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OSx86 (from the names OS X and x86) is a collaborative hacking project to run the OS X operating system on non-Apple personal computers with x86 architecture on x86-64 processors. The effort started soon after the June 2005 Worldwide Developers Conference announcement that Apple would be moving its personal computers from PowerPC to Intel microprocessors.

A computer built to run this type of OS X is also known as a Hackintosh,[1] a Portmanteau of the word "hack" and the name of Apple's main model of computers, Macintosh. Hackintoshed notebook computers are also called "Hackbooks".[2]

The Apple software license does not allow OS X to be used on a computer that is not "Apple-branded".[3] The legality of this form of tying is disputed by companies such as Psystar, Bizon computer, PearC and MacPC who have attempted to release products using Mac OS on non-Apple machines. However, while the methods Apple uses to prevent OS X from being installed on non-Apple hardware are protected from commercial circumvention in the United States by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA),[4] specific changes to the law regarding the concept of jailbreaking has thrown such and similar circumvention methods into a grey area when carried out by end-users for personal use.[5][not in citation given]


Mac OS X v10.4 "Tiger"[edit]

On June 6, 2005, Apple announced their plans to switch to Intel processors at their Worldwide Developers Conference and released a Developer Transition Kit to selected developers at a cost of $999.[6] Efforts immediately began to attempt to run Mac OS X on non-Apple hardware, but developers quickly found themselves with an error message saying that the PC hardware configurations were not supported.[7]

Apple released on January 10, 2006 Mac OS X 10.4.4 with the first generation of Intel-based Macs, the iMac and the MacBook Pro. These machines used Extensible Firmware Interface (EFI) platform firmware instead of the older style BIOS found on most x86 motherboards at the time. On February 14, 2006, an initial "hack" of Mac OS X v10.4.4 was released on the Internet by a programmer with the pseudonym crg92.[8] Within hours Apple released the 10.4.5 update,[9] which was patched again by the same author within two weeks.[10] On April 3, 2006 Apple released their 10.4.6 update[11] and again patches were released within two weeks that allowed users to install most of this update on non-Apple computers, although this did not include the updated kernel in 10.4.6. In June, the hackers released the 10.4.7 Mac OS X update for non-Apple computers using the 10.4.4 kernel.

Up to the release of the 10.4.8 update, all OSx86 patches used the 10.4.4 kernel with the rest of the operating system at version 10.4.8. However, the newer frameworks relied on the newer kernels and this led to users of 10.4.8 encountering many problems. Apple also started making more use of SSE3 instructions on their hardware making it even more difficult for users with CPUs supporting only SSE2 (such as older Pentium 4s) to get a fully compatible system running. To solve this problem, hackers from the community released kernels where those instructions were emulated with SSE2 equivalents, although this produced a performance penalty.

Throughout the years, many "distros" were released for download over the Internet. These distros were copies of the Mac OS X installer disc modified to include additional components necessary to make the OS run on the non-Apple hardware. A prominent member of the community, JaS, released many distros of Mac OS X Tiger containing patched kernels. Some other popular distros are iATKOS, Kalyway, iPC, iDeneb, and Niresh. Distros have fallen out of favour as the OSx86 community grew, as new bootloaders were developed which made it possible to use actual copies of the OS X Installer.

Mac OS X v10.5 "Leopard"[edit]

Mac OS X v10.5 installing on a Lenovo laptop computer.

As early as Mac OS X v10.5 build 9A466 the community has maintained a version of Leopard that can run on non-Apple hardware. A hacker by the handle of BrazilMac created one of the earliest patching processes which made it convenient for users to install Mac OS X onto 3rd party hardware by using a legally obtained, retail version of Apple Mac OS X. It was utilizing the BrazilMac patch that many effortless distros of Mac OSx86 came to fruition. Five of the most popular builds go by the name JaS, Kalyway, iATKOS, iPC and iDeneb - although more recently these builds are on the way out as the Boot-132 method (described below) gains popularity. However, all of these compilations rely on the work of kernel hackers made by Lorem (build 9A466), SynthetiX (builds 9A499, 9A527 and 9A559), ToH (builds 9A581, 9B13 and 9B18) and more recently a group calling themselves StageXNU (now called Voodoo) (Darwin 9.4.0). Their contributions trickled down into the various Mac OSx86 installers, readily available on the Internet. They continue to be refined and updated builds released, not just to maintain compatibility with Apple releases but an ever-increasing number of third-party components. The OSx86 community has been quick to make the necessary modifications to enable Apple's latest releases to run on non-Apple hardware. Within hours of Leopard's release, an AMD/Intel SSE2/3 Kernel Patcher was created which removed the HPET requirement from an original untouched mach_kernel file, a core component of the Mac OS.

