Sharing similarities motherboards and configurations to a standard Mac, a compiled installation of OS X can be easily installed onto these netbooks with 90 percent of hardware functioning without the need for further tweaking. Even knockoff manufacturers have embraced the unofficial “Apple netbook.” But the stumbling block that prevented netbooks from being truly functional in OS X has always been their WiFi modules.
Most hackers have resorted to replacing the WiFi card with one that is compatible with OS X; however, for the squeamish, Realtek comes to your rescue. Realtek is the provider for the MSI Wind U100 Netbook’s WiFi module. Through a forum post on msiwind.net last week, a poster mentioned that he had received a beta release of OS X drivers for the integrated WiFi module found in the U100, directly emailed from Realtek. This marks the first time a manufacturer has released any drivers for unofficial support of OSx86. Even though the driver isn’t an official release nor is it hosted on Realtek’s website, it is certainly a risky move for Realtek as they are tempting the wrath of Apple’s lawyers by assisting in the hacking of their software. But no such threat has been heard from Apple’s camp as of press time.
The popularity of netbooks has been steadily increasing since their introduction. With their relatively low cost coupled with the current state of the economy, they are seen as attractive alternatives to full priced notebooks. With the development of the Intel Atom processor, low consumption, and portability, these portables has finally hit the mainstream market. Industry analysts have speculated that because of the relative ease to install OS X on an Atom based netbook, Apple will not be releasing one of their own. However, this has not stopped the rumors from gaining ground about a possible announcement at the MacWorld San Francisco event scheduled for early January 2009, which will also be Apple’s last time at the show.