Configuring VMware ESXi as a Workstation

Only virtualizing RAM & Compute, not KVM & HDD

Overview:

  • i was looking for a single machine Mac + Win solution… working from one primary desktop and remoting to the other…
  • this is of course the general posture of all the popular VM “Workstation” products but they gave me heartburn for one reason or another (see Motivation)
  • ESXi –VMWare’s FREE & very “light” HyperVisor server product– requires some mildly esoteric configurations of HDD, Video & USB to accomplish the desired single machine workstation footprint, hence these notes

Motivation:

  • Hosting Mac VM side under Windows VMware Workstation i ran into very unreliable connection from Visual Studio 2015 to Xamarin’s Mac Build Agent (believe me, tried all latest VS2015 update bits as well as Xamarin alpha channel)… only after MANY MANY frustrating retries would it eventually connect
  • as well as surprising Xamarin Studio NuGet package gallery connectivity roadblock with virtual Mac’s network interface in NAT mode which seemed to be the only way Build Agent would ever connect… NuGet worked under Bridged but then Visual Studio couldn’t connect… arrrrg
  • going the other way with Windows virtualized under Mac host via either Parallels or Fusion always took an unacceptable hit on Windows / Visual Studio performance… year after year both mainstream commercial Mac hosted virtualization products have been riddled with issues and chronically dead ended support forum posts… each new version as disappointing as the last… so I am ecstatic to finally leave all that noise behind, hopefully forever.

Success !

  • should’ve tried this long ago, ESXi is a surprisingly quick and painless install
  • now Visual Studio immediately connects to Mac build agent and Mac NuGet is also happy
  • and both Mac and Windows VM’s are nicely more snappy than what I’d get under the Workstation products… consistently low idle CPU% usage, definitely more like physical

Specs:

  • mobo: Gigabyte GA-X99-UD4 (BIOS F22)
  • GPU: ATI 5450
  • ESXi 6.0.0U2 – download, [Update: 2017-02-15] ESXi 6.5.0-4564106 was a no-go for me
    Frozen Windows logo upon booting the Win10 RDM. Tried creating fresh VM definition and using the new SATA controller instead of SCSI with no luck… bummer because the new ESXi Host Web Client was notably better at saving the necessary settings; didn’t have to resort to vSphere Client… fingers crossed future releases will resolve… for the record, the ESXi installer is thankfully smart enough to leave our datastore partition intact, conducive to quickly trying ESXi upgrades by simply REATTACHING the VM’s after install
  • unlocker 2.0.8 (there is now a 2.0.9 RC targeting ESXi 6.5, the author does warn not quite ready, but there’s at least one successful report)
  • Windows 10 (v1607 build 14393.693)
  • El Capitan OS X v10.11.5, now running fine on Sierra as well

Main Steps:

  1. install ESXi
  2. install unlocker
  3. boot up your ESXi host
    yeah, it was just that easy : )
  4. install vSphere Client on a remote machine
  5. use client to remote into the host by ip and root/password
  6. create your VM’s paying attention to the following screenshots & config notes

VM Creation Settings at a glance:

i took these screenshots via ESXi host Web client but that actually runs into various validation errors upon save… the vSphere client is therefore the go to whenever creating/modifying settings (see Which Client? below)

Video config:

  • Noteable: VT-d aka IOMMU aka DirectPath I/O aka passthrough provides direct physical connection from VM (i chose Windows) to PCIe devices for GPU and USB which allows for running the Windows desktop directly on the ESXi box without typical need for a separate machine to remote in from
  • this does mean once the VM starts up, it completely takes over the graphics card to where the ESXi host is truly “headless”… so i’ve actually got 2 GPUs running, an old ATI dedicated to the Windows VM and another just for getting into ESXi shell on physical host…
  • NOTE: single GPU configuration is very viable… all settings (both host and VM) are done through remote clients (see Which Client? below)… if for some reason that wasn’t an option, you could disable VM autostart via vSphere client and thereby leave a lone GPU for troubleshooting directly on the host console after boot up… i suppose if things were ever so horked up that disabling the GPU takeover autostart remotely wasn’t an option, then finding another graphics card to throw in might be the only choice… but really any old card would do (i.e. temp borrow someone else’s) since it’s just a text based linux console.
  • reportedly nVidia consumer grade cards like my nVidia GTX 750 Ti are specifically crippled against VT-d… nVidia reserves this for their high end $$ cards… clever folks are mod’ing low end cards to report VT-d compatible DeviceId’s but i haven’t found anyone doing the 750 Ti yet… also wonder about DSDT override approaches… unfortunately Windows doesn’t pay attention to bootloader magic ala Clover, otherwise FakeId would be awesomely too easy… ESXi does seem to support a custom DSDT -or- it looks like there’s a way to punch a DSDT into the registry for development purposes
  • fortunately ATI doesn’t cripple their consumer GPUs… the 5450 was a $30 card circa 2012 and supports 3 digital displays with completely passive cooling (i’m a sucker for fanless)
  • more recently I’m liking the footprint of an HP 2GB ATI 7570 i picked up for $40 used on eBay also with all 3 digital port types, including the elusive DisplayPort… the HP ones with model#’s 672462, 695635, 695633 are nice small half length cards that i can report are an essentially silent fan… keep an eye on the RAM since there’s a lot of 1GB ones out there but frankly 1GB probably runs everything fine anyway
  • pretty sure could just as well run the Mac on the VT-d GPU and thereby gain full QE/CI accelerated graphics if needed (iMovie being a notable app)… VM’ing OSX with VT-d graphics providing full speed QE/CI is an interesting blend of virtual and physical versus more traditional full physical approach to the hackintosh game… i suppose it still comes down to fiddling with each of your specific I/O devices (Bluetooth, WiFi, Audio, etc)

HD config:

  • this post details how to create RDM (Raw Device Mapping) vmdk’s to mount our consumer sata drives containing existing physical Win and Mac boot installations directly as VMs, nice! … Nutshell steps:
    [crayon wrap=”true” lang=”shell”]
    #one time only
    md /vmfs/volumes/datastore1/RDMs

    #list your disks
    ls -l /dev/disks | grep -i “vml.*[^:][^9] ->”

    #create virtual drive mapping referencing the corresponding disk “guid”
    vmkfstools -r /vmfs/devices/disks/vml.0100000000533231484e5341464335303333354c202020202053616d73756e /vmfs/volumes/datastore1/RDMs/Sam500_Win10_RDM.vmdk #edit “Sam500” for your preferences
    [/crayon]

Keyboard / Mouse (surprisingly hard):