Mac OS X v10.6 "Snow Leopard"[edit]

When "Snow Leopard" was released, Russian hacker netkas created a version of Chameleon which can boot Mac OS X v10.6. The main problem was that many people were forced to modify DSDT or use kexts due to some specific issues. As soon as possible modbin and dmitrik released test versions of kernel that allow to boot Snow Leopard on AMD machines. Stable XNU kernels for v10.6 were released by Qoopz and Pcj. There are some popular builds based on Retail by the name Universal (Intel only), Hazard, and iAtkos. Since v10.6.2 Nawcom, Qoopz, and Andy Vandijck have been working on Legacy kernel for unsupported CPUs.

Mac OS X v10.7 "Lion"[edit]

When Apple released the Developer Preview 1, a Russian Hackintosh developer usr-sse2 was the first who created a method to install Lion. The method consists of deploying Mac OS X v10.7 image on a flash drive, and booting from it via XPC UEFI Bootloader (See DUET below). After some changes were made to the Chameleon source code, booting of Lion was possible with an updated version of Chameleon. After a while Dmitrik also known as Bronzovka had luck with creating a kernel which supported AMD systems; After a few months (10.7.3 V2 With AMD Support) and iAtkos L2 (10.7.2 Only Intel) were released . [12]

Mac OS X v10.8 "Mountain Lion"[edit]

Shortly after the release of Developer Preview 1, some unknown developers managed to install this version of OSX to their PC by using a modified version of the Chameleon Bootloader. This version was released via the main project starting at version r1997[13] to the general public. Due to the problems sourced during the Lion era,[clarification needed] other ways of installing and required patches were never made public, which leaves the scene in an unknown state towards Mountain Lion.[citation needed]

Since the retail release of Mountain Lion several users have reported successful setups using installers purchased from the Mac App Store, along with updated versions of Chameleon and other tools including distros. Niresh's Distro (10.8 Intel only) was first released and then was updated to 10.8.2 (With AMD and Intel) and 10.8.5 (With UEFI Support, AMD and Intel Support) versions; iAtkos ML2 was released after Niresh's Release.[14][15] [16] [17]

Mac OS X v10.9 "Mavericks"[edit]

Multiple new kernels for Hackintosh 10.9 are in the works, although there still are minor issues with most of them. Most of these kernels aim to allow users to run Mavericks on AMD and older Intel CPUs, which lack certain instruction sets of the latest Intel CPUs. Significant efforts have been made to emulate instruction sets like SSSE3, which are not present on AMD K10-based CPUs, and older Intel CPUs, like the Intel Core Duo. AMD's latest CPUs, from the 'Bulldozer' architecture onwards, contain almost all the latest instruction sets, and hence, some kernels with full SSE4 support have also been released. After two months, Niresh's Distro was released for Mavericks which supports AMD CPUs and latest Intel CPUs. It also has a custom kernel that allows Intel Atom processors to boot into Mavericks. Niresh's was the only free distro which was released for Mavericks, since the iAtkos Team decided to release their Mavericks distro for specific hardware on donation basis.[18] [19]

Mac OS X v10.10 "Yosemite"[edit]

Hackintosh running OS X Yosemite

After the initial release of OSX Yosemite 10.10 BETA, various developers took on the role of updating their bootloaders for the system. Members of OSx86 forum Insanelymac set to update the EFI Bootloader Chameleon for this new OS release. Some time later, Niresh (an independent OSx86 developer) released a standalone tool known as Yosemite Zone which would automatically install the new OS and other various features on a non-Apple device with minimal input. This method consisted of torrenting an OSX 10.10 DMG onto a USB Flash Drive with MacPwn Vanilla Installation. Unibeast was updated to support Yosemite,[20] and a distribution of Yosemite Zone was released with AMD processor support. A vanilla installation of Yosemite is possible via Insanelymac's Pandora Box Beta 2.0 and UniBeast. This type installation uses as few kexts (drivers) as possible in addition to using an unaltered version of the OS X installation app, and is preferred over distributions.[21][22][23]

OS X El Capitan (10.11.0-10.11.6)[edit]

Both Clover and Chameleon were updated to be compatible with El Capitan. Unibeast[24] and MacPwn[25] were updated to support El Capitan as well, since El Capitan, Unibeast (and Multibeast) use the Clover bootloader instead of Chimera (a Chameleon-based bootloader).

macOS Sierra (10.12.0-10.12.3)[edit]

Clover and Chameleon were updated to be compatible with Sierra. UniBeast,[26] Pandora Box and MacPwn[27] were updated to support it [28]and a distribution of Sierra Zone[29] (10.12.3) was released with AMD processor support.

