My thoughts on converting my Hackintosh to OpenCore (and then to Big Sur!)

Raine

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macOS
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Gigabyte Z370n WiFi
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Core i5-8400
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Radeon RX-570
#1
DISCLAIMER: I have zero affiliation with OpenCore or the makers of OpenCore.

It's been a while since I've updated anything here (considering the current global situation)... I hope everyone is being safe and doing well. Just wanted to share a story with my experiences so far with OpenCore. For those of you who don't know what OpenCore is, it's a bootloader similar to Clover, but it claims to be more secure, less bloat, and easier to upgrade. I thought I'd share my thoughts/experience so far with it here.

TLDR: As opposed to the Clover method, I was very surprised at how easy and less complex building an EFI for my Hackintosh was when using OpenCore, and it helped me easily install Big Sur 11.0.1 onto my Hackintosh!

Longer Version:
Recently with the official release of Apple's new MacOS Big Sur operating system I got curious again and started trying to figure out how to install Big Sur onto my "Hackintosh Deluxe" Z370n WiFi build, and it turns out that it's a whole new animal. The state of Clover compatibility with Big Sur right now is iffy, so I made the decision to take a look at using OpenCore instead.

I went at it from a "fresh build" approach - meaning, my starting point was my current Hackintosh build (hardware only, including the Radeon video card) with a fresh, empty SSD. Since day 1 of my build back in October of 2018 my Hackintosh relied on certain things that were unknown to me: use a pre-made EFI folder here, install some bootloader there, change some settings in a config.plist file made by someone else, etc. Not knowing everything about how my system would work (or not) was something that always bothered me. I was also not too thrilled at every MacOS point update, as every time Mojave and Catalina had an update, it would usually break something in the Clover EFI until someone figured out yet another patch to fix it.

So when Big Sur was near its release it gave me some motivation to try not just creating my own EFI, but doing so with a totally different method that I saw a lot of discussion about lately: OpenCore. in other words, I started with no trace of Clover, no pre-made EFI or copied EFI folders made by someone else, and no pre-made or copied "config.plist" files.

Fun fact: I first tried working with OpenCore back when the Big Sur Beta was available, but it was a huge hassle and I just pushed it aside. Now with the official Big Sur release available, I dove back into learning OpenCore and putting together my own EFI for my Hackintosh build to prep for Big Sur.

Well guess what? It was a pretty amazing learning experience.



About a month before Big Sur was released, I started with Dortania's OpenCore Install Guide - a valuable resource for anyone looking to try or convert to OpenCore. My main goal here was to try to convert my current Clover-based build to OpenCore first, since at the time it was the only way people were getting Big Sur Beta installations working. Dortania's guide is very thorough with explaining the steps on how to build an OpenCore USB installer from start to finish on your own, with lots of info depending on your machine hardware configuration. Luckily for me, the hardware I chose for my Hackintosh Deluxe did not have some odd issue or special circumstances involved. With the guide not only did I learn how to create my own MacOS USB installer, but I also learned how to create my own OpenCore EFI from scratch, with only the files I need, specifically for my machine and only my machine.

With my OpenCore EFI created, I first tested it on my current Hackintosh Deluxe. I changed nothing on my Hackintosh Deluxe settings; the only thing I did was remove the Clover EFI and replace it with my newly created OpenCore EFI. Sure enough, the first time I restarted my system (with the OpenCore EFI running things now) my Hackintosh Deluxe fired up to the desktop and everything was functioning just as it was while using Clover!

After 3 weeks using the OpenCore EFI as my system bootloader, the machine stayed stable and trouble-free. MacOS Catalina seemed to be working fine, Apple services seemed to be all working fine, my Radeon RX-570 seemed to be working just fine as well. It even went through a Catalina update (10.15.7) without a hitch! It was safe to say that so far, the OpenCore EFI I created was working just as well as Clover was, if not better.

