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Psystar's Rebel EFI Hackintosh Tool Reviewed, Found Wanting 328

Posted by timothy
from the weighed-in-the-balance dept.
CWmike writes "While the world focused on Microsoft's launch of Windows 7, Florida-based Psystar quietly launched Rebel EFI, a software product that should worry Apple a lot more than Microsoft's latest operating system. Rebel EFI allows users to run Apple's flagship operating system, Mac OS X Snow Leopard, on non-Apple hardware. Computerworld test drove the making of a Hackintosh out of a generic PC with the company's new software package and found a product that has a lot of homework still to do. Reviewer Frank Ohlhorst's final analysis: 'Psystar's Rebel EFI (a free trial is available) is an interesting tool, but it is very limited when it comes to the selection of hardware that you can use. The company really needs to create a compatible hardware list and post that on its Web site — and it also needs to create some usable documentation. As it stands right now, you can use Rebel EFI to build a Mac clone, but unless you stick to relatively generic hardware, you will be disappointed.'"
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Psystar's Rebel EFI Hackintosh Tool Reviewed, Found Wanting

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  • by Darkness404 (1287218) on Monday October 26, 2009 @08:12PM (#29879379)

    As it stands right now, you can use Rebel EFI to build a Mac clone, but unless you stick to relatively generic hardware, you will be disappointed

    So in other words an OS made to run and tested only on 6 or 7 different major configurations of computers is going to need some tweaking before it can run on other, untested and unsupported hardware? This is hardly a suprise. Next thing is we're going to have a story saying that iPhone OS doesn't run so great on the G1...

    • by okmijnuhb (575581)
      Yes, and not only that, but Apple should be very worried about this for some reason.
  • by James_Duncan8181 (588316) on Monday October 26, 2009 @08:13PM (#29879391) Homepage
    http://chameleon.osx86.hu/ [osx86.hu]
    The same, but FOSS. Some even suggest the same codebase, but I of course would never be cynical enough to suggest that or that running strings on both if someone had a spare moment might be interesting.
    • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Monday October 26, 2009 @08:20PM (#29879437) Journal
      What is it with unethically derivative commercial tools for running OSX on PCs? Back in the PPC days, there was the whole CherryOS [wikipedia.org] thing, that turned out to be a straight rip-off of pearPC. And now this.
      • by hedwards (940851)
        Because Apple uses dubious means to prevent people from running OSX on computers they don't bless. There's always going to be a market for it as long as Apple refuses to allow for people to just install on whatever hardware they want.

        As for unethical, it's not unethical in the least unless you're stealing the code directly. It's hypocritical beyond belief whenever somebody says that it's unethical to use Apple software in a way that Apple doesn't approve. Makes me wonder what that makes anybody that runs
        • by zn0k (1082797) on Monday October 26, 2009 @08:37PM (#29879561)

          He's talking about Psystar being unethical in - potentially - taking an open and free tool that does the same thing and re-branding it and charging for it without giving credit.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by beelsebob (529313)

            But we already knew that psystar was unethical in taking a semi-open operating system and boot loader, and copying it without a license.

            • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

              by srh2o (442608)
              Yeah damn those Compaq guys...err Psystar
        • by Darkness404 (1287218) on Monday October 26, 2009 @08:40PM (#29879599)

          As for unethical, it's not unethical in the least unless you're stealing the code directly

          Which is basically what CherryOS was doing. They took the PearPC code, slapped a CherryOS logo on it and distributed/sold it.

          It's hypocritical beyond belief whenever somebody says that it's unethical to use Apple software in a way that Apple doesn't approve. Makes me wonder what that makes anybody that runs software based heavily on designs lifted from elsewhere.

          I don't think you understand what he was saying. He wasn't saying that it was unethical to use this to run Mac OS X but rather it seems to be heavily borrowed from a F/OSS project much as how CherryOS basically took PearPC and changed it to make it look like a different product. That is unethical.