  • basically there’s no way to do trivial USB device assignment ala the Workstation products’ toolbar buttons… i couldn’t believe this initially and went looking for a long while… yet apparently VMware has specifically prevented mapping USB keyboard/mouse (“HID”)… speculatively to prevent losing complete control of your only means of input on the bare host but i haven’t run across an official “why” documented in black and white… for the record, certain enterprise oriented dongles are specifically supported for mapping at individual USB device granularity
  • so we must VT-d passthrough a PCIe device corresponding to an entire USB bus vs individual devices…
  • modern mobos typically rock multiple USB buses so theoretically we can simply carve one off for VM and leave one for host keyboard… Helpful Post1, Post2
  • but my default mobo config somehow had all the real USB ports clustered on a single hub address even though there were other hubs listed… after some trial & error BIOS fiddling reboots i found that setting XHCI to disabled yielded two separate PCIe entries in the passthrough settings UI like the above posts… that does mean i have no USB 3.0 for high speed transfers, so if that matters to you, it’s worth considering a $15 USB card
  • navigate to the passthrough settings UI via: your host > Configuration tab > Hardware section > Advanced Settings

Network:

  • Make sure you use VMXNET3 virtual NIC
  • the Intel E1000 default definitely sucks! it was giving me only 20 mbit downloads on my 30 mbit line
  • special instructions for Mac … i edited my VMX file directly (see vmx edit tip below)

Deploying to real iOS device via Mac USB:

  • this basically means we gotta dedicate another whole USB bus VT-d to the Mac VM… i can confirm this does indeed work… i’m leaving my Mac VM OUT of auto startup so that one USB bus stays with the host for local keyboard ESXI shell access if i ever need it

Which Client?

  • it’s wild how many different clients VMware has cooking… and they all have annoyances… vSphere Client, vCenter Web Client, VMware Remote Console (VMRC), ESXi Embedded Host Client and i hadn’t realized VMware Workstation’s UI will readily console into remote VMs in addition to its main function
  • FYI, if you get an “HCMON” conflict error with any of the installers – just run the installer exe as admin
  • vCenter Web Client – oft touted as the leading functionality bits (other clients warn of decreased VMware v11 hardware capability) … but it requires licensed vSphere Server… …i.e. $$ and another Windows Server or Linux box… will NOT install on Windows DESKTOP skus… previous versions we could fairly easily mod the MSI to ignore Server check, but latest v6.5’s MSIs are signed and won’t run after modded… AppCompat HighVersionLie shim didn’t work because it’s stuck on NTProductType (1=Desktop, 3=Server) not version and i was too scared to try an old tool like NTSwitch on my main rig… saving that for rainy day VM excercise
  • VMWare Remote Console – for quick remote desktop into the Mac i’ve settled on (rather undoc’d) parms for VMRC "C:\Program Files (x86)\VMwareVMware Remote Console\vmrc.exe" -H esxi_ip -U userid -P password -M vmid
    • locate vmid via ESXi Shell: vim-cmd vmsvc/getallvms
    • these modern clients seamlessly auto resize the mac desktop resolution just by dragging the console windows handles, nice!… just make sure to bump the paltry default 4MB VRAM via your VM > Edit Settings > Hardware tab > Video card… 64MB seems plenty… this setting supersedes the oft mentioned sVGA.vramsize vmx setting
  • ESXI Embedded Host Web Client – for admin/settings the Host Client is nicely capable w/o installing anything… access via: https://esxi_ip_addr/ui/
  • vSphere Client – for creating and modifying the VM settings, i found the vSphere Client to be more forgiving than the Embedded Host Client which would reject the provisioning submission with an “Incompatible device backing specified for device ‘9’” error no matter what i tried
    • configure auto-login shortcut with command line params similar but SLIGHTLY DIFFERENT to VMRC: "C:\Program Files (x86)\VMware\Infrastructure\Virtual Infrastructure Client\Launcher\VpxClient.exe -u user -p password -s ip_address
    • rats! as of v6.5 release wave, vSphere Client is officially dropped… last v6.0 revision still forwards compatible with 6.5 servers
  • SSH – and then SSH’ing into the ESXi Shell for any low level commands like the RDM stuff…
    • on Windows, PuTTY provides great shell experience (colors, cursor keys, delete, etc all just work, no fuss, no muss)
    • if you’ve got the new Ubuntu Linux Subsystem for Windows 10 loaded, that BASH has SSH built in

Skipping Clover:

TL;DR: Add a new entry to the ESXi EFI BIOS Boot Manager for OSX’s /System/Library/CoreServices/boot.efi

Background: Sometimes it’s handy to actually physically boot into the Mac… one reason is to get full CG/CI video on a real GPU for something like iMovie (although could actually probably pull this off via GPU passthrough)… anyway, for booting into physical Mac I like Clover so I have that installed in the EFI partition… by default, Clover is then in the loop when booting Mac as a VMware ESXi guest as well… problem is, for me, versions of Clover beyond r3265 crash upon selecting the Mac entry… one workaround I’ve wriggled out is to skip Clover by putting a “direct to Mac” entry in the VMware EFI BIOS boot selection screen (i.e. the “F2” menu)…

Loading the HFS driver so we can see the OSX System partition

now hit ESC back up to the top

Adding the Mac’s boot.efi entry

Change the Boot Order to put it at the top to be the default

Note: originally i worked this out through the EFI Shell prompt via BCFG commands… but upon returning to retrace my steps bcfg is not present in the shell!?… i must’ve accidentally enabled it during experimentation and have no recollection of how… i was doing things like loading \EFI\CLOVER\TOOLS\SHELL64.efi but that didn’t seem to do it this time around… would love to hear what i’m missing?? here are those bcfg commands for the record

* we need to load an HFS driver to get to it… on my system the EFI partition where Clover is installed is mapped to FS0:, main OSX partition is FS1:, so:
* `load fs0:\EFI\CLOVER\drivers64UEFI\VBoxHfs-64.efi`
* `reconnect -r`
* ***BCFG*** – the pertinent command for manipulating EFI BIOS menu entries:
* `help bcfg` is our friend
* `bcfg boot dump` to list current choices
* `fs1:`
* `cd \System\Library\CoreServices`
* `bcfg boot add 1 boot.efi “Direct to Mac”`
* if you add this as entry #1 as shown, it’ll be selected by default without intervention which is convenient
* you may want to add in a `bios.bootDelay = “5000”` in your Mac.vmx to give a moment to hit F2 if you find yourself needing to return to this screen often
* for the google record, the error i run into with Clover beyond r3265 under VMware was *”firmware encountered an unexpected exception”*
* i’ve just tried Clover r4061 2017-04-19 and it’s still busted => seems the bug is [already reported](https://sourceforge.net/p/cloverefiboot/tickets/354/)…
* and i indeed have now come to require a more recent Clover release than r3265 under physical Mac ([due to this](https://nickwoodhams.com/x99-hackintosh-osxaptiofixdrv-allocaterelocblock-error-update/))

Unfiltered Tips:

  • consider skimming my Diigo ESXi tag for more helpful posts
  • SOME VMX settings can be applied under {your VM} > Edit Settings > Options tab > Advanced > General > Configure Parameters button… but i’ve found not everything sticks here and i’ve had to vi the VMX file directly from SSH… vi /vmfs/volumes/datastore1/{your vm name}/{vm name}.vmx… then vim-cmd vmsvc/getallvms to find your VMID and lastly vim-cmd vmsvc/reload {VMID} to activate any changes
  • disable “Your Mac OS guest might run unreliably with more than one virtual core” message upon startup… this is bogus advice at this point
    • VMX setting: isolation.tools.bug328986.disable = “TRUE”
  • make sure you apply the smc.version = “0” tip in the unlocker notes if creating ESXi 6.0 compatibility level VM’s (i.e. “Hardware Version 11”)
  • Unfortunately after most guest reboots (not all), Win10 falls into an “automated repair” blue screen cycle of doom… i’ve come to realize that merely deleting and recreating RDM file from CLI is all that’s needed… so i created a little script for that in the host’s RDM folder and SSH in to execute it whenever things go south
    [crayon wrap=”true” title=”resetSam500″ toolbar=”always”]
    rm Sam500_Win10_RDM*.vmdk
    vmkfstools -r /vmfs/devices/disks/vml.0100000000533231484e5341464335303333354c202020202053616d73756e Sam500_Win10_RDM.vmdk
    [/crayon]
  • Virtual Machine Startup/Shutdown needs to be configured for convenient auto booting of VMs when host spins up… UI is unintuitive, make sure to bump VM up into the Automatic Startup section
  • i started on GA-X99-UD4 BIOS rev.F12 … at first everything was copacetic but wound up at pitch black UEFI BIOS screens after reboot (monitor lights on so live signal, but no UI)… i found that taking either GPU out before boot would actually work so it was a dual GPU issue… up’ing to BIOS rev.F22 permanently resolved that
  • if you’re looking to jump in with turnkey hardware: this TinkerTry guy really looks to have done all the homework… 8 core XEON (D-1541 = 2.1GHz, BGA mounted = no upgrades possible), 64GB RAM in a cute little mini-tower case, 100% VMware official compatible components, all tested out and ready to rock as a local VT-d workstation just like what i’ve shown here
  • Cross Platform Clipboard – tried several, free Share Clipboard via node, CopyCopy, CrossClip, Alt-C, etc… FINALLY! NoMachine to the rescue = free modern cross platform remote desktop with working clipboard, yay!! bonus points: it also enables sound in the remote Mac window… VMware doesn’t have any solution for that yet… the window drag looks a little pokey vs VMRC but definitely usable

Sizing a Battery Backup (aka UPS)

I live in the Seattle area, apparently we get a nice windy storm around every Thanksgiving… sure to form, we lost power for a nice long 24 hours starting 11/17/2015… so i finally ordered a low end generator… and then i started wondering about including a UPS for computer up-time continuity during the momentary brownouts that happen when the wind is jacking with our power grid.

Power Requirements

  • nice reference
  • Typical UPS units will be rated in VA (Volt-Amps) aka Apparent Power … and possibly in Watts aka Real Power as well
  • The difference between these two comes from concept called Power Factor… PF = Real / Apparent… quick backgrounder:
    • a “purely resistive” load like an old school incandescent light bulb will have a PF = 1 where VA and Watts are equal
    • whereas the typical implementation of AC to DC in a PC PSU represents an inductive load which causes the Amperage sine wave to lag behind the Voltage yielding a PF < 1 where some energy is “lost” – helpful physical analogy – see horse and boatit does beg the question where this energy is actually lost to… in the physical horse/boat scenario it’s easy to think it goes to friction/kinetic but i don’t have it pinned down in the AC/DC scenario… perhaps wasted in underutilized electromagnetic field
  • Ideally your UPS will be rated for both their VA & Watts capacity but if only VA, then it is common to expect a UPS to handle Watts at 60% of it’s VA rating … i.e. 1000VA UPS should support 600Watts
  • So now you need to know your power requirements… there’s a couple ways to go about this:
    1. take your PSU at face value… but how did you size your PSU in the first place… to be honest I just threw a dart when i went shopping
    2. add up your components’ ratings
    3. buy a cheap (~$20) device to measure actuals – this option is easy, inexpensive, satisfyingly definitive and it’s a nice bonus to go measure everything else in your house …
      • turns out my admittedly very non-gamer rig never went above 335VA (304 Watts, PF = 0.91) with maxed CPU and Gfx (Corsair HX750i PSU, Haswell-E 6 Core 5820k, Nvidia GTX 750Ti , 30” & 24” displays, USB speaker, USB mini network switch)
      • 300 VA just CPU maxed, no Gfx
      • 215 VA fairly idle
      • 144 VA remove 30” display
      • 75 VA remove 24” display
  • Finally, working back from those numbers into a UPS means I not only need at least 335VA but I also need to watch out for 304 Watts… i CAN NOT simply go after a 335VA UPS since that would only support 201 Watts (335 * 0.6) … and we see this in typical UPS specs – notice the 650VA/390Watts – … to put another way, since my Active PFC (see below) PSU puts my overall PF nearer to 1 vs 0.6, my Wattage load is the critical dimension to satisfy vs VA… to work back to a UPS VA that would support 304 Watts => VA * 0.6 = 304 Watts… VA = 304/0.6 = 506… so at minimum I am looking for 560VA/304Watts

Secondary Considerations

  • I’m an Amazon junkie, I typically check off Amazon prime and then scan similar products for a high number of positive reviews… in the consumer UPS space (+/- $100 range) it’s really a matter of CyberPower vs APC… The APC BE550G is the obvious best rated at 4.5 stars 3218 reviews…
  • Generator Compatibility!
  • AVR – Automatic Voltage Regulation – like all marketing, it sounds good… smooth out your voltages in brownouts, but I couldn’t find enough concrete evidence to say whether it was significant
  • Replaceable battery – the APS and CyberPowers both appear to be readily servicable
  • Info Display – I’m kind of a sucker for the LCD
  • Software – it’s tough to find specifics on the APC & CyberPower software beyond turning off the beep and setting up automatic shutdown… i was somewhat interested in something that would actually log power consumption over time to give me some “Kill A Watt” style info… since the software does show Watts it seems feasible to think i could reverse gen the USB info and record it (like i’ll actually get around to that 😉
    • Apparently CyberPower is Mac & Linux compatible whereas APC is Windows only
  • Leaning towards CyberPower CP600LCD = $65 @ 2015-11-23

Active Power Factor Correction (APFC)

