Posts tagged: Mac

umm… so what’s a hackintosh?

By , 2009 August 7 4:18 pm

Since my last post (The TC Saga), I’ve gotten a number of inquiries essentially wondering ‘what the heck is a hackintosh?’ [why email? an inline comment may make more sense - ed.]

Simply put, a hackintosh is a computer, running Apple’s OS X, but made out of non-Apple, off the shelf, commodity PC parts.

This was made possible when Apple decided to dump the PowerPC architecture for Intel processors,arranged in configurations much as any other garden variety PC running Windows, Linux, OpenSolaris, or other OS.

Well, it was really made possible when a community of hackers realized the implications of Apple’s decision. This community is known as the OS X 86 community. These are the people that built the code necessary to accomplish this interesting task.

Since this architectural change, the primary technical difference between an Apple and a generic ‘white box’ system is that the low level system firmware in the Apple case is something called ‘EFI’ (Extensible Firmware Interface), while a generic white box machine employs ‘BIOS’ (Basic Input/Output System). A hackintosh uses the system BIOS to load from disk and execute a chunk of code that implements EFI. Once EFI is loaded, then OS X can load. This can be accomplished either by a hacked version of the OS X kernel, or by a modified system bootloader.

Note that EFI is not Apple technology. It was actually developed by Intel, as a ‘next-generation’ technology to accompany Itanium based systems.

So what does this all mean in practical terms? For a hardware investment of a couple hundred dollars, plus some parts from my computing junk bonepile, plus a software investment of a retail copy of OS X and iLife, I have the functional equivalent of a fairly snappy new Mac.

Yes, it runs GarageBand. Yes, it runs the Mac port of Reaper. Yes, it talks to my Tascam US-122 audio interface. Yes, it runs SecondLife. In fact, I am now composing this blog within Safari on my hackintosh.

As always, if this floats your interest, feel free to comment.

The TC Saga

By , 2009 July 15 4:40 pm

So after working with TC Electronics’ tech support for over three months, they finally asked me to send my Konnekt Live to them for repair. How’d we arrive at this point?

Some time ago, I decided I’d be happier if I upgraded my audio interface. Ever the gear slut, I convinced myself that my lowly old Tascam US-122 was a limiting factor on my performances. The limitations that I perceive include:

  • large latency – prevents monitoring of ‘in the box’ effects
  • limited to two channels in, two channels out
  • sound quality is — eh — OK

Accordingly, I decided to procure a TC Electronics Konnekt Live. The benefits that I was expecting included:

  • lowered latency – enough to monitor from DAW
  • double the analog channel IO count (4 in, 4 out)
  • addition of SPDIF IO and adat IO
  • better preamps
  • hardware DSP – both reverb and compression

Better gear, better sound, better performance, right?

Unfortunately, it refuses to work with not only my main DAW, but pretty much with any of my other computers.

At TC TS’ troubleshooting suggestions, I have been through service packs, Microsoft hotfixes, OS reinstalls, multiple driver and application versions, multiple FireWire cards, multiple FireWire cables, ad nauseum. The end result has always been BSOD on the computer (Blue Screen Of Death – windows crashing entirely, and self-rebooting).

‘Tis truly a shame – in the couple minutes before BSOD, the unit does indeed sound absolutely glorious. Like, to the point that a casual listener would notice a distinct improvement. (as much as I obsess over gear, new acquisitions usually lead to gains barely discernible to the average listener).

In all fairness, the unit *seemed* to work on my Hackintosh, but that was just a quick check. It may have failed with a longer test.

It’s now at TC’s US service depot. I’ll update when I get it back.

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