Submit Hint Search The Forums LinksStatsPollsHeadlinesRSS
14,000 hints and counting!

Install and run OS X on an iPod System
After running this site for a few years, I've come to know many people in the Mac world. Many of these fine folks are slaving away on pet projects, most of which will never see the light of day. Yet still, they toil, hoping for success. My good friend Richard is one such person. He's been obsessed with running OS X on his iPod since the day he bought his first generation machine. Not just installing it and booting a Mac with the iPod, but honest-to-goodness using OS X on the iPod. I should preface and say that Richard is brilliant, stubborn, and amazingly resourceful ... three required qualities for this particular project!

Richard has been working on this challenge in his home office for years -- starting with the open source Darwin download, trimming features and code from the OS, modifying the stock Apple applications as he can, and even coding the occasional application himself. All in the hopes of getting OS X to run in the iPod's meager RAM footprint. And now, though he's not yet ready to release his hacks upon the world (though he's promised to release them for free when or if he does so), he has authorized me to post a couple of shots of what he calls XiPod (pronounced zy-pod). As you can see in the image at left (click for a larger version), he's finally succeeded!

You can see the XiPod About box, clearly indicating that Richard's using an unreleased build of OS X (necessary for some new low-level routines, he told me), and showing the iPod's RAM and processor info. But wait, you're saying ... the iPod's got no method of taking user input. So how do you actually use it, once it's running? Keep reading for the details...

On the right (click for larger) is Richard's hack to work around the "no input method" limitation of the iPod. Richard's solution is borderline genius -- the scrollwheel is the ultimate input device. Tap it twice while pressing Play to bring up the Keyboard panel, then just slide your finger around the pad. As you do so, each character highlights. When the desired character is highlighted, just tap the pad once to add it to the string you're building. When not being used in keyboard mode, the scrollwheel is used to move the mouse. It's a hard process to describe, but simple in action. As you move your finger about in an area of the scrollwheel, the mouse tracks in that direction; continue sliding around the curve, and the cursor curves that way with your motions. It takes a bit of time to get used to the motion, but once you do, it feels amazingly natural.

Of course, given that OS X is squeezed into just 32MB of RAM, there are some limitations. Great chunks of the OS have been stripped out; there are very few applications remaining (Text Edit, Terminal, and a couple minor utilities), there's no real networking of any sort (though Richard has included a simple application to transfer files back and forth via the dock), and the vast majority of the System Preferences are non-functional. In addition, due to the iPod's small screen size, you'll be scrolling the screen around a lot to get anything done! Richard's grayscale hack for the iPod, though, makes the graphics quite legible, even if they are reduced to 256 gray levels.

You also cannot use your iPod as an iPod, as this solution requires a complete reformat before starting. A small price to pay, given the amazed looks you'll get when you show your friends what you can do with your iPod. You'll also need a third-generation (or newer) iPod, as Richard relies on some hardware that's not present in older versions. The color iPod Photos should work, though Richard doesn't have one available to test with; he's not certain if you'll get a color or a grayscale OS on these iPods.

I had a chance to play with this for about 30 minutes tonight, and it's absolutely amazing. I'm not sure if it's practical at all, of course, but it is very cool to see! I have no idea when/if Richard's project will see the light of day, but I thought you might all enjoy seeing what he was up to (and he gave me permission to post this). Perhaps if he sees enough positive feedback here, he'll release his work to the public.
    •    
  • Currently 3.89 / 5
  You rated: 2 / 5 (19 votes cast)
 
[146,760 views]  

Install and run OS X on an iPod | 56 comments | Create New Account
Click here to return to the 'Install and run OS X on an iPod' hint
The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
Install and run OS X on an iPod
Authored by: virga42macuser on Apr 01, '05 09:57:57AM

I get it. April Fools.



[ Reply to This | # ]
Install and run OS X on an iPod
Authored by: Dogcow on Apr 01, '05 10:05:55AM

Can't get anything by you ace...You're a smart one!

-Dogcow "moof!"



[ Reply to This | # ]
Install and run OS X on an iPod
Authored by: ColeComInc on Apr 04, '05 10:20:26AM

What I love about the whole thing is when you place the two photos into Photoshop as layers then switch between the layers the pictures are EXACTLY the same except for the screen. I wish he had taken at least 2 different pictures, there is no way that a person could touch the iPod even with a tripod and it not move. It was almost believable 2.