  • the PF < 1 waste drives marketing of modern PC PSUs to trend towards Active Power Factor Correction (Active PFC) which means the PSU corrects the raw electronic load back to a PF = 1… and can thereby boast higher efficiency, which sells
  • through a fun combination of physical constraints, the kind of electric equipment humans could readily produce and politics at the outset of power distribution, modern society settled on high voltage AC and the momentum of large investments required have kept it that way…
  • further, current is most readily generated by rotating mechanisms which lead to a smooth “harmonic” curve of voltage highs and lows over time, i.e. the oft referred sine wave… hence our electric grid was founded on smooth sine wave current
  • and it’s therefore understandable that cost effective electric equipment would actually depend on a smooth sine… and apparently some Active PFC PSU’s implementations are indeed sensitive to having a pure sine wave input…
  • yet it is also cost effective for UPS’s to convert their DC battery source into AC via electronic approximations that yield a “stepped” wave vs the smooth sine we see from our power grid … this stepped sine is what dominates the consumer end UPS space (Fig.1)
  • the main downside of this potential conflict is that the fail-over from wall to UPS battery during a power outage may still cause a PC power cycle…
  • Nevertheless based on my quick reading, we should generally rely on contemporary hardware to be compatible and the only way to really know for sure is to find a published test or test it yourself… the simple test is to unplug the UPS and see if you get a reboot or not 🙂

Fig.1

2015Q1 Haswell-E X99 Build



Mobo: Gigabyte GA-X99-UD4 – LGA 2011-v3

CPU: Intel i7-5820k – 6 core Haswell-E

Cooler: Corsair H80i GT

PSU: Corsair HX750i

RAM: Crucial 32GB (4 x 8GB) Ballistix Sport (DDR4 PC4-19200 2400 MHz, 16-16-16 CAS)

CaseCooler Master Storm Scout 2 Advanced – love that rubber top handle! 🙂

SSD: SAMSUNG 850 EVO 500GB

Video: Asus Strix Nvidia GeForce GTX 750Ti 2GB … this card is a perfect fit in my book:

  • No drivers necessary to vanilla boot into Yosemite – no QE/CI out of box but very workable for initial install and then full QE/CI via Nvidia “webdriver”.
  • fanless unless pushed hard
  • 3 x digital display, INCLUDING DP – I can confirm this card supports at least dual monitors under Yosemite via any combination of DP / HDMI / DVI (dual- link) with any of them driving 2560 x 1600 res… I’ve seen mention of possible 4k support on this card and can’t wait to confirm that myself 🙂
  • no more horsepower than I care to pay for => $160 at the time … and was well stocked in major outlets circa March 2015

PC Hound build pricing
($1,675.26 pre-tax from Amazon on 2015-03-11)

See Hackintosh Install

Biggest gripe – the Corsair USB software is total junk… It sounds cool to be able to monitor temps but it is so bad I would seriously recommend against it… I traced OS X re-wake back to the H80i cooler and the drivers are all super flaky under windows… reports of all kinds of known issues installing on Win8 and above out there on the interwebs… even with the well known hacks in place, only some rare reboots would yield working gauges for me… looks like USB device initialization timing bugs… sounds neat at face value but the unreliable drivers ruin the whole experience… there are open source alternatives brewing… guess there’s a new build up for Win10, we’ll see how that goes.
 

2015-09-03 Update: Spooky! Machine was just totally dead this morning, no power up at all … jiggled the usual stuff, manually shunted the mobo power-on pins, re-seated ram, nothing… was expecting dead PSU but it checked out fine on voltmeter… and test button on PSU revved up the fans just fine… so next i started figuring dead mobo and was basically giving up … then the big guy nudged a thought into my sad mind, “try the paperclip trick”… so i shunted pins 15 & 16 on the back of the 24pin header (while PSU connected to mobo) and sure enough it all powered right up <whew>… after that the case power button was working normally again as well… no other changes…

very interesting behavior … really grasping to place blame anywhere particular  ???

i shudder to think of the time and effort i could have easily wasted swapping out working components chasing this ghost

we did have a power outage here a couple days ago but the machine had been running fine since then; even going in and out of sleep mode so it’s hard to think there would be something “lingering”… yet there i was
 

PSU jumper cable

Installing Windows in UEFI Mode

Motivation – Booting Windows in UEFI mode offers a couple mild advantages:
  1. it’s more compatible with Clover if you’re booting OS X this way already
  2. it’s supposedly the fastest boot sequence
For motherboard: Gigabyte GA-X99-UD4

Notes / Lessons Learned:

  • Disconnect all other drives than the one installing to
    1. existing windows drives get targeted for reusing their boot partition and wouldn’t create all 4 “ideal” GPT UEFI partitions present on a cleanly installed drive (Recovery, System, MSR, Primary)
    2. having my Mac Clover drive connected during these attempts allowed the setup utility to clobber my Clover boot with the Windows bootloader …
      • reinstalling Clover via VMware OS X guest DID NOT put the UEFI Clover bootloader back in charge!
      • had to delete/rename efiwindows folder and only then did the old EFI option start showing back up on the "BBS” bios boot volume picklist (F12)
  • Rufus flash usb boot tool – for my mobo, wound up working best with mbr and uefi-csm (counter to prevalent recommendation)
  • what really seemed to matter was putting the usb stick in a certain USB port! i used the chassis USB header with 2x USB3 and 2x USB2… going from left to right it was the second USB3 port that worked; the left port most never did
  • BIOS settings
    • fast boot didn’t seem to matter either on or off
    • legacy usb worked in disabled mode
    • worked with “other OS” selected
    • disabled CSM never worked – machine would not display bios after reboot (contrary to most UEFI guides' recommendation)

To Confirm:

from “WinPE” environment:
  • Shift F10 to open command window
  • wpeutil UpdateBootInfo
  • reg query HKLMSystemCurrentControlSetControl /v PEFirmwareType
  • Looking for 0x2 = UEFI (0x1 = legacy)
from real Windows:
  • msinfo32.exe > System Summary > “BIOS Mode” – looking for “UEFI” (“Legacy” means not UEFI)

[SOLVED] Acer Aspire One won’t boot Syslinux USB thumbdrive

Looks like my particular issue was the default partition size on my 16GB thumbdrive. Once I formatted the USB with a 2GB partition and installed Syslinux to that, it booted up right away where previously it would hang on the first “Syslinux Copyright Peter Anvin” message. More details:

  • Acer Aspire One model#: 722-C62bb (looks like this is an 11” model)
  • Always handy to have another computer to work from (for web searching, trial and error formats on the USB drive, etc) when trying to fiddle with boot issues on another… my other computer is a Win8 desktop.
  • Syslinux actually came into my picture because I was looking to create Comodo’s Rescue Disk. Comodo (v6.2) has a convenient point and click process to push their linux based rescue disk to a USB.
  • I used diskpart (on my Win8 box) to create the smaller partition… here’s the core commands:
    • list vol (to get a feel for your windows drive letters and not format the wrong one 🙂
    • list disk (same for raw physical disks)
    • select disk X (MAKE SURE YOU CHOOSE THE RIGHT ONE!!)
    • (MAKE SURE AGAIN)
    • clean (THIS WIPES THE DISK!!!)
    • create part primary size=2048 (2GB worked for me in this context)
    • active
    • format fs=fat label=”COMODO” quick (I chose old school FAT filesystem looking for most downlevel compatibility, not sure if it was actually necessary vs FAT32. NTFS is notably the least compatible option for linux booting. Quick means do a quick format.)
  • Then I just let Comodo do it’s thing and that result booted up right away for me – yay 🙂

