31 July 2010

Why the HP Mini 311 is a MacBook Pro and Not a MacBook Air

Launch System Profiler (you can click on Apple menu > About This Mac > More Info) and if you've installed using the HP Mini 311 Darwin Project release (current release) and if you haven't been customizing your own smbios.plist, you'll notice that it says your HP Mini 311 is a MacBookPro. A MacBookPro5,1 to be exact. It also comes complete with the MacBook Pro icon.

Mine looks like this but only because I've been mucking around with my fakesmc REV key and smbios.plist:
I'm currently testing different MacBook models.

What for?

For speedstep compatibility.

You see, since we have migrated to using vanilla AppleIntelCPUPowerManagement.kext instead of using a combination of kexts namely VoodooPowerMini.kext, SleepEnabler.kext, and Disabler.kext (NullCPUPowerManagement.kext), there have been noticeable changes. One that's particularly unsettling at first is that the Atom processor of the HP Mini 311 no longer seems to speedstep when checked in CPU-X.

What is SpeedStep anyway? It's a technology introduced by Intel for processors which "allows the system to dynamically adjust processor voltage and core frequency, which can result in decreased average power consumption and decreased average heat production." The Intel Atom N270 and N280 that our HP/Compaq Mini 311's are equipped with support this feature.

It's actually a tricky job, for a hackintosh system, to be able to ensure this feature is working. The Intel Atom CPU is not supported natively by Mac OS X; no real Mac has ever been made with an Atom chip after all. And to define the "steps" at which the CPU should set itself to at a given circumstance, we have to answer the following questions:
  1. What defined "speed points" are to be used?
  2. How much power does the CPU need to draw?
These pieces of information are integrated into the DSDT.aml which acts as the bridge to transfer this information from raw hardware in non OS X intelligible ACPI parlance into something understandable by Mac OS X's CPU Power Management set of instructions. These pieces of information needed for proper SpeedStep enabling are comprised of P-States.

I will not attempt to explain P-States or I risk being a stupid, trying hard, know it all. Plus I don't really understand it thoroughly myself so why bother a fated failed attempt at boring you? And it's not the main thrust of this post anyway so let's move on to why you have a MacBookPro5,1 instead of a MacBookAir2,1.

MacBookAir1,1 is thoroughly out of the question, not because it's an outdated Mac model (admit it that you also crave that bragging right for having the newest and the meanest rig out there in Geek-landia), but because it doesn't allow for vanilla power management to work on the HP Mini 311 and, I believe, in most other (or even all other) netbook and notebook hackintoshes alike. You get a Kernel Panic.

Now, MacBookAir2,1 does work. No KP as a matter of fact. And as a bonus, you also get Remote Disc automatically working and DVDPlayer that doesn't look for DVD drives. But, yes, there's a "but" - make it a big BUT (bootylicious? nah) your HP Mini 311 won't be able to SpeedStep. Given the 311's notoriously short battery life while running OS X, I'm sure you'd want to get all the help in conserving power that you can get your hands on.

MacBookPro5,1 on the other hand works really well. No KP at boot and SpeedStep is working as expected. But it's not detected in CPU-X you say. That is exactly correct. The thing is, from now on, as we use AppleIntelCPUPowerManagement, it's MSR Tools that we use for checking the reality of SpeedStep on our machines:
The MacBook6,1 also works fine. 

The MacBookPro7,1 is compatible as well.

How is this configured on the HP Mini 311 running Snow Leopard? 

Enter "smbios.plist". Here's my MSI Wind U100 disguising as a MacBook6,1 for an example, it's the same principle for the HP Mini 311 anyway:
The important plist keys to consider are
  1. SMfamily
  2. SMproductname
Back in the day, I used to be able to get MacTracker recognize my HP Mini 1001TU as a MacBook Air. But now, even though I put in genuine information (directly "borrowed" from the local Apple retail store's MacBook Pro's), MacTracker won't recognize the HP Mini 311 as anything but, well, nothing.

But hey, my Mini MacBook Pro is working nicely anyhow so what the heck, right? :D

Oh and I almost forgot (I've forgotten that it was Louis Guilloux who wrote "Le Sang noir", and forgotten a ton of other specifics so I flunked my MA quiz today - again), you might want to edit fakesmc.kext REV key in its info.plist to reflect the "SMC System (version)" appropriate for the MacBookPro5,1 onwards or MacBook6,1 you have ;-)

30 July 2010

Hackintoshed HP Mini 210 For Sale

cgdavilab is selling his hackintoshed HP Mini 210.
image from ubegizmo.com

For specs and selling price, please visit his page.

