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Mac Cloner Psystar Ships First Service Pack 468

Posted by kdawson
from the cloe-wars dept.
Preedit writes "Not only is Mac clone maker Psystar continuing to defy Apple's ban on third-party Leopard installations, it's supporting the hardware with updates. Psystar Mac clones shipped as of Monday will include a 'service pack' that features fixes for a range of problems, some of them inherent in Apple's own software, according to InformationWeek. The fixes address a range of troubles, from glitches in Apple's Time Machine backup feature to quirks in the Keyboard Viewer and Character Palette entries in Leopard's system preferences menu. There's also support for the latest version of Java and other updates. According to the story, by offering a full menu of support, Psystar appears to be daring Apple to attempt to enforce provisions in the Leopard license agreement that forbid third-party installations and sales." We've been discussing Psystar clones for a while.
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Mac Cloner Psystar Ships First Service Pack

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  • The system is priced at $804.99. A similar, Apple-branded computer could cost more than $2,000.

    The Psystar system has a single Core 2 Duo CPU.

    They don't say what the "similar, Apple-branded computer" is, but if it's a Mac Pro it's got two four-core CPUs.

    The problem is that Apple doesn't make a similar computer. If they did, Psystar wouldn't have a market. And Apple would have a bigger one.
  • by rekoil (168689) on Tuesday May 20, 2008 @01:55PM (#23479102)
    More likely, they're hoping to grab a quick buzz, score some venture capital, and then run off into the sunset, cash in hand, before Apple legal pulls the plug on the party...
  • by yincrash (854885) on Tuesday May 20, 2008 @01:56PM (#23479124)
    If Apple did try to go for this market, they'd need to cut their margins by a lot to compete with the current pc market which plays in this price range.
  • How the hell... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 20, 2008 @01:57PM (#23479148)
    ... are they shipping a service pack to correct problems in Apple's binaries - or are they downloading the open source portions and fixing/rebuilding/shipping those as fixes?

    In that case having open source is again working against Apple.
  • by Junior J. Junior III (192702) on Tuesday May 20, 2008 @01:58PM (#23479168) Homepage
    The obvious comparison would be the iMac, as far as performance specs go.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 20, 2008 @02:03PM (#23479272)

    The obvious comparison would be the iMac, as far as performance specs go.


    Talk to me when the iMac uses all desktop components and has a replaceable video card.
  • by Animats (122034) on Tuesday May 20, 2008 @02:05PM (#23479328) Homepage

    Apple is unlikely to sue Psystar. Apple would probably lose; Apple's EULA is an "illegal tying arrangement" under antitrust law. Psystar is tiny, but a court loss would encourage bigger players to start making clones.

    More likely, Apple will stop selling their OS as a boxed product.

  • Muhaha (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 20, 2008 @02:13PM (#23479432)
    My Hackintosh supports software updates from Apple.

    Isn't it possible for them to install PC EFI? They're an integrator, they could buy EFI boards.
  • Re:Bet ten to one (Score:3, Insightful)

    by dreamchaser (49529) on Tuesday May 20, 2008 @02:13PM (#23479446) Homepage Journal
    You are assuming that EULA's are enforceable. It might be an interesting case to see just what the courts make of this.
  • Re:Bet ten to one (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Uncle Focker (1277658) on Tuesday May 20, 2008 @02:14PM (#23479460)

    My guess is that they will wait until the company dies. Then, if, for some reason, it fails to die, they'll sue 'em--and win, of course. Clearly, Apple has this one--this is a blatent knowing violation of the EULA by a for-profit corporation.
    There is no guarantee that that part of the EULA is even legally enforceable. Just because it's written in a EULA doesn't mean it has any actual force of law to back it up.
  • by MoonBuggy (611105) on Tuesday May 20, 2008 @02:17PM (#23479504) Journal
    Why? They wouldn't be competing with Dell, they'd be competing with themselves. People don't (and never will, I'll bet) buy a Mac because it's the cheapest, they buy it because they feel it's superior in some way and thus worth the money.

    What they would have to worry about is cannibalising the iMac sales, because a standard-tower Mac plus a third party monitor, graphics card & RAM would be cheaper than an iMac and superior in every way except form-factor, which isn't really high on most people's list for a desktop.
  • Re:Slow News Day? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by meadowsoft (831583) on Tuesday May 20, 2008 @02:18PM (#23479550) Homepage
    IANAL, but this sounds like the IBM vs. Clone lawsuits of the 80s where IBM wanted to be the only company to sell their IBM software on IBM hardware. They lost that battle, and if APple were to try to enforce their EULA they would lose that one as well. I think they aren't suing because 1) this isn't their market and 2) they wouldn't win and it would open the door for a precendent where any and all PC vendors would start selling hardware with OSX preinstalled.
  • What they would have to worry about is cannibalising the iMac sales, because a standard-tower Mac plus a third party monitor, graphics card & RAM would be cheaper than an iMac and superior in every way except form-factor, which isn't really high on most people's list for a desktop.