        • by DJRumpy (1345787) on Monday October 26, 2009 @09:29PM (#29879911)

          Do you really hear yourself? Apple could care less if Joe User comes in, buys OS X [apple.com] , and makes a hackintosh. They do care when some business comes in, takes their intellectual property, packages it in competing hardware, and sells it as their own. I'm also sure they do have a problem with folks who go out and download it via Torrent. Psystar can't even prove that they bought OS X. They 'lost' their receipts. Funny thing that...

          There is nothing 'dubious' about it. Apple owns OS X. They can license it to whoever they choose. You may not like it, but that doesn't make what Psystar is doing right. If someone else tries to make profit off of Apples product without license from Apple, then Apple is absolutely within their rights to prevent it.

          Think you can do it better, than purchase something Like NeXT and design your own with your own time and money and then Open Source your result.

          • by v1 (525388)

            Do you really hear yourself? Apple could care less if Joe User comes in, buys OS X [apple.com] , and makes a hackintosh.

            Actually, Apple has a big problem with that. Apple sells computers and iPods. Everything else they sell, including Mac OS X, is centered around selling more computers and iPods/iPhones. Some of it is arguably sold at a loss. (c'mon, snow leopard for $29? bundling OS X Server Unlimited with a mac mini for $999?)

            So yes, they really do care about people building hackintoshes. Some may say

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by DJRumpy (1345787)

              Can you name a single instance where Apple has prosecuted someone for making a hackintosh in their home?

          • by lurker-11 (977638) on Tuesday October 27, 2009 @12:16AM (#29880715)

            If someone else tries to make profit off of Apples product without license from Apple, then Apple is absolutely within their rights to prevent it.

            It's perfectly legitimate to resell products at a profit without permission or "license" from the manufacturer. That's exactly what any retail store does to make money (in the case where they buy from a distributor and aren't the original manufacturer).

          • by dbet (1607261) on Tuesday October 27, 2009 @01:02AM (#29880913)
            Until Apple proves in court that you're criminally liable for installing OSX on a non-Apple brand computer, they can take their EULA and stuff it. An EULA cannot be legally binding if it contains instructions that violate the law (for example, an EULA that says I now own your children). This is the crux of Psystar's argument - that Apple's restriction of using OSX on Apple-brand hardware is not supported by the law.

            I don't really care about this particular court battle, however, the ramifications for what an EULA can restrict are important to pay attention to. What if MS decides you can only install Windows on a list of approved brands?
        • Because Apple uses dubious means to prevent people from running OSX on computers they don't bless. There's always going to be a market for it as long as Apple refuses to allow for people to just install on whatever hardware they want.

          Apple tried [wikipedia.org] that before. While Steve Jobs was gone Apple licensed Mac clones but when Apple brought Jobs back he looked at the licensing and saw that Apple was losing money because of it. So he killed the clones. When he did Jobs said Apple was a hardware company and licensi

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by drsmithy (35869)

          Because Apple uses dubious means to prevent people from running OSX on computers they don't bless. There's always going to be a market for it as long as Apple refuses to allow for people to just install on whatever hardware they want.

          They don't even need to do that. The commercial market for Psystar's machines would dry up overnight if Apple released a ~$1100ish headless tower.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by itsdapead (734413)

            The commercial market for Psystar's machines would dry up overnight if Apple released a ~$1100ish headless tower.

            The problem is that there is a very, very good reason why Apple only makes small-form-factor, all-in-one, mid/high-end laptops and workstation class machines: profit margins.

            Such machines can be sold for a premium price c.f. generic tower hardware - and most objective reviews of Apple hardware find that it is reasonably competetive when compared like-for-like with other SFFs, all-in-ones, workstations or high-end laptops.

            A headless tower (or a chunky, entry-level laptop) would be in direct competition wit

    • http://chameleon.osx86.hu/ [osx86.hu]

      The same, but FOSS. Some even suggest the same codebase, but I of course would never be cynical enough to suggest that or that running strings on both if someone had a spare moment might be interesting.

      It actually sounds more like a rebadged Boot132 [wikipedia.org] to me. Possibly with Chameleon for a bootloader.

    • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

      by dr00g911 (531736)

      I'll come out and suggest the same codebase and be shocked if it wasn't a straight up PC-EFI 9 or the latest Chameleon + EFI combo. All Pystar has done is slap their own branding on existing OSX86 tools since the beginning.

