Monday, April 30, 2012

—So you want to create a UniBeast thumb drive for your Hackintosh without a Mac? Here's how to do it in Windows (& probably Ubuntu)

(image credit: Dennis Novak/Getty Images)

It's quite the conundrum. You don't have a Mac. You're eager to install Lion on your hackintosh but it requires purchasing and installing Snow Leopard, only to then purchase and upgrade to Lion(???). Like me, you don't want to pay for two operating systems when you're only interested in the fresh new hotness Lion has to offer. The official OS X Lion USB Thumb Drive is $69 before tax (ouch), and like a good student of tonymacx86, you want an all-in-one bootable USB thumb drive with everything you need to set up Lion and maintain it (à la UniBeast). I wrestled with this for a bit. I knew I wanted a "legitimate" copy of Lion for my hackintosh, as ironic as that sounds, but it just didn't make sense buying two operating systems just to get the one I really wanted. And since all I had were Windows systems, I needed some google inspiration...

*A Virtualization Visualization*

What a great discovery! Run Snow Leopard in a virtual environment in Windows and use it to create the UniBeast USB thumb drive. Yes, yes, that should do it. Personally, this wouldn't have been possible with Silvia, but once I had Trinity up and running with a trial copy of Windows 7 Enterprise, I had a machine with the specs to get it done. Here's a little guide on how to do it while clinging to your subjective ethics

The ingredients list:

  • 1 Windows 7 (or Linux) system with hardware support for virtualization. (If you built one of Tony's CustoMac Minis, you've got the power)
  • 1 speedy internet connection
  • 1 registered account on
  • 1 Snow Leopard DVD image (or ISO file)
  • VirtualBox software (freebie) from the Oracle website, and the VM VirtualBox Extension Pack
  • 1 8GB (or bigger) USB thumb drive
  • Ample free time
  • A heavy handed dash of patience

The how-to and whatnot:

If you haven't already, head over to and register for an account. You'll have to for the files we need. You can leave him a donation if you want, no pressure. On the downloads page, grab the UniBeast, iBoot, and MultiBeast packs. Be sure to get the MultiBeast pack intended for Snow Leopard. No, none of these work in Windows but just copy them to your USB drive. Set up VirtualBox, and also install the Extension Pack. You... may have to reboot. Need more help with understanding VirtualBox? Lifehacker has you covered. Now, "acquire" a clean Snow Leopard DVD image (or ISO file). It'd be kinda nice if we knew someone with a Snow Leopard retail DVD... I know what you're thinking: Why not just burn a Snow Leopard DVD and run it on my hackintosh? You could, but then you will have tainted it with sullied software. Maybe you didn't bother with an optical drive because a certain someone convinced you it was a dead format. Or if you built a CustoMac Mini with the intention of running Lion like I did, you won't need/have a graphics card. Snow Leopard on a hackintosh kinda sucks without one, and then you have to format the drive, go through lengthy reboot cycles, find a DSDT file for your motherboard and tweak it only to do it all over again in Lion... yada yada yada.

Anyhoo, once that's "acquired", head over to VirtualBox and add the iBoot ISO to the VirtualBox CD drive (Settings> Storage> IDE Controller). Hit start. When you get to the boot screen, swap the VirtualBox CD drive from the iBoot ISO to the Snow Leopard one (Hit right Ctrl+Home: Devices> CD/DVD Devices). Back on the boot screen, hit F5 to refresh. This should load the Snow Leopard ISO and start the installation. Once you get past registration, open up your thumb drive, and:

Hit right Ctrl+Home: Devices> USB Devices> *your thumb drive* for those handy tonymacx86 files. Copy them all to your Snow Leopard downloads folder, or wherever you see fit. You'll be formatting this thumb drive for UniBeast. Run MultiBeast checking off the "EasyBeast install", system utilities, bootloader (Chimera), and Ethernet boxes.

Restart Snow Leopard, run system update to get to 10.6.8, and then run Multibeast again with the aforementioned check marks to make it stick. Don't bother updating anything else. Now we have access to the App Store, we're almost there. Open up the App Store and purchase Lion for $29+tax (yay!). Once it downloads, open it, but don't install it. Make sure it's in the Applications folder.

Now run the Unibeast creator using the "Mac App Store 'Install Mac OS X Lion' App" option. If this is intended for a laptop, check off "Laptop Support" as well. Keep in mind that you'll need to have your USB drive mounted in VirtualBox as before: Hit right Ctrl+Home: Devices> USB Devices> *your thumb drive*. If you're looking for a full guide to installing Lion on your hackintosh, tonymacx86 has that covered here, and lifehacker also has that covered here. Of note, it took close to an hour for the utility to create my UniBeast USB. Voilà. Now delete the Snow Leopard ISO (and VM) and try to erase the memory of it. Convoluted though it may seem, your hackintosh is now ready to be brought forth. Roaring. Any questions, drop a comment in the box.

P.S. If this post, or any other, have helped you, why not consider a small donation to help us grow?

*Disclaimer: I don’t in any way encourage downloading Apple software via file-sharing/torrent sites and running it in a virtual environment under Windows. This post is for informational purposes only. Also, follow at your own risk. I bare no responsibility for any damage caused by the methods mentioned here. ;-)


  1. Will this work the same way for mountain lion? Using Mountain Lion's Unibeast and Multibeast?

    1. Oh, and one issue: As i go from iboot.iso to my iso for lion, i get an error message saying

      This version of Mac OSX is not supported on this platform!
      Reason: "

  2. —After Snow Leopard, Apple added measures to prevent virtualization. People have found ways to make in run in VM but I don't see the point in adding all that extra work to this process. A Snow Leopard ISO should be reasonably easy to find online, from there you "should" be able to create a Mountain Lion UniBeast drive. I'm thinking about upgrading to ML myself so if I spot any changes I'll update the post.