29 July 2010

iPod Touch + Yosion Case = iPhone?

I must say I'm partial to supposedly lesser things made to work like more substantial things.

iPod touch case can give it text messaging and calling capabilities - no GPRS for the mean time. Hurray for Apple Peel 520 (very cheeky of the Chinese company Yosion to call their product that).

Now my desire to replace my aging iPod classic with the touch is growing more intense, and perhaps getting the better of me?

Gotta settle the installment payment for my HP Mini 311 first and my Nokia 5530.

Oh and after that, I've to pay for the two new pair of eye glasses - for me and for my mom...

I'm afraid the public school teacher life I'm envisioning in the (very) near future would be in shambles if I don't stash up dough instead of credit right now while I still have the means or so it seems.

Anatomy of HP Mini 311 EFI Boot Setup (OSx86 EFI Setup)

I should be doing a ton of things other than post on my blog today. I should be working for one, or two, I should be catching up with the readings for my MA class (I flunked our recent quiz). But instead of burying my nose in my photocopied and ring-bound book “La littérature française de l’entre-deux-guerres”, I found myself doing some cyber stalking over yonder Facebook.

That’s when I thought I’d write on my blog which I’ve decided is of a lesser evil between these two things I should not be doing right now.

So what could I talk about today that will merit your readership?

My HP Mini 311 is happily trodding on with its Snow Leopard + Windows 7 dual-boot and I haven't gotten round to updating the install guide. My MSI Wind feels rejuvinated now that I’ve updated its Mac OS X 10.5.6 Leopard + Windows XP Home Edition SP2 dualboot setup into Mac OS X 10.6.4 Snow Leopard + Windows 7 Professional, and yes I'm too lazy to write a guide (I sue myself for being a sloppy blogger). Then there’s my HP Mini 1001TU who’s currently disemboweled (for the nth time) and I’ve yet to decide what to do with it other than put it up on e-bay. I can't talk about it either unless I wanna bore people with my frustrations on getting its DSDT.aml fixed for Mac OS X 1.6.4 Snow Leopard.

It's now one of those lull periods, I've to admit. But I've decided to take this time to share some info about OSx86/Hackintosh. So without further ado, I present you:

Anatomy of HP Mini 311 EFI Boot Setup
1. Boot - which we know in the form of Chameleon. Chameleon is an open-source bootloader which originates from the boot-132 project by David Elliott and this in turn, came from none other than Apple itself for the Darwin Project. In essence, it enables BIOS based PC systems to interact with the Mac OS X kernel, mach_kernel.
What we're using right now is the version created by meklort. It patches the mach_kernel on the fly during boot up so that the Atom processor passes off as an Intel Core Solo. Remember that 10.6.2 and up causes a reboot loop because the mach_kernel version is incompatible with the Atom. But with this auto-patching Chameleon, it means we no longer need to have modifications directly made to the mach_kernel (ex. tea's mach_kernel)

