It Can Always Be Better

Tuesday, December 22, 2009


I confess: I acquired a Hackintosh (A PC hacked to run Mac OS X). Due to circumstances—and refusal to put $2,500 plus on a credit card I wouldn’t be able to pay off—I really had no choice.

For the second time in a year, my MacPro became inoperable. It had something to do with a failed logic board and then a video card. Thanks to my AppleCare warranty, the repairs were covered 100%. Thanks to my decent backup and archiving system, no data was lost.

However, my revenue was not covered. My reputation with my customers was not covered. I had hundreds of images to work on. Unfinished work is money not in the bank. It also annoys customers. Of course, that’s not Apple Computer’s responsibility. A backup and archiving system is only complete with a backup workstation. Yet, it must be done within my small studio’s means.
I found an interesting prospect in Psystar. They were making and selling systems with Mac OS X on them. Of course, this is a violation of Apple Computer’s OSX End User License Agreements. Regardless, I built one on the site’s shopping cart. Desperation was sinking in.

However, I had a hunch that I might get my backup station faster if I search Craigslist in Chicago. That way I could see a used machine for myself before I purchase it. I would also avoid any questionable actions that wouldn't subtract from any blessing I may have accumulated for trying to run a socially responsible operation! If I could get a genuine MacPro, that would be nice.

After a quick search on Craigslist, I found a builder of a HacPro. That’s right: A PC turned into a MacPro clone. He needed to unload it before enlisting with the U.S. Armed Forces. For a fair exchange and drive to the south side in borrowed Toyota Prius, I got my backup workstation.

The specifications were perfect for my photo retouching work: Mac OS 10.5, dual-Core 2.0 Ghz, 4GB RAM, 1TB RAID, a better video card than my MacPro, widescreen monitor, keyboard, wireless mouse, web-cam, 10 USB ports, 5 various FW ports, more and more ports. Expandability options for this Hackintosh are almost endless. The box was built like a tank, with a key to lock it.

On the other hand, there are a few annoyances. One is the fans. It runs 3 times louder than my MacPro. However, the MacPro fans are practically silent! It also requires an arcane boot CD and the entry of a few numbers when it starts up.

Taking the advice of the seller, I managed to make some accurate copies of the boot CD with software from a company called Zenopolis. I also captured the BIOS startup sequence on my camcorder in case I need to reprogram the motherboard with an upgrade or replacement.

Overall, the experience added a little stress, more setup time and some education on BIOS subtleties. I have documented my setup process for a smoother transition when my main machine breaks down again.


Community Admin said...

So did it work? Are clients satisfied. Was it even slightly worth the effort? Macminds want to know.

Kateri said...

Very, very interesting. I am so glad for you that it is working. Long may it last.

Photo Grafix said...

Yes, it worked out fine. It wasn't without some difficulty—especially my LAN. However, I was able to get alot of work done.

Photo Grafix said...

It's back in a box until the next time I need it. Safe and sound!

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