Legal issues and Apple objections[edit]

Apple does not authorize the use of Mac OS X on any x86 PC other than the ones it has developed itself. The company used technical means (although not the Trusted Platform Module, or TPM, as has been widely mis-reported[30]), to tie Mac OS to the systems it distributed to developers after announcing its switch to Intel's chips.[31]

The Mac OS X EULA forbids installations of Mac OS X on a "non-Apple-branded computer".[3] On July 3, 2008, Apple filed a lawsuit against Psystar Corporation[32] for violating this restriction, among other claims.[33] Apple claimed Psystar "violated the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) by dodging copy-protection technologies Apple uses to protect Mac OS X." Apple employs technological protection measures that effectively control access to Apple's copyrighted works. Specifically, Apple charged Psystar with acquiring or creating code that "avoids, bypasses, removes, descrambles, decrypts, deactivates or impairs a technological protection measure without Apple's authority for the purpose of gaining unauthorized access to Apple's copyrighted works."[34] This brief revealed that Apple considers the methods that it uses to prevent Mac OS X from being installed on non-Apple hardware to be protected by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).

On November 13, 2009, the court granted Apple's motion for summary judgment and found Apple's copyrights were violated as well as the DMCA when Psystar installed Apple's operating system on non-Apple computers. A hearing on remedies was set for December 14.[4][35]

On January 14, 2009, the Gadget Lab site of Wired Magazine posted a video tutorial for installing Mac OS X on an MSI Wind netbook, but removed it following a complaint from Apple.[36] Textual instructions remain, but include an EULA violation disclaimer.[37]

On May 15, 2012, the case Apple vs. Psystar Corporation finally ended. The court ruled that Psystar has "violated Apple's exclusive reproduction right, distribution right, and right to create derivative works,"[38] putting an end to the case.

Hacking approaches[edit]

Kernel hacks[edit]

When copies of Mac OS X Tiger started running on non-Apple hardware, it was found that some processors were unable to run the OS. Rosetta, a binary translator which made it possible to run PowerPC programs on Intel processors, (and later the kernel itself) required the support of the SSE3 instruction set. To circumvent this, programmers in the community released patched kernels, which included support for emulating SSE3 instructions using SSE2 equivalents. In October 2005, Apple released update 10.4.3 to developers that required NX bit microprocessor support;[39] however, patches were released to circumvent this as well.[40] Patched kernels were also later released which supported AMD processors.

When Mac OS X Leopard released on October 26, 2007, patches were created to remove the HPET requirement from the kernel. Efforts were also made to emulate the SSSE3 instruction set for processors that did not support it. The kernel used by OS X Mavericks made use of SSSE3 instructions, requiring those patches.

Boot loaders and emulators[edit]

EFI emulation[edit]

Extensible Firmware Interface (EFI) is a specification that defines a software interface between an operating system and platform firmware. Since this method generally does not require copying or modification of Mac OS X, it is considered[by whom?] to be the legal way of installing Mac OS X on non-Apple computers (despite being untested in courts).

In early November 2007, a group of hackers (fronted by a Russian hacker known as Netkas), using an already modified Boot-132 source root from David Elliot (also known as dfe),[41] developed a method[42] of emulating an EFI environment using a specially modified Darwin bootloader.[43] In practical terms, this meant that regular PCs meeting a minimum set of hardware requirements could now be "seen" as real Macintosh computers by the OS, allowing the use of unmodified, "stock" Apple kernels (as long as the CPU supports it) and thus giving a more transparent and reliable operation. Several methods for real world deployment of this innovative solution have arisen around the Internet. An explanation of this achievement along with a usage guide was provided by the website DigitMemo.com.[44]

True EFI emulation was a highly sought after asset for the OSx86 community. Previous efforts based upon Apple's open source Darwin Project and Hackintosh gurus allowed users to use Mac OS X on normal PCs, with patched kernels/kernel modules which simply bypassed EFI. Using the EFI patch, a Hackintosh could boot off "vanilla" (unmodified) Mac OS X kernels and use vanilla kernel extensions. This not only allowed the system to be compatible with future system updates, but also offered increased stability. This method also circumvents one aspect of Apple's End User License Agreement, which states that the modification of non-Open Source components of the OS is forbidden.[3]

In mid-2008, a new commercial product, EFi-X, was released that claims to allow full, simple booting off official Leopard install disks, and a subsequent install, without any patching required, but this is possibly a repackaging of Boot-132 technology in a USB-attached device.[45] Rebel EFI is another commercial product that also seems to use Open Source software.[46]

It was thought[by whom?] that Windows 7's support of EFI would result in PC motherboards replacing BIOS with EFI. MSI announced the Efinity mainboard in early 2008. As of 2011, EFI-based computers have entered the market, however none can natively boot Mac OS X due to the lack of a HFS+ driver in the EFI implementation.