2. Extra folder - contains the ff. stuff:
  1. com.apple.Boot.plist - contains boot parameters for Chameleon; where to find mach_kernel; kernel flags (-v, -x, debugmode, etc.); quiet boot or not; show grey apple logo (what we call legacy boot logo). You can also specify which theme to use for Chameleon (more on this later). The goal is that you no longer have to manually specify these parameters each and every time you boot up. 
  2. dsdt.aml - Differentiated System Description Table. In my noob and less graceful explanation, it's that stuff that translate your Mini 311's otherwise obscure hardware in Mac OS X acceptable parlance. If configured correctly, it can help you shave off some kexts to make hardware work - ex. Ion graphics chpset recognized as NVidia 9400M on the 311. For a more technical and worthwhile explanation, click here.
  3. "Extensions" folder - where your kexts are located and are loaded as Chameleon boots up Mac OS X on your 311. I've written some about kexts in a previous post.
  4. Extensions.mkext - aka "kextcache" and by that alone, it's easy to see that it's a cache, a storage, for kexts. This makes kexts easier and faster to load. There are many ways to create this kextcache and those variations may or may not potentially affect sleep function as in the specific case of the HP Mini 311 but, again, that's for another time's discussion.
  5. smbios.plist - contains parameters to identify your hackintosh as one of the Mac's models. The HP Mini 311 is defaulted, at least when you install following the HP Mini 311 Darwin Project release, as a MacBookPro5,1 (why an MBP5.1? that we'll talk about in another post). If you wanna edit the serial no, RAM details, this is the place to do those.
  6. Themes folder - as per #1 com.apple.Boot.plist, this contains the theme for Chameleon. Themes are packaged in folders. The one supplied by HF6RC4.pkg only has a Default theme - one from MowgliBook's Retail Pack 0.9. As you can notice, no theme parameter is specified in the stock com.apple.Boot.plist supplied by HF6RC4. What Chameleon does is automatically look for the Themes folder and load whatever's Default in there. Or if nothing is found, Chameleon loads the theme it's been compiled directly with.
3. Kexts (Kernel Extensions- are roughly the equivalent of "drivers" that we know for PC, on the Mac platform. These are what the HP Mini 311 currently uses:
  1. AppleACPIBatteryManager - as the name suggests, controls battery. The current version we're using is by no means perfect - reports only 2 hours battery light when some have reported it's longer than that. Without this kext, Mac OS X won't be able to detect the 311's battery.
  2. AppleACPIPS2Nub - works hand in hand with
  3. ApplePS2Controller - to enable the 311's keyboard and trackpad to work. Note though that this does not provide full support for the Alps GlidePoint trackpad of the 311 and that's why it's seen as a PS2 mouse by Mac OS X. The trackpad works fine just the same - well, that's "fine" by its own standards (ahem).
  4. CPUIDOverride - this together with
  5. CPUIDSymbols - enable the 311 to use the vanilla Apple kext for power management (sleep, speedstep, etc.) "AppleIntelCPUPowerManagement.kext" - with the proper DSDT fixes, i.e. HPET, of course. VoodooPowerMini, SleepEnabler, Disabler/NullCPUPowerManagement as all the functionalities covered by the kexts mentioned are taken care of by vanilla AppleIntelCPUPowerManagement.kext. Courtesy of meklort again.
  6. CPUInjector - makes the Intel Atom processor as an "Intel Core Solo" chip.
  7. fakesmc - emulates SMC device for real Macs. (And you wondered what "SMC Firmware update" is all about, huh ;-) ?). Netkas, the creator of this kext, provides a better explanation for what fakesmc does, click here. From how I see it, if before we had to use AppleDecrypt and DSMOS kexts, now we only need fakesmc. You can actually do some modifications to fakesmc to change that "SMC System version" you see in System Profiler but again, more on that later.
There. I hope you enjoyed reading this.

28 July 2010

HP Mini 311's Alps Trackpad vs Apple's New Magic Trackpad

I wonder what I had this morning for breakfast that I put such a post title as this. It's horrendously stupid to suggest that the HP Mini 311 Alps trackpad be pitted against Apple's new Magic Trackpad; it's like David and Goliath.

No, the Alps trackpad is in NO way David.

The HP Mini 311's Alps trackpad is like an awkward giant, very much like Goliath - as brute as giants could get. And, yes, to preserve my credibility on the subject of giants' awkwardness, I should say I've had the pleasure to make the acquaintance of two or three giants in my life.

Not! :)

Anyhow, imagine that this external trackpad made for desktop use, even has its PrefPane working dandy fine in System Preferences. It shows up as trackpad and not a horrible PS2 mouse like the Alps!
And for I am the geek that I am, I want one for my birthday. :D

Good thing I didn't rush out to buy the Magic Mouse (as if I could've afford it, hah!).

27 July 2010

Finally Gave In

And LeMaurien19 is dual-booting 10.6.4 Mac OS X Snow Leopard and Windows 7 Professional on her HP Mini MacBook Pro 311.
image from zedomax.com
Not without some difficulties to hurdle first before things are finally settled on both sides. Good thing I didn't have to reinstall Snow Leopard from scratch and go through the trouble of updating everything. 