      They're more than kinda shady and I feel really sorry for folks who bought one of their insta-hackintoshes and didn't have the technical know-how to compile drivers / hack efi strings etc to keep their "Mac" running properly.

      Moral of the story: if you're gonna do it, build one yourself so

      • and good riddance.

        Not soon enough, it's been more than a year since Apple took them to court. People were saying Pystar was dead back in January, here it is 10 months later and they're still kicking. They may, I hope not, end up like SCO, hard if not impossible to kill.

        Falcon

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by falconwolf (725481)

      http://chameleon.osx86.hu/
      The same, but FOSS. Some even suggest the same codebase, but I of course would never be cynical enough to suggest that or that running strings on both if someone had a spare moment might be interesting.

      Pystar itself uses an open source boot loader, Darwin Universal Boot Loader [macobserver.com] or DUBL. This leads me to question exactly what value Pystar adds. It can't be hardware compatibility and drivers, the CNet tester even says "It seems like Psystar still has a lot of homework to do when it

  • The problem... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mattventura (1408229) on Monday October 26, 2009 @08:18PM (#29879421) Homepage
    ...is that it turns it into a cat-and-mouse game. Just like the Apple vs Palm USB issue. Apple will find a way to prevent OS X from running on this, and people will have a system where any software update could brick their computer. Then the Psystar team will find a way around that. Rinse, repeat. So I can either ignore upgrades, use a different OS, or actually buy a Mac. Sounds like some great choices.
    • by MBGMorden (803437)

      and people will have a system where any software update could brick their computer.

      Damn you. I had gone for weeks now without hearing somebody refer to a purely software issue as "bricking" anything. I thought that meme was over, and you just had to prove otherwise.

      I swear it's like being in a Romero movie after you think all the zombies were wiped out months ago and seeing one stumble out of a restroom at an old gas station.

  • Virtualization (Score:5, Interesting)

    by corychristison (951993) on Monday October 26, 2009 @08:23PM (#29879457)

    I am waiting for the ability to run it ala VirtualBox or Vmware Player/Workstation.

    I don't have any use for my Mac mini other than checking some web design comparability with Safari under OSX (Win port does not like WINE). I can run XP under VirtualBox no problems but the Win Port of Safari isn't exactly the same anyway.

    I don't like having yet another piece of hardware I don't even need sitting around. I already have two desktops, 2 laptop, media center pc and my homebuilt router (ITX board w/ dual Gb lan + gb switch + wifi card running pfSense).

    Perhaps this Rebel product will lead the way into running OSX under virtualized hardware?

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by AdmiralXyz (1378985)
      Don't count on it. The problem with virtualization is that it requires the virtualized OS to be as cooperative to the whole affair as possible, since it needs to be fooled into thinking it has unfettered access to the system, which in many ways is much harder than just getting the OS to run natively on the hardware. Windows and Linux are becoming more virtualization-friendly every day since their developers have realized that their operating systems are being virtualized on a regular basis, but since there
      • ... but since there is no Apple-approved way to virtualize OS X...

        Wrong [vmware.com].

        • Re:Virtualization (Score:5, Informative)

          by snuf23 (182335) on Monday October 26, 2009 @11:06PM (#29880399)

          From your link:

          "As you can imagine, the VMware Fusion team was pretty excited when Apple modified their licensing to allow Mac OS X Leopard Server to run in a virtual machine on Apple hardware."

          So in order to run an OS X VM you need to run it on a Mac. Somehow I don't think that would help the original poster get rid of his Mac Mini.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by rfuilrez (1213562)
      http://pcwizcomputer.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=75&Itemid=45 [pcwizcomputer.com] You can give that link a try. pcwiz does some good stuff within the OSx86 community. I'm not sure if he's gotten Snow Leopard running, but I've seen Leopard running inside VMware. There's also a VMWare image you might still be able to find on torrent sites, so you don't have to actually do the install. Not sure if it's still around though.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Rebelgecko (893016)

      I believe more recentish version of VMWare can virtualize Mac OSX

    • Re:Virtualization (Score:5, Informative)

      by ya really (1257084) on Monday October 26, 2009 @08:43PM (#29879617)

      I am waiting for the ability to run it ala VirtualBox or Vmware Player/Workstation.

