68 Comments

Summary:

With the help of a friend who already successfully completed the process, I managed to install OS X on my new Dell Mini 9. This was my first and, hopefully, my last Dell purchase. Sorry, Apple. I became too curious. Everyone appeared to love their hackintosh […]

With the help of a friend who already successfully completed the process, I managed to install OS X on my new Dell Mini 9. This was my first and, hopefully, my last Dell purchase. Sorry, Apple. I became too curious. Everyone appeared to love their hackintosh netbooks, so I decided to go for it.

For me, the Dell was the obvious choice for this project for a few reasons:

  1. Boing Boing has a chart that indicates which pieces of hardware work on netbooks with OS X installed.
  2. Gizmodo provides a thorough tutorial on how to set it all up.
  3. I heard there was an active and helpful forum.

Here are my specs:

  • Inspirion 910 Intel Atom Processor N270, 1.6Ghz, 533 Mhz 512k L2 Cache
  • Obsidian black color with gloss finish
  • 2GB DDR2 533 Mhz, 1 DIMM (purchased from Crucial.com)
  • 8.9-inch wide-screen WSVGA TL
  • Intel graphics media accelerator (GMA) 950
  • 32GB solid-state drive (my first SSD!)
  • Wireless 802.11g mini card
  • Integrated 1.3 megapixel webcam
  • 77WH 6-cell battery
  • Bluetooth 2.1 module via USB I/F

The 77WH 6-cell battery was purchased through eBay. It provides both amazing battery life, and it elevates the back of the Mini which gives the keyboard a comfortable slant. I only need to charge it every couple of days.

6 cell time left

Installing OS X took a couple hours, but that was mostly spent watching the screen. As soon as it was complete (Apple software updates, too), I installed Google Gears and offline access for Google Apps (Gmail, Calendar, Reader, and Docs). Fortunately, there were no surprises with software downloads or installations. Airport works, and downloads are fast. When I turn off Airport, the Safari 4 beta has no issues switching to offline mode. When I turn it back on, changes sync back to Google. Success!

My goal was to build a browser-focused netbook that would primarily be disconnected from the Internet. The occasional synchronization would allow me to catch up on emails and write more posts for TheAppleBlog.

Now, for the verdict.

Don’t buy a Dell Mini 9 even if you want to use Windows or Ubuntu. Although surprisingly useful and fun to show off (techie people will most likely be impressed when they see a real dock on a Dell), the keyboard is an absolute deal-breaker — OK, not just a deal-breaker, a nightmare. I constantly make typos. Using quotation marks, something I occasionally do while writing, is a challenging task considering the quotation key’s random placement near the space bar. Perhaps with more practice I will learn to be efficient with such a minuscule keyboard, but so far, it doesn’t appear that way.

This was a fun experiment (and an extremely expensive blog post). I feel like it bumped me up a notch or two in terms of Apple user cred. However, if you have the desire to go through with this, just keep in mind that it’s a toy and not a serious business tool.

My recommendation: Check out the HP Mini series since the keyboards are only 7 percent smaller than a full-size. Personally, I’d like to save up for a Macbook Air to experience the ultra-light, ultra-thin Apple. In fact, someone nearby has one on the train, and I’m jealous.

You’re subscribed! If you like, you can update your settings

  1. I found the dell mini 9 to be a fun little project, and I use the book as a portable network tablet. I am just using the default battery but I still get about 3 hours on it, so it’s definitely fine for watching videos on a plane or IMing. I would hate it if I had to type anything real on it or attempt to write code though, as the keyboard is godawful.

    For just web browsing and IMming though, I think it’s one of the most fun and appropriate devices I’ve owned.

  2. Michael Caputo Tuesday, May 19, 2009

    Wow – you took the words right out of my mouth.. I bought the identical machine as you last month… Hacked it to osx, installed 2gb ram, and had about a week honeymoon period with it, till I decided enough was enough. The keyboard was way too small for my short stubby fingers, and the layout was absolutely horrible.. I never really thought much of keyboard layout before until this machine.

    In the end, i sold the Dell mini 9, and got a Macbook Air (like you describe). I’m MUCH happier with it.. And it seems to have much more horsepower than the Dell did (Core duo processor, i think).

    I’d like to add, I don’t think the Dell Mini 9’s processor can handle OSX (even with the ram maxed to 2gb, like I did). It was just too sluggish, even having issues playing music over my network.

    I woudln’t suggest a dell mini 9 to anyone.

