Netbook undergoes a OSX change – Part 2

Pc-gun So after being able to successfully load Mac OSX on "my" MSI Wind U120-024US, I had to take inventory and see what did and did not make the transition.

First order of business was to upgrade the Bios from .10C to .10F. MSI does a great job of getting you lost on its website. (I suspect Engrish may not be the native language of the web team. ) In any case, I finally tracked down the latest bios and , even better, the user manual .

This post gave very clear instructions on updating the 120 Bios. Creating the bootable USB drive for DOS was simple enough having had practice creating several by this point. I copied over the three files from the download and rebooted the Wind. On my first attempt I got "ERROR: Bios has no flash information available". According to MSI's FAQs that error is asking you to plug in the power cord. Because an message reading, "Please plug in the power cord" would be confusing. I did that and it worked on the second pass.

Next, I wanted to upgrade the OS to 10.5.7. I knew I might be pressing my luck but I pushed on anyway. The update itself went smoothly. After rebooting, the mouse and keyboard didn't work, but I expected that from some of the posts I had read. I hooked up my USB mouse and keyboard to install the necessary drivers. (BTW if you write your system password to a text file on the desktop prior to the update you can save yourself the need for the keyboard by just using the mouse to copy and paste when prompted for it.) Of course I made a huge mistake and used the 10.5.6 'Everything You Need 'package from the main wiki page. DON"T DO THAT. Installing the mouse/keyboard drivers and Realtek wireless worked. But, when I got to the part about updating the video ktext, I rebooted to a grey screen with funky black lines all over the place. More Zebra than Leopard. (That's a Mac pun, kids.) 

Well, I solved that mishap by hitting the "any" key (A 'lil tech support humor here. This is as funny as it gets, folks.) during the darwin boot screen, entering -x at the boot options prompt. This got me into safe mode and I was able to delete the ktexts I had installed and then restore the originals which had been given a .orig suffix. That's two hours of my life I won't get back.

Take two; I was able to find a package with all the relevant drivers for 10.5.7 on this post. Again I pressed my luck and decided to select the options for Realtek Ethernet and the Trackpad despite some allusions to issues by both the author and several posts. Living on the edge here. After getting caught in an endless reboot cycle, I realized that might not have been a good idea. Safe mode didn't work this time. So I booted into single user mode using the -s option at the Darwin prompt. Then I used the instructions here to delete the RealtekR1000.kext. If you get the read-only error like I did use the mount -rw -a command suggested in the first comment of that thread.

Take two point five; Ok booted successfully again. Now time to review the update items and see what does/does not work.

