Installing OSX Leopard 10.5.6 on a Dell Mini 9

There are plenty of blog posts out on the interwebs detailing this topic, but after having to sidestep 3 different tutorials and delve deep into the osx86 forums a few times to get my hack mini to where it is now... Lets just say I'll be happy if this saves just one person the frustration and mental anguish I have experienced the last few days.

If you don't want to waste 60 seconds and get right to the good stuff, jump down 2 paragraphs.

This has been my first real mac experience, having come from a very strong Windows background, and more recently Linux. Prior to this, I had only been on one of our company iMacs for 15 minutes, wrestling with it to download and print a document. So that's how (relatively) easy this process was, once I found the correct way to do it!

So I started out by downloading the streamlined MSI Wind image (MSIWindosx86.iso) and installing that, it was a super simple method and I was very proud of myself... Until I decided to update to Leopard 10.5.6... After spending 2.5hrs trying to rectify the problem (bricking the install (which has no easy way to fix)) I sought out a different and hopefully better method, which lead me to the type11 install. The bottom line is
DON'T INSTALL THE CRAPPY WIND IMAGE ON YOUR MINI!!!

So after wasting much of your time, here is the walk-through.

Step by step guide to the type11 install

This is the best method to use. Leopard thinks it is genuine, and thus will update without a worry.
The only known issues are (from the original article, I have confirmed these):

  • The '0' key can become stuck on wake from sleep, just hit a button to stop that.
  • The 3-in-1 card reader can only read SD and SDHC cards

You will need a few things first:

  • A Dell Mini 9
  • A retail copy of OSX 10.5.6 (don't steal software ;))
  • An external USB DVDROM
  • At least 1 blank CD / DVD
  • A reasonably decent internet connection
    Before you start, if you have already booted into windows and disabled the bluetooth / wifi using the fn + 2 shortcut, make sure you re-enabled before you start, otherwise you will be stuck without. See 'Bluetooth / wiFi not working in error section below.
  1. The first thing you should do is download the boot132 image boot132 image (zip, 8.8MB). This is a boot loader that tricks the unmodified leopard dvd into thinking your mini is actually a mac.
  2. Now burn the boot132 image onto a CD / DVD. I found the best ISO burning tool to be imgburn, it's free, lightweight and works really well.
  3. Put the boot132 disk into the USB DVD drive and restart your mini. When it first boots up, press the 0 (zero) button when the Inspiron logo appears. Once the bootloader's menu appears, hit 'Install retail OSX Leopard'.
  4. Once the next prompt appears, eject the bootloader and insert the retail leopard disk (sometimes this requires unplugging the drive's USB cable, then reinserting).
    The prompt that appeared will ask for a boot method, just hit enter, then it will ask you for a boot device, type f9 (the external drive) and then enter.
  5. From here there will be a few weird error messages to begin, and then the normal leopard installation begins. After you agree to the terms and conditions, open up the disk utility by going to Utilities > Disk Utility in the top menu. Once in here you will have to re-partition the drive using the GUID partition table, and format the drive using Mac OS Extended (Journaled). Please note: The installation will not work if you choose Mac OS Extended (Case sensitive & Journaled) (see boot1: error below)
  6. Click through the next few prompts until you get to the 'Install OSX Leopard' prompt. There is a button on the bottom left here called 'Customize'. The default install options take up 11.6GB, which when you've only got 16GB to play with is far too much. I unchecked all the printer drivers (-3.5GB) and all the translations (-1.2GB). So now installing leopard only takes up 6.6GB, which I can live with.
  7. Close the customize window and begin the installation. This part took about 50mins to complete for me.
  8. At the end, the installer will say it failed. Don't worry, it's lying. Restart your mini (I had to hard restart by holding down the power button for 5 secs, then turning back on), eject the retail loepard disk and put the bootloader back in.
  9. You'll want to boot off this again (once again, pressing '0' at the inspiron logo on startup). On the first prompt type -f, the second type 80, and then -f again. This will boot up off the hard drive, with the help of the bootloader. If this fails once or twice, just repeat this step. I had to try twice to get in.
  10. At this point, I had an issue where the welcome wizard looping back to the start when I selected 'Do not import settings or files' at the restore prompt (see welcome wizard loop below).
  11. You can skip this step if the retail disk you installed with is already 10.5.6.
    Once you complete the welcome wizard, start the update software manager. Install any updates there (the critical one is the 10.5.6 combo update). The combo update is 650mb or so and takes 25mins to complete once downloaded.
  12. Restart after the combo has installed and boot again from the bootloader as per step 9. Now open the bootloader in finder, and go into the dellminiapps directory, and run dellminiapps.dmg. This will get everything the mini needs installed. (Make sure you only run this once updated to 10.5.6).
  13. Unmount the DVD drive, unplug it, and then restart your mini. This time, let it boot up naturally. Congratulations! You now have a fully functional copy of OSX Leopard on your hack mini! If you get an error like boot1: error, see the errors section below.

    Possible errors

    The welcome loop
    This problem is the Leopard welcome wizard looping at the 'Transfer files' wizard and back to the start. There are a few different solutions suggested on insanelymac, but this one worked for me straight away.
    Press F8 during boot, and type -s
    then enter the following commands:

    /sbin/fsck -fy
    /sbin/mount -uw /
    touch /var/db/.AppleSetupDone
    passwd root

    boot1:error
    If you get this error on the final step, there are a few possible causes.
    The first (which happened to me) was caused by formatting the SSD during the installation in the 'Mac OS Extended (Case sensitive and Journaled)' format. If this happened to you, restart the installation and format in 'Mac OS Extended (Journaled)'.
    This super sucked, because I didn't realise the mistake until the very end of the whole process, and it meant I had to start over again!

    bluetooth / wiFi not working
    This problem occurs if you boot into windows and disable the bluetooth / wifi without re-enabling it prior to installing leopard. The only way to fix it is to re-install windows, press fn + 2, then reinstall leopard.

    How much does that suck?