Man Cave Bling – Beer Fridge – Koldfront 80 (BBR900BL) by EdgeStar

View larger image of Koldfront 80 Can Built-In Beverage Cooler - Black

  • First one was a dud out of the box. Just didn’t cool at all. EdgeStar support said it was missing coolant. Took them about 2 full weeks to turn around the replacement. They paid all replacement shipping via printed return label. It was a new serial number, not a repair of my old one, and it looked new.
  • I am very satisfied now with this second unit and would definitely recommend it.
  • The look is very nice. The glass is great. The blue light is great.
  • The size is great, very deep. Fit my under-the-bar-cabinet-slot really well. A little shorter than the broken down old “Scotsman” that was in there but nothing a couple 2x4’s didn’t fix.
    • Sure am glad to have found something in a more reasonable price range… I’m sure the Scotsman stuff must last forever but at upwards of $2k, not on my kids’ college budget 🙂
  • Cooling has been spot on for the 2 months I’ve had it so far <knock wood>.
  • The cheapest I was able to find it was from “Ideal Wine Coolers” for $400. Half retail and $100 less than Amazon.
  • Other considerations for this same general form factor are the:
    • “EdgeStar 80” (CBR901SG) for $500 if you’re interested in the stainless steel look, and the
    • “EdgeStar 84” (OBR900SS) for $750 if you want outdoor certified cooling capabilityDSC_0991-50%… they indicate that a unit should be specifically designed to run outdoors or it will burn itself out quickly running non stop… that one would look great next to a hot tub 🙂

DSC_0967-50%

Trailer Hitch Bike Rack

440 After fair amount of homework, went with the Softride “Element” 4-bike rack… pricing is consistently $210’ish and I went with my local REI for solid local support. Was torn between this Element and the $70 more big brother “Dura” model… which adds “anti-sway cradels” (i.e. seat tube rubber wraps) + built in lockup cable + hitch bolt lock + beefier + 5 lbs… I’m thinking I’ll be good at rigging my own anti sway (via old inner tubes & bungees), the rest really didn’t appeal to me and (I presume since we chose the low end 4 cyl. Kia Sportage for it’s gas mileage) I was unpleasantly surprised to discover that I have to use the 1-1/4” hitch extender – so the less weight/torque the better. Notable feature of the Softride line is its parallelogram bars that keep the bikes perpendicular to the ground when you lean the rack away to open your lift gate… Yakima/Thule hasn’t copied that yet… and the only other means for simple tail gate access out there are $600 plus “swing away” style that really look clunky to me. If this sounds useless to you, fine but I feel like it’s “last inch” convenience like that which helps things slump over the swear words threshold when you just want to get something out quickly and get going. There are a couple higher end models to be aware of if you’ve got cash to burn: a lighter aluminum one and a hydraulic Assist model that helps raise back into locked position… cool but my sweet spot is lower end. The Softride’s are a great price against the field… one can easily hit $300, $400 , $600 for no great reason… I’ve read a lot about these on Amazon etc and am thoroughly prepped to be careful/creative with rubber straps that seem to be highly prone to tearing … but the metal parts and basic functionality are reported solid across the board.

Roof Cargo Box

yeah, i know, really poor iphone photo :(Installed this last night… found in local Pep Boys inventory… blasted them with a $20 coupon that expired that day 🙂 so was out the door at $210 + tax.

This PepBoys SKU is barely a rebrand of the SportRack “Voyager XL”… the manual inside is OEM, headered with “90274 Voyager XL” and “A90275 Aero XL”… one forum I read said this bugger gets down around $100 sometimes during PepBoys promos… something to keep an eye on. Dimensions: 35 pounds (doesn’t feel like it), 18 cubic feet (this is the max end of the range from what I could see), 62 x 39.5 x 19 inches. We have a “mountain buggy” stroller & kiddie trailer that are in the 31” width, 45” length, 15” height (when flat) range so this opens the possibility of tossing up there if we want to suffer the inconvenience – more likely for a longer trip with a nice long usage window between load and unload. Caveat: The lid “spring lift” hinges are mostly plastic. They feel pretty fragile. I expect to break them eventually (vacation stress induced daddy hulk-out moment ).  I feel this is the primary sacrifice vs more expensive, beefier models. I look at it as a convenience for as long as it lasts and the box should still be functional after that, simply requiring manual prop open.

Note: SportRack is a Thule acquisition circa 2005.

This same basic model goes for a big range of prices under different names:

  • over $500 as the A90275 Aero XL on Amazon for no good reason.
  • Or only $280 as the SR7018 Vista XL.
  • Walmart carries it as Aero XL for $300 and $250, take your pick haha.

quick release kitIt was very straightforward to install… a few casual minutes, very doable by one person as long as you can lift it up there. The u-bolts are simple and practical… I am however hoping this $30 quick release kit will let me pop it on/off a little faster so we can garage the SUV w/o hassle… will report back on that. [Update 2013-08-02] Ok I can now recommend the quick release kit. It’s not what I would call nirvana but it’s definitely more convenient than the stock brackets. They’re just as sturdy as stock bracket when tightened down, no concern of slippage. If you look at the picture to the right, with the metal plates numbered 1,2,3 from top to bottom – ones roof rack cross bars fit between plates 2 & 3. The “quick” part of this is that one bolt always remains connected to plate 3 and one bolt is free, creating an opening for the cross bar insertion and subsequent removal. Simply because one bolt stays connected, the hardware is always attached to the cargo box and more ready to go, unlike the stock u-bolts which must be completely separated from their nuts to remove the cargo box from the roof. Hopefully that makes sense enough to satisfy your purchase anxiety. It’s pretty obvious what has to happen when you get it in front of you.

Lastly, the one other tempting unit I saw out there in this bargain range is the X-Cargo Sport 20 currently for $180 at Sears. It wasn’t stocked locally for me at the time, and Sears’ shopping cart indicated $90 to do the oversized shipping. This unit is worthy of consideration based on size and price. 20 cubic feet is the biggest I’ve seen. 67.5 x 36.25 x 20.25 inches, same 35 lbs. Follow-up after 3 months usage – We’ve been very satisfied with the size and performance. No recognizable wind resistance driving impacts. The rather prominent Pep Boys decal on the back face peels right off if that doesn’t fit your vanity profile 🙂

Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7 (P6800)


(My previous go to device, the Samsung Q1 Ultra.  She served us well. 🙂 Have we come a long way in 5 short years???

