Elliott C. Back: Internet & Technology

Psystar’s $399 OpenMac Apple Mac Mini Clone

Posted in Apple,Counterfeit by Elliott Back on April 14th, 2008.

A little company called Pystar just threw down the gauntlet by offering a $399 Apple Mac Mini clone they’re calling an OpenMac. Currently their website is overloaded with traffic, so don’t expect the links to work just yet.


For an additional $155 you get Apple OSX 10.5 Leopard installed on the system using a Extensible Firmware Interface (EFI) emulator and the OSx86 project. Upgrading to an NVIDIA GeForce 8600GT will cost an additional $110, while Firewire ports costs $50. The base specs are formidable:

  • 2.2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo
  • 2GB of DDR2 667 memory
  • Integrated Intel GMA 950 Graphics
  • 20x DVD+/-R Drive
  • 4 USB Ports
  • 250GB 7200RPM Drive

Buying a similarly spec’d mac-mini will cost you at least $1000 for a computer with worse specifications and a slightly nicer looking chassis. That’s right, Apple is charging you 250% more than Pystar will. Where’s the catch? It’s the Apple Leopard 10.5 EULA, which reads “You agree not to install, use or run the Apple Software on any non-Apple-labeled computer, or to enable others to do so.” The Fortune Blog highlights a similar EULA section, which reads “This License allows you to install, use and run one (1) copy of the Apple Software on a single Apple-labeled computer at a time,” and concludes “that’s what’s wrong with this.”

The EULA, Does It Mean Anything?

No, it doesn’t. Based on the First sale doctrine, when you buy something, you essentially have the right to do whatever you want with it (a fact that bothers libertarians, corporations, but few else). That’s right, in the United States, you can buy a copy of OSX 10.5, install it on commodity x86 hardware, and ignore anything in the EULA to the contrary. Apple needs to learn that simply printing indecipherable text buried in a legal document doesn’t make it truth. If their hardware is truly superior, they should welcome the competition.

Note that I am not a lawyer, and this does not in any way provide legal advice

Apple Fans, They’re Hating!

Apple fans have a huge, negative response to this news. They just can’t stand someone creating a cheaper, faster clone of their favorite computer brand. Here are a few select samples, with citations:

  • “This is illegal and will never happen. This is EXACTLY what Apple doesn’t want: it’s brand diluted with an ugly product full of bargain-bin components to appeal to the wellfare market. No thanks.” [src]
  • “I smell a fly-by-night scam.” [src]
  • “Many people may find paying 150% the price for a mac mini with less performance just as insulting” [src]
  • “God damn that thing is UGLY. Building a box like that really destroys most of the joys of owning a mac” [src]
  • “I can’t even imagine why someone would want all of the crap from the PC world swirling around inside of a well made fine piece of machinery. Good luck with that.” [src]

Essentially, this is the same reaction as Apple fans had to the $200 iPhone price cut: “You can’t drop the price and give Apple to the plebes!” Any Macintosh fans who are honestly upset by a little competition need to tone-down their absolute devotion to the Cult of Jobs, and see how this is good for everyone.

This entry was posted on Monday, April 14th, 2008 at 6:20 pm and is tagged with . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback.

6 Responses to “Psystar’s $399 OpenMac Apple Mac Mini Clone”

  1. elliottback says:

    You must be a dense libertarian, otherwise you would know that private contracts between entities are a cornerstone of Libertarianism, replacing Govt intervention. Flaunting those contracts causes the model to break down.

  2. Liberty says:

    “a fact that bothers libertarians”

    Stop being a ****-head and look up the meaning of a word before you use it. The “first sale” doctrine is Libertarian philosophy for crying out loud. Pull your head out…

  3. James says:

    I often wonder if Apple fan(atic)s read those comments you posted above and see them how us plebes see them. ;)

  4. […] Intel Mac発売以降、EFIやOSをハックしてX86互換機でMacが動くことは有名な話でしたが、とうとう互換機が登場。アメリカのPsystarという会社がOSX Leopard対応のIntel Core 2 Duo搭載のMac互換機、Open Computerを$399で発売したようです。 なかなかデザインもよく、Mac miniと同等のスペックで$399ならそこそこ売れそうな気もします。 「OSのライセンス的に大丈夫なのか?」ということは誰でも思うようで、Elliott C. Backでは詳しく述べてあります。ざっと読んでまとめると「LeopardのエンドユーザーライセンスではApple製でないコンピューターにインストトールしたり使ったり出来ないとあるが、First-sale doctrineに基づくと一度買った物を購入者がいかに使おうと自由という解釈もある」とのことです。結論は司法に判断を仰がなければならないようです。 via Elliott C. Back Hardware Open Computer Open Mac Psystar Hardware | 8:17 am 関連エントリ Baffaloから1TBの小型NAS登場 / LS-WS1.0TGL/R1ロジテックからBluetooth 2.1+EDRアダプタ登場FriioにBS/CS録画可能な新型登場IKEAのフロアランプをスピーカースタンドに改造するDIYAero対応のUSB外付けグラフィックアダプター / I-O data USB-RGB/D RSSリーダーで購読する […]

  5. Elliott Back says:

    With the EFI emulator, the original stock OSX is used without modification. See the wikipedia entry on OSx86, “Using the EFI patch, Hackintoshes could boot off “vanilla” (unmodified) OS X kernels and use vanilla kernel extensions, allowing the system to be compatible with future system updates, and giving increased stability.”

  6. If non-Apple hardware could run OS X “out of the box” without modification, then something like the “first-sale doctrine” might apply, here. However, to get OSX to run on non-Apple x86 hardware, you need to use a modified (thus, copyright-violating) version of the OS.

    Pystar would do well to sell this hardware, but offering to pre-bundle the copyright-violating OS modifications on the hardware and distributing it: that’s just stupid.

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