First, I had Carbon Copy Cloner back up my then current up to date 10.6.4 system to a .dmg file. 
Then booted off from a 10.6 Snow Leo installation on an external USB hard drive (used MultiBootISO with BootCD-altPS2.iso inside). 
Used Disk Utility to reformat and repartition my HP Mini 311's hard drive as GUID (GPT)
- 32 GB disk0s2 - for Windows 7
- 200 GB disk0s3 - for Mac OS X.
Used Carbon Copy Cloner again to restore the 10.6.4 .dmg back-up I created earlier onto the HP Mini 311's hard drive.
Installed Windows 7 - this entailed formatting the disk0s2 or partition 2 (EFI is partition 1 in the Windows world). For my part, being the obsessive compulsive me, I just had to make sure there weren't any nasty "unallocated space" between my Windows 7 and Mac OS X 10.6.4 partitions.
With Windows 7 installed and my default OS from then on, I restarted to boot into Mac OS X and installed HF6RC4.pkg.
Restarted the 311 to boot into Windows 7 installer and activated partition 3 using diskpart. Continued with "Repair Computer" option.
Restarted again to boot (again) into the Windows 7 installer and activated partition 1 EFI using diskpart.
Voilà. Chameleon now sees my Win 7 volume and boot into it.
My dual boot system is done!

Lesson: Chameleon is NOT able to see an NTFS formatted volume if it is not in disk0s2 or partition 2.

If anyone has found a way to force Windows 7 to install to a FAT32 volume (Chameleon recognizes disk0s3 if it is FAT32 or Mac OS X Journaled, just NOT NTFS), please speak up and enlighten us all :D

I'll update this post with pics and hopefully, update the HP Mini 311 Snow Leopard Installation Guide as well.

17 July 2010

A Typical Hackintosher's Saturday

or lack of a social life.

This not-so-hackintosh-noob is skipping M.A. school today because she accidentally rubbed some insect repellant lotion on her right eye last night and right now she looks like a pirate, or pirate-esse (if ever such a word existed) with one eye barely squinting at her Mini MacBook Pro 311's screen as she composes this post. Alright, that was an exaggeration. The irritation is already abating, hitting its worst last night as she slept at around 2:00 am watching TV. Enough of referring to myself in the third person (I must've been listening to too much podcasts for my M.A. - Antoine Compagnon's lecture at the Collège de France, "Proust, mémoire de la littérature" about narration first person vs third person, the validity and completeness of it).

Back to OSx86.

I gave the Atheros AR5B93 WiFi card I recently bought and destroyed one last chance. And in case you're wondering how I managed to work those tiny U.fl pins and screws, this transpired before the insect repellent lotion incident. The verdict? It's definitive that I've wasted yet another $17. Boot up just won't go past this line:

There's something I learned about this specific WiFi card; aside from it being recognized by Mac OS X 10.6 as AirPort Extreme right out of the box (or anti-static wrap and brown post office envelope), it's driven by the AirPortAtheros21.kext plugin inside of IO80211Family.kext with Dev ID "pci168c,2a". That there, is the exact Dev ID that I got when I inspected the card under Windows XP.

Yes, Windows XP - not on my Mini 311. On my MSI Wind. Yep, although the card would cause Windows 7 on the 311 to freeze, with the Wind, despite the PIN 20 disaster, it doesn't cause any freeze ups on boot. So I guess this means this Atheros card will just have to replace the Wind's aging, not to mention practically unused Realtek card. This will be solace for that act of imbecility.

And since I'm skipping school (my right eye still itches at times and I have to constantly apply hot compress), I thought I'd entertain myself with one of the things I love doing the most: installing Mac OS X. So I've currently transferred my little but very fortunate MSI Wind (much as I begrudge that it seems to be getting all those new hardware) to a larger table to reinstall a dualboot Snow Leopard + Windows 7 setup. I'm putting Win 7 in the first partition to avoid any problem with Chameleon not picking its NTFS formatted volume up at boot.
That's my MacBook Pro 5,1 on the left, and my MacBook 6,1 on the right - once I sort its smbios.plist out after the install and, hopefully, 10.6.4 update are done and over with.

Oh and by the way, since I'm on-line and e-bay is just a click away, I've just had this new Atheros ordered:
Remind me not to get ahead of myself and destroy this one again. Supposing e-bay seller cikeleapple didn't scam me.

I also wish I'd stop sabotaging myself with insect repellant lotion.

