Why Run Leopard On A PC? A Hacker Explains

The person who posted the how-to-guide goes by the forum name BrazilMAC and since he responded to my query at length, it seemed appropriate t

Thomas Claburn, Editor at Large, Enterprise Mobility

October 29, 2007

6 Min Read

In writing an article about how hackers had gotten Apple's new Leopard operating system to run on PCs, I corresponded with the individual responsible for posting a how-to-guide for creating a "hackintosh."

The person who posted the how-to-guide goes by the forum name BrazilMAC and since he responded to my query at length, it seemed appropriate to provide his reply here, mainly because it provides insight into why people hack.

Well, this adventure started way back in the end of 2004, when I just had moved back from the U.S. to Brazil (I currently live in London, U.K.). I had just bought a high-end laptop with Windows in it. At that time, I actually hated Macs, I thought of them being overpriced "nicely dressed" beige boxes. I worked as an IT tech and Web developer.

I was always that kind of person that likes to explore things, and take things apart. One day reading on one of those technology sites I came about an article saying that someone had managed to run OS X on a beige box. That was when Apple decided to move to the Intel platform. That really caught my attention. It was one of those home brew projects that sort of challenge you, and I wanted to take part.

First thing I did was to manage to get myself a "copy" of the DVD. Back then was the earlier builds of Tiger and I had no clue how it would work for me. I was a Windows guy (not anymore!) and had no knowledge of even how to get started (as you can see in the forums, there are loads of people like I was before!).

Well, it did not work for my laptop. Since it was one of those "boutique" ones made by a company called Prostar, it would never work. Well, everything back then was really experimental, you just had to be lucky. I got myself more friendly with the "scene" and kept reading more about the innards of the mac operating system. Who knows one day it would work?

I moved to London in mid-2006 I started to get involved with the scene and try to help others and myself. For the first time I managed to get a couple of laptops I had purchased to run Tiger, but not fully working. Always something was broken, like no sound or video acceleration. That was frustrating. That kept me with the motivation to make it all work.

One day, I finally got it. One laptop, a Dell Inspiron, was running 10.4.8 with full features. I was really enthusiastic. I guess it was from that moment on I decided to dedicate and help whoever wanted to get this going on their systems.

Back a few months, we were all excited about the new OS, Leopard. We did not know if it was gonna work, but earlier beta builds showed that it may work even better than Tiger. But the final version was not there until 3 days before Apple's release. I remember the frenzy over everybody wanting to get the disk image which was available only on one torrent site (the day they had raided OINK). In the end of the night, it showed up in Usenet, so I got mine from there.

A lot of people were expecting an "official" scene release the same day Apple released Leopard officially. But until now, no word on an official scene release. So we had all these people with the original DVD unpatched, which means, it would not run on a native Intel machine. No patches, nothing. you cant get it to work without.

I saw an opportunity there. Well, to be honest, I didn't even know this was gonna be so big. I just wanted to get Leopard to work for myself so I could go on and help someone here and there, and I saw the lack of info on how to get to run. Everybody was just like crazy chickens running everywhere and screaming "how do I run this"? Then I decided to do it myself. With the help of a few, we got two together the files (I managed to get a cracked kernel that was not available to anyone) and wrote a script. I then posted the guide.

A lot of people (noobs, as we call them) were coming from Windows and also did not have a clue on how to do the patching. Since there was a bit of difficulty on doing that, I patched a DVD and a post patch, and put on a torrent site (The Green Demon, the most popular torrent site on the Net). Last weekend (27th and 28th), it was the number one torrent, with over 2100 peers at one time). There are still over 1000 downloading and hundreds of messages in this site, Insanelymac and on Green Demon with excited people querying the how-to's.

After I posted the guide, I was just hearing my name everywhere. I even saw it on a Brazilian Technology site, with the headline "Brazilian Cracked OS X Leopard before Jobs even Releases". I really did not expect all the hype. I just wanted to help a few!! I guess it became too popular!!!

Why run MaC OS? Well, when you are just used to Windows, it is like living inside a house and not experimenting the whole world out there. Once you get out of it, it is just amazing. Mac is just that: You just feel like glued to the computer. Everything is just beautiful, the interface, the stability. Once you experiment it, you don't want to go back to windows. Trust me.

And one of the things that really got me involved with all this was the ability to have a system that benchmarks [better than] the Mac Pros. You can build your system for a lot less than a real Mac and get the performance of a top-dollar Apple machine. This is fact and a lot of the real Mac users will deny, but it is fact. My machine runs a e4300 Core Duo Processor over-clocked to 3.40 GHZ. Where can you get a 3.4-GHz MAC? It will cost you a fortune. I have 1066-MHz DDR2 memory, Where can you get that on a real mac???

The hack works on most systems. The hack itself was designed for a particular machine, but with a few modifications (add/remove "kexts", or drivers for the windows boys) will allow you to run this on a variety of systems, including laptops. Even AMD and older CPUs work now). There are numerous people with Dell systems running as well. I had a Dell XPS on Tiger, but decided to sell it and build a custom machine for my video work. This is the one now running Leopard. Everything works (Wireless, Ethernet, Sound, Full Video Accel)!!

PC users do not need Boot Camp to dual boot their systems. Boot Camp is a feature for Intel Macs only. You just need to partition your hard drive properly and you can dual boot (even triple boot, XP, Vista and Leopard).....advanced users have reported quad-boots as well.

I hope I was clear enough with the long writing. If you need to know any more, feel free to write.


About the Author(s)

Thomas Claburn

Editor at Large, Enterprise Mobility

Thomas Claburn has been writing about business and technology since 1996, for publications such as New Architect, PC Computing, InformationWeek, Salon, Wired, and Ziff Davis Smart Business. Before that, he worked in film and television, having earned a not particularly useful master's degree in film production. He wrote the original treatment for 3DO's Killing Time, a short story that appeared in On Spec, and the screenplay for an independent film called The Hanged Man, which he would later direct. He's the author of a science fiction novel, Reflecting Fires, and a sadly neglected blog, Lot 49. His iPhone game, Blocfall, is available through the iTunes App Store. His wife is a talented jazz singer; he does not sing, which is for the best.

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