

    SO desperate to improve your computing experience but you welfare won't stretch to a Mac.

    Bin your cruddy hardware and join the elite already.

    Get a grip, get a life, get a Mac.

  25. Steven Hunter


    "Why would you pay an EXTRA £253 [...] Do yourself a favour and stick Windows 7 on there."

    'Cause Windows 7 is totally free, right?

  26. John 118

    @ AC 12:45 6/8/9

    "Geez, if you can get a new Mac for 253 quid, let me know where and I'll buy 5." ...

    White Transit, Back of 2nd car park, M1 Toddington Services

  27. Cucumber C Face
    Paris Hilton

    More money than time

    Having spent much of my spotty post-adolescence editing autoexec.bat and config.sys, twiddling DIP switches and tweaking hardware interrupts I now scrape a living actually using PCs.

    Never mind the price of the EFiX gizmo - one would have to be making minimum wage to make it not worth buying a well specced Mac box outright - as well as your PC.

    I guess there is some satisfaction in putting one over on Apple - but Apple's lawyer's will enjoy putting one over on EFiX even more (while getting paid for it); or - failing that - Apple will put one over on you with 'incidental' incompatibilities in every forthcoming hardware and software release.

    Paris? Please see title.

  28. Anonymous Coward

    Apple Labels - Available in most supermarkets

    It doesn't say an offical Label/Branded Product.

    If you print your own don't forget the Apple Device is a trademark so you have to make your apple look different, BUT it MUST be an Apple.

    If you cant print your own label go to the supermarket buy an Apple with a sticker on and peel the sticker and attach it to your PC. Next to your Windoze License is best (for pure comedy value alone)

  29. M Gale

    Well I'm a stubborn bastard..

    ...and if it's not available for Linux, it's obviously not good enough. Why bother paying £129 or £79.99 or whatever when you can get the "Ultimate" edition for free and spend the money you saved on a real support service? As in one where you can get help, rather than be told "sorry, it's all your fault, and no you can't take the software back because you might have copied it."

    As for "oh but you can't play all these wonderful games" or "but you can't get Microsoft Word", see the first sentence above.

  30. bex
    Thumb Up

    only way of getting a normal tower

    As apple don't have a normal desktop PC in there lineup things like this seem the only choice you have unless you want to hamstring your self with integrated hardware or loose an arm and a leg and get a mac pro.

  31. Anonymous Coward

    @Jeremy Chappell

    "The build quality is excellent" Well, Apple certainly builds (mostly) quality stuff, but I wouldn't say it's any better than any decent system, whether from a decent vendor or home built with care. Apple's had their share of problems---power adapters that overheat and fail (and sometimes catch fire!), cosmetic issues, hardware issues with notebooks---pretty much the same as any company has had problems.

  32. Anon'anon'anon


    lol Desperados, why read an article about hacking an OS, when clearly your someone who couldn't even open the case!, MAC's are great bits of kit, no doubt, but the spec's suck.

    I have a 2.5k PC running win7 RTM, and I love it, what would make it perfect is a dual boot to OSX and Win7, OSX for when my soul wants pretty and intuative, Win7 for when I actually have to do some work or play a game.

    £170 though... thats very steep. would pay £80 max, otherwise it is back to a hackintosh HD for me.

  33. Anonymous Coward


    adobe ports their creative suite to linux and I can kiss mac's arse goodbye for good...

  34. Cameron Colley


    "It sees the EFiX as broadening Apple's market, helping sales of Leopard into the built-it-yourself gaming sector, hitherto almost exclusively the domain of Windows."

    No, IANAG*, but I don't see why anyone seriously into games would bother with anything but Windows? Surely it would be an endless cycle of rebooting after every game to check your email/surf the web/whatever you do on a Mac?

    *I Am Not A Gamer

  35. 20legend


    'Get a grip, get a life, get a Mac' said the fanboi who is probably running bootcamp and a version of Windows :-)

    I, for one, have no desperation of any kind to inflict Mac OS on my hardware pal.

  36. Blain Hamon


    ASEM itself takes advantage of the fact that "a core value of EFI is the preservation of intellectual property", and appears to be near-paranoid that its development effort will be stolen by others, making full use of EFI's support for cryptography to obscure its code and prevent interception of its updates.

    Anyone else see the irony here?

  37. Anonymous Coward

    @ Dan Price@

    " I'd rather have a Macbook or MBP boot camped into Windows 7 than stick the backward, over-engineered mess that is OSX ..."

    WTF? It's a truly great OS with a bonified Unix certification. Windows 7 is likely to be a great improvement from Microsoft, but come on. I'm betting you're pretty low down in the IT foodchain.

