Over the past few months, I’ve seen a lot of people talk about netbook computers and how hackable they are. Sites like JKontheRun, The Gadgeteer, and even Gear Diary have all posted articles on hacking this particular netbook. While none of these sites recommends hacking ANY device, it does go a long way to showing everyone just how versatile this device truly, truly is.
Honestly, I wasn’t really interested in any kind of netbook computer until Dan posted his article on the creation of a “hackintosh,” or non-Apple PC running OSX. Before then, I really didn’t seen any real value or have any interest in using something that, at the time, I thought was underpowered, limited in functionality and versatility, and, well, way smaller than my 15.4″ MacBook Pro. I just didn’t see the point… Until Dan’s article, that is.
Please note that this is an ADVANCED piece of work. You also need to understand that no one at Gear Diary sanctions or recommends this. You shouldn’t do any of this without understanding that you do all of this at your own risk.
Dan will be the first to tell you, he is NOT a techie. Geek, yes. Techie, maybe not so much; but if he could get OSX on his Wind, then maybe, I could too. So, After reading his article, a couple of phone calls, a Skype call or two, I bit the bullet and followed the process to download the MSIWindosx86.iso image, as well as OSX86 Tools. You’ll need both of these to get OSX on the Wind. You’ll also need the KEXT Utility in OSX86 Tools to help you reinstall KVM drivers to restore functionality after upgrading the base 10.5.4 OSX image in MSIWindosx86.iso to 10.5.5 or 10.5.6.
But let’s start from the top, shall we..? The following materials, tools, apps/utilities were what I used in order to not only get OSX on the Wind, but to also enable dual boot functionality:
1. USB based CD/DVD-ROM drive.
2. A couple of USB flash drives
3. A USB Keyboard (for fixing keyboard problems on the OSX side after upgrading to 10.5.6)
4. Access to a genuine Apple Macintosh computer so you can create either the bootable DVD or bootable USB flash drive from MSIWindosx86.iso (see below)
5. A USB Mouse (for fixing mouse problems on the OSX side after upgrading to 10.5.6)
6. A full (not Upgrade) version of Windows. You can also use the MSI Wind’s Restore DVD, depending on how you want to go.
7. The MSI Wind’s Drivers and Utilities Disk (for the Windows side, if you’ve blown the drive and erased the factory image)
8. The latest MSI Wind BIOS (Optional)
9. A copy of MSIWindosx86.iso (Wind compatible OSX install of OSX 10.5.4). A simple Google search can score you the hacked version of OSX for your Wind.
10. A legitimate copy of OSX 10.5 (Optional; but at least you’ll have a copy that you can point to, should someone question it)
11. A copy of Chameleon 1.0.11
12. A copy of OSX86 Tools
13. A cop of Realtek’s OSX WiFi driver.
14. A copy of Vivarey’s 10.5.6 Upgrade Pack v2. I would assume that if/when 10.5.7 (and greater) comes out, this upgrade pack will correct keyboard, video and mouse/trackpad problems created after Software Update finishes on the Mac Side. (you will need the USB keyboard and mouse I mentioned to install these)
FYI – You don’t need to install or run KEXT Helper, included with the upgrade pack, unless you want to. You can use the KEXT installer in OSX86 Tools to install the KEXT files.
Please note that there are a number of different ways to go with this; and for the sake of this article, I am going to assume that Windows refers to Windows XP and not Vista or Windows 7 during this article (though as I understand it, the Wind will run Vista as well as Windows 7). Remember, the Wind real was made to be a hacked upon machine. So for most things, the sky is the limit. For our purposes though, you can start with the factory image after starting the Wind for the first time or you can install a customized version of Windows. You CAN start with OSX and then try to customize the Darwin Boot Loader; but honestly, that’s a bit more difficult, and really requires a bit of Unix experience, that I simply don’t have (and can’t relate to you, here).
