The Hackintosh phenomenon seems to be going mainstream. Gizmodo did a headline story today on making a Dell Mini 9 ($245) into a working Macintosh. This is not just some proof of concept but something that actually works well (at least on the throne according to the author, John Mahoney). Boing Boing has been all over this for a few months and there was the Wired MSI Wind instructional webpage that Apple asked be shut down. It is everywhere and people are using these devices as work tools. People who use them, just like John Mahoney, swear by them.
We’d have to agree. From our experience, the finished product actually works out pretty well. (We have a HP Mini 1000 and what should be the best/fastest Netbook Hackintosh of them all, an EEE Mini 1000HE en route).
Is this really wrong?
That depends a lot on how it is done, where you live and your view on the Apple EULA. The EULA specifically says you are not to put the Mac OS on anything that isn’t a Mac. Pretty cut and dry no? Not exactly. The Psystar case is currently being tried to see if that clause is legitimate/enforceable in the US. PearC computers in Germany seem to think that in Germany, once you buy a computer and some software, they are yours to do what you want with (can you use the DVD as a weapon like a ninja star?). Apple hasn’t yet taken them on.
It is hard to argue that going out, buying a Leopard DVD and using it to install Mac OSX on your computer can be wrong. We’re sure many of you won’t see it that way and will put nasty things in the comments. To each, their own.
Realistically speaking, most hackers are probably downloading the hacked version of OSX Leopard off of a torrent. There is no doubt that this is illegal and immoral. Would they pay $140 to do this legitimately? Perhaps.
So maybe we should ask: Why does it exist? Why aren’t people just happy buying an Apple laptop (or desktop)? Why do they want to go and buy a competitor’s laptop (usually paying a Microsoft Tax on it) and going through all of the trouble of hacking the bootloader and installing an OS on there that its developers don’t want you to install and usually pay a bunch of money doing so. In the mean time they are throwing out your copy of Windows XP that they own and legitimately belongs on the machine.
Sure OSX is better than Windows. But is it that much better on a Netbook? Sort of. For us, we’re used to OSX and switching mindsets when going to the Windows Netbook is tedious. We use Windows in VirtualBox when necessary on our Macs but it isn’t our preference. We’d imagine there are a lot of others out there like us.
So, why not buy an additional Mac? Apple doesn’t make one anywhere near the form factor of a Netbook. Sure the Air is thin, but the footprint is as big as a MacBook and more than twice the area of a small Netbook. The EEE fits into the front pocket of a backpack or a woman’s purse. It is also not too worrying if it breaks, it costs less than a quarter of what a MacBook Air costs. These are important realities, especially when everyone is pinching pennies these days.
So right or wrong, Apple’s fault for not making the hardware, Microsoft’s fault for not making good enough software, it really doesn’t matter. The economics are there, the market is there and it really it isn’t that difficult, and frankly, it is kinda cool.
Unless something drastically changes, Hackintoshes are only going to become more popular.