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This thread should probably be titled 'Doing Cruel and Unusual Things to PowerMac G4s - Part I', but hey. Here goes:


The Prologue

At the beginning fo this year I was looking for a new tablet. My trust Nvidia Shield K1 was very much showing it's age and infirmity. I looked around and there really aren't many good options for Android tablets, plus I wasn't really that happy with the progress of modern Android versions. I had a OnePlus 3T which had made it up to Android 9.0.x and didn't exactly fill me with joy. So, long story short, I wanted an iPad. I didn't have a ton of money so I shopped around and found a refurb iPad Air 2 for a very decent price in great condition save for a scratch on the edge of the screen (it's hardly noticeable) which is also compatible with iPadOS 13. In a word, wow, this was a Quantum Leap forward from Android. It might just be I was lucky to fall on iPadOS around the 12/13 era as it is transitioning to something beyond it's place as a 'giant phone', but holy cow, the slickness of the hardware and the OS even on what's a 3 year old iPad now is staggering. I was impressed. So much so that I rang my mobile phone carrier two days later and asked about iPhones. They wanted a mortgage for a current model but I was able to bean an iPhone 8 out of them for a sensible price. So I had the phone, the tablet, and iCloud but not much on the desktop to play along. So I started poking the mackintosh forums to see what fell out. Eventually, after borrowing a Mac mini I sold to as friend about 5 years ago (late 2012 i7) that runs Catalina out of the box, I set about seeing if I could make a PC I owned boot a Vanilla 10.15 Catalina OS.


Act I: "By Jobs, I think he's got it!"

I tried various things with VirtualBox, QEMU and the like but had no success running Catalina in a VM because of a combination of reasons, culminating in find gin out that I doesn't run without a LOT of work on AMD platforms (my main PC is a Ryzen 7 2700-based rig). I did try it on my HP z400 as well but that refused to play hockey either.


Needed physical hardware. The only 'spare' Intel-based PC I had up my sleeve at the time of starting this madness was a venerable X58-based Xeon Supermicro system I'd kit-bashed together from a combo of spares out of a dead server and bits off eBay. It was non-EFI, old Nahelam Socket 1366 era (read: Mac Pro 4,1 but with a lot less style) and seemed about as far from a suitable candidate as I could find, but I read up on Legacy boot structures and defined that it would in fact possibly work... maybe. The one feather it had in it's cap was it had a 4GB Radeon RX580 video card, 100% compatible with Catalina... so I used the Mac mini to build a suitable boot stick and gave it a whirl. Good grief if it didn't just work (actually it took a few attempts but it really wasn't THAT hard). The only thing that needed futzing with was the ancient Intel Ethernet (needed an extra/different kext). So I installed and setup the SSD (skipping long brogan parts here xD) and had... a Hackintosh. It was so easy I was pretty staggered. I was so impressed, I even invested an earth-shattering £5 on eBay for a 6-core Westmere CPU for it!


Act II: "It's a Crazy Idea But it Might Just Work!"

I had also, mostly unconnected, been working for a while on a G4 Cube (I may well post something on this, it involved 3D printing and shenanigans) and was scouring eBay for parts and useful nick-lacks for it. As one might expect, the searches usually contained things like 'powermac' and 'g4' so eBay, desperate to sell me SOMEthing was suggesting all sorts. Among this assorted list of stuff was and auction for a 'PowerMac G4 Case ONLY - PC Mod'. I looked at the auction briefly and dismissed it initially, I didn't really have much use for an empty tower case. But then an idea brewed up in my mind. I wanted to build a Hackintosh that was... a bit more Apple. I had initially contemplated modding my old Mac Pro 2006 1,1 case but I really just don't like how the LaserHive mod kit butchers the back grille and it's a LOT of cutting and faffing to do it. Then I cast my mind back to that auction. I knew LaserHive did mod kits for G4 cases, I had access to a workshop via my Dad and the tools and skills to do it accurately, and it didn't look super hard. I threw a bid on the case and left it thinking maybe someone else would grab it. They didn't. I won the auction for very little and before long was the proud owner of an empty G4 Sawtooth chassis.


Act III: "A Journey of 1000 miles..."

Looking around at the inside I spotted a few problems. First, it obviously had no PSU, but also it had been extensively stripped inside. The centre 'bridge' that runs front to back under the optical bay and PSU had been totally removed (neatly, mind you, by drilling out the rivets). Both the front-panel and the speaker were missing. The Airport card carrier and hardware had been stripped off the door inside (but oddly they left the antenna on, in spite of obviously removing all the plastics at some stage). Both side panels had been off, and there were no screws in either, and the door-side IO surround was missing. This was a problem. I now had a plan but I needed parts and finding them was proving to be potentially expensive. But ya know what wasn't expensive? Sawtooth G4 PowerMacs. So I bought one. A semi-decent looking 400MHz Sawtooth, for a song. Actually almost the same as the case cost. It reached me a week or so later... damaged. UPS (hurrah for United Parcel Smashers!!) dropped the box and smashed the upper front handle (and I would find some time later warped the chassis slightly). But no matter! It had the parts I needed to proceed with the build. I made a deal there and then that because it had been sacrificed in some way I WOULD also make sure I built a working G4 tower around it to ensure I preserved a G4 as well as pillaging one for a Hackintosh build. In the end I had to borrow screws, the front panel PCB/cover, speaker, .


<To be continued>


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This is a fun read!  thanks for sharing!!

11 hours ago, SiliconValleyPirate said:

The only 'spare' Intel-based PC I had up my sleeve at the time of starting this madness was a venerable X58-based Xeon Supermicro system I'd kit-bashed together from a combo of spares out of a dead server and bits off eBay. It was non-EFI, old Nahelam Socket 1366 era (read: Mac Pro 4,1 but with a lot less style) and seemed about as far from a suitable candidate as I could find

That wouldn't happen to be an X8SAX, would it?  I myself built a hackintosh around one and it's really nice for what it is.  It does everything a 2009 Mac Pro can do, but in a standard PC form factor with standard ports and stuff (it only has a single CPU socket, but that's OK, as the Westmere CPU I have in it (3.33 GHz x5680 six-core, so accounting for hyperthreading, it has 12 logical cores!) is plenty fast, and I have a real 2009 dual-CPU Mac Pro to play with if I want more cores).


I managed to rig a PCIe-based SSD into it (because its legacy BIOS doesn't support booting directly from such a device, I had to put the bootloader on a regular SSD disk which would then load drivers and pass control to the SSD), so it boots up very quickly.


Anyway, enough about my stuff!  What specs do you have in mind for your hackintosh?



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My SuperMicro board is something similar, another in the X8 series for sure, no SAS sadly but then macOS probably wouldn't support it anyway. I forget exactly which board. It does a pretty damned decent job of running Catalina tied in with the RX 580 and a SATA SSD. I need an Inatek USB 3.0 card and a compatible FireWire card for it at some point, that'd really make it a very decent system indeed.


The GFource story will continue, I already have it built, I'm posting from it as we speak. Stay tuned for the next part, and some pictures!

Edited by SiliconValleyPirate
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