Highlights:

  • 7.89mm (0.31 inch) thick – just amazing to hold
  • 345 grams (0.76 lb) – makes for a great eReader… the brushed Alu back is nicely grippy after your hand has warmed it up for few secs (our Kindle 3G is 247g, 8.5mm and eInk is definitely cool for reading but it’s not color, smaller screen, lower res, not touch and isn’t app-tastic. Kindle Fire is 413 g, 11.4mm.)
  • Super AMOLED Plus screen, 1280 x 800 res – very pleasing as everyone points out. But to be totally frank, I ride outdoors a lot, and these are really no better in direct sunlight than anything else LCD based… indoors or even in a casted shadow, the screen is very nice.
  • 1.4GHz – everything runs nice and peppy on Android 3.2
  • 3G – HSPA+
  • microSD – surprisingly, the 8.9, 10.1 sibling tabs do not support an SD card. The original 5” Note and Tab 2 10.1 & 7.0 do, however.
  • full HD video MPEG4, H.264 play very smooth… I’ve tried just a few, one MKV wouldn’t play audio, another would.
  • 5100mAh battery

Some rather obscure downsides I’ve noticed so far:

  • When USB connected to a PC gtab 7.7 does NOT mount as a mass storage device; It mounts as an MTP device. For one, we don’t get a Windows drive letter. Drag and drop from Windows Explorer is basically the same… but various sync tools only work with mass storage. This post indicates that Honeycomb’s mixing of filesystems in the system folder structure is what renders mass storage infeasible (to PC’s).
  • The microSD card natively mounts to /mnt/sdcard/extStorages/SdCard … there doesn’t appear to be an Android standard established so (some) apps don’t know where to find it.

[Update: 2012-12-18] Upgrading to Samsung OEM Ice Cream Sandwich Android v4.0

Recommended (and not) Accessories:
The Tablet 🙂
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I got mine for $645.50 from Amazon Market Vendor “Transformersandgsmphones” … it shipped very fast and was a brand new unit. Caveat: From what I understand, units purchased through grey market like this will be difficult if not impossible to submit for any warranty claim.
AmazonBasics Stylus
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  • $11 from Amazon
  • Highly reviewed
  • Soft tip seems bulbous at first but in actual tablet usage turns out to be very appropriate. Still, I think I would really like the pressure sensitive line thickness capability of the Note models’ smart pen.
SanDisk 64GB microSD card
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  • class 6 but speedy enough
  • it actually works
  • 7.7 formats it as fat32/vfat by default… there are some tools for getting it mounted as NTFS, IFF you think you need >4GB files… I found the tools not working right away and think I’ll be fine on fat32.
  • Got mine for $119 @ Amazon but that price is dropping almost daily! hold out as long as you can!
RAM-Mounts Cradle
(RAM-HOL-TAB-SMU)
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  • I love RAM-Mounts and this is the absolute *PERFECT* fit for the GTab 7.7 in scenarios like bicycle handlebars.
  • The middle sized cup is a very satisfying fit for the GTab 7.7.
  • It will work great with a rubber case or naked. The grip spring is very strong. I bounced along a VERY bumpy 8 hour bike ride recently and there is no way the tablet is coming loose.
  • $28 from GPSCity
  • For bike handlebars I recommend pairing the cradle with this RAM kit comprised of a “strap rail base”, medium arm and diamond plate.
  • DSC_5916-50%-1530x1701
Sea to Summit Waterproof TPU Case
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  • Make sure you get the LARGE version… it’s a nice fit for the tab 7.7
  • I’m using it in tandem with the RAM-Mount cradle above and it does fit. The extra material at the top is kind of crammed in there and there’s a bit of bowing in the plastic surface.. but the touch screen works fine.
  • Honestly, depending on how often you plan on needing that sort of thing you might just get by with a new heavy Ziploc bag each ride… hi-ho landfill! 🙂
  • I went ahead and got some Desiccant packs while I was at it just in case… you may have some in an old shoe box or something
  • $20 @ Amazon
Samsung OEM “Book Cover” Case
OEM Samsung Book Cover Case for Galaxy Tab 7.7 EFC-1E3NBEOEM Samsung Book Cover Case for Galaxy Tab 7.7 EFC-1E3NBE
  • A bit pricey around $40 street and often out of stock
  • I definitely like how this fits into day-to-day usage
  • it’s thin, light, hard shell, unbreakable kind of plastic
  • tab snaps into stiffer corners so it won’t fall out
  • there is some corner drop protection… not extensive rubber pads, but some extra shock absorption plastic there on the corners.
  • there is rubber on two edges so theoretically you could stand it up in landscape mode but I have found that the angle where it will stand up without sliding back down flat is not really conducive to real usage… one would have to rig something behind it to block it from sliding.
“OTG” USB Host Adapter
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  • OTG = On The Go… apparently it’s a standard that allows for swapping the master-slave role … not sure why that helps since we’d want the tab to be the host in all scenarios I can think of… flash drive, hard drive, keyboard, etc.
  • $6.70 @ Amazon
  • See USB Mass Storage Watcher in the apps section below.
  • No surprise, the tab couldn’t power a 2.5” USB HDD.
USB Charge Adapter (aka “Filter Plug”)
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  • This little bugger takes some explaining… the nutshell is that some of these devices like the gtab are checking for a special USB pin configuration to take a charge from a USB connection.
  • This is an example thread to get some more background… including self hacked cables.
  • The other thing to be aware of is that the stock AC charger pumps 2.1Amps… so if you go with another source (e.g. external batt), then you want to shoot for that higher amperage to ensure the fastest charging… see “External Battery” section below,several units are addressing this requirement now.
  • Got mine on Amazon for $5.90 + $5.50 shipping (gip)
  • They go for super cheap on eBay and DealExtreme
External Battery
PowerTraveler PowerMonkey eXtreme
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  • I wound up getting a yellow model for $180… it’s smaller than I thought it would be (which is great). Very light and portable. I like the overall package even if it is a little too pricey. I honestly haven’t used it much at all since my whole paradigm shifted once we left Germany and moved to Seattle. Hopefully this will all swing back into normalcy once we get moved into our new money pit and can hit the trails in a camper with the kiddos.
  • review
  • $190
  • 9000Mah
  • 2.1A USB with a pigtail
  • 242 grams
  • AUTO-OFF
  • completely WATERPROOF
  • comes with a CASE, lots of tips & outlet adapters
  • does NOT come with the required USB adapter for the gtabs; see USB charge adapter above. PowerTraveler does sell their own version of this adapter.