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Jobs Halo

    ... and finally, I bought a mac

    I've been mucking about with Mac OS X on a hackintosh for a year or so. I had it running as my primary OS for about 3 months, until an update blew my install away.

    It did all work, except for the audio in/out front panel, Quartz Extreme, keyboard mapping etc. etc. - in other words, it had issues, irritating issues.

    I tried getting it running on my laptop - it worked, but had even bigger issues. Network issues, keyboard issues, graphics glitches, crashes.

    I finally gave up and decided to do the sensible thing, I went out and got a Mac.

    I'm happy now. It *works* - no stuffing about with drivers, no worries that an Apple update may blow your install away, no concerns about legality.

    I'm not knocking the efforts of the Hackintosh community, I just realised that I was more interested in using a *working* computer than spending my time trying to hack one together.

    Yep, it cost me dear - I got the 15" macbook pro, 4gb, £1300 - but *OMG* what a sexy machine.

    See, that's the point, such a sexy OS deserves to be run on a sexy Box - so you may as well shell out bucks to get the real thing...

    Perhaps this is why Apple isn't coming down as hard on Hackintosh as it could - they realise that a reasonable percentage of Hackintosh attempters will relent and go for a Mac instead...

  39. Keith Doyle
    Thumb Down

    Why bother

    Mac software may be "better designed' than WIndows (whatever that means-- the lazy bums don't work with as much hardware), but EVERY time I try to use a Mac I find myself fighting with it because it is so inflexible. I expect software to conform to MY workflows and not make assumptions about how I want to do things-- I won't conform to "Mac" workflow, but I find hacking their sortware to suit to be a near-impossible task, as it is far more "closed" than Windows. As much as I curse Gates & Ballmer, at least XP I can hack into pretty much whatever workflow I need.

    Better to show us how to run XP on Mac hardware, if their hardware is as good as they say...

  40. rho

    Worth the price for a whitebox Mac Pro

    If you're cobbling together something for basic stuff, then no, this isn't worth the price. But you can put together a very nice Mac Pro-alike for a bit less money and then the £253 makes more sense. That is if you can beat the price of the pukka job by 30% or so.

  41. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up


    what a bunch of moaners. Thanks for a really interesting hardware hacking article that may keep me busy during the long winter months. Hey guys, this is hardware hacking - who cares what it costs? The point is to make it work, not to do anything with it.

  42. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    This just highlights the shortcomings of the BIOS that most PC kit is stuck with.

  43. adnim Silver badge


    Never had a Mac, never owned any Apple product ever nor will I ever own an Apple product. There is not one thing that Apple provide that cannot be sourced elsewhere, cheaper. Unless a lame ass ego polish is essential, alternatives exist.

    If Apple did not exist I would not even notice.

  44. Anonymous Coward
    Jobs Horns


    Not worth the paper they are printed on.

    But whatever.

    1. £170 + relevant cheap PC hardware is still considerably cheaper than a proper Mac. More so if you already have the hardware.

    2. You could just install Linux instead, it's 80% the same experience (but supports more hardware, more flexible and isn't controlled by a repressive cult organisation or have ridiculous fluff).

    3. But still, running OS X on a PC is worth is at least to piss off Mac owners, especially when you tell them how much the rig cost.

    Personally I'd rather stick with something PCs are designed for and you are guaranteed to get working with just about any hardware without the need to delve into scripts, bash prompts or need a compiler. i.e. Windows.

  45. Gaz 6
    Thumb Down

    Not worth it.

    The price of this gizmo alone just about makes up the difference in price unless you are going quad core.

  46. Michael C

    Its woth more than saving some loot

    First, what actually WAS the price of this build?

    Assuming you're starting from scratch (since if you're building out of old parts, i can find you an old mac just as easy...), it's not just the USB dongle, copy of 10.5, it's the boxed set you need. Start with 64bit hardware and compatible components, the added expense of a SATA DVD, all the trouble, then add over $400 to it, for moderate level components???

    OS X is great and all, but honestly, it's iLife that makes the machine worth it to me. I'd not considder this without it, so $169 for the box set, another $239 for the eFix, restrictions to certain compatible components (which cost more than I'd buy otherwise for a custom PC, let's say $50 in premiums). I designed a comperable solution on New Egg to an iMac a few months ago when i was initially considdering a hackintosh (I ended up just buying a 24" iMac btw) and the price came out to about $450 in parts, not including screen, kbd, mouse, etc, that was just the base components. Why would I spend over $1300 to build a knock-off mac with a 22" monitor and no support when i can get a 24" machine with a faster CPU for $1700. (or if I don't need the higher performance, thanks to the new mini design, I could actuallt get one of those CHEAPER).

