Dell Mini 9 OS X Discussion Discussion for installing and setting up Mac OS X on the Dell Mini and Vostro A90

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cruiserhead cruiserhead is offline
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Default 10.5.8 installation report (success!) on Vostro A90 (Mini 9 equivalent) - 09-30-2009, 11:45 PM

I received a new-to-me refurbished Vostro A90 yesterday thanks to my friendly FedEx driver. My goal was to turn it into a Leopard (10.5.x) box in short order. I succeeded, thanks to the Herculean efforts of the folks in this community -- but not without a little tinkering and Googling first. Thought I'd share, in case others know easier solutions or run into the same problems.

Note: any problems encountered were likely the result of my failure to fully understand and follow instructions, not the error of anybody here.

From-the-factory configuration:
  • 16GB SSD
  • 1GB RAM
  • Bluetooth
  • Webcam
  • Ubuntu
  • BIOS Version A04
  • etc.

After turning on the machine and verifying that it worked (WiFi, camera, etc.), I proceeded to tear it down.

1. Replaced 1GB RAM stick with 2GB RAM stick. Installation took less than 60 seconds., < USD $40 for this part.
2. Followed mechdrew's wonderful NetbookInstaller-based guide, which is a matter of:
a. Creating a bootable USB thumbdrive from a Leopard retail install DVD (using an existing Mac machine).
b. Booting the netbook using the USB drive.
c. Re-partitioning the internal drive as a single-partition Mac drive.
d. Waiting 30 minutes for Leopard to install.
e. Rebooting, seeing the joy of the Leopard desktop.
f. PANIC! Attempted to install the 10.5.8 combo update, and ran into problems.
3. Fixed the problems. SEE BELOW FOR DETAIL.
4. Enjoyed my lovely new $239 super-portable mac. (plus RAM, plus OS).

Problem resolution
After successfully booting into Leopard (10.5, no updates) for the first time, I attempted to install the 10.5.8 combo update per the guide above.

First problem: Leopard wasn't recognizing the USB drive that had the installer on it. My bad -- I had removed it during reboot, which the guide did not tell me to do. If I reboot with the USB drive plugged in, Leopard mounted it OK.

Second problem: the update package was a disk image (.dmg) file -- and I couldn't get the image to mount. General error reported by Leopard after several seconds. After struggling a bit and trying out various BIOS hardware enable/disable permuntations, it dawned on me to use a different machine to extract the actual installer (.pkg) file from the disk image, then run the .pkg file. Install ran fine, but took a while (30 minutes or so?).

I followed the guide to reboot into safe mode and run the NetbookInstaller app, applying the recommended configuration.

Third problem: upon reboot after running the NetbookInstaller app, the machine failed to boot, giving me the message "can't find mach_kernel.10.5.6". That immediately seemed odd (why 10.5.6? isn't this supposed to be 10.5.8?). This forum came to the rescue again. Here's a solution.

Upon reboot, Leopard (now 10.5.8) booted without intervention, and worked. I can also mount .dmg files.

End problems.

Finally, I ran software update to get the latest OS security updates, iTunes, Safari, etc. Reboot again, all is good.

I'm still using the A04 BIOS. Final BIOS hardware configuration:
  • BlueTooth: Disabled
  • USB BIOS Legacy Support: Disabled
  • USB Wake Support: Disabled
  • everything else enabled

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