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Interesting times in the world of the OSx86project

In previous posts, I explained my experiences installing Mac OS X on a regular PC. This has of course been using copies in which individuals have made various “hacks” to make it work on non-apple-branded computers. In fact, rather than wipe my Windows install every time I wanted to experiment, I ended up dedicating a 2nd hard drive to playing with the Mac OS. For the most part though, things were pretty dull for the majority of the year. Ever since the individual known as “Maxxuss” disappeared (the guy who “cracked” the kernel), there really hadn’t been anything major brought to the scene. “JaS” and “Myzar” were both able to create new releases to co-incide with Mac OS X updates, but they were still based on an old kernel. In the hardware-compatibility area, there were also gains, but for the most part, progress was the slow time-consuming thing that you’d expect, and there weren’t really any major breakthroughs to excite the community. A large part of this was because the old kernel was still in use. Those running OS X on a PC didn’t get the performance enhancements, support for new hardware, etc.

In recent times however, things have begun to get a little more exciting. Apple published the source to their OS X 10.4.8 kernel, and a few individuals in the OSx86project community got to work. Eventually, a couple kernels were released that “JaS” was able to build into OSx86 installation DVD’s. In fact, over the last few days, there seems to be something new, be it a kernel update, a new ISO, or something else directly affected by this new release.

What does this mean for those running OS X on their PC’s? Well things just got a little better. Performance should be up. New hardware can now be used. For example, for the first time, many nVidia users can get QE/CI working on their hackintosh’s, by running 10.4.8 and using the Titan release by “omni” (for a novice trying it out, there’s a nice “Natit” installer out there).

Here’s a screenshot example of an nVidia Forsa GeForce 6600 running on mine:

geforce-osx-1048.png

Just for fun, I installed both Warcraft III as well as World of Warcraft. World of Warcraft ran great. Warcraft III was fairly choppy (although probably playable). Warcraft III of course isn’t a Universal Binary, so it was running through Rosetta. A faster processor would probably make it more playable (this was running on a Socket 775-based Celeron). I only ran each game for about 2 minutes, so it’s possible that they’re not perfectly stable, although I suspect they’re probably fine. “Tearing” issues that I experienced when using ATI cards on 10.4.6 are non-existant using the nVidia card on 10.4.8.

With good comes bad though. Granted, things are not perfect, and there are still a lot of bugs and issues to be worked out. For example, in 10.4.6, I was able to get my Logitech USB headset working by installing a Sound Blaster USB package. Trying that in 10.4.8 caused a kernel panic when I plugged it in. I’m back to freezes during shutdown/reboot, but I’ll see if there are solutions to that. I also needed to download and run an IOUSBFamily update to get any of my USB devices to work at all (including the keyboard and mouse). This doesn’t relate directly to myself, but SSE2 and AMD support is also still being worked on, so there are still a lot of users who are out of luck at the moment.

But at least for now, things are pretty exciting. There are changes, and new things to play with and try out each day. Sure, the entire community knows that if Apple could make it extremely difficult to continue with the OSx86 developement (to the point of being nearly impossible). Even if that never happens, the community knows that the OSx86project will never meet a Mac’s compatibilty. But this isn’t about the goal. It’s about the journey.

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