16 July 2010

Apple Shrinking the MacBook Air?

We've all heard what Tim Cook said  that may have agitated many netbook fans:
“We don’t know how to build a sub-$500 computer that is not a piece of junk.”
 Although, to be fair, the statement above did not deliberately say that netbooks are junk. It may well be the reference to pricing that provoked such conclusion: we all know that netbooks, for the most part, cost less than $500.

And we also know that Apple's response to the netbook category is the iPad. They weren't gonna make netbooks. Period. But as the Liliputing article puts it, the iPad is not a netbook. Period.

I will not deny the sheer joy that I felt surge inside me the first (and last) time I played with an iPad - a most fortunate officemate of mine was deployed to the US for a project and he was able to buy one with 3G.
However, for my computing habits, I must say that my dear little Mini MacBook 311 still holds that special place in my heart. I do a lot of typing and a physical keyboard is very important to me, perhaps as essential as  air itself. (Although I do find myself pining for the iPad Plants vs Zombies experience once in a while).

In the past, Steve Jobs may have touted the viability of their current MacBook Air line as their better option to puny little netbooks arguing against the latter's "less than full-size screen and keyboard". True, the likes of 10-inchers like the MSI Wind and Asus EeePC and of course HP Mini 1000's are undoubtedly thicker in profile, but still prove to be more backpack and wallet-friendly than the thin Air which costs almost four times as much (and I don't think one would just happily shove it in just any backpack at that price point).

As for the HP Mini 311, although it is a bit more cumbersome than the HP Mini 1000 and MSI Wind U100 to tote around, I still don't find myself minding the weight of it inside my bag or worrying about ruining the machine as much as I think I would if it were a MacBook Air I was carrying. "What if my backpack bumps into a steel bar inside the MRT train and the aluminum chassis ends up with nubs?" I do live the rugged life of commuters and perhaps I should get a car first before I buy an Air just to protect it from such encounters as the hustle and bustle of train stations and bus rides.

But according to Digitimes, the Cupertino company may well be in the way of developing a newer iteration of its MacBook Air with an 11.6" screen.
"...the 11.6-inch MacBook Air will feature an even slimmer and lighter design than the previous-generation models..."
I'd say that puts it in direct competition, for my attention at least, with the Mini MacBook 311 at least in terms of portability. 11.6" just cuts it better for me than 13.1".

I have no doubt of this 11.6" MacBook Air leaving netbooks behind in a (huge) pile of dust in terms of performance owing to its Core i3 CPU. That is when it does materialize from vapor-ware. But when that time comes, I'm sure the new MBA, like the current 13.1" MBA will also share the premium price.

I'd say it can then be likened to your usual anorexic Eurasian model gracing a Jean-Paul Gaultier défílé: costs a fortune so you would definitely treat them with care (or, this entirely no longer related to MacBook Airs, they pass out because all they've eaten for one whole week is a plate of lettuce greens).

Alter EFI v1.4

It's faster, better, and totally more innovative in design and functionality! The new Mercedes Benz E-class Cabriolet!

Nah, that's not how I want to introduce the new version of this little application that will help you manage EFI boot on your HP Mini 311.

First of, some history (this is really short). The script was a gift from a friend of mine, Kappy.
"RE: A gift
I wrote a little AppleScript to automate the process of rebuilding Extensions.mkext when modifying the EFI.  It's sort of like Dalton's Upgrade 1.0 program.  I did this because I have had continued problems with Upgrade quitting upon launch..."
Actually, the "Dalton's Upgrade 1.0 program" in the message above is UpdateEFI, specifically versions 1.3 and down. But the code is not taken from that UpdateEFI version (note though that the latest UpdateEFI 2's entire code is open, made by MistaBishi). Alter EFI's roots is Kappy's own personal attempt to recreate the features of the utility, taking inspiration from the InsanelyWind people.

Elated to finally have an app I could use, one that didn't patch IntelGMA950 kexts for me (cause that didn't make sense with the HP Mini 311 Ion graphics chipset), I found myself constantly using Alter EFI and adding some tweaks here and there. Hence Alter EFI was on v1.2 when first launched to the HP Mini 311 Darwin Project community.

