Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Mac Clone Maker Psystar Vows To Challenge Apple EULA

PsyStar, a Florida company specializing in storage rigs, announced their "Open Mac" product Monday and their site was immediately taken down......Slashdotted into oblivion. It's back up now, at least most of the time, so I felt it was time to post this.

Open Mac is a "Hackintosh"; Intel hardware that will run Apple's OS X without any modification to the code. Open Macs come with OS X installed, if you buy your copy from PsyStar. This is a violation of Apples license agreement and I waited over 24 hours for Job's Mob to squash PsyStar like a bug under a flood of legal writs. That didn't happen. Or at least it hasn't happened yet.

PsyStar has come out swinging on this; saying Apple gouges on hardware for the priviledge of running "what is arguably the best OS out there". They intend to change that. To accomplish their goal, they are going to have to challenge the Apple EULA (End User License Agreement). They have 3 possible avenues of attack, that I can see. One is to argue that the terms of the license are unenforceable. The second is to argue that the terms are unconscionable. I assume the third is to argue that Apple is basically objecting to free money for the product which they do not have to subsequently support, which is a very weak argument and probably won't actually come up. (If it does, it likely will be seen as without merit. After all; it IS Apple's property and they cannot be forced to sell it.)

This one is going to be a whole lot of fun to watch. Personally, I hope that PsyStar wins, though I doubt they can. Still, I am not a lawyer able to judge the case from afar and as everyone knows, stranger things have happened in courts.


1 comment:

  1. Though I like the idea of a less expensive computer that will run the Mac OS X, I think some of the claims in the site are a bit over stated.
    In one spot they say "run Mac Pro equivalent hardware at Mac Mini prices" which I don't think is a straight up comparison. It is like comparing Apples with ... well, non-Apples... The fastest machine Psystar ships is their Open Pro comes with a Core 2 Quad, at 2.6GHz ( add $400 to base price of $999) where as the slowest thing Apple ships in a Mac Pro is a 2.8GHz Xeon Quad Core ( subtract $500 from the base price of $2799 ). The Apple RAM is ECC, I suspect that isn't an option on the Open Pro. The base harddrive in the Open Pro is 150GB at 10,000RPM, where as the Mac Pro has 320GB at 7200RPM. The video for the Open Pro has two nVidia options only, where as the Mac Pro has three different video cards, and can run up to four of the base ATI Radeon HD 2600 XT 256MB cards, depending on configuration of other options. No mention of which optical drive is included on the configuration page for the Open Pro, however by reading through other pages it appears that they use a 20X Super Drive or equivalent, Mac Pro comes with a 16X Super Drive, with an option to add a second. As to the OS, the Open Pro has Leopard as an option for $155, where the Mac Pro comes with it, and options to go to the Mac OS X Server, either in 10 or unlimited client licenses.

    So, comparing $999 and $2799, isn't quite the real deal. $1554 vs. $2299 would be a closer comparison, but still not a head to head. That would be the top of the Open Pro, vs the bottom of the Mac Pro, and then consider you have consumer grade vs. server grade motherboard, CPU and memory.

    I have nothing against these computers, I am sure they are of fine quality, and besides offering OS X Leopard, they also offer then with XP Pro, Vista Home Premium ( either 32 or 64 bit ) ( $150 for any of the Windows options ) and at no extra charge, Ubuntu Linux ( 7.10 Gusty, until 8.04 Hardy is released ).

    Also not offered are any WiFi or Bluetooth connections at this time, they are still trying to find suitable hardware. ( This boosts my confidence in the company, as they are not trying to push out hardware that may not function as advertised )
    Also mentioned on their site is that NOT ALL UPDATES ARE SAFE to use with the Open/Open Pro, and that if they are not "safe" you could have to reinstall your OS X.

    SO, there is my take on the cheap Mac alternative. I think some claims are a bit over the top, and comparisons not on par. But I suspect these come from a marketing department, rather than the tech folks. The comparisons they start out with on some pages are incomplete, and on other pages, they state "Mac Mini" for the options and price comparison.

    The machines look nice, and should run well from the specs given. I just wouldn't want to count on them as a production machine running OS X, there are too many IFs there for me. Ubuntu and Windows would be where I would look to for that hardware.


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