How to install 10.4.4 on Dell Inspiron 8500

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[edit] How to make MacOSX 10.4.4 run on a Dell Inspiron 8500.

[edit] Introduction

As a purely academic interest I wanted to see if I could get MacOSX running on my 3 year old Dell Inspiron 8500. Given that getting even Linux to work with some of the specialist hardware in this thing has proved to be problematic I expected it to be pretty tough to impossible. Imagine my surprise to find that, in fact, with just a little bit of effort, the Inspiron 8500 makes a decent (if noisy) Mac :>

Huge kudos to all the people working and patching things as well as those taking time out to answer questions and compile guides on which provide the information needed to make this possible. I'm not going to start naming names since it's a community effort :>

So, if you're the owner of a Dell Inspiron 8500 and have it mothballed or are thinking of flogging it for a lowly sum... ($200 on a certain auction site? Madness!) think twice.. it might just make a decent "academic research project" platform. If you do, I hope this guide helps.

[edit] My Hardware setup

  • Dell Inspiron 8500
  • 2.4GHz Pentium 4M CPU
  • 1Gb RAM
  • Nvidia GeForce 4200 Go with 64Mb VRAM
  • 15.4" WUXGA Active-TFT Screen with [email protected] as native resolution
  • 60Gb Hitachi ATA100 udma5 disk
  • DVD-ROM/CD-RW drive
  • PCMCIA slot (1x)
  • IEEE1394a (firewire) port (1x)
  • USB 2.0 ports (2x)
  • Serial, parallel, vga connectors
  • Winmodem
  • 10/100 ethernet
  • AC'97 soundcard
  • TV/video/SPDIF out
  • Mic in, stereo headphones out
  • Dell TrueMobile 1300 Wireless LAN Mini PCI card
  • Internal Bluetooth option

[edit] Installation

  • Installing from DVD

(assumption: you have the relevant patched DVD image)

  1. If you erase the disk with the "disk utility" on the installation DvD, it doesn't seem to set the boot partition active. Get Hiren's boot cd and use the Fdisk extended tool to set it active.
  2. Install X11 because things like the MacOSX port of 2.0 need it
  • Ethernet (Broadcomm BCM440 10/100 NIC)
  1. There appears to be a glitch in 10.4.4 with the BCM440 driver. Not investigated further because it's reported to work fine on 10.4.5 and 10.4.6 and besides, I want to use only wireless anyway.
  • Wireless Networking (miniPCI WLAN 1300 = Broadcomm 4306 based chip)
  1. Modify
and change the pci14e4,xxxx entries to 4306 4311 4320 (this works for me - ymmv)
  1. Reset Kernel extensions Cache
  2. reboot
  3. edit
and change en0 to en1 and change the integer value of IOInterfaceUnit to 1
  1. reboot
  2. Open Network Preferences, you should get prompted that a new Airport card has been detected
  • Display (Nvidia GeForce 4200 Go and a 15.4" WUXGA TFT @ 1920x1200x32x60Hz native resolution)
  1. Follow these instructions exactly and it works. (Note: The installer automates some steps but you still need to edit the kexts etc to add your card id as described)
  2. The GeForce 4200 Go in my Inspiron 8500 had a device id of 0286
  • Keyboard (on my 8500 is British)
  1. The keyboard was not being recognised properly (American mappings for some keys) so I used the info at this link
  • Bluetooth
  1. Works out of the box
  • Power Management
  1. Turn off all energy savers because the dell doesn't like to sleep... to sleep is to die apparently... :)
  2. To get the battery to display I used this
  • USB
  1. Works out of the box
  1. Works out of the box

These are the areas that were relevant to me. I leave adding to this to people who have different hardware or need some of the functionality I don't need (e.g. the ethernet nic) working to update this.

[edit] Updating to 10.4.6

Once this is done you can try updating to 10.4.6 as per the instructions here which worked fine for me except I had to remove all preferences relating to the windowserver and display again as was instructed for installing the nvidia driver in these instructions otherwise my display was hanging on boot

[edit] Performance

MacOSX works like a dream. It's relatively fast and even though the nvidia drivers are not yet accelerated it seems responsive. Pretty much everything works, I haven't tested Firewire, but I know that WiFi, Bluetooth and USB work fine as well as the basic system.

The one drawback is heat and noise. Running any OS the 8500 is a noisy fan heater... but particularly since here isn't (yet) support for SpeedStep this means the CPU is running full tilt most of the time and consequently the fans are too... (mind you, it tended to do this in Windows XP too so no big loss there) - not recommended for the phonophobes amongst us :) . .

This page was last modified on 29 March 2009, at 15:57.
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