    No it wouldn't. The mythical mini-tower Mac, if it were ever made, would be priced at a little less than equivalent iMacs (if not exactly the same).

    The real threat from such a box would be to Mac Pro sales.

  • Re:Slow News Day? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by geekoid (135745) <dadinportland.yahoo@com> on Tuesday May 20, 2008 @02:32PM (#23479768) Homepage Journal
    And there is value in style and a nice interface.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 20, 2008 @02:33PM (#23479796)
    Uhh...and how do you get Linux these days? Personally I just downloaded CentOS 5.1 - a whopping 3.58 GB in about 45 minutes. Oh yeah...I got hours of free time now that I'm not downloading. Welcome to the 21st Century.

    Think before you post.
  • Re:Slow News Day? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Generic Guy (678542) on Tuesday May 20, 2008 @02:33PM (#23479808)

    Why in your view is the operation "shady"?

    Opinions are like a**holes: everybody has one. You're certainly welcome to not buy into my opinion, but I won't sit here and rehash all the previous Psystar articles and suspicions just for your benefit.

    Sure, maybe Psystar turns out to be the bestest company in the world, evar!!!1! -- but I'm not sending them any of my money to find out. I'm not convinced, I think they're more likely to vanish when the spotlight on them gets brighter; That's my opinion. And I thank slashdot for letting me write down my opinion.

    InfoWeek didn't even interview anyone at the company nor any actual users, they just based this entire article on a small website update.

  • Re:Slow News Day? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Bryansix (761547) on Tuesday May 20, 2008 @02:37PM (#23479878) Homepage
    "There is perceived value in style and a nice interface". There I fixed that for you.
  • by mkaylor (1020395) on Tuesday May 20, 2008 @02:45PM (#23480042)
    Just maybe Apple is allowing this to continue to test the waters for a PC version of OS/X
  • Re:Slow News Day? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by p0tat03 (985078) on Tuesday May 20, 2008 @02:48PM (#23480082)

    There is as much "perceived value" in style and interface as there is "perceived value" in genuine performance. A computer is a tool to do something, and for the vast majority of users not running servers, the interface contributes to the tool's usefulness as much as teh megahurtz.

    Having used some truly horrible interfaces in my time, and having seen the real productivity improvements that come with superior design, I assign a pretty high value to usability. Just look at any recent Motorola phone *shudder*.

  • by PopeRatzo (965947) * on Tuesday May 20, 2008 @02:51PM (#23480112) Homepage Journal

    You mean like a Mac Mini? I picked one up yesterday for $~670.
    Did you pick up a 8800GT to go with it? Did you figure out how to install your RME Hammerfall audio card in that Mac Mini yet?
  • Re:Slow News Day? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by p0tat03 (985078) on Tuesday May 20, 2008 @02:52PM (#23480136)

    Do you have any information to actually back this up or are you just making things up? Why in your view is the operation "shady"?

    Slashdot covered this before, as have other sites. In summary, the company pulled credit card orders a few short days after announcing the product. Efforts to track down the company at its real-life address turned out to be difficult, and we still have not seen any evidence that the company is legit (there was no business by its name at the address listed on its site). When confronted with this information the company changed its physical address on its website numerous times, none of which seem to reflect a real business. THAT is why it seems shady. Indeed, it looks like this is an amateur operation at best, a scam at worst.

    Apple is overpriced because they can be. They are on x86 architecture now so they don't really have an excuse. You CAN compare them to similar spec'd PC hardware to see how overpriced they are.

    Go ahead. Do it. I've done it, as have many others. When you don't make cheap excuses like "oh yeah let's leave out the Bluetooth, 'cos who uses it anyways?" you'll find that Macs are quite competitive. Yes, there's still a premium, but "as overpriced as can be" is not it. I would say Sony's are far more overpriced than Macs.

  • FYI (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mpapet (761907) on Tuesday May 20, 2008 @02:58PM (#23480240) Homepage
    The mac market share isn't 4%. That's a dumb number that's used to make Windows appear much more dominant.

