Welcome to Hackintosh Hell? The reason for the question mark is I have managed to get my W3550 Xeon to run OS X. I would love to say it was straightforward and I just downloaded a vanilla version of Mac OS and with a minor modification I was on my way.
Sadly as anyone who has ran a Hackintosh they will tell you it takes a lot of work. I wanted originally to install MacOS Catalina. First I went with a vanilla image from Olarila. However once Clover booted I kept getting a prompt saying DOES NOT WORK WITH THIS MACHINE then the system would reset.
Ok so I then got the latest version from Niresh of MacOS Catalina and it would start but would get about halfway down the initial script and Kernel Panic due to issues with NullCPU failing to work with the Xeon and freeze so that was off the list.
I was not happy but I was determined not to give up. I downloaded the Niresh version of OS X High Sierra. The reason I chose High Sierra over something like MacOS Mojave is I have ran High Sierra on a lower specced machine than the Xeon so I knew it was much more tolerant.
In the past I have tried to install MacOS Mojave and if you don’t install the kexts (Mac OS drivers) using Clover or sometimes even if you do it breaks very easily and locks you out to a black screen and you can’t even use the recovery disk to save it, as it corrupts the whole Clover boot section so it wont boot at all.
So my Xeon is a HP Z400 Workstation with an AMD R9 270X graphics card, a TP-Link USB TN725W USB Wifi adapter, the sound card is onboard and has two parts it has the Intel HDA part for the primary but it also has an internal speaker powered by an ALC626 sound chip.
So I tried to boot the stock Niresh High Sierra image and it would not load it got hung up on the NullCPU similar to the the Niresh Catalina did.
What NullCPU does it fools the Apple installation by making it think it has certain models of CPU but corrects the timing so the installation will work but if it doesn’t know what CPU it’s looking at it will throw it out and stop the installation
A bit of a search around the internet I found someone else had installed OS X on a Z400 workstation and although it wasn’t a complete guide of how toinstall the whole system it did tell me what kexts I needed to get it working.
Apparently I needed a certain version of NullCPU which obviously recognised the Xeon and made the installation move on. I needed some kexts called IOAHCIBlockStorageInjector and SuperVIAATA to get the hard drive system working as they are drivers to intialise the drive controller and the AHCI to see the actual drives. It also informed me I would need VOODOOHDA to get my sound card recognised.
Now the caveat with VoodooHDA is yes it gets the primary sound card working so I can have sound providing I plug in either headphones or speakers. It doesn’t work with the ALC626 to get the internal speaker working. There will be a way around it but I believe to do so I need to patch a bit of code into the kext. So at the moment sound will work but only through headphones or speakers.
So I copied these required files into the boot section of the USB Stick which had the Niresh Installer into the EFI/Extras/Extensions directory so it should work.
However Hackintosh uses another file called the DSDT which is basically used to work out what the machine had in the form of ports, sockets etc. So it can sort out power management and thermal control.
Now you can get on Windows a program called AIDA64 to get such information but as luck would have it the same guide that had the list of drivers for the Z400 also he had supplied a copy of his own DSDT. Saving a lot of effort as once you have the DSDT information from AIDA64 you normally have to compile it on the Mac with a program called MacIASL before the Hackintosh will use it.
Luckily he saved me having to do that step. So now having installed the kexts required and copied the DSDT.aml file to the EFI directory. I was ready to test the USB installer again.
Well this time the installer worked initially fine. The z400 Xeon has a 240GB SSD and a 1 TB Hard Drive in it. So using Disk Utility which you have to use otherwise MacOS cant see a drive it can write to. I set about formatting the drives and then once that’s done. Exit drive Utility and hopefully the list will now have the newly formatted drives available.
Now you configure the setup and I of course made sure I selected the kexts from the list which I knew I had installed earlier or I knew it would fail. Installed a few other pieces like ensuring the version of Clover I installed was the EFI version.
There is three versions of Clover… They are Standard, UEFI and EFI. Now Standard will boot MBR drives aka Microsoft formatted drives, UEFI is used to start those who use Windows 10 machines which have an UEFI boot loader to start Mac OS and EFI is for those systems that use non Windows 10 Secure boot loaders. Both UEFI and EFI will only boot if your disk is formatted to the GUID partition type.
The main differences between MBR and GUID is MBR will only allow 4 drives in 2 channels. One master and one slave on each channel. Where as GUID is designed to be much more open and will allow many more sub drives so RAID and the likes can be used.
There is also a boot manager called Chameleon it also has the same three versions but was pretty much used by older versions of Mac OS Hackintosh builds and is seen as bit outdated. However if you have issues with Clover the Chameleon has more legacy code in it for older hardware so it may solve your issues.