      It's been done for ages:
      http://pcwizcomputer.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=75&Itemid=45 [pcwizcomputer.com]
      It says 10.5.2, but it works with at least the last version of leopard from my knowledge.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by callinyouin (1138469)
        I can also confirm this works, although not well.
        As soon as you give the OS a fair amount of filesystem activity (ie decompressing, installing etc.), it locks up. Vmware complains about something related to filesystem activity/read&write/something (can't remember, really), and the only option is to turn the virtual machine off at this point.
        This is only my experience, of course. I have only tested this on Linux with host filesystems reiserfs and ext[3,4], and have not used a dedicated hard drive, only
    • Re:Virtualization (Score:5, Informative)

      by MtHuurne (602934) on Monday October 26, 2009 @08:47PM (#29879635) Homepage
      You can run a virtual Mac in qemu using the "-M mac" option.
      • Re:Virtualization (Score:4, Insightful)

        by jmorris42 (1458) * <`jmorris' `at' `beau.org'> on Monday October 26, 2009 @09:08PM (#29879777)

        > You can run a virtual Mac in qemu using the "-M mac" option.

        I have heard this before. Is this an out of tree patchset? On Fedora 11 I get this:

        $ qemu -M help
        Supported machines are:
        pc Standard PC (default)
        isapc ISA-only PC

        I'd love to explore OS X a bit, but the price tag to get in the gate and look around is just to much unless you have already drank the Kool-Aid. The mini at $599 is sort of a joke and everything else goes over the 1K line.

        • Why don't you just go down to the Apple store and ask to shown around. It's what all those macs are sitting there for.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by jmorris42 (1458) *

            > Why don't you just go down to the Apple store and ask to shown around.
            > It's what all those macs are sitting there for.

            1. Using Mapquest's estimate, the closest Apple store is 2:56 away.

            2. A half hour playing with a demo unit isn't likely to be very helpful. Especially compared to a few hours with a VM.

            3. Even if I didn't like OS X enough to want to drink the Kool-Aid, a VM version would, as others pointed out, allow an occasional use to test compatibility. That would be enough to spend $130 on

            • 1. Using Mapquest's estimate, the closest Apple store is 2:56 away.

              Is there a Best Buy nearby? They have most of the apple product line on display...

              As for #2 and #3, sounds like a weak argument for not shelling out the cash. If you don't think it's worth the $600 then don't buy it. You don't need a KVM if it's only for occasional use. Just unplug your mouse and keyboard from your PC and use it on the mini, and do the reverse when you're finished.

          • by ctmurray (1475885)
            Where they are serving all the good Kool-Aide (TM).
    • by QuantumG (50515) *

      done it: http://quantumg.net/tigeronvmware.php [quantumg.net] deleted the image shortly after.. yawn.

      Maybe if there was some place I could go to get up-to-date torrents of vmware images I might care, for the novelty.

    • by Korin43 (881732)
      Couldn't you just use another webkit browser like Chromium, Konqueror, Epiphany or Midori? The only difference I'm aware of is the horrible font rendering on Macs (and old versions of Safari on Windows), but that shouldn't affect the layout.
    • OSX Virtualization (Score:3, Insightful)

      by falconwolf (725481)

      I am waiting for the ability to run it ala VirtualBox or Vmware Player/Workstation.

      That's what I want to do, run Snow Leopard, SN in a VM. I want to setup my Mac I'm typing this on to dual boot SN and Ubuntu. Then I'll use VirtualBox or another VM program to run Ubuntu in a VM. I'd also like to run SN in a VM in Ubuntu, that way I could boot into either OS and still run the other one. In the VirtualBox forums [virtualbox.org] I read it was possible to run OS X as a guess but when I last searched I didn't find out how to

  • by cosm (1072588) <thecosm3@EEEgmail.com minus threevowels> on Monday October 26, 2009 @08:25PM (#29879477)
    Although I am all for the proliferation of decent software, Apple should be considerably nervous about these kinds of offerings. Right now the support loop for hardware is fairly closed; the amount of variables they must take into consideration when providing tech-support is fairly small considering they control the hardware side of things so tightly.

