"1) What's the best way to make a backup of what I've got. I'm new to mac in general, not just the hackintosh."
I'm new to the Mini 10v myself (just installed 10.6.3 on one for my sister, who's never had a computer before. Installation was problem-free, everything seems to work from the get-go).
I'm not sure if there are any "issues" as to backing up the internal drive on a Mac'ed Mini 10v, but here's what I'd suggest:
- Download CarbonCopyCloner (free).
- CCC is very easy to understand and set up.
- You will need an external USB drive to "clone to". I'm _guessing_ it could be done with a larger-capacity flashdrive, but most users will have more than a flashdrive can hold. In that case, use an external USB hard drive.
- Use CCC to do a "full clone" of the internal drive to the external drive (or even a partition on the external drive)
As for "bootability", that often seems to depend on the controller/hardware in the USB enclosure.
To boot from the external, I believe that you can do this (others please correct where I've made a mistake):
- Plug in external drive
- I'm not sure if OS X's "Startup disk" preference pane is usable (it wasn't when I tried to reboot to my original Snow Leopard USB flashdrive).
- Instead, reboot the Mini and hold down the "one-time boot" key (F12 on the 10v) as soon as the Dell logo screen appears.
- 10v will "beep" at you, and then should display a list of bootable volumes. When I tried to boot from the flashdrive, the flashdrive showed up here. The screen looks somewhat similar to the "startup manager" screen displayed on a "real Mac" when you hold down the "option" key at boot time.
- Select the volume (in this case, you will want to select the external drive), and continue.
- The Mini _should_ boot from the external. NOTE: I haven't tried booting from an externally-cloned drive yet, only from the original Snow Leopard install DVD that had been installed on a flashdrive using Netbook Maker. But that worked fine. I'm guessing that an external clone of the internal hard drive will work as well.
Once booted, you can use Disk Utility to do a "verify/repair" of the internal drive, and do other maintence-related things that normally can't be done from a Mac OS boot volume....