  3. I have an eeePC 901 (running Windows XP) and a Rev A Macbook Air (I bought a refurb). I have often thought about changing my eee to a Mac eee, but the keyboard is just a killer. Frankly, although I bought the eee to be my travel computer, it stays at home. The keys are just too small for me. I am terrible typist as it is, and the micro-keyboards on netbooks make them nearly unusable for me. So, I bought a refurb Air to be my travel machine (and it has become my primary machine.) My Air is light and and has a great keyboard, so my eee gets left at home. Though my kids just love the eee. The netbooks is perfectly sized for wee hands. I added a BT mouse and the kids now have their own computer to play on…it has saved my laptop a lot of wear and tear.

  4. Lenovo hackintosh user Tuesday, May 19, 2009

    I don’t know how long you tried the keyboard for, but I was very frustrated when I first started using the keyboard on my Lenovo s10 Hackintosh (with a 10″ screen). However, within a few days, my accuracy and comfort with it increased quite a bit, and I have fairly large hands. Just took a bit more getting used to than other keyboards. Been using it for about a month now and I’m more satisfied with it now than at the start. I don’t have experience with the Dell Mini, though.

    For me the big benefit of the netbook form factor is the overall small size, not just the the depth. I never “got” the MacBook Air — so long as it has a 13″ screen, I don’t care if it’s 1 mm tall since it will still take up a lot of table space due to the screen.

    I have a 13″ MacBook and a 15″ MacBook Pro but I find I don’t use them as much anymore since it’s so easy to pack up the netbook with me and use it wherever I happen to be.

  5. The Samsung NC-10 has a rocking keyboard. Best I’ve found in a netbook. No idea if it can run OSX though…

    1. LOVE my Samsung NC10 as well…2gb/160/6cell but you can’t run OS on it without major issues. Almost ready to sell it and get a dell to run OS

  6. I have the Dell Mini 9 (about $270 with 16 GB SSD and 16GB SD) 1 GB Ram, with Mac OS 10.5.7. Yes, the keyboard is small, but you CAN adjust after a few days. No, it is not 100% a Mac, but pretty close. the only Mac feature I do not (have (yet) is using the keyboard shortcuts for cut/copy/paste, get info., etc.

    It is a great hackintosh. It is small, light weight, gets better wifi than my PowerBook or MacBook Pro. And plus, if something happens to it then there was no great initial expense.

    It is not for everyone, just wish the reviewer were more open minded.

    1. dude, use the alt key on the dell mini 9 as the command key. Then you can copy and paste. (so it’s alt c, alt v… etc)

  7. I did this to my MSi WInd and I’ve never had a problem with the keyboard. It think it’s awesome. I do have to admit, that if I’m at work (surrounded by PCs) and I want to work on a little iPhone dev during lunch, I do plug my PC’s keyboard. monitor, and mouse into it. It’s the perfect dev machine on the go.

    http://ryemac3.net/Home/Entries/2009/3/12_Hackintosh_in_the_House!.html

  8. I just built a Hackintosh with a Dell Vostro, the business version of the Mini9. I’m typing on it right now. I hate the apostrophe key. It’s connected to a 22″ HP monitor, which makes it acceptable, but its screen is too small. 12″ would be ideal. Yes, I had a 12″ AluPB.

    So, it’s fine as a travel laptop. I think I’ll eventually spring for a MBA, refurbed.

  9. I’ve got the identical specs, and I agree. I’m hardly using it despite how cool and fun this little project was because of the keyboard. I’m planning to sell it. An expensive experiment, but….. nah. not for me.

  10. David Klein Tuesday, May 19, 2009

    Wow I’m enjoying all of the “I agree” comments. Haha.

  11. I recently picked up a mini 9 and have to agree that it is primarily a novelty. It works fairly well for IM and light web browsing while my girlfriend is hogging our iMac.

    As stated by others, I wouldn’t want to do any real work on it. I have used it for ghosting machines (via an external HDD) and light network troubleshooting. It works out well enough when I need to log into a switch.

  12. Thanks for the review. I’ve been very interested in acquiring a netbook that will do Hackintosh, so Dell Mini 9 seems to be the most plausible. I used to own a Macbook Air and recently sold it off. The reason? It’s too weak to be a serious business tool (I do some coding with Eclipse, some photo touches, and occasional video rendering for work), and too big to be a travel companion (13″ screen space). I’m still in the hunt for a netbook so when I’m on the road, I can still blog (personal), upload photos, keep up with email and Facebook.

