The Story of My Hackintosh Laptop – Part 1

How It All Started …

A few months back, I had a work-provided, shiny 15″ Macbook Pro. We went everywhere together… long moonlit walks.. surfing the web in a dark cafe, with a cliche candle dripping scented wax all over an old Chianti bottle… bike rides in the country with baguettes and brie … the sound of its fan so soothing …

And then that job ended, they laid off everyone in sight, and snatched back our Macbooks with cold corporate fingers. Bastards.

It sucked, and there was much wailing and gnashing of teeth. We all loved our MacBooks.  Even Mr P, a diehard Windows fan, broke down and cried like a little girl.  There are fingernail scratch marks on what was “His” Macbook Air from the effects of all the prying.

Now, as it happens, I love diving into little tech projects. So while I could not dash out and buy my own MacBook, I was able to research cheap less expensive alternatives to getting the Mac laptop fix I crave.  I did just that, and perhaps my newfound joy of putting together a dual booting (Mountain Lion and Windows 7) machine for ~$500 will inspire you. It could also make you toss your hands up in the air, head to the nearest Apple Store, and do it the easy way. I wont pout.

To keep this post from getting insanely long, I’m going to point at some sources of information that really helped me get through the process. I didn’t write down every single step.

The Hardware

I bought an HP ProBook 4530s from Amazon. When I purchased it in mid-September 2012, it was $488.95.  I saw the price drop to $450ish. Now I see it for $518! It could be that the supply is drying up, as it’s been discontinued. Mine was this one: 2.30 GHz Intel Core i3-2350M, 4 GB RAM, 500 GB Hard Drive, DVD+/-RW SuperMulti Drive, Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit.

Some of my thinking about getting this specific model came from:

Even though the 4530s is pretty well suited to running Mac OS, there are some hoops to jump through, and I ended up getting USB Dongles for Bluetooth and Wifi (as opposed to ordering a card and opening it up).

This is not a One Beer Project.  You may even be tempted to switch to something stronger in mid-stream.  I don’t recommend that.  Save that for the end :)

Here’s list of some hardware bits that were helpful for my project. You don’t need everything here!  I basically wanted to clone the laptop disk, add more memory, and go the route of having reusable usb dongles for bluetooth and wifi.

Backup Your Laptop First

Stop! Don’t Go Into Cowboy Mode!  Don’t get all Cavalier on this!

You recall that I had an external USB drive in my list earlier on? Go grab EaseUS Disk Copy Home Edition 2.3.1 - it’s free. You will want to create a bootable CD or USB key to run it.  It can completely clone drives (partitions and all).

So, yes, if you are following along, make a backup of the HP. Don’t make me come over there! (looks over top of glasses with raised eyebrow).

I’ll give you another reason to back up your machine: we’re going to clobber the internal disk, and in the case of the HP laptop, I needed to get to some of their driver software later on (and they dont provide a DVD of Windows 7 with their laptops.. it’s all on the internal disk)

Backed up? Ok then, yeeehaw, Buckaroo! Let’s fling some bits around…

The Mountain Lion Acquisition Problem

So here is a little detour which may make you smirk at my ancient Mac hardware, or break out in a case of the “wows”. I think it’s going to be more of a smirkfest.

I have an old Intel iMac from 2006. It is a 32 bit machine, and Mountain Lion (Mac OS 10.8) wont run on it. To rub salt into the wound, the App Store wouldn’t even let me purchase it from that machine. All I needed was the downloaded installer for Mountain Lion to use elsewhere. You cant buy ML from Apple on a DVD or USB key.

So, what I needed was a Mac running a 64 bit OS, so that I could run App Store, in order to buy and download the Mountain Lion installer …

… simple, huh?

Just to be clear, if you have access to a recent 64 bit Mac that can download Mountain Lion, you will not have to jump through the silly hoop I am about to mention.

As it turns out, my HP came with Windows 7 in 64 bit mode, and I do know how to install VirtualBox. I own the Snow Leopard (Mac OS 10.6) install DVD, so I was able to create a virtual machine running Mac, under Windows.  Here are some tips on how to do that:  How to install a Snow Leopard Hackintosh in Virtualbox [Windows]

There are other articles out there that mention downloading pre-hacked versions of Mac OSX.  Stay Far Away!  Get your own legal copy and follow the steps.  Mountain Lion is only $19.99.  Cough it up!

Once I had Snow Leopard running as a virtual machine (under Windows 7, on the HP), there was only one thing I wanted to do with it … get the install image of Mountain Lion and get on with it.  You basically want to copy the Installer that is put in /Applications/Install Mac OS X Mountain Lion.app

Installing Mountain Lion On An HP 4530s

Ok, here we go… the big show! And what am I going to do? I’m going to punt and point to Guides! Much Braver People than I have thoroughly explored and documented the process. I am merely your Tour Guide.

The basic steps are going to be:

  • creating a bootable USB key with the Mountain Lion Installer and other utilities on it (I was able to use my old iMac to go through that process)
  • booting the HP from the key, and formatting the disk with the Disk Utility (from the Installer)
  • doing the actual OS install
  • running the HP Probook Installer to enable various hardware components

There is one main link I have for guiding you:  Guide to Installing Mountain Lion on HP Probook

I think that one is pretty thorough for walking one through the process.  In my case, I used Disk Utility (off the bootable USB key) to change the internal HP disk to GUID format, with two evenly split partitions.  The second partition is for my Windows 7 install (which I will cover in the second part of this writeup).   I made the second partition FAT format, just for reference.  A later Windows 7 install will overwrite that as NTFS.

In the process, you will want to have some things on hand.  You will need to register with tonymacx86.com to download them:

The guide is also good at calling out some specific issues that you may run into.  I know that the App Store gave me 10.8.2, which had a booting error.  You may need to refer to this:

How to fix the boot0 error for your Hackintosh

Gee, Is That All?  (Summary for now)

Heh, looking back over this, it would seem like a minefield of obstacles to get Mountain Lion going on a Laptop.  In some ways, sure, it can be.  It is worth it for me!  For about 1/3rd the cost of a decent Macbook Pro, I have a very functional Mac (and Windows 7) Laptop.  It is one those projects where, if you’ve done some software or hardware mods in the past, then It Is All Possible. And Worth Doing.

Legal Stuff

Someone is bound to ask.. wait, is this Legal?  Hey, I proudly bought all of my Apple Software, and will purchase more via App Store while running Mountain Lion.  I can also point to some additional opinion:

My sense is that Apple has a lot of sense about this.  The more they get Mac OS out there, the more software they will sell.  I cant afford a shiny Macbook Pro from them at the moment, but I can sure afford some of their apps.  I see it as a win-win!  Their software license also specifically covers running the OS as a virtual machine, which is great.

Finally, I’ve been buying Apple Hardware since 1997 (not only for myself, but for extended family when I was able to, way back when… )  I think they know I’m a pretty good customer ;)

Part 2 coming soon!

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