After getting OSX on the Wind, following Dan’s cool and useful instructions, I decided to look into what other options I could explore with the Wind. The best resource I could find for the Wind is forums.msiwind.net. They’re pretty much IT when it comes to what you can and cannot do with the Wind. It was there that I got the basis for all of this, and where most of the links for the tools and resources I will relate to you were originally taken from. But, without further ado, here is the process that I followed to get both Windows and OSX on the MSI Wind:
1. Create the OSX Bootable USB key or Bootable DVD
While you don’t HAVE to do this first, you may want to, especially if you decide to blow the drive partitions on the Wind and create multiple partitions for Windows XP, OSX and, for example, a shared data drive.
If you have a USB DVD writer, creating a DVD from MSIWindosx86.iso really makes this process go a LOT easier and a lot smoother. Its also very easy to do, with the needed tools. If you decide to create the USB stick, you can follow Dan’s instructions, or the instructions at Wired.
2. Obtain, Customize and/or Install a Version of Windows
Very quickly, this could be the longest part of this entire process, or it could be one of the shortest. Again, there are a couple of ways you can go with this:
a. You can use the factory image originally on the Wind. It comes with the drive split down the middle, in equal parts, ready for something like this.
b. You can blow the drive, and install a different version of XP. If you go this route, you can also repartition the drive. You can use the partition manager that comes with XP, or you can use Disk Utility from either the bootable OSX DVD or USB stick you created, above.
c. You can blow the drive and customize a version of XP to your liking and tastes, using nLite. (Please note that nLite will NOT, and I really mean WILL NOT work on the Windows XP installation files on the Wind’s restore DVD. I’ve tried seven ways to Sunday, and nLite simply will not recognize or use the files in that disc’s i386 directory.)
3. Install the Wind’s Windows Drivers and Utility Programs
After you do get Windows on the Wind, you’re going to need all of the drivers and utilities (except Media One, WinZip and WinRAR, which are trials anyway…) from the Drivers DVD in order to run the Wind and all its hardware features. You’re also going to want to make sure you install System Control Manager, as it will help you use all of the Wind’s function keys, insuring that items/drivers get turned on, off, up and down correctly.
4. Update Windows
No matter if you install XP SP2 or SP3, you’re going to need to download a lot of updates from Microsoft Update after the installation is done and the drivers are installed. Let Windows download and install everything that it wants to, restarting as often as the Wind wants to restart. Run Microsoft Update until you don’t see any additional updates suggested. Please note that you should see at least 2 driver updates as well. Install these. You’re going to want them.
5. Boot to and Install OSX
You can use the process that Dan outlined to create the OSX based USB flash drive, or you can just burn the ISO I’ve mentioned above, to a DVD and install from it if you have a USB DVD drive.
After You have the install routine for OSX up, you need to make sure that you format the Mac partition as HSF+ (Journaled). Install OSX to this partition.
6. Reboot to Verify You can Boot into Windows
If everything went right, then you should see the Darwin bootloader count down from 5-1. Before it gets to 1, and boots you into OSX, hit any key, choose the partition that has XP installed on it, and press enter. You should see the XP splash screen come up, and the Wind should boot into Windows. If things are going to go south, this is the point where it will happen.
I have had a couple of problems with the boot into Windows hanging at this point. You can try blowing the drive and repeating everything, but when you do, complete the following steps to insure that things move forward correctly:
1. Pull the battery, and AC adapter
2. If you installed extra RAM, flip the Wind, pop the back off and reseat the RAM to make sure it hasn’t come loose or anything.
3. Restart the Wind WITHOUT the battery, and on AC power only.
4. Blow the drive, and repeat the process, starting with the Windows install. Keep the battery OUT until after you have OSX installed. After its back, shut down, pull the AC adapter and replace the battery. restart normally.
7. Run Mac Software Update
After OSX is installed, you can run Software Update to update core applications and the OS. Before you start downloading, however, you will need to plug in that USB keyboard and mouse I mentioned above. Installing any OS update will unfortunately disable both the keyboard, mouse, and reduce your video resolution from 1024×600 to 800×600.