The workflow for Alter EFI is simpler. There are only two options (three if we include "Cancel"):
1. "Edit Others" - for simple mounting of EFI; useful when you only want to edit boot plist, smbios.plist, swap dsdt - tasks that do not removing or installing kexts.
2. "Edit Kexts" - for installing or removing kexts; rebuilds Extensions.mkext automatically.

Until v1.3, the option "Edit Kexts" rebuilt the mkext from only /EFI/Extra/Extensions. But recently, it has been reported that combining /Extra/Extensions/ and /System/Library/Extensions/ for the Extensions.mkext has solved the "blank screen on wake during graphical boot mode" without system instability. And so, that kind of Extensions.mkext has  been adapted for the next Alter EFI version. The "Edit Kexts" will now create the Extensions.mkext much like how UpdateEFI2 creates it.

- Mounts and unmounts EFI volume automatically
- Opens a Finder window automatically at /Volumes/EFI/Extra/ for option "Edit Others" and /Volumes/EFI/Extra/Extensions/ for "Edit Kexts".
- Permissions are automatically configured for the /Volumes/EFI/Extra/ and /Volumes/EFI/Extra/Extensions/ so you can edit plists and delete kexts respectively without encountering the "You do not have enough permissions" blocking message from OS X.
-Permissions are also configured in such a way that when you're in "Edit Others" mode, you cannot change anything inside the Extensions folder without first authenticating (if you're not altogether blocked specifically when deleting a kext). Same is true for when you're in "Edit Kexts" mode, you cannot change anything in the Extra folder (com.apple.Boot.plist, smbios.plist, DSDT.aml).
- Includes basic error handling - EFI mounting/unmounting.

In keeping with the spirit of openness and love of knowledge shown by caring to share it to everyone willing to learn, the source script is included as part of the download package. Note though that the main Alter EFI application is saved as "application - run only mode". This is because Alter EFI seems to work better* when saved as such. 

*When saved as editable script, once the workflow runs through an error, instead of running it through the error handling routine, the AppleScript Editor application launches and opens the script for editing, disrupting the workflow and causing confusion to the end user.

14 July 2010

VoodooHDA + CHUD = Kernel Panic

If you're a Mac OS X developer wannabe like me, you probably find that a Snow Leopard installation is never complete without the Developer Tools. It's what that Optional folder contains if you look inside a Mac OS X Retail DVD and once it's installed you get a powerful set of applications and tools that though intended for development for legit Macs, have proven to be beneficial to hackintosh/OSx86 rigs.

Those "HF" releases wouldn't exist if not for PackageMaker, an application included in the Developer Tools package.

But PackageMaker is only one the many apps that come with Developer Tools - there's that very helpful IORegistry app for checking out your hardware as you tinker with DSDT, and Xcode of course, etc. But then there's also CHUD.

I get Kernel Panics more often with VoodooHDA reported as misbehaving which didn't happen when Developer Tools still weren't installed in my system.

Enter CHUD remover:
I normally just search for it from Spotlight, so I wouldn't know the exact path to the remover.

Apparently, CHUD kexts (they get installed in /S/L/E btw) do not play well with VoodooHDA.kext.

12 July 2010

Atheros AR5B93 - Perfect Mini MacBook

Or so I thought. But don't blame it on the Atheros AR5B93 card that came, finally, last Friday. Somewhere in between the challenge of solving the Snow Leopard + Windows 7 dual-boot puzzle on the HP Mini 311 and my excitement over receiving yet another new, err, "hardware", I may have slipped up.

We all know about HP's white lists and locked PCI slots and there's also the fact of this so called "soft switch" which in essence, means that an HP laptop uses this to "switch off" hardware installed in it. Now this soft switch is not something that Mac OS X appreciates. So, going straight to the point, what it means for the HP Mini 311 hackintosh user like me is that they would have their WiFi, that has always worked brilliantly, to suddenly not work. i.e. "No AirPort card installed" message in place of the signal indicator at the menubar.

This particular scenario, I've discovered, is more likely to happen when one is on dual-boot. Specifically a Windows version + Mac OS X. It appears to me that Windows appreciates this little trick of HP that after booting into Windows 7 and Mac OS X alternately for a while, I find my WiFi card disabled. And I have to use an Ubuntu USB flashdrive to try re-enabling the WiFi card thus  I've proven Linux to be above this soft switch situation. But sometimes, as good as Linux undoubtedly is, this stupidity can sometimes be beyond its tolerance level and I resort to re-seating my WiFi card in the PCI slot.

