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Are Hackintosh users more passionate about Mac than Apple?

A version of this post originally appeared on Tedium a twice weekly newsletter that hunts for the end of the long tail.

We have strong opinions about corporate giants, what they should (or should not) do, or how they should (or should not) act.

We want them to listen to us and understand our needs as users and consumers. But too often they become too big and they must balance your interests with their own – as well as everyone else's.

This sometimes creates situations where some of the company's biggest fans feel compelled to take their ideas in a different direction. It is with this in mind that I will discuss why Hackintosh, a machine (usually with an Intel CPU) running MacOS on hardware Apple does not, is an interesting cultural trend, rather than just a way to cut Apple out of a share of the profits.

The roots of the destiny decision that gave us the Hackintosh date in 2001

, when an Apple employee, who worked remotely, spent his time building a version of Mac OS X, when the new Apple operating system was customized from NeXTStep, compatible with Intel's x86 platform.

This turned out to be an important feature, and a backup plan was created if PowerPC had a long time in the tooth (as it eventually did), and when Apple's leadership found out about this remote worker's solo effort, the company met immediately something unexpected: It was trying to convince another company to make Mac clones.

On a Hawaii golf course, Steve Jobs met Sony leaders to show them what could technically be called the first "Hackintosh," a Sony VA IO laptop that ran OS X on an Intel processor.

Jobs, a fan of Sony, had acquainted himself with Macintosh clones and joined a clone program that had damaged Apple's bottom line, but was apparently willing to make an exception for Sony, whose VAIO line was recognized at that time. But bad timing on Sony's part killed the deal. The problem? The VAIO line was already successful with Windows, so it did not need OS X.

The result was that the world did not get an Intel Mac until 2006. But despite Apple's best early efforts there was just so much it can do to Prevent other PCs from running their iconic operating system.

This will later prove important to some of the operating system's biggest fans.

"Your karma check for today: It was once a user who died his existing operating system was so blind, he would do better to pirate an operating system that went well, but found that his hardware went down. steal Mac OS! Really, it's like uncool. (C) Apple Computer Inc. "

– A passage from a core extension dating back to 2006 is called" Don't steal Mac OS X.kext ". This file, a protected binary content designed by Apple, primarily to serve as a confirmation that the computer was running real hardware, has proven to be quite a poor protection over time, with system hackers passing the long-term constraint. (You shouldn't remove it from your computer, by the way, even if you're running a real Mac. It's the perfect way to stop your Mac from working in a fall.) Despite this, Apple has done little work to strengthen it Weak security in decades plus since then, with some wondering that it is partly due to users being very often Apple customers deeply integrated into the ecosystem, ie most people as a company that Apple does not want to piss off.


Comedian and entrepreneur Paul Chato, who has long used Macs. Image: YouTube

Among Hackintosh's more high profile users: A comedian with a long history in tech [19659014] The Hackintosh community is relatively small to a small extent due to the technical learning curve that often accompanies the exercise. It is a subculture based on a combination of two other subcultures: Apple superfans and hobbyists who build their own computers.

But it draws on some very passionate users, many of whom are experts in creative works, partly because of the user base Apple's machines are long promoted. Case in point: Paul Chato.

These days, Chato is an entrepreneur running a web design firm, but back in the late 70s and 80s, he was best known as a primary member of a popular Canadian comedy troupe called The Frantics, which had a weekly series on CBC Radio who introduced sketches as the legendary "Last Will (Boot to the Head)." [19659021] At the top, the squad had its own TV show, Four on the Floor which specifically introduced a truly Canadian super hero, Mr. Canoehead.

Although his early success was in the sketch comedy, Chato's career was largely in technology, including at a time as a producer of a popular Myst style adventure game. More recently, however, Chato has found a degree of success as a YouTuber, who runs a vlog that gives up its irreverent take on the most technologically related things he is passionate about.

In an email interview, Chato explained that the mixture of Technology and Humor came naturally, which appeared in Frantics sketches like "I Sell Computers."

"The freaks were probably the first to handle humor in comics and nerd life long before The Big Bang Theory popularized it," said Chato. "So, it's part of my continuum."

The Hackintosh-powered coverage, on the other hand, was something of a happy accident, a by-product of its tech-related pet peeves, many of which are related to the fact that Apple does not make a computer for him.

A year ago, in one of his earliest clip on the channel, Chato pointed out that he has used Apple products for more than 30 years – from the original all-in-one to a number of modern MacBook Pros, but moved to produce Hackintosh machines instead. " I feel absolutely abandoned by Apple when it comes to meeting my needs, "he said in the video.