    On the same token, it seems these days a lot of add-on hardware is Mac compatible, hard drives, memory, video cards, sound cards, the list goes on...so this leads me a conclusion of Apple putting more bullets in its feet as the list of upgrades and add-ons for Apple machines grows; they lose that hardware control variable.

    This leads to the next conclusion, at what point does outfitting a machine with tons of non-factory-spec hardware separate it from a ground up build? If it is just the motherboard, then they are facing a conundrum.

    Again, IANAMU, does Apple's support coverage encompass machines with things like user-added memory & videocards? If it does, then eventually they might as well just allow individuals to purchase OEM copies for their build, seeing as their support loop must scale to additional interoperability anyways.
    • by selven (1556643)

      As long as Apple doesn't say a word in favor of this stuff (thereby making it mainstream and accepted), they can refuse to support OSX on other hardware and take only a minor PR hit - if you're a hack(intosh)er, it's expected that you do things yourself.

    • Outside of video and audio production folks who may put in some 3rd party hardware, but this day in age, it seems to all be firewire or usb based products. Most people I know using macs have laptops or iMacs. I just replaced my last PowerMac with an iMac. Outside of RAM, I don't see myself upgrading anything.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I mean really, should I feel badly about pirating something that already breaks the rules?

  • ...is that Psystar is still around.

    All the previous predictions were that Apple would sue them into a hole so deep, the Salvation Army would be sending them their beans with a shotgun.

    Yet here they are, still going strong, apparently?

    Good for them.

    • by minsk (805035) on Monday October 26, 2009 @09:00PM (#29879729)

      Aside from the detail that Apple is busy [groklaw.net] suing them into a deep hole...

      Welcome to legal systems. Whether or not you think justice is being rendered, the rendering takes time.

    • The corpse won't die until the sundown after the suit actually gets into court apparently, Psystar's lawyers are great at delays so far.
    • The conspiracy theory is that Psystar is funded by "other companies." Even Apple has claimed [groklaw.net] this in their complaint against them in court :

      "18. On information and belief, persons other than Psystar are involved in Psystar’s unlawful and improper activities described in this Amended Complaint. The true names or capacities, whether individual, corporate, or otherwise, of these persons are unknown to Apple. Consequently they are referred to herein as John Does 1 through 10 (collectively the “John

  • Loading Mac OS X into a VM is always a challenge. I haven't looked into it for more than a year and I hope there are improvements, but I'm not holding my breath.

  • OS X on Mini 9 (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 26, 2009 @09:18PM (#29879845)

    I got Dell Mini 9 last spring but it was almost unusable with WinXP due to the screen resolution and sluggishness of Windows on Atom CPU. Later I installed Mac OS X 10.5.7 and then 10.5.8 with EFI and it completely changed usability problems I had with the netbook. And no, I didn't copy that floppy but rather bought Leopard DVD from Apple.
    This is an intermediate solution because I'm still waiting for a netbook or a 4x iPhone-type panel from Apple. Once I put my hands on it I will certainly sell this Dell.

  • Better the devil you know... I'm unhappy enough about Microsoft's kill switches, and I'm still on Windows 2000. There's no way I'd trust a crack that replaces Apple's copy protection with one containing a kill switch like this:

    "Rebel EFI is free to try and download, though it will have limited hardware functionality and a run-time of two hours."

    Certainly not one by a company that's already stated they can't keep track of their own paperwork.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by xlsior (524145)
      Better the devil you know... I'm unhappy enough about Microsoft's kill switches, and I'm still on Windows 2000

      With Windows 2000 approaching its drop-dead, end-of-life, no-more-critical-security-patches-ever stage, before long *everyone* will have a kill switch for your computer...
  • Psystar quietly launched Rebel EFI, a software product that should worry Apple a lot more than Microsoft's latest operating system. Rebel EFI allows users to run Apple's flagship operating system, Mac OS X Snow Leopard, on non-Apple hardware.

    The Hackintosh is a system-builder project for the geek.

    The only thing that can hurt Apple is competition from the OEM and retail giants.

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