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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Big If Big If is offline
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Talking Mini9 + Leopard + NetbookBootMaker .8.3RC3 = Success - 10-17-2009, 07:59 PM

Thanks to everyone who replied and voted in my earlier poll. In the end I decided to install 10.5 rather than 10.6 for more reliable headphone support, so I can watch movies on planes & trains.

Meklort, mechdrew, et al have made it so easy that success stories are a dime a dozen these days, but here's what worked for me:
- New Mini9 with Ubuntu, 4GB SSD, 1 GB RAM, .3 MPix camera, Bluetooth, came with BIOS A05.
- Got Leopard "Box Set" from MacMall (for 10.5.6 install DVD)
- Using the excellent flashBIOS utility from somms, downgraded to BIOS A04 for future compatibility with third-party batteries (still just using the stock battery for now.)
- After a very long and mostly patient wait, upgraded SSD to RunCore 32GB and RAM to Transcend 2GB PC6400 800MHz, both from MyDigitalDiscount. Both are reported correctly in BIOS. (Tip: resist the temptation to hook up the USB cable to the RunCore SSD if you don't need it, because it it locks in and it's hard to disconnect.)
- Borrowed an Intel Macbook Pro running 10.5.8 from a very good friend who didn't mind giving me her password. (Tip: if you have to borrow someone else's Mac, download the 10.5.8 combo update ahead of time; it's a big file.)
- Followed mechdrew's "USB Installation via Mac" guide to a tee. NetbookBootMaker .8.3RC3 took about 30 minutes to make the 10.5.6 USB stick.
- In NetbookInstaller, checked everything except "Show NetbookInstaller Files" and "Install old mirror friendly GMA kext"

Slight complications in installation:
- At step 3 in the "Post Install" section, I got an Apple logo but the wheel never appeared. I had to force shutdown, rebooted, and it still didn't work. Third time's a charm, spinning wheel appeared and installation went smoothly.
- After installing the 10.5.8 update, I started getting "hibernate image to old by xxx seconds" errors at every boot as described in this thread. Not a major problem as far as I could tell, sleep and shutdown still worked fine, but I fixed it with:
sudo pmset -a hibernatemode 0
sudo rm /var/vm/sleepimage
as described in this post. Sleep still works fine, exactly as before.

Installed updates via Software Update, all without problem:
2009-10-16 18:19:05 -0400: Installed "iTunes" (9.0.1)
2009-10-16 18:19:37 -0400: Installed "Security Update 2009-005" (1.0)
2009-10-16 18:30:10 -0400: Installed "QuickTime" (7.6.4)
2009-10-16 23:25:34 -0400: Installed "Java for Mac OS X 10.5 Update 5" (1.0)
2009-10-16 23:26:31 -0400: Installed "Safari" (4.0.3)
Almost everything seems to be working great! No problems with display, SSD, wifi, wired ethernet, bluetooth, webcam, SD card reader, built-in keyboard, trackpad, external USB keyboard and mouse.

Sleep works from the Apple menu, from the power-button dialog, or by closing the lid. Wake works using the power button or opening the lid. Going to sleep with a USB drive mounted results in an "unsafe removal" error dialog. (SD card does not give this error.)

External display works, though not exactly the way I want it. (Ideally I'd like to deactivate the mini's display entirely, like the Macbook's "clamshell mode" but with the mini open to help with cooling and so I can use the power button.) I had to change the refresh rate from 85Hz to 75Hz to get the display to switch reliably when connected, but this is probably just a quirk of my monitor (old Sony E400). In the process of trying out different options for the external display, I tried out the "old mirror friendly GMA kext" from NBI. Didn't help me do what I wanted, and it wouldn't let me set the screen to anything but 800x600... not recommended.

Built-in speakers work, headphone jack works (and automatically switches off the speakers.) Sound will sometimes work after sleep, sometimes not until a fresh boot -- I haven't been able to see a pattern yet.

Built-in mic works, but mic plugged into mic jack does NOT work, and does NOT switch off the built-in mic. Unlike the sound output, though, the microphone seems to survive the sleep/wake just fine.

Installed Xcode from the "Optional Installs" folder of the 10.5.6 Installation USB stick. Seems to work, hoping to take a look at the iPhone SDK soon.

Installed Silverlight 3 as described in this thead, hoping to finally be able to watch Netflix shows again. It works, but still not as well as the old Windows-only player did on my old Pentium 4 (which is completely unusable since Netflix switched to the Silverlight player.)

Hoping to try out soon: remote disc, iPhone dev kit, extended life battery, fancy settings for Synaptics trackpad, bluetooth keyboard/mouse, GarageBand (looking for an '08 copy since it seems there's no way to fix the interface on '09 for the 1024x600 screen), Snow Leopard (as soon as the headphone jack works!)

Thanks to everyone here for their help & hard work!

Dell Mini9 BIOS A06 2GB RAM 32GB RunCore MacOS 10.6.7 NI 20100616212351
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willy_mini9 willy_mini9 is offline
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Default Snow Leopard works - 10-17-2009, 11:24 PM

I bought the very same Mini 9 as you. Dropped in a SuperTalent 32 GB SSD. I have no hacking experience, but today my installation of OS X 10.6 went without a hitch. Used Software Update to go to 10.6.1. My refurb came with Bios A05 and I just left it (had no idea how to change it anyway).

So far everything works. Love the two finger scrolling and right-clicking. MobileMe is syncing. Bluetooth works. I printed wirelessly over Bonjour to my desktop printer, which I thought was very cool. Simply added the printer in the System Preferences. "It just works!"

I paid $229 for the Mini 9 from the Dell Outlet and $90 for the SSD from eBay. For the SSD be sure to get part #FEM32GFDL which is 80 MB/sec read and 40 MB/sec write. There is an older slower version (FEM32GHDL).


Mini 9 ● OS X 10.6.1 ● Bios A05 ● NBI 8.3RC3 ● 32 GB SSD ● 1 GB RAM ● Bluetooth ● 1.3 MP cam ● Cherry Red
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