I’m embarrassed this took so long…

I got home from work yesterday, and I discovered that my Hackintosh had rebooted itself and was sitting there with a black screen showing nothing but a forlorn cursor blinking at me.  Oh, dear, I thought, something’s gone wonky.

Something usually does go wonky with my hackintosh; it’s nowhere near as stable as the other computers I use (it’s nowhere near as stable as the Mac laptops I own), but I keep using it because… well, it’s an adventure. I mean, if I need something that’s going to work all the time, I have my old 17″ Powerbook (bought new in 2005) and my newer 13″ Macbook (purchased used in 2010).  But I wanted to have a desktop again, and I wanted it to have some oomph. So, last June, I got myself an ASUS P7P55D-E Pro motherboard, an Intel Core i7-870 Lynnfield 2.93GHz CPU, a GeForce 9500 GT graphics card, 8GB of RAM, a 2TB hard drive, and Crucial M4 64GB SSD.  I followed all the instructions on the tonymacx86 blog, and I was up and running.

Anyway, last night I set about trying to figure out what had gone wrong with my setup.  I tried reinstalling the bootloader, but that didn’t work.  I was able to boot a bootloader from a recovery CD and boot into my system on the SSD, but then my system would only work for a little while and then it would hang.  I went googling for other people having problems booting hackintoshes from SSDs, and then I thought to look for problems specifically with my model SSD.  This was when Google’s autocomplete actually led me in the correct direction; I pasted “M4-CT064M4SSD2” into the search bar (copied directly from the System Profiler), and Google suggested “firmware”.  I took the suggestion, which led me to Crucial’s website and the following entry in the change log for the latest firmware upgrade:

Correct a condition where an incorrect response to a SMART counter will cause the m4 drive to become unresponsive after 5184 hours of Power-on time. The drive will recover after a power cycle, however, this failure will repeat once per hour after reaching this point. The condition will allow the end user to successfully update firmware, and poses no risk to user or system data stored on the drive.

This was the point at which my wife came home from the performance of Cyrano that she’s  performing in, and I had to stop for the night.  I picked up work again this afternoon; I downloaded the firmware update, applied it, and crossed my fingers.

Unfortunately, the system still wouldn’t boot on it’s own.  I could boot into the recovery CD’s bootloader and then finish the boot off my SSD, but that wasn’t a long-term solution.  So then I tried reformatting the drive.  No luck.  I thought that maybe the drive was just unbootable and tried swapping it out for the SSD I was holding onto for my FreeBSD machine.  That didn’t work either.  Finally, I went through my BIOS settings extremely carefully.

That’s when I noticed it.  The boot order for the machine was the DVD drive, then the ST32000641AS drive, then removable media (I’m guessing that’s USB).  But wait… the ST32000641AS isn’t the SSD, that’s the 2TB drive I’ve got mounted as /Users.  I then poked around in the BIOS settings until I found where the “primary drive” was the 2TB drive and my “secondary drive” was the SSD.  I swapped their order there, and when I came back to the boot order selection screen, it said that I was booting off the DVD, then my M4-CT064M4SSD2, then removable media.  I saved the settings and rebooted.

It worked.  The BIOS settings had probably gotten screwed up while I was moving the SSD off one of the SATA III ports to one of the first four SATA II ports so the firmware update could see it.  If I’d noticed it had changed, I probably would have had my afternoon to play with my FreeBSD server.

Oh, well. There’s always tomorrow.  🙂

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