[ Reply to This | # ]
Install and run OS X on an iPod
Authored by: rhowell on Apr 01, '05 10:01:19AM

I put OS X on my iPod Shuffle. It was so cool! I showed all my Windows friends, and they were like "OH MY GOD!!"



[ Reply to This | # ]
Install and run OS X on an iPod
Authored by: sim on Apr 01, '05 11:20:58AM

OS X is running on my electric toothbrush since 10.0.0.

Sim



[ Reply to This | # ]
Install and run OS X on an iPod
Authored by: Eponymous on Apr 01, '05 02:09:39PM

Me too. 'Course you can't see it running, but trust me, it's way cool. I've concentrated on getting iTunes running, so it'll play music!



[ Reply to This | # ]
Install and run OS X on an iPod
Authored by: Detrius on Apr 01, '05 04:30:53PM

unfortunately, you wouldn't be able to hear it play the music... it might vibrate with the bass...



[ Reply to This | # ]
Install and run OS X on an iPod
Authored by: kirkmc on Apr 01, '05 10:01:48AM

He should use a 4G iPod - it would be much faster. Or an iPod photo; it'd be in color.

---
Read my blog: Kirkville -- http://www.mcelhearn.com
Musings, Opinion and Miscellanea, on Macs, iPods and more



[ Reply to This | # ]
Install and run OS X on an iPod
Authored by: stephenpen543 on Apr 01, '05 10:01:55AM

well done Richard.
I would have never thought it possible.
I for one think it is amazing and want to see it in my hands :-)
Congratulations

---
I ain't what I should be
I ain't what I will be
But I ain't what I was



[ Reply to This | # ]
Install and run OS X on an iPod
Authored by: balston on Apr 01, '05 10:11:26AM

I hate this day ... :-\



[ Reply to This | # ]
Install and run OS X on an iPod
Authored by: Baggins on Apr 01, '05 12:15:03PM

Ditto. It gets really old really fast.



[ Reply to This | # ]
Install and run OS X on an iPod
Authored by: robg on Apr 01, '05 12:20:23PM

Good thing it's only one day a year then :). For me, it's the one day a year I don't have to take my hintmeister job so seriously, and I can have some fun with a hint or two (only one today, really; the rest are real).

-rob.



[ Reply to This | # ]
Install and run OS X on an iPod
Authored by: crarko on Apr 01, '05 10:17:43AM

So if I get one of these now is there a free upgrade to Tiger?



[ Reply to This | # ]
Install and run OS X on an iPod
Authored by: tobyc on Apr 01, '05 10:34:33AM

So when is my iPod going to come with a G5?



[ Reply to This | # ]
Install and run OS X on an iPod
Authored by: daveosx on Apr 01, '05 01:56:01PM

iPocket warmer G5

---
42 who really knows the question



[ Reply to This | # ]
Install and run OS X on an iPod
Authored by: Jwink3101 on Apr 01, '05 10:38:03AM

what gaveit away to me was that it said 10.3.9

Well, it was that and the whole idea



[ Reply to This | # ]
Install and run OS X on an iPod
Authored by: daybrother on Apr 01, '05 10:47:44AM

I soooooooo wanted this to be real. Even though it made no sense at all.



[ Reply to This | # ]
Install and run OS X on an iPod
Authored by: Jwink3101 on Apr 01, '05 10:48:50AM

Me too. Of course, i also just realized it is a color screen on a 3g ipod. I feel so smart and quick sometimes :-)



[ Reply to This | # ]
Forgot
Authored by: daybrother on Apr 01, '05 10:50:58AM

I forgot to mention:

I have a wireless mouse that runs system 7.1



[ Reply to This | # ]
Install and run OS X on an iPod
Authored by: markuswarren on Apr 01, '05 10:56:10AM

nothing odd about 10.3.9, it's known that 10.3.9 is seeded at the moment, and likley to be released within the next few weeks.



[ Reply to This | # ]
Install and run OS X on an iPod
Authored by: markl2 on Apr 01, '05 10:48:35AM

Ack! Taken in, hook, line and sinker.