Fast forward to about a week later, and MacOS Big Sur 11.0.1 was finally released to the public. Using the same guide that helped me build my OpenCore EFI, I created a Big Sur USB Installer with my OpenCore EFI as its bootloader. I even picked up a brand new SSD to test on, so that I could (hopefully successfully) install OpenCore and Big Sur onto the new, empty SSD, without disturbing my current "daily usage" Catalina installation. Without having to change a thing in my OpenCore config, I had the Big Sur USB installer running and after about 20 minutes I had this on my screen:



Not Done Yet
I have been testing this secondary Big Sur installation for over a week now and so far everything seems to be working. I haven't completely converted to using Big Sur as my primary OS yet (on my primary M.2 NVMe SSD)... I've been sorting through my notes and reorganizing the files and steps I took when learning to put together the OpenCore EFI. I might write a guide, not sure if it would even matter though since the already available OpenCore guide is excellent. So to those who are looking to get Big Sur onto their Hackintosh machines, don't limit yourself to just waiting for someone to make some pre-fab Clover install. Take a look at OpenCore and give it a try, because as far as I'm concerned right now - I might be done dealing with Clover and will stick to OpenCore from here on with my Hackintosh build :cool:

DISCLAIMER: I have zero affiliation with OpenCore or the makers of OpenCore.
 
Last edited:

Edhawk

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#2
I know I posted elsewhere that I wouldn't be using Big Sur till it was a bit more mature. But I took the bait and updated one of the two NVME drives in my iMac 1 system to Big Sur last night.

I already used OpenCore 0.6.3 on my system, so I just ran the Apple Updater from my Catalina drive. This downloaded the 12GB Big Sur installer.

I then ran the installer, but instead of selecting the Catalina NVME drive I selected my Mojave NVME drive, as I have not used Mojave since early September.

The installation took some time, went through the normal reboots, with the macOS Installation partition being selected, later the Big Sur drive was selected correctly, after each reboot of the system.

The installer changed my main boot disk from Catalina 10.15.7 to the new Big Sur 11.0.1 drive. So OpenCore now automatically selects the Big Sur drive at boot.

Other than making a mistake of not removing the Adobe CS6 Master Collection applications prior to the update, it ran smoothly as any other Apple OS update. Everything works as it did in Mojave and Catalina.

I think it took me longer to remove the now totally obsolete Adobe CS6 applications than it did to install/update to Big Sur!
 
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#3
I was stuck on El Capitan for many years as I had an older CPU. Changes to my Clover config were always minimal to none... so I am not that experienced with Clover Boot loader. I remember it was hard and most of the files were created by someone else back in the day (Asus P5E). Well it got me 14 years which is amazing I think.

With my new 10th Gen build, I did the EFI from scratch and found OpenCore to be a breeze. Documentation is well written. I have Catalina on my main NVMe and a 2nd NVMe that is for back up files. Currently a fresh install of Big Sur is running off an old Samsung HDD and it is very smooth (will make the change to the NVMe soon).

Only headache I had with my new build. As soon as I plugged in a 1TB backup drive from my old system to the new, I got the CLICK OF DEATH. It was about 12 years old. Luckily, I had about 98% of the files on another external drive. I have 2 other mechanical HDD from Samsung that are of approximate age, so I just use them for testing.
 

Raine

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Gigabyte Z370n WiFi
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Core i5-8400
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Radeon RX-570
#4
So a little update... I've delayed committing to wiping my main NVMe drive to do a clean, fresh install of Big Sur for a moment. Granted, I've already backed up all of my data from my current Catalina install, I've cloned my Catalina drive as a backup as well, and I've successfully installed Big Sur on my test SSD using OpenCore - so I am pretty much good to go. There's just one location-based situation I want to sort out first that I've discovered recently while testing: Location services is being weird on my machine now.

With the Big Sur test install I get "Unable to determine current location" in Maps, Find My, and Time Zone prefs. Weirdly - On the same machine using my current Catalina installtion, all 3 services work when I first boot up... but if I literally wait about 5 minutes (no rebooting, just letting the system sit there) then I try opening Maps, Find My, and Time Zone prefs again... they no longer can get a location.

I then ran the installer, but instead of selecting the Catalina NVME drive I selected my Mojave NVME drive, as I have not used Mojave since early September.
Correct me if I'm wrong, but I read that as you let the Big Sur install with the original Mojave still in place? Or in other words, you didn't erase the drive in Disk Utility first, prior to installing Big Sur?