  13. I’ve noticed that hackintosh netbooks have fallen out of vogue lately, and I think it is a shame. Most of the complaints are things that one should have anticipated going in: smaller keyboard, smaller screen.

    I think its ridiculous to compare a hackintosh netbook to a MacBook Air. I have a MacBook Pro I use at home, and a mini 9 w/ Leopard I use on the road. I knew coming in that the keyboard would be weird, but the size, convenience and price can’t be touched by anything from Apple.

    When I think that I can take OS X on the road for me for less than a quarter the cost of my MacBook, I could care less if the keyboard was in Russian.

  14. Oh, and while the HP mini has a more standard keyboard layout, it is not as OS X friendly.

    If you are looking for a hackintosh netbook with a better keyboard and slightly larger screen, watch the new Dell mini 10v (NOT the min1 10) this new Dell sports many of the same OS X-friendly innards, but has a more standard keyboard and a slightly larger screen.

    It is expected that this will be the next big hackintosh netbook, due to its similarity to the 9. Check the above-linked Dell mini forums for news on the 10v.

  15. What to read on the GigaOM Network Tuesday, May 19, 2009

    [...] Poll: Who’s buying a Palm Pre? (jkOnTheRun) Would you pay for Tiki Bar TV? (NewTeeVee) Hackintosh Dell Mini 9 OS X: Is it worth it? (TheAppleBlog) The importance of contingency plans (WebWorkerDaily) Guerrilla giving, creative [...]

  16. Adam Jackson Tuesday, May 19, 2009

    I’m playing the waiting game.

    Dell Mini 10 is a 92% keyboard which is close enough to be comfortable
    It’s screen resolution is high enough to play 720P high def movies.
    it’s screen is glossy
    it’s thinner
    only slightly heavier.
    standard 120GB hard disk drive
    1.2 megapixesl camera

    The caveat?
    Same Processor
    max of 1gb of memory
    GMA 900 GPU (worse than the mini 9)

    I’m waiting for it to be upgraded to the NVIDIA chipset everyone is raving about and for the ram to be upgradeable to 2 gbs, also for it to get a 1.8ghz ATOM chip. Then I’ll upgrade and happily pay $550 dollars for it. the 9 is nice but too small (keyboard and screen).

  17. David Klein Tuesday, May 19, 2009

    @Adam Jackson
    Hmmmm. That Dell Mini 10 sounds like a good idea once it’s upgraded. I’ll keep that in mind.

  18. I have pretty much the same build and software as covered in your review – I got the 16gb SSD. I find the apostrophe key to be the only disappointment with this machine. It does do 95% of what I want it to do .. and quite frankly 90% of office users would need. I’ve installed OpenOffice, Nambu, Adium, and Skype. Paired with a BT headset, It’s a portable office.

    It has been said before – netbooks are meant to be your secondary laptop – set your expectations appropriately.

    For those of you who say they can’t use the machine b/c of the misplaced key, give it some time and change your thinking. You don’t have to finish your work on a netbook, but you can sure start it. Leave the final copy/editing be to done on the big machine. For you coders out there (I like to consider myself as one) the apostrophe/double quote key misplacement will be difficult, but not impossible to live with.

  19. I had these small mini laptops computers. I have to say they are not comfortable. Screen and keyboard is to small. I end up selling and bought Dell 1525. I love it.

    Apple I hope you will open your OS market to PC world. People care about design but they also care about price.

  20. I did the same mini 9 hack a few weeks ago to have a cheap, light on-the-road “Mac” (I have a MacBook Pro) and I love it (using it now). Yes, the keyboard is small and has a stupid apostrophe key placement, but that can be remapped and keys swapped. Yes, the screen is small, but you knew it was 8.9″, right? I’m forcing my self to use it more than I usually would to get use to the keyboard, which I am. Frankly, for the $375 it cost me total for the base machine on eBay and a 32GB SSD and 2GB RAM upgrade, it’s totally worth it! Being a pretty sturdy build (and being cheap to buy), I’m more comfortable taking it on the road. My wife liked it so much (I bought her one last week too. If and when Apple comes out with something comparable, I’ll buy that and the MacDell Mini 9s will go to the kids….

  21. A Hackintosh netbook is always going to be a compromise. I wanted mine as small as possible for casual and convenient road use. The 9″ Dell screen is FAR superior in color saturation and clarity to the washed out 10″ netbook screens that I’ve seen. Its keyboard could be better but one can adapt and as well achieve refined trackpad control with some practice and light fingers.

