The new micro-sized “netbook” laptops that have popped up this year are quite nifty, but unfortunately for Mac users, none of them ship with OS X. Fortunately, while you wait for Apple to release their own model, you can hack most standard PC netbooks to run a patched version of OS X.
Dan from Uneasy Silence got 10.5 up and running on his Dell Mini (photo above) and documented the steps required to make it work:
Kevin advised me that the chipset and processor of the Dell mini is so similar to the MSI Wind that a special slipstreamed version of 10.5 customized for the MSI Wind would be perfect (and painless) to get the little guy up and running.
The steps to Leopard-ize the mini are actually quite simple and easy to follow. After you download the slipstreamed ISO and burn the 3.2GB ISO to a DVD you boot up the Dell mini off a external DVD drive (Press 0 (Zero) at the BIOS screen) and installed Leopard as usual.
Brian Chen from Gadget Lab posted a video that shows you how to do this with an MSI Wind. The only complicated part of the process is to swap out the wireless card with one that’s supported under OS X – not too big a deal.
Update: no alternate wireless card needed for MSI Wind
Kevin C. Tofel from the jkontherun blog wrote in with good news for MSI Wind users:
I’ve run OS X on my MSI Wind netbook as well as my touchscreen Samsung Q1UP UMPC… it’s a great experience when you want OS X but don’t want to carry a 4.5+ pound machine or can’t drop $ on the MacBook Air.
I wanted to point one thing out that might be of benefit to your readers. You mentioned that MSI Wind owners need to swap out their WiFi card, but that actually changed just yesterday.
Realtek decided to create unofficial drivers for their wireless module, which is used in the MSI Wind. As a result, you can now get OS X to recognize the native WiFi card. This tip could save some folks the time, effort and cost of a replacement module.