... so I am not that experienced with Clover Boot loader. I remember it was hard and most of the files were created by someone else back in the day
That's one of the things with Clover that bugged me the most - having to rely on someone else creating the files/patches and hoping they would work.

Creating my own USBMap was a good learning experience (and not as complicated as I was expecting TBH), then just recently working with OpenCore was pretty much as you described - a breeze. I think what made it as trouble-free as possible was how good the OpenCore guide was written.
 

Raine

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#5
Another update... yesterday when I woke up, I decided that it was time. I cloned and Time Machined my current, working Catalina hard drive, then I started from scratch (just to retrace my steps from my test run) and built a new OpenCore-based Big Sur USB installer. Later in the evening with the USB drive ready, I booted in OpenCore, wiped my main SSD, and installed Big Sur. Everything went well, no hiccups at all and within 30 minutes I had Big Sur alive and kicking on my main SSD! Today I'm installing all of the usual apps that I normally use (I'm actually typing this on my machine right now), but so far all looks good. The location services issue I was having earlier is gone - maybe it was just something with Apple services at the time. Also, Sidecar (which didn't seem to work reliably with the Clover install) is working perfectly in Big Sur.

One thing I will say, from here on out I'm probably leaving Clover behind. Working with OpenCore was so much more of a methodical, logical process compared to some of the Micky Mouse-type tweaks and hacks that Clover called for. I was also surprised at how simple the contents of the OpenCore EFI was in comparison to the Clover folder hierarchy.
 
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Edhawk

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#6
I'll second that move from Clover to OpenCore for all my systems.

Especially with the current fiasco that Clover has become, incorporating OpenCore into Clover is beyond stupid.

What I will say is there are a lot of options in OpenCore that very few really understand. We look to the guide(s) for the CPU series we use, and do what is required for each different CPU/chipset. After a few different goes at creating an OC EFI folder it seems fairly straightforward, to me.

What I struggle with is the limited amount of information that is provided for the sections where they say, don't change anything here. What do these options do, why are they present?
 

Raine

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Joined
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macOS
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Gigabyte Z370n WiFi
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Core i5-8400
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Radeon RX-570
#7
I'll second that move from Clover to OpenCore for all my systems.

Especially with the current fiasco that Clover has become, incorporating OpenCore into Clover is beyond stupid.

What I will say is there are a lot of options in OpenCore that very few really understand. We look to the guide(s) for the CPU series we use, and do what is required for each different CPU/chipset. After a few different goes at creating an OC EFI folder it seems fairly straightforward, to me.

What I struggle with is the limited amount of information that is provided for the sections where they say, don't change anything here. What do these options do, why are they present?
I read some stuff about that... it feels like they're trying to "incorporate" OpenCore into Clover for the sole reason of trying to keep Clover relevant.

When I built my first Hackintosh, I don't recall ever seeing a universal guide for Clover. When it came to Clover, when starting for the first time it seemed like you had to build your system based on being able to find a pre-existing build online where someone already did it first and got it to work. So it's like you're just copying someone else's build to work with Clover; and your only guidance was from that individual who built the same system first.

With OpenCore it felt the total opposite. I wanted to not only install Big Sur on my existing system but also convert it to OpenCore - so in a sense I was "starting from scratch" because I wasn't starting with any preconfigured files (aside from my personal USBMap.kext) and I wasn't using any build guide written by someone else with the same components. But this time around when I used the OpenCore guide it felt more like, "here's how to make OpenCore work for your system" and not the other way around. Instead of dictating a specific set of components up front that you needed to have, instead it basically asked you "what do you have?" and steered you in the right direction. I did not have to find, read, or copy anyone else's OpenCore system build to get my OpenCore EFI going - that alone was very satisfying when I first booted up my existing Catalina build with the OpenCore EFI and I reached the desktop successfully!

I do agree with you that there's a ton of options in OpenCore that aren't explained fully (yet?) but Clover had a ton of that too. I'm pretty much onboard with OpenCore from here on out, though I am waiting for the eventual MacOS update to see how that process goes (and how it compared to when I had to update the Clover/Catalina setup).

BTW thank you again with all the assistance from that last build. You've been quite helpful over the years not only for me but to a lot of people here.(y)
 
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