Easiest System Install And Backup On A Hackintosh

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I notice in hackintosh forums that I frequent, that people are often struggling with two things when it comes to a functional hackintosh.

  • Initial installation
  • Backing up in a way that is simple, and if an update causes problem, reverting back to prior state.

Both problems are easy to address. The easiest way to install on a hackintosh, requires a real mac. Well, if you do not have one, you will have to go the harder way, as described in forums like insanelymac.com.
If you already have a modern intel mac, proceed with installation of a fresh snow leopard install (OSX 10.6). Once you have done that, follow the below steps on your real mac:

  • Download and install carbon copy cloner.
  • Open Disk Utility in your Utilities folder.
  • Create a disk image using “New Image” button. Select Custom (100 Gb), Mac OSX Extended (Journaled), none for encryption, single partition (GUID partition map), and sparse bundle disk image. Using this last option will ensure that you will only consume as much disk space as your disk image is consuming, instead of 100Gb for a blank disk image. You can name the image anything you want.
  • Mount the disk image
  • Launch carbon copy cloner
  • Select your fresh OSX install as source. Select your mounted disk image as target.
  • For the first backup, you can select “backup everything.” But do not use this option for subsequent backups. “Delete items that do not exist on the source” can be selected in subsequent backups, but you need to be aware that this will delete files on the image if they have been deleted from the original install. Dangerous stuff, but you can NOT leave old system files floating around, they will mess up things badly, so this is needed for system backups.
  • Hit the “clone” button, ignore warning about the disk not being bootable. (You will never boot from the disk image, and you can not even if you wanted to, it is just a backup)
  • When done, insert a USB key (8 gigs or better) or a blank USB external disk.
  • Now also clone to that disk selected as target. (Warning: if that disk is not empty, it will be erased.)
  • Download and launch chameleon bootloader. Note that the older version of chameleon (Chameleon-2.0-RC2-r640.pkg) has an installer, and later versions require a trip to the terminal to do some manual file swap. So stick with the older version, and install chameleon on your USB drive or stick. It is very important not to install on the real mac, as it would break the software install on that machine.
  • Plug in the USB drive or stick into your hackintosh, and using your hackintosh’s BIOS screens, select the USB drive or stick to boot from, and cross your fingers.
  • If it does not boot, then it is time for you to visit insanelymac.com, and find out what additional kexts your motherboard would need in the /Extra folder. Other problems, like audio, etc., would also need this treatment.
  • Once everything works, you can ‘carbon copy clone’ from the USB external disk or stick, to your internal disk on your hackintosh. Just be careful with the “delete items that don’t exist on the source” as it will delete whatever you have on your internal disk. Use it at your own risk.
  • Now back to backup. Once you have everything running, you can update the image file using carbon copy cloner. Repeat the carbon copy step above by “selecting incremental backup of selected items,” and “delete items that don’t exist on the source” (you need to know what you are doing with this, otherwise files will be deleted from the image file. Naturally, the source is your internal (working) disk, and the target is the image file.
  • If an update breaks you install in the future, you can bring back your install from the image by selecting that as the source, and your install disk as the target. Once again, careful with the “delete items that don’t exist on the source” as it will delete whatever you have on your internal disk. I use “protect root level items option” and “incremental backup” option with the user folder (and other folders) on the left pane deselected, so that carbon copy cloner does not wipe out the user folder and other important folders which contain my most recent data.

Be aware that using carbon copy cloner in this fashion is essentially playing with fire. If you do not know what you are doing, losing all of your data is real easy. If you do not have a backup, do not attempt this as once those files are gone, there is no way to bring them back. Buying a real mac is much easier and cheaper, especially if you do not know what you are doing.

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