My Final Hackintosh Rodeo

As we near what might be the final days of Hackintoshing, I tried out a VM-based technique for installing MacOS, complete with full-speed GPU, and you know what? It worked amazingly well.

By Ernie Smith

As I wrote relatively recently, we are not far from the expiration date for Intel-based MacOS. It could hit as soon as this year, possibly next.

But it doesn’t mean there still isn’t room to have fun with it. Recently, I decided to take my old 12-year-old Xeon, the topic of a piece on how companies get rid of old machines at quite-low prices, to see what I could do with the old workhorse. (I was somewhat delayed because my power supply stopped working. That’s right, three power supplies in five years. To be fair, the second was taken out by a power outage.) And it led me to play around with the quote-unquote “new style” of Hackintoshing, that being virtual machines set up with a “passthrough” to real hardware like GPUs, Wi-Fi cards, and USB hubs.

This style of Hackintoshing is usually done through Linux through what is called a kernel virtual machine (KVM), and can be done on a desktop machine. But one approach I had never tried before is by using Proxmox, a lightweight tool for hosting virtualized software on a machine, comparable to VMware, but largely open source, which has made it a hit with homelab enthusiasts.

When I was first covering the Hackintosh scene in 2019 or so, I alluded to this existing, but noted its more experimental nature, and that it was slightly easier than the standard route. It has gotten easier still. Skills have improved, and so have tools. The rise of OpenCore, a boot manager for Hackintoshes and older Macs, has simplified things quite a bit. And so have scripts.


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One such script, a tool called OSX-PROXMOX, makes it possible to create a MacOS VM build on a hobby machine in a matter of minutes, with far fewer headaches than you’ll come to expect on bare metal. That’s because the interface you’re working with is largely not the actual machine, but a web browser that tunnels into said machine on your local network.

For technical reasons, I went with Monterey, which is the last version of MacOS to natively support my chipset. And after setting it up and experimenting a bit. I determined that it was actually a lot more stable than the bare-metal installation I had switched from, which worked, but would get finicky about its USB ports. It’s good enough to make you think it’s bare metal, which is huge praise given the famed finickiness of Hackintoshes.


The menu interface for OSX-PROXMOX, which makes installing a VM of MacOS on Proxmox dead simple.

The parts you need for this build are pretty straightforward:

  • An old computer, preferably a desktop, with ethernet preferred
  • An external monitor
  • A hard drive, preferably an SSD, to store your data
  • An AMD GPU supported by MacOS
  • A USB drive for installing Proxmox
  • A web browser to connect to Proxmox after it’s installed
  • A tool for remoting in after the fact (I recommend Parsec because it’s fast and cross-platform)

I won’t claim it’s the easiest process in the world to get set up, but it is significantly easier than installing a bare-metal Hackintosh, in part because most of the elements are set up for you. (I recommend this guide, along with the writings of Nicholas Sherlock.)

The most impressive part is the passthrough. Essentially, the host gives up the hardware to the client, and the client runs it as if it’s a direct connection. It took a few tries, but when I got my monitor to display, I let out a cheer.

Once you get past the setup, the series of commands and tweaks you have to put in, you’re in MacOS, which mostly just works, especially after a GPU is set up. There will likely be no need to add in random kernel extensions after the fact, or to make tweaks to Plist files. For the most part, it worked faster and better than most Hackintoshes I’ve tried, with not many compromises.

The big question, of course, is, does this make sense? Because the secret about my old Xeon, which has a processor similar to a high end trash can Mac Pro, is that a four-year-old M1 is faster in nearly every way, and nearly as inexpensive, with about a tenth of the power use. But there is a market where I think VMs of this nature could make sense: Mini PCs.

Small-form-factor machines, particularly those made with AMD processors, can be had somewhat inexpensively nowadays, and tend to work well with virtualization setups, and with the right setup and hardware can make solid replacements for Mac Minis. You will have the best luck with mini PCs with dedicated GPUs, a few of which are still out there if you know where to look. (But of course, you’ll have to do your research to ensure it will work.)

Personally, I’m just glad I got one more ride on the Hackintosh hobbyhorse before the market moved away from it for good. After my piece last month, I heard from a few folks who felt that the next frontier of this kind of hackery is the good work the Asahi Linux team is doing to get Linux up and running on Apple Silicon. I’ve played with it a few times myself and recently installed Fedora on my M1. It’s way better than it was when I first tried it, though a couple of key features to push it over the edge, particularly external monitor and Thunderbolt support, are somewhat hard to come by at the moment.

But as shown by the improvements in VM-based MacOS installs, that will change.

Nerdy Links

Speaking of Apple, they finally opened up the App Store to emulators, but admittedly with some caveats.

Let’s make a BBS with Kubernetes is an idea only an absolute nerd could love. So I of course adore it.

Oh yeah, there’s an eclipse today. Here’s some useful info about it from NASA.


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Ernie Smith

Your time was just wasted by Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is the editor of Tedium, and an active internet snarker. Between his many internet side projects, he finds time to hang out with his wife Cat, who's funnier than he is.

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