Boot-132 is a bootloader provided by Apple for loading the XNU kernel.[47] In mid-2008, a new modified BOOT-132 came on to the scene.[48] This method allows users to conduct the Leopard-based OSx86 installation using a stock, retail-purchased copy of Mac OS X Leopard and eradicates the necessity of a hacked installation like JaS or Kalyway (mentioned previously). The Boot-132 bootloader essentially preloads an environment on the system from which Leopard can boot and operate. The bootloader stores the necessary files (kext files) in a .img collection or simply a folder. The luxury of this new installation method includes the ability to boot and install from a retail Leopard DVD and update straight from Apple without breaking the DMCA. The only possible problem here is that it breaks the Mac OS X EULA.[49]

The bootloader behaves like the Linux kernel: one can use an mboot-compatible (a patched syslinux was used for the hack) bootloader which tells boot-dfe about the .img file (the ramdisk or initrd, as it's known by Linux users), and boot-dfe will then use the kexts (or mkext) from it. This new boot-dfe has been tested with the retail Leopard DVD, and it can boot, install, run Leopard without having to build a modified DVD.


Since the early developer builds of Mac OS X v10.6, members of the OSx86 community had been booting the new operating system using yet another bootloader called PC EFI provided by Russian hacker Netkas or the bootloader of the Voodoo team's Chameleon. Chameleon is based on David Elliot's Boot-132. The bootloader supports ACPI, SMBIOS, graphics, ethernet, and some other injections. It allows to boot up Mac OS X on non-Macintosh hardware. Chameleon supports a lot of AMD as well as Nvidia graphics cards. There are a lot of branches of it by different developers. Chameleon is currently in the 2.1 development state.


FakeEFI was invented by David Elliot many years ago and operates on the assumption that EFI already did its work. It leaves activity traces (boot-args and tables tree) and EfiRuntime routines in a simple form in memory and starts the kernel mach_kernel.

RealEFI theoretically should be flashed instead of the BIOS but alternatively a loadable EFI can be used for those with a BIOS motherboard. This system was invented by Intel and is currently in active open source development at TianoCore. The bootloader is named DUET and it is capable of loading EFI but it is not designed to load Mac OS X, so, one more step was needed, adapt DUET to the requirements of Mac OS X. Also, newer motherboards already contain EFI but it is not suitable for running a Macintosh.

Beginning in March 2011, Slice discussed his idea with other community members, resulting in the development of a bootloader that can do both: emulate an EFI firmware of one's choice or use a Real UEFI firmware to boot Mac OS X.

Live DVD[edit]

In March 2007, the OSx86 community made some significant progress with the development of a Live DVD. The Live DVD allows booting to a working system with Mac OS X v10.4.8.

On January 2, 2009, InsanelyMac's Live DVD team published a new method by which a Mac OS X v10.5.x Live DVD could be produced, allowing users to boot a fully working Mac OS X desktop from a DVD or USB flash drive.[50] The method was more reliable than previous methods because it manipulated Apple's existing Netboot and Imageboot functionalities and behaved as if the system were running off a network disk. It was easier to produce; requiring only a single script to be added to an existing installation. Distributions of the live DVD have been made since its inception. Since then, it is notable that this method has been shown to work on normal Apple Mac hardware.

Virtual machine[edit]