Since then, he has recorded a lot of Hackintosh-related content (along with the theories of what the long-promised Mac Pro reboot should look like) out as), with a special highlight for a few months p One, when Chato used his soapbox to discuss how Hackintosh brings him pleasure, partly because of all problem solving and tweaking involved.

He noted the process of building a Hackintosh helped get him closer to his son. "Apple likes to ignore the bonding aspects of building a DIY Mac," he told me.

DIY and Apple do not go hand in hand, but on the other hand, the company not only told us

Some people who share their gifts may not do very well with Apple's current lineup.

Five different ways people can run MacOS without owning a Mac

  1. Patching operating system. In the early days of Hackintoshing, it was common for people in the community to use a literally "hacked" version of Mac OS X that they downloaded from a site, but in recent years it has become common to change the boot manager (also known as the EFI partition) to make it compatible with MacOS. The most popular tool, Clover, has removed much of the guesswork around the installation, but certainly not all of it. However, even if you get it started, the job is often not finished, as machines need to be essentially modified to install kernel extensions that effectively act as drivers or updates to support various hardware, such as video, audio, or even. with USB-C ports. By changing the purchases of the system code, Hackintosh users can smooth out the details and get a machine to support most of a Mac's creative comfort. That said, not everything can be solved easily. A working SD card slot in a laptop computer is rare, for example, and a microphone may not work through the headphone jack. Probably the most difficult for many PC users is Wi-Fi, as Apple tends to use chips from Broadcom in their machines, rather than Intel, as most PC manufacturers do. This often requires a hardware switch or use of a third-party device, especially on laptops.
  2. Method "Vanilla". This type of Hackintosh flips the model for heavy-core tweaking of the more traditional Hackintosh approach, allowing the operating system itself alone, while adding the necessary changes to the boot process. The advantage of this strategy is that it essentially allows the operating system to work in its purest form without adding many extra kernel extensions or text files to the operating system itself.
  3. Rent someone else's almost. For many years, the cloud firm MacStadium has found itself in the unusual situation of building an infrastructure-as-a-service offer around devices that do not really fit into the server room aesthetically. Compared to a DigitalOcean Linux machine, it is not cheap – at $ 150 a month for an i3 Mac Mini, you have not accidentally acquired this service. However, the company still has an important niche, emphasizing that it has patented its own server infrastructure specifically designed to keep Mac Minis and Mac Pros, and has even taken steps to support the iMac Pro, which has the added complication of including a monitor like will be completely useless in the server room.
  4. Lene softly into virtualization. For those who need to use a Mac each time but do not want to give up their more traditional world of Windows or Linux, it is possible to use virtualization tools such as VirtualBox to run a full Mac installation on their machine, much as it has become popular to run parallels to bring Windows to Mac. This approach is technically not allowed by the end user license agreement unless you actually run it on a Mac, but then again most of these others also break EULA.
  5. Link hard to virtualization. More recently, there has been an increased interest in using low-level hardware virtualization to effectively replace the process of Hackintoshing right into a boot loader – which goes beyond a simple test and more to full system replacement. This approach is somewhat easier to set up than the more common Hackintosh route (though still very technical), and also offers less potential for inflating the entire machine. This often takes the form of the Linux-based KVM (core-based virtual machine), with a hardware virtualization emulator such as QEMU that manages the system image. There are technical advantages here: While you are not getting full speed on the underlying machine, you get almost everything. In addition, it is possible to use external devices that are not always fully compatible with modern Macs, such as Nvidia graphics cards, with the right amount of tweaking. It was a user, an employee of MacStadium, who successfully assembled a workstation of MacOS on KVM that could be accessed via a cloud-based AMD EPYC system.

Why the Hackintosh community may not seem like the most welcoming place [19659014] If you've ever asked a technical question on the internet, you're probably aware that support forums are often overloaded, full of people asking obvious questions about theirs. devices and software.

Imagine now trying to provide technical support to people who are willing to talk to bootloaders and try to edit obscure system files to get the machine to do something technically not designed to do.

This has led to more aggressive moderation policies on some of the most popular Hackintosh country forums. Tonymacx86, for example, is an incredibly useful site for Hackintosh Buildings, but it is worth noting that the forum may feel a bit standoff if you are new to it, if only because their platform needs to handle many repeated questions. Much.

Many times a Tonymacx86 thread has some form:

A user has a quite technical problem that a layman could never make heads or tails, but an expert may be able to be seen right away .

A moderator tells the user that they need to share the reporting files to mark in detail what the machine is going through. They also have to read common questions, which are very detailed, and that they should use the search tool, which goes back many years.

