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Dell Mini 9 Netbook: Mac OS X Inside

Dave Courbanou

October 8, 2009

2 Min Read
Dell Mini 9 Netbook: Mac OS X Inside

The practice of putting Mac OS X on your vanilla computer is kind of old news. Since 2005, Intel code has been hacked and executed on gray boxes all over the world. But the Dell Mini 9 netbook falls into a special category of this kind of hacking. The Mini 9’s 8.9 inch form factor and expandability deliver something that Apple fanatics — and perhaps even some mobile executives — would buy in a heartbeat. Here’s why.

For the last 8 months I’ve been running Mac OS X on my Dell Mini 9. In fact, I’m writing this on my Mini 9 right now. It’s hooked up to a 22 inch monitor, displaying the full native resolution. I’ve got a bluetooth keyboard and mouse working. I even get about 3 1/2 hours battery life. When it’s time to take it on the go; unplug and pack up. It’s the size of a hard cover book. It’s perfect for blogging on the go. It’s a productivity powerhouse. If it had a touch screen, you could call it close to the mythical Apple Tablet.

But why OS X? Why not XP or Windows 7? Like all things in life, people have personal preferences, but OS X’s Unix backbone allows for a stable and snappy experience that’s really second to none, especially on this kind of hardware. And I’m not the only one to do it, there’s entire web communities built around the device. So there’s a proven niche here that Apple hasn’t exploited.

Changing Channels

Okay, but bigger picture here: As a VAR, if Apple happened to get in the pipeline with just their software (on all devices), it could have some incredible implications for what becomes available to people running an SMB. Arguably, anything with a *nix background provides reliability that Windows can’t completely  match.

Since Apple won’t be doing that anytime soon, Psystar Corp. has done it for them. A custom computer builder, they label their product “Open Computers” and offer them with Windows, Linux and Mac OS X.

Is that legal? Technically, no. They’re still caught up in litigation with Apple, but Psystar claims Apple’s EULA (which prohibits you from using OS X on non-Apple hardware) won’t hold up in court. Their argument? “What if Honda said that, after you buy their car, you could only drive it on the roads they said you could?”

So, legalities aside, what are the implications for providing Apple software without Apple hardware? If VARs could do it legally, would they? Would they want to? I’m all ears.

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