    I got my Dell Mini 9 for a bargain $400 w/64gb SSD, 1.3mp webcam & BT built in, added $25 for 2gb ram. However, delivery took some 6 weeks. Consider 3 USB ports, video out, mike, speakers, gigabyte ethernet, SDHC card reader all built in and it’s a versatile compact road warrior. I’ve loaded Office 2008, CS3, Vectorworks etc. to read/edit files and all run passably fast w/upgraded ram. I’ve even tested both Parallels 3 and VMware 2 w/WinXP Pro SP3, Office XP and Project and synced my Win Mobile phones as well as run GPS over BT. My old MacLink Plus allows file compatibility throughout Mac/Windows history. I can Skype worldwide and watch video archives with much longer battery life than my maxed out MBP Pro 2.83 Apple special order. It is totally OSX compatible in every way. I don’t worry about dinging it or running excessive battery charge cycles, unlike my babied mint MBP. I intentionally configured my DM9 to be a veritable Swiss Army knife. It’s amazingly good for what it is (at $425) and I enjoy it far more than I ever thought I would.

    IMHO those needing a washed out 10+ netbook screen inches running OSX might as well step up to MB Air or MB, as the form factors start to overlap with increased size/weight. I’m pretty demanding but the DM9 hack has met/exceeded my expectations as a fun toy/auxiliary instrument. Suitably configured (max ram and adequate SSD disk space for caching), the DM9 is adequately fast and a rock stable reasonable compromise in every respect. There are no sleep/wake issues–everything instantly powers up much better than my perpetually sleep troubled MBP Pro 2.83, and its wireless sensitivity is also much better. Battery life is exceptional and its screen superiority (brightness, sharpness, color saturation after calibration) readily outweighs keyboard size compromises vis a vis other netbooks.

    My upgrade project will be to get a spare board and hack a 128 Runcore SSD, with (hopefully) a pin compatible Atom N280 processor, unless Dell solves that for me by upgrading the DM9 line. Of course Dell might kill the DM9 too and follow the (mistaken) industry trend to ever larger netbooks.

    At 11-12″ don’t hack, go Mac. A Hackintosh is merely supplemental to a Mac.

  22. I bought a black mini 9, when Dell was having a “cheap-o” sale, for $199. Then bought a 32GB Runcore SSD for $120, and 2GB RAM for $27. Soon after, I used my family-size OS X Leopard to “hack” it to a MacMini (or whatever you want to call it). Aside from an occasional “hiccup”, which I also get on my bonafide desktop Mac, everything works smoothly. I use Photoshop, InDesign, iPhoto (not Garageband or iMovie — so what?). I can hookup in my coffeeshop free via wifi to the internet. I use it in my work, let alone as an enjoyable gadget! True, my fingers are perhaps a bit smaller than the average giant’s, but I have found that, once I got used to the eccentric layout of the keyboard, I have re-trained myself for when I use it. I still like my MacBook for its power, but I love my MacMini for its convenience. Give it a chance, David.

  23. I have hacked mac on to my HP mini and a few months back I also installed it on my acer laptop…It installed fine on my hp mini apart from few application earlier sound was not working …but after googling I found solution to that also.

  24. “…I am sorry Apple…” (snif, snif)

    ohwhataFANBOUYyouare

  25. So in short, this article is about the author not doing enough research before buying a computer. I’m writing this comment on a Dell Mini 9 and I haven’t made a single mistake. In fact, I bought mine to write a screenplay and find it suits my needs perfectly. I’ll installing Mac OSX on it at the weekend. While I except the keyboard is not right for your hands, you really should have read some reviews or played with one before diving in. I can’t see how you can legitimately discourage people from buying a Mini 9 just because you didn’t find out what the keyboard was like before buying it.

  26. Oh, and I’m short, fat, and gay.

  27. Steve Freeman Thursday, May 21, 2009

    Agreed, it’s not a Mac, but it fulfils a need. Apple don’t make a laptop that I can even open when on the bus, or flying Economy.

    There are some really bad things about the Dell (keyboard, dreadful power supply block in the UK). On the other hand, it’s cheap, about the size and weight of a large paperback, replaceable battery, more responsive wireless, solid state, etc, etc. It even works OK plugged into an external monitor and keyboard.

    If Apple ever make something with a comparable form factor, I’d jump in a heartbeat–but they don’t.

    What I do need to do is figure out the best way to sync to my main machine.