  47. Anonymous Coward
    Jobs Horns


    I'm not really sure why they keep calling the computers "Mac's" when all they are, from a hardware point of view, is a PC. PC motherboard, PC RAM, PC Hard drive, PC CPU, a "Mac" is nothing more than a bog standard (underpowered) PC. A Ferrari is still a "car" the same as a Skoda is still a "car", only Apple would call the Ferrari a "car" and the Skoda a "bicycle".

    When the Mac was different to a PC, in that is was using a different type of CPU, sure, then it could be considered something other than a PC, but whilst it is using generic PC hardware, its a PC, and all it takes is one little device with off the shelf PC hardware to run OSX (note the PC hardware part there).

    And no, the difference in OS doesn't give it a different name, I can run an older version of "Mac" operating system on my Nintendo DS, doesn't make my DS a Mac now, does it? In the same way it doesn't make the PC in this article a "Mac" and in the same way that a "Mac" is a generic, every day, bog standard PC, underpowered, over priced, but still just a PC.

  48. Michael C


    I run bootcamp on my Mac. i run Win7, OS 10.5, Ubontu, and XP from it....

    Being FORCED to run Windows software for some things (honestly mostly games) really is not a big deal. There's a few apps i can get on Windows i can't get on a mac, but not too many I honestly care about. Even all our custom apps here at work (nearly 1200 develped applications we use internally or to support external customer contracts) run under Java, and thus under ALL operating systems...

    Mac gaming is increasing at a fantastic pace, in fact the top 5 games talked about for PC upcoming this and next year are all coming out for the Mac as well... All 3 MMOs i play not only work on both platforms, but they actually get better frame rates (by a good margin) under Mac OS (and I expect that to improve under 10.6 real soon).

    unless I'm beta testing a windows app, playing a platform exclusive game, or accessing something that requires IE to use, I'm using the Mac. In fact, often i access a windows program FROM the Mac OS, thanks to Parallel wonderful virtualization features... In just a year of using it, my wife is practically DEMANDING one of her own. This was my first experience on OS X (I used EVERY Mac OS from the Lisa through 9.5, but have not owned a mac in 6 years...) It;s SO much more reliable, has SO much better workflow, requires SO much less "fussing" to keep running, backups don;t even cross my mind, and genuinely it is as nce to look at and as easy to use as they say. Taken a step further with some UNIX skills and the knowledge of a programmer, and its by far the most powerful GUI I've ever used...

    I'm not using Windows because I don;t want to leave it behind, I use Windows because I'm FORCED to, as if it was some sorry excuse for an exgirlfriend that you hate but she won't leave you be and keeps dragging you into her problems...

    I'm not a FanBoi, I'm a solid convert.

    ...and just so you're aware, we did a poll here at work. We're a MASSIVE firm with a near $100M annual IT budget and over 2000 IS Staff members (about 900 of which actually touch servers in some way). Out of this nearly 2,000 people, a full HALF are using Mac OS on at leats one machine they own, 700 siad it;s their primary machine and they use Windows only when required by their job, and about 20% bring it to work and use in place of their company provided desktops. nearly 70% now have an iphone, and the company simply stopped offering non-iphone devices for those who qualify to get smartphones as in 6 months only 3 people didn't explicity request an iPhone from HR.

    You may not like Apple, that's fine, I completely despise Microsoft, Dell, HP, and every single other company out there. You may not like OS X, and think it a childish Os or something. That's fine too. I'm just saying, don;t jump on "fanbois" just because they've decided on there own there are other (not even saying better) ways to do things.

    This is no longer a 1 party OS world. You're just going to have to get used to the fact that nearly 20% of us use macs on some level, and that it;s a growing phenomenon. Most of us use Windows too. Few of us like it, and OS X is the only option openly supported, which has a lot to do with it's popularity.

    Also, i don;t even think it;s Windows most people hate so much, it;s the cheap-ass vendors... (Dell, I'm talking to you). If they made a stance and stopped selling underequipped hardware, and started spending real money and attention to support, and boiled their zillions of options down to a reasonable product line, they might have a chance to compete...

  49. Ozwadi Ogolugi


    Just buy a MAC and run the OS correctly. Additionally Apple is much better than a PC anyway...

  50. Anonymous Coward

    170 quid???

    170 quid? thats almost half of the Apple surcharge. for all the hassles, warranty, better OEM components I think I'd rather buy the Apple.

    at least with the Apple box I dont need to do any funny things on it to run Vista or Win7

    ..though my current PowerBook spends most of its time running Fedora Core anyway ;-)


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