Taping PIN 20 of the WiFi card solved the problem for me, at least in the Broadcom BCM4312HMG card's case and so finally, I decided to peel the copper contact strip of that card's PIN 20 to make the fix permanent. And that's exactly where I say that I've started to slip up, perhaps.
*NOTE: this Broadcom BCM4312HMG is NOT the same as the HP Mini 311's stock WiFi card, which is a Broadcom BCM4312HMGB . That Broadcom BCM4312HMGB DOES NOT work in Snow Leopard. People, seriously, let us try to accept the fact and move on ;-)
You see, with my happy and giddy, and not to mention a bit troubled (with the dual-boot issue a fellow forumer was having) state last week, I had the equally happy idea of doing the permanent fix on my all brand new Atheros AR5B93.
It does work, mind you. It's even recognized by Snow Leopard as AirPort Extreme without me having to flash its Device ID's in Linux. My only problem now is that it would cause my HP Mini to freeze in 10.6. And when I updated my fresh install (I had to do a fresh install for the dual-boot experiment) to 10.6.4, I would get stuck at boot.

I'm really suspecting it's my "PIN 20 attack" that caused this problem and may have damaged my Atheros AR5B93. Perhaps it's only the Broadcom cards that benefit from that specific solution?

Anyone who have experience with Atheros AR5B93 on their HP Mini 311 share their feedback regarding the freeze ups at boot?

06 July 2010

HP Mini MacBook 311 Boot Time

Snow Leopard 10.6.4.
What's yours?

Snow Leopard Guide for HP Mini 311 Updated!

I finally found time to update the Snow Leo installation guide for the HP Mini 311 but, for now, only for one install method that uses Mac OS X Retail DVD disc and optical drive. It includes a new booter and covers 10.6.4 update as well.

image from commentcamarche.ne

You can also access the guide in the "Guides" tab on my blog.

I'll add the other install method, specifically USB drive/restored OS X DVD image + MultiBootISO, which is also my preference. But that's for later when I have time again.

Also I'm still deciding whether I should put that in one post/guide or in a different post altogether and just reference it on the first guide?

05 July 2010

Mini MacBook Maintenance

If you're reading this blog then you're most likely running a hackintosh. That in turn means you're mucking with OS X system. Not that the average users/owners of a genuine Mac do not need to do some maintenance tasks with their machines from time to time, they do. Our activities as OSx86 users just warrant more vigilance on our end.

As we all know, OS X is a Unix-based platform for which the subject of permissions is no superfluous matter. Remember all those non Apple kexts that, at some point in time, required forced entry into /System/Library/Extensions? All those community released installers? I'm not saying that the community releases are evil but just stating the fact that all these touch the OS X file system and with that comes the probability disturbance of the file system permissions or "access privileges".

It's a  good thing though that utilities to accomplish this maintenance task are readily available. One of which already comes installed by default on Macs and hackintoshes alike.

Enter Disk Utility:

Permission errors, though seemingly trivial, can indeed cause a large number of problems - from applications not launching, to slowing OS X's performance to much serious ones such as the OS not being able to boot up at all.

Also, still related to kext installation, it would be beneficial to run utilities that take care of system caches. Since the combination of kexts is crucial for a hackintosh to boot up properly and system caches are very involved in that boot up process, this maintenance task is all the more essential.

You can use Onyx (for Snow Leopard) to clear the system caches.
You can also repair disk permissions via this very same app, and other similar maintenance related tasks, which Onyx one very convenient app.

You'd be amazed how much better your Mini MacBook responses after doing these seemingly insignificant maintenance activities.

Happy hackintoshing!

04 July 2010

Stubborn Noob or Over-clock Your HP Mini 311

Mucking with the BIOS is not easy business. It is not to be taken lightly and something not generally advised to newbies to try. Because one wrong move and your netbook, most of the time if not always, is on its way to your nearest service center when still covered with warranty or to the nearest dumpsite when warranty is expired and you can't afford to pay or simply just procure the service of BIOS chip replacement/reprogramming. And I know this is true cause I just bricked my HP Mini 311 because of inattentive over-clocking.

Nonetheless, I said I was still gonna try over-clocking despite all that's happened.