The user responds, either following the rules or begging for mercy. In the latter case, they do not generally get general grace and are told to go to the FAQ again.

This sometimes happens for several days, reflecting both a high degree of patience among moderators (seriously, kudos), and a strange power dynamics as opposed to someone I've seen on the internet: In a way, the approach counteracts society from becoming too large.

I asked Chato for his insight on this, and his proposal is basically to RTFM.

"I think the frustration of" experts "comes from the fact that many questions come from people who have not done any research or half an installation," he explained. "So my first advice is to examine the dream of what you need to know, read everything, and ask your question."

His other advice deals with motivation: Often he notes these sites have a contingent of people trying to just pirate software that doesn't do their research, "and they ask stupid questions about [motherboards] and CPUs that are so far outside the Hackintosh noticed that it's just insulting. "

There are a number of kinds in the Apple community, not unlike the one that existed when jailbreaking was a more popular practice among iPhone owners: Some just wanted to use the tools to improve their experience because Apple didn't give them anything they did would have; others wanted an easy way to get something free.

"You can tell a real enthusiast because it's obvious that they still own a Mac," claims Chato. "They don't ask for a piracy of MacOS."

Hackintoshing is an interesting process because in cases like Chato and (of course) my own, it highlights a dichotomy between the company and its supporters: It is a user base, a technical enough to jump through a number of hoops who love one The company's product so much that they are willing to undermine it to get that product in its unprotected form, because the company's growth has left them.

In 2006, it may have been the case that people Hackintoshing tried to experiment or get an appointment. These days, I think there are many more in this community who just want Apple to give them what they want, so they can do their job, and then get out of the way. These people will still have iPhones and iPads, will still buy Apple accessories and would like to join the company's ecosystem. But if they can't get in the front door, feel burned by thin keyboards and slow update, they go in through their backs, even though there is more broken glass on that side of the building.

Think of it as the data processing version of "Rural Purge" – the infamous situation where the television networks decided to start programming to meet the needs of advertisers who wanted young urban viewers. Although the nights had moved to Mary Tyler Moore People still wanted to see Lawrence Welk and Hee Haw so the show's creators found alternative ways to airwaves, as well as new ways to Make Money. Callous corporate decision making can not kill the interest so easily.

Perhaps like the old Buck Owens and the Roy Clark performances, Hackintosh does not appeal to everyone, but it carries a niche that cares enough about this platform to ignore the right path and handle all the minefields that come with it.

In that light, the Hackintosh community's sometimes brusque nature is understandable beyond the fact that people get tired of beginners. They have an investment to protect.

It is this phenomenon that has defined the way in which technological societies have responded to things, called the "death frame", also known as the Slashdot effect.

Essentially, this is the idea: If you run a site that is downloaded on a popular aggregator, there are so many who want to visit that it completely disables your site. In a sense, there is an inversion of the Streisand effect, because the growing popularity actually fools its success by overexposing it.

In a way, Hackintosh survives because it is not too overexposed. It sometimes appears on popular tech YouTube channels like Snazzy Labs and Linus Tech Tips, and is often highlighted in common technology publications, but it is too difficult for a regular Mac user to do and has the unintended side effect of Learn Apple about technical issues that it seems to avoid in later hardware iterations. Not enough people squeeze it to kill it yet.

There are certainly concerns that Apple will use the T2 security chip, which it has added to its newer devices, to shut down Hackintosh users one day or that the company's embrace of a custom ARM chipset will eventually make Hackintosh obsolete . That said, it should be noted that there are some hardware virtualization techniques for the ARM-based IOS, with one being offered by a startup called Corellium. (Corellium's mode of use, aimed at mobile developers and security researchers, was purchased by Azimuth Security in the hacking store last year.)

As tools that KVM can replicate chip sets such as ARM on x86 platforms, it is not out of the possibility these options will still exist if Apple changes things in just a few years, even if it changes what a Hackintosh is.

Apple can learn technical things from things Hackintosh breaks internally, either by marking errors in the core or by introducing hardware that can eventually appear in a future Apple system, but the existence of this gray area market initially highlights the differences between Apple's thin and lightweight machines, either on a desk or in a bag, and what most dedicated power users will actually have.

"In the end, I don't think Apple is relying on the operating system," Chato says. "That's really bothering me. I don't think they realize that if they put MacOS in a nice, clean box that is not thermal gas, it will sell very well. It's the operating system, stupid. "

For a company known for its dramatic dangers, perhaps the most risky move it can make is listening to this tabbed base that apparently is not being served by its current offerings.

There is no butterfly keyboard mechanism, but it can be a game switch.

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