Ten points for Rob.

- Mark



[ Reply to This | # ]
Install and run OS X on an iPod
Authored by: bdh113s on Apr 01, '05 10:48:36AM

The sad part is that mac users think these sort of things are impossible while linux users actually make it happen. I guess ignorance is bliss...

http://ipodlinux.org/index.php/Main_Page

enjoy



[ Reply to This | # ]
Install and run OS X on an iPod
Authored by: rpcr on Apr 01, '05 11:36:31AM

The whole point of the (joke) article, is that he purports to have installed something *desirable* on an iPod. That would exclude Linux.

Just in case it is still unclear to you, people on this forum have opted to spend the extra cash to run Mac OS X because they know that linux is a distinctly inferior user experience. Yes, you can install Linux on your mp3 player, your toaster and your refrigerator, but unless you're using it as an embedded OS or a server, why would anyone with experience of Mac OS X want to? For a *user* system, linux is just painful and ugly compared to Mac OS X, which is why no one here cares that you can install linux on an iPod.



[ Reply to This | # ]
Install and run OS X on an iPod
Authored by: slytle on Apr 01, '05 11:52:56AM
dude! chill out... i found that link somewhat interesting... .sly

[ Reply to This | # ]
Install and run OS X on an iPod
Authored by: ky11x on Apr 02, '05 12:31:47AM

wow. users like you really give mac users a bad name. i run os x, and i like it, and i also run linux, and i like it too. the only reason os x is as stable as it is is due to the hard work of open source coders who donated their time and effort to making the wonderful BSD layer and the Darwin kernel. try to have a little respect and appreciation for the other os choices people have, it will make you a more complete person.



[ Reply to This | # ]
That stings.
Authored by: kalisphoenix on Apr 03, '05 01:20:23AM

Ouch. Sounds like someone couldn't make it through the Mandrake install ;-)



[ Reply to This | # ]
Install and run OS X on an iPod
Authored by: atter_cob on Apr 06, '05 03:05:24AM

You've got some issues... Linux is a fine OS, certainly better than Windows, and to be honest comparable with OS X. OS X has a nicer, more consistent UI but aside from a few rough edges Linux is quite nice.

In any case people do care that they can run Linux on iPods... among other things you can then make decent recordings because you don't have to deal with the crippled-in-software recording features that come with the iPod.



[ Reply to This | # ]
Install and run OS X on an iPod
Authored by: CrankyMacGuy on Apr 01, '05 04:37:38PM

Why are there so many wet blankets out there on April Fools day? Jeez. No appreciation for satire or silliness. Maybe this is the greatest plight of the daycare generation....

OK, I'll bite. It's sad that linux drones think that iPodLinux is the bees knees. It's great for playing new games that Apple doesn't offer (whoopdidoo) and offers a calendar that isn't isynced with iCal. It can't play MP3s without skipping, unfortunately, which IMO defeats the whole bloody purpose of owning an iPod. The only great thing about iPodLinux is access to 96K quality voice recording, if you are lucky enough to have the EXACT iPod that supports that feature. An all of this in glorious 4 bit. As opposed to the 8 bit "screen shots" of OS X running under 32MB on an iPod. Kudos to Rob. Funny post.

Here's my BIG question. If you are so much better than Mac users, why in Holy Heck do you bother visiting a Mac OS X hints website? Don't you value your time? Oh, that's right. I forgot. You're a linux user...

---
~Life...don't talk to me about life.



[ Reply to This | # ]
Install and run OS X on an iPod
Authored by: ky11x on Apr 02, '05 12:34:49AM

your nick is surprisingly appropriate to the comment. lighten up!



[ Reply to This | # ]
Install and run OS X on an iPod
Authored by: sdunlapa on Apr 02, '05 06:23:42AM
How 'bout directing your "chill out" posts to the guy who started it first...The Little Insecure Non User of X, drone. Remeber boys and girls free speech goes everyway and for that matter both ways.