    Compare Dell's unit sales to HP's unit sales to Apple's unit sales for a given segment and you'll find Apple in the top-5 for sure on any given month. In laptops, Apple is #1 per unit and dollar and has been for a really, really long time.

    Still, I doubt there's the expertise on /. for a legitimate discussion about anti-trust.
  • by DurendalMac (736637) on Tuesday May 20, 2008 @03:06PM (#23480348)
    Hmm, desktop hard drive? Check. Standard laptop RAM? Check. Ability to replace the video card? Technically, check. It can be replaced as it's a separate module. Upgrading...well, you'd have to have a lower-end card and find a service provider willing to order/install the better one for you. However, it's kind of a moot point. You know why? BECAUSE MOST PEOPLE DON'T GIVE A SHIT. Geeks need to get that through their obstinate skulls. The vast majority of the buying public doesn't give a shit about upgrading their video card. They just want a computer that works so they can check their email, do word processing, and organize their photos. Upgrade-happy geeks are a tiny sliver of the overall market.
  • by Leomania (137289) on Tuesday May 20, 2008 @03:33PM (#23480746) Homepage

    If it's cheaper and runs OS X, then why not?

    I gots no problem with Psystar selling a hackintosh. My main nit is calling them clones, which not even Psystar itself is doing. But for $555 (base system plus Leopard), I think the loud system fans are worth taking into consideration, as well as the unknown status of updates going forward. Buying one of these is a gamble many of us would consider taking, as even if Psystar gets slapped down by Apple we'd still have a halfway decent PC that just needed a new OS; could probably trade the copy of Leopard for a copy of XP pretty easily. But personally, if I really wanted a hackintosh, I'd build one myself. Plenty of resources out there to do so if you're willing to invest the time.

    I did do one install of Leopard as a test; my existing hardware wasn't well-supported so USB was a no-go. But I'd be hard pressed to make such a system my main workhorse in any case.

  • by Animats (122034) on Tuesday May 20, 2008 @03:45PM (#23480956) Homepage

    How can a company with 4% of the market be bound by anti-trust laws?

    Read up on the Kodak [findlaw.com] case. Kodak tried to keep third-party maintenance firms from buying Kodak repair parts. The monopoly was defined as being in spare parts for Kodak copiers, not the entire copier market. That went to the Supreme Court, and Kodak lost.

  • Yea, roight... (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 20, 2008 @03:45PM (#23480958)
    ...that's exactly what we switchers and Apple fanbois were waiting for: A large, ugly box, sounding like a hovercraft, depending on "service packs" to somehow keep running. The horror! The horror!

  • Re:How the hell... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by RiotingPacifist (1228016) on Tuesday May 20, 2008 @03:58PM (#23481202)
    Or working for them as they get the free fixes too.
    And it is defiantly benefiting their users, however they only seam to be fixing hackingtosh stuff
  • Fact is, is not that mac is superior to anything, You can do anything and more on a PC. So that statement is a steaming pile. And as for the Mini tower mac, i agree with the post here. Apple would kill their Mac Pro line with this mythical mini computer. Who in their right mind would want to spend a boatload of money for a mac pro when the mythical minitower would be capable of doing more than the pro? I for one, wouldn't.
  • Re:Bet ten to one (Score:2, Insightful)

    by fishbowl (7759) on Tuesday May 20, 2008 @04:07PM (#23481390)
    >This is the strongest contract in the entire software industry

    Um...

    I hope you are being sarcastic.

    Neither of the things you mention even meet the definition of "contract"
    anywhere in the US.

    Yes, there is subject matter.
    Yes, there are parties.
    No, there is no mutual acceptance.
    No, there is no valuable consideration.

    Not a contract, would not be called a contract by any competent attorney,
    and would not be admitted as a binding contract in any court.
  • by vux984 (928602) on Tuesday May 20, 2008 @04:09PM (#23481428)
    Hmm, desktop hard drive? Check. Standard laptop RAM? Check. Ability to replace the video card? Technically, check. It can be replaced as it's a separate module. Upgrading...well, you'd have to have a lower-end card and find a service provider willing to order/install the better one for you. However, it's kind of a moot point. You know why?

    Yes, because I can't get the video card I want put in.

    BECAUSE MOST PEOPLE DON'T GIVE A SHIT. Geeks need to get that through their obstinate skulls. The vast majority of the buying public doesn't give a shit about upgrading their video card. They just want a computer that works so they can check their email, do word processing, and organize their photos.

    And plays their games, and works with their PCI video capture card, and has enough USB ports for all their toys, and space for a 2nd hard drive to hold all their stuff.