Alternatives:

Bluetooth Keyboards
Think Outside/Sierra Stowaway AND AmazonBasics model
imageimage
  • Foldup styles:
    • Long since discontinued, the Think Outside is slick, fragile, but very slick… the key feel is great and the outside snaps shut into a cool shiny, chrome case… they’re experiencing a funny price spike circa Q1 2012, going for $250 on Amazon is crazy… this thing probably retailed for $100… I got mine for $65 on eBay a couple years back… there is another Stowaway model – iGo Ultra Slim that only folds once and seems practical as well.
    • Nomad Mobile has a good rendition of another common style single fold … these go for cheaper elsewhere.
  • Non-foldable:
    • The Apple Bluetooth Keyboard is the gold standard really… razor thin, aluminum, awesome feel to the keys.
      • one catch, no friggin delete key… there’s a backspace but no “forward” delete, you have to hit FN-Backspace to get forward delete.
      • also, no true numpad but that’s sort of what you want in a portable anyway.
    • I noticed Amazon has a nice knockoff of the Apple style now.
      • It has a delete key and there’s a customer image that shows it’s actually a tad shorter than the Apple.
    • Logitech has a polished looking tablet keyboard option with integrated case/stand now too:

           image

Media / Charging Dock

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  • Has HDMI but it’s annoyingly the mini version invariably requiring more hanging adapter bulk 🙁
  • Also has headphone audio out if you need it.
  • The usual plastic quality build, basically works but feels kind of wobbly when you insert.
  • I’d give this a mild recommendation… didn’t see anything else as a worthy challenger at the time.
Zephyr HxM – Bluetooth Heart Rate Monitor

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  • You can also go with a Nike+ wireless protocol, Polar makes a Nike+.
  • or there’s the more open ANT+ protocol, for which Garmin has a couple ANT+ monitors and are the cheapest… ANT+ sounds reliable but,
  • I went with Bluetooth to avoid the need for an ANT+ dongle… some phones are starting to include this radio natively.
  • Bluetooth options are slim, the Zephyr seemed to review better than the Polar Bluetooth.
  • Amazon wasn’t stocked so I ordered from Endomondo for $75 bones (ouchy)
  • Pairing worked as instructed, showed up right away in the Endomondo sports tracking app and reported numbers similar to my arm band blood pressure monitor.
  1. Make sure it’s fully charged, plugged to the strap, the strap pads have to be pretty wet & you have to put it on
  2. Do normal Android bluetooth pairing; code: 1234
  3. Then go into the Endomondo app > Settings > Accessory Settings > Connect To Sensors > Scan
Mujjo Capacitive Gloves
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  • Couldn’t resist springing for these while I was at the Endomondo store – $35 … kinda pricey
  • They work… Angry Birds is playable, I wouldn’t want to type with them though… I got the Male M/L size… I would say my hands are medium and there’s just a bit of extra length to the fingers… with normal gloves I wouldn’t care but it obviously matters for touch screen precision… if you have small hands, consider the women’s size… they are very stretchy material.
Not Recommended
Motorola S10-HD Bluetooth Stereo Headphones with Microphone
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  • $60 @ Amazon
  • too expensive in my opinion
  • the headphone sound is “OK”
  • the microphone sound quality is pretty bad
  • they’re really tight on my ears with my fat head and the design just makes them that way with no relief … I basically hate these and wish I never got them at this point… anybody want a deal on a completely unused pair?
  • all the buttons you’d want… volume and pause/play, fwd/rev and probably a call hang-up
Case Logic LNEO-7 7-Inch Sleeve
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  • Update 2012-07-4: I wound up going with the OEM Samsung “Book Cover” case and haven’t looked back. See those comments above.
  • It’s “OK”… fits pretty well…just a little snug around the corners but not bad
  • no room for much of anything in the cramped pouch… the USB cable and a pigtail would be about max.
  • Can’t lose for $14.50 @ Amazon
Armor Suit – Screen Protector
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  • This one looked good to me because it has a liquid approach to ironing out the bubbles … update 2012-07-04: the spray bottle solution was a good trick, I still got dust in there but that’s hard to avoid.
  • I paid $17 + shipping @ Amazon and it’s already down to $10… feeling a bit gipped 🙂
  • After I got the Samsung Book Cover case (see above), I ditched the screen protector, feeling that it took away from the display a bit and the case is plenty of scratch protection during transit which was my personal biggest concern… this is definitely personal preference area.
Wish List
Keyboard Stands & Charging Docks
Incase Origami Workstation for Apple Wireless Keyboard

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  • Haven’t found anything perfect yet… everything is missing something… at the moment, a makeshift cardboard stand with the charge/usb cables is working better than I expected.
  • Samsung’s keyboard dock – doesn’t have HDMI port
  • Also just considering a case/stand for my Apple Bluetooth keyboard – Incase Origami Workstation: demos ok, not great
 
 
Recommended Apps:
 
App Name
Notes
root.zip (free)
(gtab 7.7 specific)
rooting instructions
BusyBox (free) Loads grep, awk and ash (shell)
SuperUser (free) Everything cool requires it
Android Terminal Emulator by Jack Palevich (free)
  • Make ash (from BusyBox) the default shell: /system/xbin/ash –
  • Make this the initial command to be su by default: su –c /system/xbin/ash
Root Explorer ($$) Has a nice and easy “mount as R/W” button.
ES File Explorer (free) Does everything in one shot… nice icons, *fast* SMB client (Windows File Sharing), FTP client, built in text editor, image viewer, even movie player
NtfsSd (gtab 7.7 specific)
  • Found in this xda-dev thread; mounts your NTFS formatted external sdcard in the native path (/mnt/sdcard/extStorages/SdCard) which is a bit of trick… main advantage for me is that external SDCard shows show up in Explorer when USB connected to PC; other NTFS mounting approaches (e.g. Drive Mount) were not showing SDCard on PC.
  • Symbolic links don’t work to fat32/exFat/vfat hence why NtfsSd is doing an interesting trick of some sort.
  • There is a native linux command for mapping external filesystems (i.e. a FAT drive) to internal paths but it doesn’t hold up across reboots which becomes more of a pain than you’d initially think.
    • mkdir /mnt/sdcard/extStorages/SdCard/Music
    • mount -o bind /mnt/sdcard/extStorages/SdCard/Music /mnt/sdcard/Music
USB Mass Storage Watcher OTG (free) (by Skidmrk) Mounted my 2.5” USB NTFS HDD via the OTG USB pigtail just fine (the HDD required external power).
OsmAnd (free, but buy it) This really makes my day… Open Street Maps (OSM) with the Open Cycle Maps (OCM) layer is the bees knees… this App readily downloads the map tiles for whatever is currently displayed, with whatever zoom levels you choose and then you’re ready to go off-road/offline… couldn’t be easier… it even does offline routing!!
Evernote Skitch and all the integration on a mobile device is pretty killer.
Tasker, Locale Execute Plug-In I came across this as a way to re-run mount commands after each reboot (see “mount –o bind” notes above).
doubleTwist (free) + AirSync ($$) It basically works but I punted… The issues I have are probably mostly related to the still settling Android SDCard ecosystem.
Music WithMe (free) Currently trying this as my iTunes sync’er after doubleTwist (DT) would only see internal storage Music folder… Tasker + Execute + bind mount (above) probably would’ve bridged that gap but Music WithMe (MWM) has a simple music storage path setting, looks promising. MWM seems to report its sync status more robustly than DT. MWM integrates through FaceBook so you get into sharing what you’re listening to and what friends are listening to. I’ll check that out if the basics pan out.