[ Reply to This | # ]
Install and run OS X on an iPod
Authored by: adrianm on Apr 01, '05 10:52:36AM

Surely a better April Fool's spoof would be the iPod operating system running on an iMac G5 :-)



[ Reply to This | # ]
Install and run OS X on an iPod
Authored by: UpWest47 on Apr 01, '05 10:58:46AM

I have a prototype dual-processor iPod.
This is so cool. Coincidentally, I was working on a secret method
to connect two (third-generation or higher) iPod's with a stripped-down
version of Unix (terminal, bash, tsch, csh, zsh shells), in addition, we're
using the headphone input to connect a small, (really small) keyboard,
(cannibilized from a Sharp ZR-3000). I get look's in cafe's when people
see me with two joined-at-the-cord iPod's and a little keyboard. But,
hey, I'm a Unix nut so I just had to see if I could create this little goodie.
-Bluejayway



[ Reply to This | # ]
Install and run OS X on an iPod
Authored by: zeb on Apr 01, '05 11:27:11AM

Is it common for an iPod to become jaundiced after so much hacking?... or is Richard a chain smoker? ;)

---
..:: Zeb ::..

zebellis.com



[ Reply to This | # ]
Install and run OS X on an iPod
Authored by: robg on Apr 01, '05 11:45:47AM

The jaundice would be the result of my exceedingly bad lighting and poor cameramanship. It'd have nothing at all to do with a poor color correction while working in Photoshop or anything like that. ;)

-rob.



[ Reply to This | # ]
Install and run OS X on an iPod
Authored by: mr_dba on Apr 01, '05 11:38:57AM

Big Deal!....

But can it play music?

:)



[ Reply to This | # ]
Install and run OS X on an iPod
Authored by: slytle on Apr 01, '05 11:48:18AM

well, duh... you play music through iTunes... i bet the visualizer looks really kewl on that tiny screen...


.sly



[ Reply to This | # ]
Install and run OS X on an iPod
Authored by: Lunkus on Apr 01, '05 12:04:03PM

RobG,

The job is half done. Can you give us a hint about installing Virtual PC on the iPod? Run a few benchmarks..., etc. I'd to compare to the results I get running my pirated copy of Longhorn on my Luxpro ipod shuttle knock-off.



[ Reply to This | # ]
Nice try
Authored by: kray on Apr 01, '05 12:27:17PM

*Somebody* has way too much time on their hands -- and should have spent more time with Photoshop or Gimp when doing this edit. In the
first photo the horizontal tilt was questionable on the displayed window. Confirmed on the second "photo" -- two windows open and they are
both skewed at different angles. Particularly noticeable on the lower right edge compared to the lower left. Even at a angled photo -- the relative distance would vertically remain the same between windows.

Nice try though. :)



[ Reply to This | # ]
Nice try
Authored by: robg on Apr 01, '05 12:31:18PM

"*Somebody* has way too much time on their hands -- and should have spent more time with Photoshop or Gimp when doing this edit."

Ah, right there you hit the nail on the head -- I *don't* have too much time on my hands, and I suck at Photoshop :). So what you see are the results of, oh, maybe a good solid 10 minutes of Photoshop mucking about.

If I had time, I would've hired the job out to a pro :)

cheers;
-rob.



[ Reply to This | # ]
Nice try
Authored by: gcastaneda on Apr 01, '05 04:53:44PM

Actually, the iPod images are the same. Besides the other obvious details pointed out by others, what gave it away was the shadow of the TextEdit window *outside* the screen ;-P (Give it a try, open the images on different Firefox tabs and go back and forth...you'll see the shadow, carefully creeping out of the screen... Ring 2 style).

Still a good joke, though.



[ Reply to This | # ]
Install and run OS X on an iPod, $129
Authored by: zebradung on Apr 01, '05 01:14:22PM

I had already read about this on Dick's blog. Rob, you neglected to mention that Apple will be reselling the XiPod OS X Update for the usual $129. That still puts the cost of an XiPod mini at less than the full price of a Mac mini & it comes with Keyboard, Video & Mouse!!!

---
-- PGP

G5 DP2.5 / 2.5GB RAM

It's so fast I get tired just watching it ...



[ Reply to This | # ]
Install and run OS X on an iPod
Authored by: UpWest47 on Apr 01, '05 01:30:02PM

We don't celebrate Aprils Fool day here in Netherlands.