  • Video – Booted to 800 x 600 but a quick check of the display pref pane showed options for 1024 x 800. Awesome.
  • Network – Wireless still worked from my previous install. The Realtek RTL8187SE wireless drivers are also included in the MSi WindOSX86 Upgrade Pack v1.5. The wireless app pops up on every boot which is annoying. I used the Auto-Close for Realtek app suggested on the OS X post install tweaks and fixes post and that seems to have resolved that. As mentioned previously, Ethernet driver was a total bust. It turns out that the first driver package installed the RealtekR1000.kext driver to the location /System/Library/Extensions/IONetworkingFamily.kext/Contents/PlugIns/ which is for a retail install. The correct location is /System/Library/Extensions/. So essentially I had the same driver in two seperate locations. Booting into single user mode and deleting the first one fixed the errors and got the ethernet working perfectly. More details in this post.
  • Battery – The guage appears on the toolbar as expected. Calculates percentage and time albeit slowly. Fully charged with a 6-cell battery estimate was 3:50 battery life. I tried the VoodooPower app suggested on the aforementioned post and didn't see any significant change right away. However after comming out a sleep mode the battery guage showed 5:30. That's almost too good to be true. I left it on for a while and noticed issues with hiberate and random reboot requests. Went into single user mode and deleted the kext.
  • Sleep mode – Closing the lid puts the notebook into sleep instantly and hitting the power button brings it back just as quickly which is where my Windows laptop falls woefully short.
  • Audio – Integrated speaker works fine. Headphone did not. I had success with Chud/Audioee4Wind from the post install thread but I hated having to use script and swtiches to slect between the external speakers and headphones. VoodooHDA works much better and switches between the two automatically. You'll need to uninstall Audiee4Wind and delete the AppleAzilla.kext prior to installing it. Getting the external mic jack to work took a bit of fiddling with the settings in the Voodoo pref pane. I used the following; (Setting the recording level seems to be the critical piece. Other settings refine the quality.)
    • Speaker: PCM 100%, Speaker 100%, Mic 100%, IMix 25%, Recording Level 80%
    • Mic: Speaker 100%, Mic 100%, Input mix 25%
  • Camera – Need to hit Fn + F6 to turn it on. Had no luck with CamTwist. ManyCam worked like a charm with Skype. You have to set ManyCam to start on boot and set the camera in Skype preferences to ManyCam after it loads.
  • Trackpad -Worked fine after running the 1.5 upgrade pack. I decided to try installing Two-Finger scrolling but the mouse was nearly unusable afterwards. It did scroll, but only down and not up and even that took pressing rather hard. The cursor twitched and jumped all over the place. I made some attempts to use the FFscroll pref pane to tweak the settings (hard to do with a disfunctional mouse) but it never seemed to save the changes and half the time would not open at all. I'll leave that to braver souls than I.
  • Key Mapping – I wanted to use the windows key as the command key. System Preferences > Keyboard & Mouse > Modifier Keys. Changed Option Key to map to Command and Command Key to map to Option. Now I can Windows + C to copy and Windows + V to paste. Maybe I'll find a little sticker to label the key better.
  • Bluetooth – I don't know if this even comes with my model nor do I have anything to test it with.

Final Impressions: Getting this Mac clone set up took quite a bit more effort than I originally anticipated. Ironically, all this command line bios-changing driver error fixing blue screening reminded me of setting up a Windows machine. Which was not necessarily a bad thing. I learned quite a bit more about the Mac OS. I think with today's computers being much more like sealed devices, people learn less about what is under the hood and make these things work. I remember when my dad bought one of the first PC's. We turned it on and the screen blinked a cursor at you. It took my brother and I days to get just DOS running. These days computers are like cars; everyone knows how to drive, but they pay some guy big bucks just cause he knows how to change the wiper fluid. Not that I mind. I'm complaining all the way to the bank.

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The bicycle thief

I've been looking for a cheap bike now that I have an apartment with extra space. Unfortunately, it's summer and every other Brooklynite has the same idea. Craigslist is awash with bikes for sale; so much so, it's overwhelming. Most of them re-painted junkers for $500. Now, I haven't ridden seriously since I was a teen and used to follow the Gimbel's Ride (as far as the huge hill by the Kenisco Dam anyway, leaving me to find my way home to the Bronx alone). So, I'm not exactly up to date on the world of cycling. (They can make bikes out of bamboo? For real? Wow. And they cost $2,700. Wha?!? But, its made of freakin' wood. Wow. It ain't easy being green.)

Bike_mugshot This led to a thorough (some would say obssessive) search of the interweb for sources of cheap bikes. Ebay was a bust. Someone on Yelp suggested police auctions. Another search revealed that the Toronto po-po have their own Ebay store. What's even better is that they have mugshots of the bikes in their lineup. "Number 4, please turn to left." Ah, trust the Canadians to make us laugh after a long day of fuitless Googling. Well… I laughed anyway. Though I'm probably gonna cry if I end up at the bike shop plopping down $600 for a Trek Soho S. Then I will have to depend on the Japanese to lift my spirts out of the doghouse. Te he. Dog pun. Ok, I need to step away from the computer now.

Netbook undergoes a OSX change

Mac-pc My girlfriend got a shiny white MacBook several months ago and I’ve been seriously sweating it. (I’m borrowing it right now) For one, it turns on in the time it take my crappy laptop to inform me that its from Dell. Don’t get me started on trying to get XP to hibernate/sleep. I just leave it on 24/7 to save myself 30 minutes of “Loading…” hell each morning.

