One of my favorite nerd toys is about to become a relic, and that’s Apple’s fault.
Back in 2016, I was frustrated that Apple did not update it Mac Mini, iMac of Mac Pro computers in at least a year. The company regularly pumped iPhones, iPads, AirPods and MacBooks, and I had at least one of each. The desktop Macs did not get the same attention.
I wanted a cheap multipurpose machine on which I could work and play for the next few years. But if I lowered the starting price of $ 499 that Apple wanted for its Mac Mini computers at the time, I would pay the full amount for a machine whose interior was more than two years old. Not right.
Therefore, I decided to do one of the most tedious things a technical Apple user could do: I.
I bought all the parts I needed, including a storage, the memory and the memory. Next, I put them together in a fairly common look. Then I tricked Apple’s MacOS software into running it.
The project cost about $ 800, many nights of computer code and some frustrated bangs on my keyboard, but in the end I did it.
I turned my mobile computer into a Hackintosh.
This is not something Apple supports, and may be a violation of the MacOS Software License Terms. (Apple did not want to comment on this article.) But the end result was that I had a Mac on my terms. I wrestled the control away from Apple.
What’s more, I felt like a winner. During the day, I would go work between my MacBook Air and Hackintosh for all the specialized Mac software I relied on to track my to-do lists, manage my calendars, and find smart GIFs that could be used. .
At night, I switched the Hackintosh to Microsoft’s Windows, which manages more than 73% of the world’s computers. This is one of the only ways to play respectedgames like Valve’s sci-fi shooter Half-Life: Alyx, which just named CNET’s sister site GameSpot as Game of the Year for 2020.
And if some component, like the video card, just does not do enough, I can upgrade the machine with little effort. Nerd paradise.
Unfortunately, that all changed this summer when Apple CEO Tim Cook stepped onto the virtual, live stage of his business and said. Their microprocessing brains, formerly manufactured by disk maker Intel, are being replaced by Apple’s specially designed M1 chips. Apple said it does so because the technology behind its iPhones and iPads is better suited for Macs than the Intel processors Apple has been using since 2006 to power Macs.
“Advances of this magnitude come only through the making of bold changes,” Cook said..
The first M1 Macs were the MacBook Air, a 13-inch MacBook Pro and a Mac Mini, and each received good marks from reviewers. CNET reviewer Dan Ackerman says they perform much better than their predecessors, and even the best Intel-based Macs released earlier in 2020.
Unfortunately for me and many other Hackintoshers, you can not buy Apple’s M1 chips alone. Which means I can not stop it on my computer and mislead Apple’s MacOS software to work on it.
Apple said the transition to Intel would take about two years. A few years later, the company is expected to stop upgrading software for Intel-powered Macs.
At that point, my Hackintosh dream will be officially over.
Apple is notorious for how much control it has over its devices. You can not download apps for the iPhone or iPad unless you go through Apple’s App Store, where each app is reviewed by the company before being downloaded.
It’s no surprise that Apple would grab its computers even tighter. But I’m still sad to see how Hackintoshes goes.
So I decided to build one last hurray. The brightest fake Apple I could come up with.
A hobby and a workhorse
It has become much easier in the last few years to put together a Hackintosh. This is mostly due to better burglary tools and active communities filled with people who want to help. Some of them even write step-by-step manuals with lists of what parts you can buy, how to set them up and what to do if they do not work.
One of the people I trusted was Mykola Grymalyuk, a 20-year-old college student studying computer science (what else?) In Canada. He ended up in Hackintoshing through his stepfather, who had one of his own. At one point, Grymalyuk recovered after a medical episode, with a lot of time in his hands.
“I was constantly in a hospital bed, I could not really walk much, could not really do much, and I was a little worthless,” Grymalyuk said. “But the Hackintosh community gave me something to do.”
He noted that there were not many up-to-date or comprehensive guidelines to help people build Hackintoshes, so he decided to write of his own. Initially, he compiled a list of video cards that work best with Apple’s software. Then he wrote how to customize pieces of your computer to make everything work better. And best of all for me, he has created detailed guidelines to understand the programs and processes you need to follow to initially set up a Hackintosh.
“It just turned out that way,” he said.
Earlier this year, he turned his job into a website he co-founded called Dortania. It was named after a flower that is so obscure that he hoped it would mean the site could easily shoot to the top link on Google (it did). The site has no ads, and he does not charge money. He does encourage people to donate to Crohn’s and Colitis Canada.
As much as Grymalyuk likes to tune in to his Hackintosh instruction manuals, he knows that Apple’s M1 chips mean it will end in five years or so. By that time, he expects all Macs and Mac apps to switch to Apple’s chips. At that point, Apple is likely to start phasing out software updates for Intel-based computers, as it will no longer sell anyway.
As a self-proclaimed fan of Apple products, Grymalyuk said he recently helped people run older Mac software on new computers, and others help run new Apple software on older Macs.
His dream is to channel all this knowledge into writing documentation for other technology products. He wants to help people understand the finest information about what makes their computers tick, whether it was made by Apple.
“I want to learn, not just reach the end result,” he said. “I want people to maintain their machines. If you know what breaks, how it breaks and what you need to repair, you feel like, ‘Wow, I can maintain this machine on my own. I do not need external help.’
My last Hackintosh
I was inspired to build my latest Hackintosh because of the M1 Macs. I decided to create a machine with the latest brains for microprocessing and more than twice as much storage as the 1I use it today. I also chose a similar AMD graphics card as the latest Mac Pro computers to make sure it will work more easily with MacOS. I wanted to make sure at least the next few years that this machine would meet my needs.
If I get stuck, I’m grateful I’ll have the community of Hackintoshers to help fix the bugs I run into. Sites like Grymalyuk’s Dortania, Reddit’s Hackintosh community, and tonymacx86 are still popular. So do YouTube channels like Snazzy Labs, which Hackintoshes frequently discuss. Some of these communities even showed interest when Apple released its first M1 computers in November – in part because people are curious about how Hackintoshers are preparing for when MacOS will no longer work on Intel chips.
“There is still a thriving global community of active hackers,” Tonymacx86 said. The person behind the username and website prefers to remain anonymous to avoid excessive fans and opponents.
Tonymacx86 says that after Apple hackintoshes completely cut off, the sites and directories are likely to be reminded of tributes to the more than a decade people have spent building these Frankenstein machines. They are also likely to become support communities for people holding onto their computers after the time they can get software updates from Apple.
I probably would have done Hackintoshing at that point. I know that one day I will not be able to run the machine I just built smoothly. When the time comes, I have to rely more heavily on the Mac laptops I have, or buy a new desktop from Apple.
Hopefully, Apple’s computers will not be as disappointingly outdated as when I started.