Please make certain you have downloaded and installed OSX86 Tools. You will need it to install Vivarey’s 10.5.6 Upgrade Pack v2. Please have that and a copy of the Realtek OSX WiFi driver on a OSX readable USB flash drive, ready to go.
Run Software Update, install the 10.5.6 update (and all other updates you see), and then let the Wind restart. When it does restart, leave it alone and let it boot into OSX, again with the USB keyboard and mouse attached.
8. Update your KVM Drivers
Insert the USB key with the WiFi driver and install it on the OSX side. Reboot the Wind, again, to OSX. copy Vivarey’s unzipped update pack to your desktop.
Run OSX86Tools (if its not already running). You must install all KEXT files with the Kext Installer in OSX86Tools (unless you use another tool). I’ve written this using OSX86Tools.
Click the Install KEXTs button. Click the OK button on the dialog that shows. Navigate to the root of Vivarey’s update folder and double click it. You’ll see a Display folder, a Keyboard folder and a Trackpad folder. You are going to install drivers to OSX in that order.
Click the Display folder. Inside it you will see a First and a Second folder (both spelled out). Click on the First folder. You will see 3 files:
You MUST install these files IN THIS ORDER.
From the Choose a file dialog box, navigate to the First folder, and click on AppleIntellGMA950.kext. Click the Choose button. The KEXT installer will present you with a couple of dialogs indicating that it will install the file, and you will be required to restart you computer afterwards. Install the KEXT file, reboot the computer by choosing Restart from the Apple menu.
When the computer restarts into OSX, install the other two KEXT files in the First folder, restarting after each file installs. After the 3rd KEXT file installs and the Wind restarts in OSX, use Finder to navigate to the Second folder. There you will see
Run through the install routine for the GMA950 installer. The Wind will want to restart after you authorize the change with your system password, etc. Restart the Wind after the installer finishes.
When you reboot into OSX again, you should be able to change your resolution back to 1024×600.
After your display is restored, you can restore your keyboard functionality. While the USB keyboard has been doing you very well up to now in this process, it won’t always be around. Again, you’re going to install the needed fix with OSX86Tools. Click the Install Kexts button and navigate to the Keyboard folder in the upgrade pack folder. Choose
Allow the file to install, and restart the Wind in OSX. Your keyboard functionality should have returned.
After your keyboard is restored, you can restore your mouse functionality. While the USB mouse has been doing you very well up to now in this process, it won’t always be around. Again, you’re going to install the needed fix with OSX86Tools. Click the Install Kexts button and navigate to the Mouse folder in the upgrade pack folder. Choose
Allow the file to install, and restart the Wind in OSX. Your trackpad functionality should have returned.
The KEXT file won’t install on any other volume but OSX. Make sure that it is selected.
Again, you MUST restart between the install of each KEXT file (and the graphics PKG). If your keyboard or trackpad functionality doesn’t come back, repeat the process. You can’t hurt anything. Also, make sure you do all of this in the order that I’ve indicated. Otherwise, it really won’t work (I found out the hard way.)
Future Software Updates
Keep this upgrade pack around. If Apple releases 10.5.7 (or higher), I would assume that these files will restore KVM functionality as it did after the 10.5.6 update. However, you should be able to update OSX with Software Update, as you would ANY Mac at this point. Just remember, OS updates will require you to run through the KEXT updates to restore your KVM (Keyboard Video Mouse) functionality; and you will need a USB keyboard and mouse in order to install the KEXT files.
In many cases, the biggest part of this hack is NOT getting OSX on the Wind. Its creating the bootable USB sticks to function as CD drives instead of having a USB CD/DVD-ROM drive. Creating the Mac USB stick was pretty straight forward, and again, you can follow Dan’s process to get that done. I had a tough time with the Windows side, and you can see some of that information, below.
Creating a DOS/Windows USB Boot Disk
Someone please either shoot me, or help me by sending me a method that really DOES work. I’d prefer the latter. I’ve been sitting in my living room for 2.5 days, trying to solve a specific problem.