Initial install it ran for about a minute then failed giving me an Error 0. This confused me so I checked made sure i had the kexts installed where they should etc. All fine. Ok off to the Internet we go…
This was a known issue with High Sierra on new machines as it sees the current date and fails. So to get it running I had to first reformat the discs using Disc Utility then open a terminal and set the date and time to before the 24th December 2018 then it would install the software.
So finally I got it to install fine, it then restarted the machine. I removed the USB stick and sure enough I got a boot menu.
Loading into OS X High Sierra it got all the way through the boot loader and I managed to set up my account, ignored setting up wifi at the time being as I didn’t have the driver yet. Sure enough I now had a semi working setup.
I could sign in I had a dock with the preinstalled software and it actually allowed me to use it.
As I said I am using a USB Wifi dongle to access the internet and a quick search of the TP-Link website found a driver that claimed it worked with OS X Mavericks which is an earlier version than High Sierra but it still works.
To install addition kexts you first need to open the Clover Configurator which was installed by the Niresh installer and mount the EFI partition. This is when I found the system for some reason had done something quirky.
The main OS block was on the SSD but the EFI partition for some reason had installed itself on the 1TB Hard drive. Now this obviously wasn’t a huge problem as the machine did boot but we will come back to this as it causes a problem which I still have not managed to sort but we will come back to that shortly.
once I got the EFI mounted from the hard drive I copied the kext for the Wifi dongle, I also installed a Bluetooth dongle so I had already found the kext for that so I placed them both into the Extra folder as I had with the USB stick and then restarted.
Both Wifi and Bluetooth work after the initial setup of entering my Wifi access key. So now I could install software by downloading it from the internet.
I installed Firefox and Thunderbird with no issue. However when I tried to add my gmail email accounts it kept failing the security access. I discovered this had been fixed in later versions of High Sierra.
So currently I was running the base High Sierra (10.13) but they fixed the issue in the next update (10.13.2) however I knew that High Sierra got to version 10.13.6 before they moved to Mojave.
Now normally you go get the Combo Update version of the last version and it includes all the bug fixes from the previous versions an the version you get too, so off I went and downloaded the 10.13.6 Combo update from Apple.
Now what you normally do is install the update and as Clover keeps your existing setup it can normally just update. IF it updates one of thge kexts you use you may have to go into recovery mode and copy back the kexts it has overwritten.
Also depending on the version you may have to tell Clover to update certain kexts to work a certain way which it can do before boot.
However this is when I found out my issue with the EFI partition being on the wrong drive from the OS. Somehow the existing Clover could run the base version fine but when it tried to run the update it ignored the existing EFI on the other base and refused to reload.
The only way it would load is if you ignore the Mac Install version which it uses to update and select the main drive which of course just reboots back to the original 10.13 base version updating absolutely nothing.
So it seems due to the way it has set itself up I can’t seem to get the system to update to the later versions. I’m sure there is a solution somewhere I am just yet to solve that. So although I have Internet, I can’t access email.
Now the video modes are currently fixed due to just running the base DSDT profile however if I want to use the AMD R9 270X I need to install certain kexts which I have done but apparently you also need to add the file information to the DSDT.
Someone had provided such online but when I tried to add it to the DSDT it would no longer compile through MacIASL so I have not managed to get it fully use the AMD Radeon card.
If you have a Nvidia card it would be equally as fiddly but the driver is a lot more comprehensive. However if you have an Nvidia card you can’t run either Mojave or Catalina natively as they stopped supplying drivers due to disagreement between Nvidia and Apple.
In time someone will have figured how to hack the High Sierra drivers in to work with these and probably already have in some way.
Any way getting back on track. I still have not figured how to get the AMD stuff patched into the DSDT. You can get Clover to do it but I have no idea how and I found a program called DSDT Injector which when i tried to run it said it needed Java 6 or higher.
I installed Java 8 and it still complained of needing Java 6 or higher so I could not inject the AMD code into the DSDT. I’m confused so basically the video driver is running at 1650x1080 due to the DSDT but its in VESA mode.
Basically a very basic graphics driver which has o access to OpenGL/Metal so it can’t be used to play games or do major graphic work.
And thats where we are at this moment. I installed WriteRoom 3 which this whole episode was typed in as it doesn’t use Open GL as it’s a minimalist word processor
The Hackintosh is working but obviously there is still issues I need to solve. Hopefully you will join me on my further journey to try and iron out the issues or figure if I can install Mojave or Catalina.
Sorry this has been a bit long winded but it was a bit of an uphill climb to get it where it is now and i let you know how I got here. Until next time… Take care.