20 December 2009

HP WiFi Whitelist Nitty Gritty

HP imposes a whitelist of hardware that's sanctioned to work on their computers, the Mini's included. Should you happen to be like me who's into the OSx86 hobby and are a Mini owner (other than the 1001TU/1000 models), you've come across wireless network glitch - or nightmare, rather - in Mac OS X Leopard. More so in Snow Leopard. The WiFi module is not supported by Mac OS X. I'm fond of referring to this as Mac OS X's "whitelist" not including your module or, in more creative words, Steve Jobs OS prefers to ignore your non-Apple hardware. Smug. (I often picture I have a duped Snow Leopard inside my MacBook Mini :D).

Now I've come across this whole deal with rebranding Broadcom wifi cards and wondered upto what extent HP's whitelist of wifi cards go for the 100TU. There are mainly two (2) essential information about your wifi card or any hardware for that matter I believe, that Mac OS X uses to decide how to treat that specific hardware. Apple's OS is very judgmental and unforgiving at times, racist to be exact:

(1) Subsystem Product ID
(2) Subsystem Vendor ID

I had a question in my head: given that these two are what OS X cares about, I wonder how specific HP is - would it accept the card as long as the Subsystem Product ID remains intact or does it need both to be matching the information on its whitelist?

The answer is IT NEEDS BOTH PIECES OF INFORMATION TO MATCH. If one of that changes, you'll get this:
"104-Unsupported wireless network device detected. System Halted. Remove device and restart."

I changed the Subsystem Vendor ID from the stock 0x103c into 0x106b to make it Apple like in a way. Result is I've practically bricked my HP Mini 1001TU. I would've used what happened as an excuse to get me a new netbook - one of those 11.6 inchers with NVidia Ion - earlier than planned (which is in January next year after the holiday season's shopping madness here in the Philippines but when promos are still likely to be on). 

However, the MSI Wind is here to save the day and saved the day it did:
(1) I popped open the HP Mini 1001TU to extract the now alienated wifi card. 
(2) Then I put it in the MSI Wind - I took out its Realtek WiFi card of course.
(3) Booted it up with Ubuntu 9.1 and did prasys' procedure to revert the Broadcom sprom to the original ID's:
- Subsystem Product ID : 0x1508
- Subsystem Vendor ID : 0x103c 
*I only had to change the Subsystem Vendor ID as the Product ID wasn't changed before.
(4) I put back the Broadcom card inside the Mini and voilĂ ! My MacBook Mini is its old self again.

Now what's the point of this whole effort? I learned new stuff (or confirmed old stuff) about the HP Mini 1000:
(1) The upper chassis which houses the built-in trackpad has clips and is secured with adhesive on some parts. Careful in prying it off plus careful again when you put it back - make sure the clip near the left side palm rest is secured first.
(2) There's another PCI-e slot inside

(3) The WiFi card, while indeed is a Broadcom, is actually a 4312. To be exact, the label on the actual card reads: Broadcom4312 HMG or BRCM94312 - not sure why there's a "9" in the alternative appellation. All the while, Mac OS X, both Leopard and Snow Leopard, has always seen it as a 4315. I've no idea how that works. I've tried omitting 4315 from the AirPortBRCM4311.kext plugin so that 4312 remained, hoping it would be used. But that only caused the OS reporting that no airport card was installed.
(4) The entire motherboard is housed in the palm rest area. The heatsink and the ram slot's locations contribute a lot why the area feels remarkably toasty. It's an engineering feat alright; fitting an entire netbook system in that confined space but it's still undeniable that the Mini's one hot machine - and that's literally speaking.

Conclusion? I have serious doubts as to whether I'm gonna hackintosh an HP Mini 311 which in turn gives me more doubts as to whether I'm gonna stick with HP when I upgrade to a higher level netbook next year - I can't live without OS X, or rather, I don't reckon I can tolerate a non OSx86-ified netbook among my small collection. Cause come to think of it, there's already this compatibility issue with OS X alone and HP's adding to the equation another compatibility issue with its restrictive, not to mention imbecile, whitelists.

But then HP's netbooks remain on top niche for very good build quality.

P.S. My dear MSI Wind, though I'm extremely grateful to you for salvaging my alienated Broadcom wifi card, the undeniable truth still prevails: your chassis is chancy, your hinges feel flimsy, and your keyboard flexes with keys that are no thicker than an average party plastic cup.

Meanwhile, enjoy the HP Mini 1001TU's porn pics:

1 comment:

Kamagra Jelly said...

You got lucky there resurrecting the machine from a really bad move, it rarely ever happens, or at least it goes that way for me. Once i messed something up, it's time to buy a new one.