dell mini 9 vs mac OS X

Several months ago, when dell had their mini 9’s blowing out of the outlet for around $200, I decided I needed one.  I got it and used it for a bit before I decided I needed to make it better.  What could make it better?  Well, first thing was to upgrade the ram to 2 GB from the 512 MB I got it with.  Then came the upgrade from XP Home to XP Pro, though I never got that quite right since it kept throwing some error related to the battery, I believe.  Then I decided I was going to run OS X, since I keep trying to get some of my other machines to become a hackintosh, but haven’t yet succeeded to the extent I like (seems like there is always something that doesn’t work right).

Mini 9 desktop screenshot

Mini 9 desktop screenshot

First thing I had to do if I wanted to put OS X on it was actually get OS X.  See my followup article on Apple pricing for details on that.  Short version is that the pricing was right, and I got the software.

Second thing was to get a larger SSD (solid state drive – fulfills the function of hard drive in a netbook like the dell mini).  I got the 4 GB model with the mini, but needed at least 16 GB to make it a less painful experience.  I ended up scoring a 32 GB one with a 2 GB stick of ram (didn’t need it, but it was part of the deal) for $88 shipped.  SCORE!

I also needed at least a 16 GB flash drive (USB) and another smaller one (USB), both of which I already had available.  Unfortunately, it didn’t seem like I could used the SD card slot till after OS X was fully installed.  I could have used a portable DVD drive, but I didn’t feel like digging in my junk pile, so went with the 2 USB drive method.

Dell mini 9 with OS X

Full shot of Mini 9 with OS X

I used the directions located here.  Basically the steps boil down to the following:

  1. Copy the OS X dvd contents to the big usb drive.
  2. Copy the special dell boot iso contents to the smaller usb stick.
  3. Make the smaller usb stick bootable with a linux boot loader.
  4. Boot with the small usb stick.
  5. Install OS X.
  6. Reboot and update (if needed).
  7. Install the dell EFI package.
  8. Reboot.
  9. Profit.  Er, um..OS X.

I was able to verify that the following works:

  • Video camera (built in)
  • Wireless
  • SD Card reader
  • Sleep/Wake

I’ll post updates as I discover new features or run into issues with this system.  For now though I am pleased to have an OS X install that I can begin to experiment with.

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