Here's my "About This Mac" screenie:
Normally I'm hesitant about running non-stock elements on my gadgets. But then I wanted to change that HP logo during boot up with my own stuff (and yep, it's Apple/Mac OS X related). 
Since editing the latest F.15 Insyde BIOS from HP to integrate the custom image I wanted would make it technically non-stock, I thought I'd rather go all the way and flash my 311 with icelord's de-whitelisted F.15 edited to include my choice of logo of course. That way, I can also install any card that works with Snow Leopard on the half-height PCI slot.

CAUTION: The following instructions below are to be carried out AT YOUR OWN RISK. I am not responsible for any damage resulting from this.

What You Need:
1. USB flash drive - the HP Mini 311, some say, is picky with USB's. Use one that you've tested to work before - in the previous BIOS updates, F.14 and below.
2. Icelord's F.15 - I had renamed the approprate file, which is 1 MB in size, to 3561.BIN. The BIOS file is also included in Retail Pack 0.9.

Prepare the USB to be used as BIOS flasher:
1. Format the USB drive to FAT32 - I normally do this in Windows, just to be sure.
2. Put 3561.BIN, the one you downloaded above, to the USB drive.

Flash the BIOS:
1. Turn off the HP Mini 311 and remove the battery. Make sure you plug its AC adapter to electricity source.
2. Plug in the USB BIOS flasher - I prefer using the USB port at the left, along side the AC adapter/power port.
3. Press "Windows" and "B" keys at the same time. Hold for around 15 seconds.
4. Without letting go of "Windows" and "B" keys, press the Power button to turn on the machine. Wait for about 15 seconds.
5. Let go of the two keys. In the next 10 - 30 seconds or so, your HP Mini 311 will beep and its fan will run. DO NOT TURN IT OFF or do anything, let it do its own thing and IT WILL TURN OFF ON ITS OWN.
6. Plug in the battery back and plug out the USB BIOS flasher. Verify that you do have F.15 bios by pressing F10 before the computer loads the OS.

1. Inside the BIOS screen (press F10 to get to the BIOS), use the arrow key to go to the AdvancedPerformance Options: (press Enter to actually get into the screen you want for editing)
2. By default, the System Clock Mode is set to Auto. Change that to Linked:

3. Change the FSB - Memory Ratio to 3:2:
4. Set your FSB Clock the important thing to note is to NOT EXCEED 800 MHz in total for the Atom N280 as this is its limit. 
There are 2 figures to set up here. 
- FSB Clock (MHz) has pre-defined numbers which you choose from: 256, 512, 768; and 
- + (MHz) is user-defined. You can directly input numbers upto 2 decimal places, that is you can press "9" twice on the keyboard and you get "99" (highest by direct keyboard input). Higher than that, use F6 key to increase value by 1. Use F5 to decrease value by 1. 
My personal recommendation is to use only 780 MHz FSB as maximum which gives me a 2.06 GHz clock for the Atom N280 and 1666 MHz for DDR3. 
So my input would be 768 + 16:
5. Leave Memory Timing as it is; Auto. DOUBLE CHECK that your total FSB DOES NOT EXCEED 800 MHz. Press F10 to save changes as you exit the BIOS.

Unlike the Atom N270, the Atom N280 has a multiplier of only 10 instead of the latter's 12. This is the reason why the N270 can be over-clocked higher than the N280.

What does a Mini MacBook 311 gain by over-clocking?
To be perfectly honest, aside from seeing a clock speed other than 1.67 GHz on my About This Mac window, I don't know. 
I did try to run Windows 7 experience test again after over-clocking and it still gave "3.2" as rating. But Windows 7 did, however, sense that there was a change in my hardware configuration and thus ran the test again.
Some say the system responds better with the higher clock but I guess my day to day computing activities are not those that benefit greatly from the increase in numbers. I'd like to say that Safari launches by at least one second faster than it would normally before, but I'm afraid that since I haven't run any timer tests on launching apps, it would only be a major blasphemy on my end.
Suffice it to say that so far, 2.06 GHz on my Mini MacBook 311 running 10.6.4 has been stable. 
I still got that nasty "Backtrace terminated - invalid frame pointer 0xb0182d78" kernel panic at one point, but I'd blame the ApplePS2 kexts more for that.