Get a Slick Mac NetBook For Less Than $600 (Not Strictly Legal, Of Course)

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Writer Scott Gilbertson has a very cool Mac netbook that cost him only $550.

It’s got a slick black case, weighs nothing, gets hours of battery life and runs Leopard, the latest version of Mac OS X. It’s not a MacBook Air.

It’s a hacked EeePC — a tiny liliputer , as they’re now called, fresh from Asus, a Tawainese manufacturer best known for PC motherboards.

Gilbertson’s netbook is the device Mac fans have wanted for years: A low-cost cousin to the beautiful but pricey MacBook Air.

It runs like a champ but has a couple of quirks (one big one) and may not be strictly legal, though Apple’s never going to prosecute unless these machines are sold commercially. Hit the jump for details.

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Gilbertson’s machine is an ASUS Eee PC 1000H. It has a 10-inch screen (1024×600), 1.6 GHz Intel Atom Processor, 1-GB RAM, and a 80 GB Hard Drive (there’s also a solid state model — not recommended). It runs OS X like a champ, Gilbertson says.

“Performance is on par with my MacBook,” says Gilbertson. “Benchmark-wise, I think it comes in around the equivalent of a G5.”

By contrast, the standard MacBook Air has an Intel Core Duo processor, 80GB drive, 13-inch screen (1280×800), 802.11n WiFi and Bluetooth. Apple claims 5 hours of battery life, and it starts at $1,800.

The Eee PC comes with Windows XP Home, but Gilbertson, a writer for WebMonkey who lives in Athens, Georgia, loaded it with a hacked Leopard distro readily available using BitTorrent.

Here’s the instructions for installing OS X on an EeePC.

The install took about two hours. The EeePC has no internal optical drive, so Gilbertson had to buy an external DVD from Best Buy (returned the next day). Gilbertson burned the install disk on a Windows PC. Macs don’t work well for some reason.

Everything on the OS X EeePC works except for sound; there’s no audio out. This may seem like a biggie, but Gilbertson says he keeps a copy of Windows XP on the machine in case he wants to watch a movie on the plane. He simply boots into Windows instead of OS X.

The machine also refuses to remember WiFi passwords. He uses some crappy crappy third-party config tool.

Slick though Gilbertson’s hacked EeePC is: the MSI WInd is more popular among OS X netbook hackers, resulting in fewer driver issues, Gilbertson says.

  • charli

    i love how the comment has been made that it might not actually be legal to put the OS on this machine but in the instructions they make a huge point out of buying the copy you are going to (possibly illegally) install cause it isn’t nice to steal it off bittorrent and the like.