    1. If all you’re after is file syncing, you should check out dropbox, http://www.getdropbox.com

  28. cant say i agree with the review… c’mon, a small screen and keyboard is what you can expect before its even in your hands but the fact is it runs osx well with a runcore ssd. its not a full macbook but then again it doesnt come with a macbook price tag… if you lose it or its stolen on vacation, no big deal…mine was about $300 including the runcore ssd upgrade. i take my mini9 places i wouldnt take a more expensive notebook. using my mobile as a modem via bluetooth, its the ultimate low priced take anywhere netbook running leopard.

  29. Hi guys
    I have done up my version of the tutorial base on my experience.
    Here you go: http://www.squidoo.com/dellmini9_osX

    I would also like to hear from all of you who had converted to OSX on the Dell mini if you would consider buying a Mac after playing around with the Mini OSX? Take the survey the site as well please.

    Cheers!

  30. Guys

    Regarding the keyboard, seriously, if you are comfortable typing your way on the iphone and any other phones for that matter, the keyboard on the Mini 9 is already a luxury.

    What do you think?

    Anyway. Let’s see if OSX can be loaded on the Mini 10v.

  31. A Samsung NC10 straddles the gap between the ultra-wee and the unbearably lumpy nicely.

    I’ve got mine dual-booting between XP and OSX and it runs both like a dream (including TV shows in iTunes). Keyboard is a very useable scale and battery life is very good. the main thing is I won’t be needing a truss after lugging it to and fro from work every day.

    My iBook has now officially retired.

  32. Enjoyed the “me, too” comments and have to agree that small keyboard is not compatible with my fingers.

    BUT, bought two of these Mini9s for my daughters (6 & 8) and that was purely a defensive move so I could have my 17″ laptop back. They enjoy them like crazy and do not care about keyboard size or key placement. Best move, given the parameters. Also learned, like many above, the Mini9 is nice but not for me.

    Maybe I’ll try the OSX route for the 8 yr old’s Mini9…

    Did you notice, though you can</i plug the netbook into a keyboard+mouse+HDTV (with the right connector) and use a big screen with normal keyboard? Works like a charm.

  33. The Blog Planet – How To Buy Macintosh Laptops Thursday, May 28, 2009

    [...] Hackintosh Dell Mini 9 OS X: Is it Worth it? [...]

  34. Asteroid » Blog Archive » Months with a Mini 9 Wednesday, June 3, 2009

    [...] keyboard layout on the Mini 9 is insane. So much so, that some kibosh the whole idea just because of the keyboard. Swapping the Alt and Cmnd keys (taking off the chicklets and moving them) is a necessity, and most [...]

  35. WWDC 2009: Rumor Round-Up Ahead of the Big Show Friday, June 5, 2009

    [...] Netbook — Apple hates them, and in practice, our own David Klein also hates them. I don’t really like or use mine that much. A Mac version might be different, [...]

  36. Apple News » WWDC 2009: Rumor Round-Up Ahead of the Big Show Saturday, June 6, 2009

    [...] Netbook — Apple hates them, and in practice, our own David Klein also hates them. I don’t really like or use mine that much. A Mac version might be different, [...]

  37. I have to disagree with most of the doubters. After a relatively painless install of OSX leopard and a system update, I am really starting to love this little machine. Maybe it’s the $30 RAM upgrade (2 gigs) or the 64 gig solid state hard drive, but I would say it performs just as well as most macbooks. Whatever people say about the keyboard/screen size should be taken with a grain of salt. If you can use an iphone, you can use a dell mini. I think much of people’s commentary here is unfounded and indicative of their “fanboyism” (stick an apple logo on this thing and not a dell tag people would spend any amount to have one!)

  38. There are alternative keyboards for the DM9. $14.99 and a few seconds to swap out, much better layout and feel than the original. I’m running Leopard on mine, fully loaded, updated to 10.5.7, and it’s perfect — everything works as it should.

  39. While I’d love for Apple to release a folding keyboard accessory for the Iphone, I’m planning on picking up a Mini and OSX’ing it. A superlight, supercheap laptop with decent battery life would have been a godsend when we paddled the Mississippi River a few years ago

    This will be used for blogging, writing, and photo backup, and uploading videos on the fly when we paddle down the Missouri River next year.

  40. What do you guys think? I am getting a MSI Wind hackintoshed, 10 inch netbook. Has anyone done this, or heard of issues? Also, being hackintoshed to 10.5, i suppose upgrading to 10.6 the “snow-leopard” will not be able to be done unless that too is hackintoshed. Or can it just be done as you normally install an OS update.