    Upgrade-happy geeks are a tiny sliver of the overall market.

    Your right most people don't ugprade all the time. However, a LOT of people can't buy an imac that does what they want it to do. If they want something better than a crappy 8800GS, tough shit. Its not that they want to buy new graphics cards every couple months... they can't even get a decent one the day they buy it. And if they don't want a 24" behemoth, they can't even buy one with a crappy 800GS, they have to get the utterly abysmal ATi 2400/2600.

    And LOTs of people never upgrade hard drives, but if the PC fills up before they are done with it, adding an $80 internal hard drive is easy, neat, and no fuss... and not possible on an imac.

    Most PCs these days come with 6 to 8 usb ports. iMacs have 3 and one is tied up by the keyboard/mouse. Want more? Tough.

    Want a TV-tuner card? Tough.

    Bluray reader? Tough.

    These aren't the contant 'willy-nilly upgrades' demanded by niche hardcore gamers, these are the sorts of things perfectly normal people want from their computers in the normal course of using them, or coming out of the store.

    A tower form factor affords this flexibility.

    One shouldn't have to pony up for a dual core 2 quad just so they can have more than 2 available usb ports and a decent graphics card.

    To use a 'bad car analagy' it would be like a car manufacturer requiring you to buy the top of the line model in order to get basic optional features, you know, like a trunk and a passenger seat.
  • by kannibal_klown (531544) on Tuesday May 20, 2008 @04:22PM (#23481696)

    Just maybe Apple is allowing this to continue to test the waters for a PC version of OS/X
    I doubt it.

    One of the main reasons Apples are stable is because the hardware they have to support comes from a very small bin. Heck, even with that they're not 100% bug free (google MBP keyboard issues).

    A lot of problems in Windows come from either poor drivers or low-quality components (which in turn often have old/poor drivers). For all of the flack we give MS, they do an alright job considering they have to support millions and millions of combinations of hardware.

    If next month they released a generic PC capable OSX it would be a disaster. Most of their problems would come from bargain-bin PCs from Joe Sixpack trying to run OSX on his $150 Walmart box.

    Linux has been dealing with this for a few years now, and though the community drivers are quite good, a lot of distros have problems with more "unique" or cruddy hardware.
  • by Firehed (942385) on Tuesday May 20, 2008 @04:30PM (#23481812) Homepage
    Hey, I want the "xMac" too. But unless there's a small miracle at WWDC08 in a couple weeks, just start saving for the Mac Pro. It's what I'm doing. Customize it and knock out one of the quad-Xeons and save $500 if you're so inclined - chances are that if you're whining about it being the only option in the same way that I tend to, you won't need it.

    However, "perfectly normal" people tend to just want to turn it on, pound out a couple pages in Word or fire off a few emails, and be done with things. TV, not so much, and blu-ray far less so (just spend the money on a PS3 and get blu-ray and gaming done in one). I'll give you the USB ports - it's a major source of irritation on my MBP (TWO on a pro machine? Yeah friggen right), and would be even more of one on an iMac that needs a keyboard and mouse plugged in. PC gamers that want Macs is a relatively small market, but except for the even smaller subset of overclockers who tend to truly be performance-on-a-budget-obsessed (I've been there), the Mac Pro isn't insanely out of reach given the specs it has. My aging PC desktop has a good $500 invested in the cooling alone (German watercooling) and another $250 in the case, and the other hardware probably cost me a good two grand at the time. Of course a lot of it was upgrade piece-by-piece which isn't really an option with the Mac Pro, but that's just not the "Apple Experience" nor will they ever allow that to be the case. Bad for you and me maybe, but we're a very small minority - even if we whine the most.

    What I can say with a reasonable amount of happiness is that this kind of focus, even if it ignores what I want, is that it allows them to make what they have the best it can be. I know, RDF alert!, but I've yet to find a case modder or other enthusiast engineer something as sleek as the iMac.
  • Re:Bet ten to one (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 20, 2008 @04:30PM (#23481824)
    EULA stands for End User License Agreement, right? How do you sue a company for violating an agreement it's not a party to?
  • by Leomania (137289) on Tuesday May 20, 2008 @06:15PM (#23483554) Homepage
    Nah, that's not my main point. The Psystar system is a simple PC to look at, nothing spectacular. But I do expect them to do their homework and produce a system that meets middle-of-the-road expectations. In my book, a motherboard with fan speed control in the BIOS is a must. All of my systems have this -- even my ECS motherboard, for cryin' out loud!

