Last weekend I upgraded Jill’s Hackintosh to macOS Sierra.

As with every Hackintosh upgrade, the story neither begins nor ends there.

This computer began its life in 2009 when I was ready to upgrade from my Power Macintosh G5, but Apple didn’t offer a desktop computer with the specs I wanted. (They still don’t.) I found instructions online for how to get Mac OS running on a non-Apple PC, so I built a simple rig to get started, and I had a lot of success with it. Over the years I upgraded it piece-by-piece, until eventually all of the original parts had been replaced and I could build the original computer out of them again.

So I gave it to Jill, who was looking for a Mac without the Mac price, and it’s worked well for her for many years. The last major OS release we put on it was Mac OS Mavericks (10.9) in late 2013. She doesn’t like it when upgrades make a lot of changes to the user interface, like 10.10 did the following year, so she’s stayed on 10.9 ever since then.

Except that the latest version of Adobe Creative Suite no longer supports 10.9, so recently, grudgingly, she decided she wanted to upgrade. So I did a lot of prep work, made a lot of backups, installed Sierra on a new drive, then migrated her 1.5 terabytes of data (mostly photos in raw format) to it overnight. But I forgot to uncheck the checkbook for ‘migrate system files’, so it messed up the Sierra install and it would no longer boot and I had to start over.  I finished last weekend, and everything was good … except that the computer wouldn’t back up its data.

I am religious about backups. I have multiple backups of all of our computers; live, offline, even offsite backups just in case. So I’ll skip to the end of this part: the computer treated its previous backups as if they were from a different computer, it refused to re-use them, and there wasn’t enough space on the backup disks to store a whole ‘nother copy of Jill’s data. After realizing this is what was going on, I wiped this computer’s backups from two of the backup disks (like I said, we have lots of copies) and let it create fresh new backups.

Here, though, is the second part of the problem: the computer never finishes its backups. At some point, anywhere from minutes to hours into creating this new backup, it abruptly gives up and the Time Machine control panel says “Waiting to complete first backup.” It never seems to continue from this point.

And this is the problem that’s vexed me (put me into a bad mood, even) for the past week. This weekend I got to spend some quality time with the computer and I’ve determined what’s happening is that the network hiccups and it loses connection with the backup drive, and it’s never able to recover from that until I reboot, but then it’ll happen again. I thought this might be an issue with the Hackintosh network drivers (because when Jill was using the computer I ssh’ed in so I could continue researching the problem – but it kept dropping my connection), so I thoroughly reinstalled the network drivers and I thought this article was going to be about my victory, but before I finished writing it the problem manifested itself again. Game plan right now is, whenever this happens, to reboot and then see if I can get it a little farther down the backup road each time.

Hackintoshes are wonderful when they work, but problems like this are annoying. At this point the most recent Apple iMac is so out of date that Jill’s not going to buy one until the new ones come out, and we’re hoping that’s soon.


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