  41. Well, after my PC completely failed to hackintosh, I was considering just going out and buying a Mac. After looking around, I quickly found out that the Mac mini seems to be the cheapest (still $500+!). I primarily want to run the iPhone SDK to make applications, etc. After a bit more research, I discovered how very weak the Mac Mini is, and how it can just barely run X Code. Disappointed, I’ve been casting about for quite a long time looking for another alternative. I’m not willing to cough up thousands of dollars for something that might not even turn into anything (what if I just give up on the SDK?), so I’m looking for a cheap alternative. This post may just have convinced me to buy a Dell Mini 9. I’ll check into pricing, etc, but I seem to see a few for about $400 with all the specs needed. Thanks, author!

    1. This is exactly what I was thinking about doing as well but if a Mac mini has problems running X code why do you think a Dell mini would do any better. Just curious. There was another post that talked about developing iphone apps on this so perhaps it really is doable. I would just like to make sure before I spend any money on this. So if anyone was actually able to do deveope iphone apps on the Dell mini let me know…

  42. i have a dell mini 9 with osx running on a 32gb runcore ssd. with the faster runcore ssd it is very responsive, much more so than win xp. using launchbar it will access hotmail in about 6 secs. safari and launchbar are so much faster than win xp, IE, and app rocket. obviously it will run no pro apps. it does run snapz pro video screen capture, but not while playing fullscreen video. you get used to the keyboard, and its fine if you dont use punctuation, which is how i type emails anyways. not for serious writing of any kind. keyboard shortcuts work fine for simple copy, paste etc. functions keys are a bit more difficult to use. i bought it as a much better “Kindle”. it is very good for ebooks. it displays pdf ebooks great, can run ereader for palm pdb ebooks etc. my dell axim pocket pc would not display tech pdfs large enough to read any diagram or graphic. this does, is cheaper than a kindle, and handles more formats, with color, and its a baby laptop to boot! i use it for email, web surfing, research, and ebooks. ive wanted a macbook pro to run pro apps, but anything short of the stupid expensive 17 macbook pro would not suit me for motion graphic work. ive given up on macbook pros, especially now that the most “affordable” 15 in does not come with an express card slot, or discrete graphics. you are paying $1600 for a 15in screen with integrated graphics. wow, ill stick with my dell mini osx, and the mac pro for now.

  43. Yes. It does what I bought it for. My mini 9 is a bit small for my hands – but, it was not purchased to be a work horse. The mini 10v travels very well – I have a 6-cell battery and get about 6 hours with wi-fi enabled (close to 9 without). The mini 9 is now my wife (and daughters) ‘research’ computer as it gets dragged around everywhere. Both have 16Gb SSDs and are networked wirelessly to our Tower.

    I have loaded retail copies of 10.5.6 on each and have upgraded to .7. No problems on any with the exception of some sound issues on the 10v after sleep – if an issue I simply reboot…which takes about 30 seconds all together. Much less time than any XP computer I have ever used.

    On the downside I have to say that I really do not like the touchpad on the 10v. It is not unusable by any means, but it does take some concentration.

    These are not replacements for my Macbook Pro, G5 tower or D945GCLF2 desktop (my first hack). They fit a specific need. More importantly the D945GCLF2, mini 9 and mini 10v cost less TOTAL than a new Macbook Pro. Almost $500 less.

  44. My Netbook: The iPhone Tuesday, July 21, 2009

    [...] not a fair comparison to plop an iPhone down next to a hacked Dell Mini running OS X and proclaim them the same. However, while a netbook is a list of pros and cons when [...]

  45. Gabriel Mendoza Thursday, July 30, 2009

    Basically a mini keyboard would be nearly as effective and efficient to type on as any normal keyboard.

  46. i was thinking about getting a dell mini and OSXing it, but i am worried that 8 gb wont hold leopard. i can put an SD card to hold everything else, but will leopard fit on a 8 gb SSD? im worried because when i got my macbook w/ a 160 gb hard drive, there was about 130 gb left when i first opened it. it is $75 from dell to go from 4 to 16 gb ssd, but $35 just for 8 gb. i wont be putting anything on there, and i have an sd card, im just asking if leo will fit. also, is the install method the same if i buy a mini with ubuntu? i dont want to pay dell $60 to put an os on there i wont use. im trying to spend the least amount of money as possible, im on a $300 budget, i already have a 8 gb flash stick, and a copy of leopard. the mini with is $240, with 8 gb, $275, and i can get 16 gb, but i dont want to spend the money if i dont have to. please reply!

