18 January 2009

Kitty is being lazy - operation fresh install

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It has been almost 2 months since I first installed OS X Leopard on my pearl white MSI Wind, thus producing my MacBook Wind. And I don’t know if that spiffy Leopard intro movie is to be held accountable but I installed and reinstalled about 3 times in the first 2 weeks ever since I had the DVD installer with me.

I experimented with the kexts and fixes combined with the updates (10.5.5 and 10.5.6) just to see which broke in which etc. For one, now I know that the Sonix webcam would work if you update QuickTime to 7.5 without having to go to 10.5.5. Updating to 10.5.5 from 10.5.4, which is default for the msiwindosx86 DVD install, does break your video bringing resolution down to a squashed 800 x 600, sound, and trackpad (mine’s Sentellic) but not your keyboard. Updating from 10.5.5 to 10.5.6 breaks all of the four.

After my 3rd fresh installation, I thought of just sticking with that setup for a while. No problem as it was December already and the holidays were coming, leaving me with little time to spare for tinkering. In fact, it was my New Year’s resolution to let a month pass without wiping out my hard drive again for yet another reinstall.

It wasn’t so hard to live with an aging installation after all. XP in my PC at the office is already a year and a half. It’s sluggish alright, but still working. So I thought that if OS X’s Unix origins lived up to its claim to glory, my hackinstosh MacBook Wind shouldn’t have any troubles going for a far better record than that.

I was trudging along fine, installing Parallels and running XP on virtual machine for when I wanted to use Word 2003 with Wordfast for those translation workloads I just had to finish at the apartment after office hours. Of course I had Office:Mac 2008 installed but my CAT Tool, Wordfast, isn’t compatible with it. I could access the net at coffee shops and even while I ate my fries at the Jollibee branch at the other end of our street.

But it came to a point that I noticed it took so long to boot up to OS X lately. It’s not blazing fast as the stock Xandros on the Eee PC but as far as I can remember, the boot up time should at least be as decent as XP’s. That was when I started timing boot times. My iPod timer recorded a molasses like average of 1 min. 20 sec.

I resorted to the forums and found out I wasn’t only the one with this problem. However, I also found at that about 80% of the MSI Wind hackintoshers experienced 30 seconds - less than a minute boot times. I am irked beyond compare.

So, with the little knowledge I gained from my installation experiments, I decided to wipe out my hard drive again. All my files were practically living somewhere in my iPod so backing up was totally an irrelevant step for me.

Here’s what I did:

1) Reinstalled from msiwindosx86 DVD - out of the box, everything worked great as it should. Except WiFi, Webcam. Issues with the mic and audio out to headphone jack are not included in the problem, I didn’t use these a lot and so it doesn’t bother me to wait for the VooDoo AppleHDA to be released. I didn’t install any apps yet.

2) Updated to 10.5.5 - I knew my trackpad would break so I plugged in a mouse. My keyboard was working fine and that’s about all I need to enter my admin password to install the 10.5.6 update.

3)Updated to 10.5.6 - My mouse was still working fine but my keyboard was bricked. It was time to install the kexts and such and as I didn’t have an external keyboard, I just activated the keyboard viewer from System Preferences. This allowed me to use the virtual keyboard which I could summon from the menu bar.

4) Installed the kexts - It was no problem finding kexts from the net but there are lots of versions out there, you end up confused so you download everything you find in the end and then install them all in the end just to be on the safe side.

This is when experimenting becomes useful. I used Paul’s Wind Driver Set but swapped out some parts like for the video, I used the non-artifact Intel GMA 950, downloaded from the forums at msiwind.net again.

At each step, I recorded the boot up times. When Darwin starts, I intervene with the countdown to 5 and then hit Enter with my right hand as my left triggers the timer in my iPod.

I started with 00:00:55.662. Next 00:00:50.617. Lastly 00:00:38.194.

Unbelievable! I was expecting to see boot up times that worsened at each update but the results clearly showed otherwise.

I’m not sure if it was the kexts affecting the boot times. The 303 kexts I backed up running on my system via OSx86 Tools is hardly a minimal figure. So it might have been the combination of updates and kext installation in between that’s a more probable candidate as a culprit.

I've installed all the apps I wanted and am still getting a not too shabby 00:00:40.757.

I’m just happy Leopard is now living up to its supposedly inherent feline speeds.   

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