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Friday, November 20, 2009, 04:55 am PT (07:55 am ET)

Hack re-enables Atom processor compatibility for Mac OS X 10.6.2

Hackers have circumvented the changes in Mac OS X 10.6.2 to allow the latest upgrade to Apple's Snow Leopard to run on netbooks with Intel Atom processors.

When Apple released Mac OS X 10.6.2 earlier this month, Intel Atom support was missing from the release. Though no Apple-sanctioned hardware uses the Atom processor, some low-cost netbook users would use the hack to install OS X on their systems.

The hack applies only to a select number of "Hackintosh" users, as not all who install Mac OS X on unauthorized machines use netbooks with Intel Atom processors. Atom is a low-voltage microprocessor used in inexpensive portable computers.

According to MacWorld, support for Mac OS X 10.6.2 has been brought to the Atom processor thanks to a complicated hack that requires use of the Terminal and replacing the kernel of the operating system.

As developer builds of Mac OS X 10.6.2 were released, the status of Atom support fluctuated, leaving hackers wondering Apple's purpose.

Still unknown is whether Apple actually had any intent in disabling Atom processor support. It's possible the situation could be much like the cat-and-mouse game with Palm, where Apple released minor updates to iTunes that served only to break compatibility with the Pre smartphone. Or, since Apple likely does not test its software on products it does not ship, the Cupertino, Calif., company may have accidentally broken compatibility with Atom processors.