  47. After 2 months of using the Hackintoshed Dell Mini 9… I’ve finally adapted to the dreadful keyboard. Still haven’t upgraded the 16GB SSD, just made a few tweaks to disable certain caching to save some space. I basically just use it for movies, mp3’s (all stored on an 8 GB usb stick), light browsing, emails, chatting. Also do a little photoshoping on it. Anyways, I’ll be updating it now to 10.5.8, wish me luck

  48. So far I have not had any major complaints from using my Dell mini hackintosh. I have a 13 inch MacBook that I use as my main computer…but…I travel a lot and though the MacBook is on the lighter side of laptops I still don’t like lugging it around. Also….the is the fear of losing it or having it stolen….it has happened to me before. Replacing a $300 machine is much better than replacing a $1200-$1500 machine. Though the keyboard is not ideal…I have gotten used to it over time. And actually have done some extensive work on it while traveling. When traveling I pack a bluetooth wireless keyboard in my suitcase and if I really need to do some work I connect it and a bluetooth mouse and it gets the job done. Have done everything from papers to presentations on this little sucker. It works for me!

  49. I’ve just hacked a Mini 9 to 10.5.6. I works fine. I accept the keyboard limitations for the price and the perfect package to take on the road. Unfortuanely on making the upgrade to the current 10.5.8 the whole system display has failed. It starts but the screen is unreadable, just like the resolution is completely wrong.
    Any ideas anyone?

    1. You need to boot into safe mode and re-install the Dell EFI drivers. I had the same problem moving to 10.5.7. Followed the instructions on one of the sites (http://sproke.blogspot.com/2009/05/howto-osx-1057-update-on-dell-mini-9.html) and got it working again. When 10.5.8 came out, I simply did the same thing and it worked fine.

      As far as the keyboard issues that everyone is talking about, that is the compromise with a netbook. For general surfing, etc. I use the built-in keyboard. For lengthy writing, etc. I use an Apple wireless keyboard. It is small/thin enough to go unnoticed in my bag with the Mini 9.

  50. Thanks Michael. But unfortunately I am either too much of a novice at this or my problem is more complex.
    When I start the computer after update using the software updater to OSX 10.5.8 from the 10.5.6 that was running fine the screen no longer works. I can re boot the computer using the boot disc I used to start the conversion and get to the boot prompt but typing -x has no effect.
    If you have any other ideas I would like to hear them especially if I am mis-understanding your instructions. If not I could start again and re load the system from my master OSX disc 10.5.1 and update package by package as I did before but will 10.5.7 work if I download the package to my desktop? I really want to have this net book as my travel machine linked in with mobile me to the rest of the system so it would be good to know how to do updates correctly. When I get it right I will run time machine to back up. the system. Thanks for any help you can give.

    1. Chris, send me an email at windu100h at gmail.com and we might be able to sort something out. I have had the same problem and I got it solved. It’s simple if you know what to do, or it was for me. :)

  51. I’m running 10.5.6 on my dell mini 9 hackintosh and am thinking of updating to snow leopard 10.6 — any stories of success with 10.6 on the mini yet?

  52. I am considering a mini 9 purchase, with the hope of turning it into a hackintosh. But I’m wondering if now is a good time to wait. All of the Apple rumors seem to indicate the company may be coming out with a tablet or some sort of netbook-like device (perhaps a souped-up ipod touch?) in a year or so. And even if that doesn’t happen, I am guessing that netbook prices are likely to really drop this year, or put another way, $300 or so for a netbook will probably buy a much nicer machine in about six months than it will right now. Any thoughts?

    1. I can guarantee any apple netbook/tablet will not be under $500

    2. Matt… 6 months from now there will be even better laptops on the horizon in just another 6 months. That’s the game, if you want/need/can afford a computer now just go for it. Otherwise you’ll be waiting on the fence while everyone else is enjoying their hackintosh. I can’t wait to get started on this project, sounds like fun!

  53. os x on netbook – DesignersTalk Friday, September 25, 2009

    [...] Hackintosh a Dell Mini 9 Into the Ultimate OS X Netbook – Dell mini 9 hackintosh guide – Gizmodo Hackintosh Dell Mini 9 OS X: Is it Worth it? __________________ DA gallery Behance Last edited by bjzaba : Tomorrow at [...]