    I haven't seen info to say whether the Gigabyte motherboard used in the Pystar has this capability (but it's not configured) or if it's just not there. But as another poster pointed out in this thread above, the point of paying someone for a pre-configured hackintosh is to not have to mess with things. If I buy a system and immediately have to start working on things like fans that sound like a jet, something is wrong from my perspective. I would have built my hackintosh for quiet operation from the get-go were I in the market for one.

    Another thing that doesn't sit well with me on this system is how it's shipped (at least as I saw on the C|NET Unboxing video on YouTube). It was packed with the original styrofoam for the case, but no plastic bag over the unit like cases normally ship with. Then the larger box was filled with styrofoam packing peanuts! Probably done this way to avoid having to use the box the case came in, but c'mon, maybe buy a few properly sized cases for the demo units? That's what my company did for its initial product, and it's not THAT crazy expensive when you're trying to create buzz around your product. They could re-use the styrofoam from the case box as they did, and have an identically sized cardboard box with their name on it.

    I don't mean to make a mountain out of a molehill here. I'm just saying that there are several places where Psystar could have done themselves a big favor by doing some simple things to improve initial perceptions of their system.
  • by uglyduckling (103926) on Tuesday May 20, 2008 @07:33PM (#23484782) Homepage
    Hmm... I'm not so sure. I've just stumped up the cash for the top-line Mac Mini plus a 500 gig external hard drive. I didn't go for an iMac because I already have a monitor etc. and when I get round to upgrading RAM, HD etc. I would rather break the Mini than an iMac.


    Would I have paid 200 UK pounds more for a mini tower where I can easily replace the HD, RAM and optical drive? Totally. There's an easy way that Apple can keep the Mac Pro market: limit the number of PCI/PCIe slots on the Mini Tower to make it an unattractive buy for the pro-music and pro-graphics markets, and only make dual-core, no quad- or eight-core options for the same reason. The music pros need the card slots, the graphic/video pros need the RAM slots becuase they will always be pushing the boundaries. That way people like me will pay a bit more for a much more flexible system.


    Apple are also likely to make more money on a mini-tower, because it would be mostly commodity components in a customised case - their margins would probably actually be a lot better then on the Mac Mini which uses expensive laptop components. They would likely make quite a few converts from the current Hackintosh community who ultimately want OSX in a cost-effective system without the inflexibility of the Mini.

  • by mr_matticus (928346) on Tuesday May 20, 2008 @08:51PM (#23485796)
    This is exactly the kind of ridiculous missing-of-the-point that your parent post is talking about.

    Adding an $80 internal hard drive is easy, neat, and no fuss... and not possible on an imac.
    Adding that $80 drive to a simple slide-in drive case is even easier and less fuss. It's also portable.

    If you go with Firewire, it also has no net impact on the number of ports.

    iMacs have 3 and one is tied up by the keyboard/mouse. Want more? Tough.
    iMacs have 3 free USB ports after dealing with the keyboard and mouse. They also have Bluetooth built-in, and the vast majority of desktops with BT do it with a USB dongle. So that's really just about at par with your "6 to 8" USB port standard.

    The easy fix? A USB hub. You're complaining about one of the very reasons USB was designed the way it was: to reduce clutter and the number of ports in a machine. It's also part of the iMac's design: most people have exactly two cords to deal with on their desk: power and the keyboard-mouse chain (which, unlike desktops, is one continuous cord rather than two separate ones back to the computer).

    Want a TV-tuner card? Tough.
    Nonsense. At least four companies make TV tuners for the Mac.

    Bluray reader? Tough.
    Again, an external one works fine, but I don't really see people clamoring for Blu-ray drives in their computers. Most people don't even have one in their living room yet.

    hese are the sorts of things perfectly normal people want from their computers in the normal course of using them, or coming out of the store.
    No, they're not. They're things geek expect out of their all-encompassing desktops, where they know how to open the case in 5 seconds.

    Most people don't want to open the case, don't want to buy cards, and don't really care. They'll order the computer with the feature if they want it, or they'll drag it to Best Buy and have them upgrade it, or they'll find that computer-savvy niece or nephew to fix "that clicking noise".

    External upgrades are ones that people can actually just do themselves. Plug it in and go, for the most part. When you don't want it anymore, you can just unplug it and put it in a closet. No disassembly required. If you want to hide all the peripherals in that space in the desk where the tower is supposed to go, it's a simple task, and it'll hold more than a typical desktop could.

    Really, regular people prefer the flexibility of external devices. If the computer never got opened, that would be fine by them. Cards and screwdrivers are for IT people and geeks. That's it.

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