See photo of our dual iPod with keyboard here:
http://homepage.mac.com/slsl9191/Dual_Ipod/PhotoAlbum30.html
password: ipod

-BlueJayway



[ Reply to This | # ]
Install and run OS X on an iPod
Authored by: woodgie on Apr 01, '05 02:04:16PM

GAAAAGH!

It's my birthday (check my profile...) I'm 33 and I STILL don't spot the bloody jokes!

*lol*

Oh well. Maybe I'll learn one day :)



[ Reply to This | # ]
Install and run OS X on an iPod
Authored by: Fenris64 on Apr 01, '05 03:21:26PM

Actually, a friend of mine did install X (10.2) on a 'pod. It got so hot he couldn't pick it up and the screen went black for two days...

---
The whatchamacallit has to be whatever or else the whosits will go hey-hey.
~ Dilbert



[ Reply to This | # ]
Install and run OS X on an iPod
Authored by: metiure on Apr 01, '05 04:29:41PM

Well, I have no Ipod, only a Creative Zen.
Do ya think Richard's trick could work in a Zen too?

please, please, say smtg!!!



[ Reply to This | # ]
Install and run OS X on an iPod
Authored by: pakkman781 on Apr 02, '05 03:04:11AM
I'm going to use it with my iPotty!

I love April 1st!

Time to move on to the real thing: iPodLinux!

---
(insert sig here)

[ Reply to This | # ]

Install and run OS X on an iPod
Authored by: kissedsmiley on Apr 02, '05 11:22:51AM

hi All!
_Of Course_ ipod should be running an OS. http://ipodlinux.org/index.php/Screenshots is the coolest, thank you so much to the poster for citing it! If you watch the video, it shows using the scrollwheel +clicks for the menu selections. I'm a mac user for the easy-setup-but-keep-control-when-I-want-it. Linspire's linux may rival macs someday. Technology in our day is a race, and the best will win. I'm rooting for apple; if they really do make an osxLite for ipod, it could be a great boon...

.... And, if possible, Rob I wish you would delete the nastygram posts here. It's not professional and is bad image; if image/beauty if part of what makes mac great, let's also have that design choice drive our board post editing philosophy...



[ Reply to This | # ]
Install and run OS X on an iPod
Authored by: kissedsmiley on Apr 02, '05 12:20:48PM

Bluejayway/UpWest,
I LOVE the keyboard + 2 ipods!!! I want a "pocket" thing that has some real computing power on it; maybe at least some Lisp for example. And having sections that you can plug/play helps. have you considered what you could do with a mac-mini? I was thinking there must be a great way to get tiny/medium/standard systems from one "platform"... Anyway, thank you... The slideshow only had one photo for me but it was fun...



[ Reply to This | # ]
a way to run OS X on your smartphone
Authored by: phraber on Apr 02, '05 04:28:50PM

works on my pda too!
see http://www.standardart.com/pdamac.JPG



[ Reply to This | # ]
a way to run OS X on your smartphone
Authored by: KenaiTheMacFan on Jun 13, '05 07:44:06PM

That's skewed too!

---
Ian



[ Reply to This | # ]
Install and run OS X on an iPod
Authored by: L3gion on Apr 07, '05 07:10:13AM

got it installed.., but I can't find the start menu.



[ Reply to This | # ]
Install and run OS X on an iPod
Authored by: nekkets on Apr 07, '05 10:55:00AM

i have it on my old cellphone too
it's a bit slow, but good enough to do some basic textedit and itunes



[ Reply to This | # ]
Install and run OS X on an iPod
Authored by: iPodnano on May 19, '06 07:52:15PM

Pretty well done, Richard. Hope you can publish your work to the public please.



[ Reply to This | # ]
Install and run OS X on an iPod
Authored by: macfan406 on Jan 20, '07 09:04:57PM

i would like to recieve the info on how to do this
I have an 30 GB iPod video and a 13" intel macbook. tell me if i can do this

---
MAC RULZ



[ Reply to This | # ]
Install and run OS X on an iPod
Authored by: macfan406 on Jan 20, '07 09:07:28PM

please put the info as a post. i dont wnt to give my email


---
MAC RULZ



[ Reply to This | # ]
Install and run OS X on an iPod
Authored by: willyshop on Feb 18, '10 12:14:22AM

heh... 5 years later, and I get taken in... ouch.



[ Reply to This | # ]