It is also possible to run the Mac OS as a virtual machine inside other operating systems installed on standard PC hardware, by using virtualization software such as Oracle's VirtualBox[51][52] (though this is not officially supported by Oracle[53]). It is also possible to install Mac OS X on VMware but this is not supported. This method typically utilizes some of the modified OS software listed above to perform the actual install, or requires a modified version of the hypervisor that unlocks native OS X support.[54] [55] In most cases, a virtual machine image with OS X preinstalled is the easiest way to run OS X on a non-Apple computer.[citation needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ David Ramsey. "Turning PC into Apple Macintosh: Hackintosh". BenchmarkReviews.com. Retrieved 2010-10-10. 
  2. ^ "What is Hackintosh - For Beginners and Noobs". 21 April 2014. Retrieved 2015-01-06. 
  3. ^ a b c Apple Inc. "Apple Inc. Software License Agreement for Mac OS X" (PDF). Apple Inc. Retrieved 2010-09-02. 
  4. ^ a b Keizer, Greg (2009-11-15). "Apple Wins Court Victory Over Mac Clone Maker Psystar". PC World. Retrieved November 15, 2009. 
  5. ^ Kravets, David (2010-07-26). "U.S. Declares iPhone Jailbreaking Legal, Over Apple's Objections". Wired. 
  6. ^ Apple Computer, Inc. (2005-06-06). "Apple to Use Intel Microprocessors Beginning in 2006". Apple.com. Retrieved 2009-04-28. 
  7. ^ Marsal, Katie (June 23, 2005). "Inside Apple's Intel-based Dev Transition Kit". AppleInsider. Retrieved January 12, 2016. 
  8. ^ Jonathan Black (February 14, 2006). "OSx86 10.4.4 Security Broken. (Guess Who Done It?)". OSx86 Project. Retrieved 2006-05-28. [dead link]
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  13. ^ "Chameleon r1997 Mountain Lion". 
  14. ^ "UniBeast: Install OS X Mountain Lion on Any Supported Intel-based PC". 14 August 2012. Retrieved 2013-03-20. 
  15. ^ "How to install OS X Mountain Lion on your PC with Unibeast". 25 July 2012. Retrieved 2013-03-20. 
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  17. ^ "How to install OS X Mountain Lion on your PC with Niresh". 15 April 2012. Retrieved 2013-04-20. 
  18. ^ http://www.hackintoshosx.com/files/file/3736-amd-10910911092-kernel-update-iii-with-full-sse4-support/
  19. ^ http://www.hackintosh.zone/file/75-niresh-mavericks-109-with-amd-intel/
  20. ^ https://www.tonymacx86.com/threads/unibeast-install-os-x-yosemite-on-any-supported-intel-based-pc.143976/
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  22. ^ "Hackintosh OS X Yosemite Zone 10.10.1". 9 November 2014. Retrieved 2014-11-21. 
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  24. ^ http://www.tonymacx86.com/threads/unibeast-install-os-x-el-capitan-on-any-supported-intel-based-pc.172672/
  25. ^ http://www.hackintosh.zone/file/890-macpwn-el-capitan/
  26. ^ https://www.tonymacx86.com/threads/unibeast-install-macos-sierra-on-any-supported-intel-based-pc.200564/
  27. ^ Computer, Hackintosh (2016-08-20). "Hackintosh macOS Sierra with MacPwn". Hackintosh Computer. Retrieved 2016-11-17. 
  28. ^ "UniBeast 7.0.1 Update". 26 September 2016. Retrieved 2016-11-07. 
  29. ^ "How to Install Niresh Sierra on PC (Hackintosh Sierra Zone Guide)". 23 March 2017. Retrieved 2017-03-23. 
  30. ^ "'TPM DRM' in Mac OS X: A Myth That Won't Die"
  31. ^ "DMCA axes sites discussing Mac OS for PCs"
  32. ^ Fried, Ina (2008-07-15). "Apple sues clone maker Psystar". News.cnet.com. Retrieved 2009-04-28. 
  33. ^ July 15th, 2008 (2008-07-15). "Apple Goes After Clone Maker Psystar". Espinosaiplaw.com. Retrieved 2009-04-28. 
  34. ^ Keizer, Gregg (November 30, 2008). "Apple adds DMCA charge to lawsuit against Psystar: It accuses clone maker of breaking Mac OS copy-protection scheme". computerworld.com. Retrieved 2009-10-07. 
  35. ^ Elmer-DeWitt, Philip (2009-11-14). "Apple wins clone suit". CNN Money. Retrieved November 15, 2009. 
  36. ^ "The Netbook Hackintosh Video Apple Made Wired Take Down". I.gizmodo.com. 2009-01-14. Retrieved 2009-04-28. 
  37. ^ Chen, Brian X. (2008-12-01). "Gadget Lab Video: Running OS X on a Netbook". Blog.wired.com. Retrieved 2009-04-28. 
  38. ^ "Court refuses request to review Psystar case". May 15, 2012. Retrieved 2012-07-22. 
  39. ^ sHARD>> (October 16, 2005). "Apple Seeds 10.4.3 Intel to Developers". OSx86 Money Project. Archived from the original on 2006-04-12. Retrieved 2006-05-28. 
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  42. ^ netkas.org :: W00t - released
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  46. ^ netkas.org » Enjoy
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External links[edit]