  54. I have bought an Acer Aspire One about 18m ago in preference to the Dell Mini 9 principally because of the keyboard.

    I have long thin fingers so the size is absolutely not a problem but the key layout is terrible. The top row of keys (QWERTY) isn’t offset properly and I had a play with one and I just couldn’t type on it. Perhaps if you are a hunt and peck typist it might be OK but for touch typing it was unusable (for me at least).

    One big plus point in the Mini 9’s favour is that it has full Ubuntu support unlike the AAO. Ubuntu does now support all the AAO’s hardware with a bit of tweaking (not for Linux n00b’s I wouldn’t say) but it has taken 18m since I bought it for this to be true.

    It’s a shame because otherwise it’s a nice little machine. It’s pretty silly comparing this to a MacBook Air that costs 5 times as much. You have to understand what you are buying it for.

    1. No-Ordinary-Joe Alan Tuesday, April 27, 2010

      I’m writing this on an Acer Aspire One with stock 1GB ram and 8gb SSD + 8GB SD running Ubuntu 9.10, and running it off a 4GB Imation USB stick to boot. No extraordinary install required: WiFi, Video and sound simply work, but space is tight. The native XP is painfully slow by comparison, and it’s WiFi is not as reliable. OSX continues to be a fight, WiFi not supported but wired did, and boot options need to be investigated.

      Netbooks share a common characteristic with all laptops ever sold: checkout the screen and keyboard before you buy – these are very personal aspects of a PC that you will live with for the life of the PC.

  55. Hi All – first post here. I’ve been a user of Mac OS X for several revisions now. I just picked up a Dell Mini 10v from ebay. Doing the hackintosh thing was a breeze. I put this together for my wife as she had been using my 13 inch macbook so often, I needed to find some solution that would let us both get on the net, etc. She’s getting it tomorrow morning for Christmas. The only downside I have noticed so far is the video playback. I just popped a few bucks for the 2GB memory upgrade so I’ll see if that does the trick. Yeah, I could have spent a LOT more getting even a used mac for her online, but this is really the ticket for the sorts of things that she uses my macbook for. I think it’s a GREAT solution.

  56. I also tried OS X on the Vostro and I didn’t like it. Felt underpowered.

    But it did manage to get Ubuntu 9.10 on there, a custom, sort of built-up-from scratch version of it, and it absolutely screams. Stock everything (16GB SSD, 1GB RAM) — usually idles around 250megs of ram, 3 gigs of HD space. Boots up in approx 25 secs, Open Office opens up in about 4.

    These things (the 9’s) seem to definitely be built with Linux in mind. Just like there is a smooth thing going on between Apple hardware and software, there is a also a smooth thing going on between this Mini 9 (Vostro A90) and Ubuntu 9.10. They’re really built for each other (mine doesn’t even have a Windows logo).

    I don’t recommend OS X on these — they’re passively cooled, too, so the amount of time it takes to get OS X up and running on them requires you to put it up on some kind of books and angle fans at it and so on.

    It is kind of a novelty, but with Ubuntu + Entrance + Fluxbox + Gnome Do, it really is kind of a fun thing to play around with. Can always get a portable USB keyboard if you need.

    I wouldn’t recommend installing OS X on it though. With a minimal Linux installation this thing is wicked fast out of the box.

  57. I can appreciate the comments but don’t really agree, I’m typing this right now on my mini 9 running OSX 10.6.2 – currently updating to 10.6.3.

    The keyboard is cramped – yes it is and it does take time to get used to it, I have a runcore 64gig SSD and 2 gig have had no issues with speed on the mini 9. Seems very responsive all functions work from the internal microphone to the dell 5530 3G wireless card.

    For me this is the ultimate portable OSX powered mini. Yes the CPU is only an Atom and any core 2 duo will wipe the floor with it. The unit is not a replacement for say a normal apple mac – that is not what it is designed to be – it’s supposed to replace the mac for those trips where we only want carryon or – a drive over to the other side of town. No other package can match it for size vs capability and compatibility with OSX.

  58. I have used a Mini 9 & 10v now for over a year. I set up my 10v initially with a dual boot configuration, but that didn’t last for long. Both the 9 & 10v perform far better running OS X than the Windows installation could even approach. This performance boost only accelerated after I increased the RAM to 2GB. It is almost as if the hardware were made to make OS X look good.

    As to the question of is it worth it, well, if you used mine for fifteen minutes, you would say yes too.

  59. Jonha @ Happiness Monday, June 21, 2010

    I couldn’t help but be amazed despite the negative comments about the product.

Comments have been disabled for this post