Macs are PCs. They have much the same architecture as any other PC, and as such, they're all largely compatible with each other. Despite the fact that Macs won't come pre-installed with Windows, just like any PC, they're perfectly capable of running it and its applications. As such, in theory, OS X should be able to run on other brands of PC. After all, they're all the same thing... right?
There's a few reasons why one may decide to run OS X on hardware not of Apple's making. Common scenarios include:
- Someone who likes OS X, but doesn't like Macintosh hardware (for whatever reason), and/or would prefer hardware from another PC manufacturer.
- Someone who would like to try OS X to see if they like it, but would like to try it on their current hardware first before going to the expense of 'upgrading' to Apple's hardware later.
- Geeks who just wants to see if it can be done.
Running OS X on a non-Macintosh PC is not supposed to be done. There is little incentive for Apple to allow it, and actively prevents it.
Add to that the fact that OS X is only designed to run on the narrow range of hardware that is used in Apple's own computers, there will be much hardware used in other PCs that OS X just doesn't support by default.
See also reason 32
So building a 'Hackintosh' might go something like this:
- Procure a copy of OS X. It will be much easier if it's pre-cracked. Unfortunately, it also means it will be illegally pirated.
- If not already cracked, track down a non-official 3rd party crack or dongle that circumvents the software protection preventing it from installing on BIOS only hardware.
- Attempt to install.
- If it fails, try different settings. Possibly find a different crack more suitable to your hardware. Try try try again until it either works, or your hair turns grey.
- If it installs, test all aspects of your particular non-officially supported hardware. For the things that don't work, find drivers, assuming any exist. Sound cards/chipsets, networking interfaces (wired and wireless), and AMD processors are common sources of incompatibility.
- Be wary from now on in dealing with potential instability and unreliability. Best you keep regular backups of your data, just in case.
- Don't let OS X's automatic updates install anything. They will break your 'Hackintosh', and you'll have to reinstall and start again. You'll need to wait for the 'crackers' to provide any OS updates and bug fixes.
- Be prepared to accept that just because you can coax the current release of OS X into life, there's no guarantee the next release will. Which may mean you're never going to be able to upgrade the OS.
- Try not to worry about the little issue of suspect legality, in all this being prohibited under OS X's user licence agreement (ULA).
Contrast and compare
By means of contrast, running Windows on a Mac is very simple:
- Acquire a copy of Windows.
- Install it onto a second partition via 'Boot Camp', or virtually via virtualisation software.
- Run it just as if it was a 'normal' PC with Apple's and Microsoft's blessings.
Seefor more of a detailed look.
Wiki resource of everything arising from the Mac's transition to Intel architecture, including running Mac OS X on generic PC hardware.
Stage by stage example of what's involved in making a 'Hackintosh'.
...yes, it is possible to run OS X on a generic PC. However, results can vary. Not every PC will be suitable. Some will be able to work just the same as on a proper Macintosh... for now. Some will only partially work. And some will never work no matter how many endless hours you futz with it.
The closer your PC is to matching the configuration of a proper Macintosh model, past or present, the better chance of success you have.
But no matter what configuration you have, getting to a point where you can start to actually use it, will require a lot of effort. This is not a job for newbies. This is a project best undertaken by a proper, died-in-the-wool geek! Someone whom it doesn't matter to if it doesn't work.
For the rest of us mere mortals however, if you crave the hassle free computing that Macs are renowned for, while still having the compatibility of Windows, and be officially supported doing so, the only way is with a PC made by Apple. You'll need a Mac.
Page content last updated 23 May 2009