Posted by: skyshab | January 22, 2009

The HackBook Nano

This is actually a project that was mostly completed a few months ago, but I was waiting to post pictures until I got one more thing ironed out. Now that that last detail is taken care of, here you go.

wind1

wind2

This thing started out life as an MSI Wind, and came with Windows XP installed on it. But, being the compassionate sort of person that I am, I liberated the poor machine by installing Leopard on it.

I originally set it up as a triple boot with XP, OS X, and Ubuntu, and named it “Triple Booty”.

Hey, that’s booty as in pirate’s booty, not as in booty call. After all, I’m a pirate, not a playa’ !

But alas, the thrill of having three operating systems running on a netbook was soon overtaken by my dislike for the drab and rather uninviting appearance of the Grub Bootloader screen. And having had more experience doing a boot-132 install, I opted for a fresh and clean Vanilla kernel, rather than the hacked WindOSX86 distro that I had first tried out. So now, its just a HackBook Nano.

I had seen some custom stickers floating around for adorning one’s hacked MSI Wind, but liking a graphic design challenge, I set out to create my own version. I came up with these:

windosx86blue_long2

wind5

wind4

windosx86blue

I had originally slapped one of the countless stock Apple stickers that I have acquired with each Apple purchase on the front of the computer to cover up the MSI logo. But, it just looked like, well, what it was- a sticker some guy had haphazardly slapped on there. I wasn’t too happy with that, so I created a better looking and more pirate-like design, and had a professional sign maker cut it out of vinyl for me. There, that’s better!

wind6

This satisfied my penchant for aesthetics for about a day. I decided that it was missing the Myriad Pro Semi-Bold Proclamation of Profligacy that adorns the front of every real Mac laptop. I again went to the sign-maker with my latest crazy request. He gave it a shot, but apparently cutting 20 point font out of vinyl is not the easiest task. Well, to be exact, cutting it is no problem, but weeding the excess vinyl from around the cut design is a bit tedious. After a bunch of wasted vinyl, the sign-maker, liking a challenge every bit as I do, ordered a batch of higher quality vinyl, and gave it another go. The next batch went better, but was still a bear to weed. Only a small fraction of them were even usable, and then the application process was it’s own can o’worms. After three tries however, I got it on to my satisfaction. Not perfect mind, you, but it still looks good enough to turn some heads at the local coffee shop.

wind3

So, other than the stickers and the boot-132 install, the only other modifications I had to make was upgrading the RAM to 2GB, and adding in a Mac compatible wifi card. Some industrious guys on the MSI Wind forum convinced the equally industrious (and apparently bored) guys at Realtech to write a custom driver to enable the stock wifi card to work with OS X. However, it involves using some crappy utility in order to configure and use your wifi options, rather than Leopard’s built in AirPort preferences. I think the $45 I spent on the Dell 1505 Draft N card was money well spent. For some reason or another, this Dell card is seen by OS X as a native AirPort card. I did have to remove a pesky mounting post from the mobo of the Wind that was in the way, but it was a relatively simple task . There is now a Dell 1510 half height wifi card that does not require removing this post. Of course, news of this came about a week after I had already installed mine.

There is one issue with the Wind using OS X. The headphones and mic jacks do not work out-of-box. Someone wrote a great little app that allows the headphone jack to work (originally for the Asus EEEPC), but in order to use a mic, you need a USB dongle. No big deal. The Voodoo team is claiming to be only days away from releasing a driver that will enable both headphones and mic to work properly within Leopard. It will be interesting to see how that plays out.

wind7

Well, hope you like the project. It sure was fun. I just played with one of the new unibody MacBooks yesterday, and in spite of only having the option for the glossy-screen-from-hell and the lack of a FireWire port, its a damn sexy and tempting machine. I have barely gotten my HackBook Nano broken in, and I’m already considering retiring it in favor of one of the new MacBooks.

Its a tough decision, but one that will have to wait until later. Right now, I’m gonna go get me some booty! And I ain’t talkin’ bout no doubloons! Beyotch! uh, I mean, Aaargh!

For more information on how you too can make your own HackBook Nano, check out the MSI Wind Forums.

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Responses

  1. Did you tether an iphone to it?

    • Yes, I have tried this. It works OK, but I haven’t had much need to do it, as I’m usually in a place with WiFi. Nice to know that I can though.

  2. How did you get rid of the MSI Wind logo by the upper left corner of the keyboard?

    • I didn’t. Its still there if you look closely in the pictures. I thought about trying, but then decided I should leave at least some tribute to the original MSI Wind.

  3. Saw your ad on the forums. Don’t know if you will but nothing wrong without asking…

    Would you consider a trade for a Wii? 😀

    • Sorry, I need the $, and don’t play games. Thanks for asking, tho!

  4. if you do get another mac, ill buy this one from you!


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