This one is REALLY eating me for lunch… the problem with all of this is that so much of this process (as well as flashing the BIOS on the Wind) requires either a USB DVD drive, USB floppy drive or a bootable USB stick for either OSX or Windows in order to work. Getting a Mac bootable USB stick created was NOTHING compared to the grief I am taking over a DOS/Windows version.
I’ve tried using 4 different tools/resources to create a bootable USB stick, and NONE of them have worked. Now, as always, YMMV (your mileage may vary); so your experience may be better or different than mine. However, here are the tools I’ve tried and the results I got with each of them.
What Didn’t Work
This section is meant to give everyone a good understanding of how much time and investigation I went through in order to get this to work for me. There was quite a bit that went into this article. I’d like to thank Dan for his help and for his excellent Hackintosh article, which inspired me to start the whole journey with the Wind.
Live USB Helper
Live USB Helper is a cool little utility that quickly formats a USB stick, copies over a drive image, and then makes that USB stick bootable…in theory. The utility uses a version of SYSLinux to make the stick bootable; but I can’t get the key to boot on either my MBP or on the Wind. I get the same error on both boxes about a missing kernel.
Please note that this application requires a special VB6 DLL called vb6stkit.dll. Download it, unzip the file to your Windows directory. The utility won’t run without it. It will also provide you with an internal link to the HP USB Flash Disk Format Utility. It uses this to format USB sticks.
Again, this tool didn’t work for me, as I kept getting a kernel error when trying to boot from the USB drive, especially on the Wind.
HP Drive Key Boot Utility
This utility will make your USB stick bootable, but transfers an HP BIOS to the stick. It wants to flash your BIOS to the HP BIOS when it runs, and is not good, unless of course you’re trying to flash the specific HP computer that the BIOS was meant for. Erasing the BIOS files made the USB stick unbootable.
The above is only a shot of the install utility, as it won’t run on a Vista machine… XP only, and then you have to watch, as I noted above.
All of the utilities I found here at this website, including bootable images of MS-DOS 5.x, 6.x and 7.x, required a USB floppy drive to create a bootable image. The install files for all these would NOT transfer the images to a USB Stick, regardless of what I did. I decided not to go this route (i.e. buy a USB floppy drive), because after this process, was done, I’d probably not use the device again.
This is a great little System Tray tool, that will all you format the USB drive and make it bootable, but Windows will only format it as a floppy boot disk, no matter what you do. I’ve left this tool installed on my MBP, even after all of this is said and done, because its a pretty cool little too. However, you have to be very careful with this one, as it will enable options that have been grayed out and make then available at any time.
Caution is urged, as if you do something accidental, Windows won’t stop you when this tool is installed and turned on. Please make sure you read all of the cautions on its website. They are important, and should NOT be ignored.
What DID Work
HP USB Disk Storage Format Tool – v2.1.8
Windows 98 System Files
This tool formatted the USB stick and did it without me losing the entire 8GB drive capacity. It also added the appropriate boot files (you’ll need the Win98 System files, above for that) so that I could update my Wind’s BIOS, which is the only thing that I did with it.
Honestly, I copied XP’s setup files over to it, and tried running XP’s setup from it; but it complained that SmartDrive wasn’t loaded, and copying files took FOREVER! I killed the install and ran the Wind’s restore DVD in order to get XP on my Wind.
Download and install the tool. Download and unzip the Win98 setup files. When you go to create the bootable USB stick (again, for BIOS updates), make sure you check the Create a DOS startup disk checkbox. Also select the using DOS system files located at, and then browse to the folder that has the unzipped Win98 files you downloaded and unzipped. Click start, and you’re good to go!
Also, when you update the BIOS on your Wind, the zip file that you download for it will put the BIOS files in a folder. In order for the BIOS flash to work, those files have to be in the root of the USB stick, and not in any sub-folder.
The Darwin Bootloader with the Windows XP partition selected.
The Wind booting into Windows.
Video of Dan’s Dual Boot Process
The following video was shot by Dan, with me on the other end of a Skype video call. You’ll see me in it for just a sec or two; but it shows you want you kinda have to go through to get at least OSX 10.5.4 on the Wind.