So when she decided to get a Netbook for her monthlong stay in South Africa, I jumped at the chance to make a mini mac clone. So I ‘persuaded’ her to buy a MSI Wind 120 after doing some Google research which cited that as one of the models well-suited for ‘hack-a-mac’.

Working in the SAaS sphere for a few years now, I haven’t done the whole fdisk, bios, etc thing in a while. Luckily there were a lot of posts on the MSI Forums to help.

I started by purchasing a 4GB USB drive, downloaded MSIWindOSX86.iso from the Pirate Bay, and started following the instructions at http://wiki.msiwind.net/index.php/Bootable_Flash_Drive_for_OSX_(using_a_Mac)

  1. Using the MacBook, popped in the USB key
  2. Open Disk Utility app
  3. Click on destination USB
  4. Click on Partition
  5. In Volume Scheme pull down menu select 1 Partition
  6. Click on Options
  7. Radio Button Master Boot Record, click ok
  8. Format Mac OS Extended Journaled
  9. Apply
  10. When the formatting is complete, click Restore
  11. Mount the WindMSIOSX86.iso image (that means double click on it for us less Mac-literate) it will appear on the left sidebar of the Disk Utility now
  12. Drag the mounted WindMSIOSX86.iso to the ‘ SOURCE ‘ section
  13. Drag the usb drive partition to the ‘ Destination ‘ section
  14. Check ‘ erase destination ‘ click ok. Restore to USB will take about 10 minutes or so…
  15. Download the latest Chameleon EFI

OK the last step took me quite a while. Most forums mentioned the Chameleon DMG and direct you to the Developers site. But all I could find was the source code for the latest stable version 1.0.11 not the compiled package. I tried the 2.0 RC1 package but it kept stalling at the message “Writing Package Receipt. It took some searching to finally find a copy at FilesTube; Chameleon-1.0.11-installer.dmg.

  1. Double click the chameleon dmg to mount it, run through its
    prompts and install it to your flash / usb key – this makes it
    bootable.Make sure to change the target because it will default to your Mac’s harddrive.

Now you need to prep the MSI Wind. I didn’t want to delete the recovery or windows partitions in case things went south. Luckily the Wind came with three partitions, recovery, OS_Install, and a third empty partition. I ended up creating a Ubuntu live bootable from a spare 1GB drive following the suggestion on this post; http://forums.msiwind.net/viewtopic.php?f=32&t=4701 and then deleting the third partition. I tried going through the next step leaving the space unpartitioned, but I couldn’t get past the select a destination step in the Mac OS installer. So I went back and created and unformatted primary partition.

  1. Plug Flash / USB key into msi wind, boot from it (either change in bios or hit f11 for boot menu)
  2. Run through the installer till you get to the select a partition screen. You’ll see the recovery partition and windows partition with red exclamation marks on them meaning you can’t use those. Open the Utilities menu and open Disk Utility. From here you can erase the unformatted partition and format it as  Mac OS Extended Journaled. (You may in fact have been able to delete and format the partition in one step saving yourself the previous boot from Ubuntu.)
  3. Close the disk utility. You should now have a new partition without the red mark and that you can select.
  4. Click next till you get to the install button. Before clicking that click the Customize button. Expand the options until you see Kernel. Uncheck that option. (I don’t now why but a bunch of post mentioned this. I think it has to do with making your os able to handle updates)
  5. Run the install. It should take a few minutes and reboot your Wind automatically.

Now when my machine rebooted, I got a HFS+ error. Now the last post I cited suggested using Ubuntu to fix the boot flags. That didn’t work for me. I ended up using the suggestion here

  1. Boot from bootable flash drive back into macosx installer
  2. Open Terminal from the Utilities menu
  3. At the command prompt type
fdsk -e /dev/rdisk0
flag 3
update
write
quit
reboot
  1. All 3 partitions will show in darwin bootloader, with osx the default.

Success!! My wind booted to Mac OSX with the gloriously satisfying intro movie. The next steps are to make sure everything works. Already I’m seeing some issues with the wi-fi. I’ll post more as I figure it all out.