ATI 5450 with Hackintosh (OSX 10.8.5)

(my X1300 post) I still believe someone will get the x1300 running QE on Lion… the fact that the old 7187 DevID is still present in AT13000Controller gives me faith … if it weren’t for another motivation, I would just wait. My other motivation is that it would be nice to upgrade to 3 displays, adding a Dell 30” to the current 24” and projector. So, my criteria are: Fanless, reasonably Hackintosh compatible, 3 display support, <$100 (the x1300 was $30 🙂 and lastly, nothing too hot/huge … turns out, there aren’t really that many obvious options to choose from… I’ve come to understand that to go from 2 displays to 3 displays basically requires a DisplayPort capable card aka “DP” (at least in ATI land… I’m less familiar with nVidia models). Apparently DVI/HDMI/VGA all require their own clock, and contemporary consumer cards tend to be implemented with only two clocks, hence the plethora of dual display cards. DisplayPort doesn’t require a clock as it is “packet based”. There is the Sapphire “Flex” line which implements an additional clock to drive three DVI/HDMI ports, but those are dual slot and more expensive than I’m looking for. So, out of the gate, I really liked the Sapphire ATI 5670 Ultimate … it has exactly all three ports I want: DP+HDMI+DVI, it’s single slot, the cooler looks “right” and it’s the very last stage before cards require the extra power connector, perfect!… furthermore, the 5670 was stock hardware in 2010 iMac’s and there’s a 5670 listed on the 10.7 HCL requiring zero mods for full functionality… but wouldn’t you know it, this perfect card appears to be discontinued in US markets!! 🙁 If you can find one of those buggers for <$100, I would hold on to it like gold. I was finding them for around $132 USD in Euro markets. If you go up from there, everything just gets unnecessarily big & hot for my needs… so I went down, and the next thing I ran into was the ATI 5450… There is a 5450 listed on the 10.7 HCL requiring only one simple ATI5000Injector.kext (and I’ve now confirmed for myself that this does work with full res/QE in Lion)… fanless 5450’s are prevalent… VisionTek, HIS & Sapphire have viable candidates … one slight downside is that the most ubiquitous 5450 package has VGA for the third port… so the projector has to go on VGA rather than HDMI/DVI… initially that seemed like an annoying step back into analog but I tested my projector on VGA and it was just as clear as HDMI. VisionTek’s DP capable models are the 900315 and 900320 (900320 looks to be the 900315 bundled with low profile bracket and some adapters)… The VisionTek’s are out there… best deal I found (including used) was a new 900315 direct from Amazon for $65… be careful, there are tons of mislabeled non DisplayPort VisionTek 5450’s for sale… I shipped one for $47 only to find out it was HDMI rather than DisplayPort (looks like it’s actually a 900358)… The VisionTek VGA+HDMI+DVI configuration is very prevalent… the DP ones are harder to find… I checked with several vendors on Amazon and eBay and kept running into mislabeled HDMI models. HIS’s fanless 5450 DP is the H545H1GDL, couldn’t find any. Sapphire’s fanless 5450 DP models are 11166-00 and 11166-09, couldn’t find any of those either. So it was basically down to the VisionTek… as I said, ordered one, got the wrong model, but it does great in Lion by the way… dropped in the ATI5000Injector.kext before swapping cards and it booted right into full res/QE glory first shot… too easy. All three ports were immediately recognized in Lion. So I was about ready to bite the $65 bullet on the only solid 900315 I’ve found… then I had an idea… I noticed the coolers on the 5450 I had received and my old x1300 are basically the same… the mount holes are definitely the same… and there’s this nifty Gigabyte 5450 that I’ve had in the corner of my eye… it has a fan but it uniquely provides 2 HDMI ports in lieu of the much more prevalent single DVI configuration… that’s pretty cool because I can stay all digital with the projector on HDMI and readily adapt the other HDMI to DVI for my 24” LCD. Keep in mind, it is only 512MB DDR2 compared to 1GB DDR3 on the VisionTek’s but I’m pretty sure it’ll be fine for my needs, because my x1300 is only 256MB DDR2… This Gigabyte 5450 is readily available for $40! And this month, there is a $15 mail in rebate (ends Sep.30 2011), putting this card at $31 with shipping… you just can’t beat that. So Plan A is, well, maybe the fan will actually be quiet, perhaps with a speed limit resistor. And I’m sure you can guess that Plan B is swapping the heat spreader from my x1300. If you already have an x1300 or similar low profile cooler, it might just come in handy to slide you into this cheap Lion compatibility/upgrade path… all the other aftermarket coolers I could find are undesirably large heat pipe affairs (obviously trying to cater to a wide range of heat profiles).

And that’s basically why I blathered on about all this… for anyone else with waning feelings for their old x1300, the Gigabyte GV-R545D2-512D might just be a nice, cheap, low profile upgrade… Update 28 March 2012 – I can definitely recommend this heat spreader swap hack with the Gigabyte GV-R545D2-512D. The fan based sink that comes with is definitely a noise generator but the fanless heat sink from the X1300 lines up perfectly. The card temps are no issue. I’ve been running it for several months couple years now. Just upgraded to Lion 10.7.3. One annoying card bug, if I drive a single screen, the display will go completely haywire after a while. Everybody on NewEgg seemed to have the same problem so it’s probably a core design issue in this model. It’s a fairly random timeframe. But driving two displays, this never happens. If you don’t have two displays (which why bother getting this card), then you can actually connect two of the outputs to the same monitor and that is enough to avoid the issue. Update 16 Oct 2013 – Running great on OSX 10.8.5 w/o issue. Pretty sure ATI5000Injector.kext stopped working as of 10.8.4 update so I switched back to manual editing the DeviceID (0x68f9) into ATI5000Controller.kext/Contents/info.plist and AMDRadeonAccelerator.kext/Contents/info.plist. Looks like these cards still available out there (iboyds.com = $37) but probably not for much longer given the endless march. Framebuffer Personality Patch – Recently nailed last remaining issue on my hackintosh – screen would garble upon wake. This post worked for me … kind of hard to follow where he pulled a few of the values but below is the resulting magic cookie of hex codes that work swell with this card so you don’t really need to figure anything out. These need to be pasted over an existing 4 port personality in ATI5000Controller.kext/Contents/MacOS/AMD5000Controller, I chose Uakari.

00040000040700000001000021030102
00080000040200000001000011020204
00080000040200000001000010000303
10000000001000000001000000100401

Also needed to force Uakari via /Extras/org.chameleon.Boot.plist file otherwise just blank screen upon Mac UI takeover:
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