Psystar's Thermopylae: The Nightmare Hypervisor Arrives

Psystar's Thermopylae: The Nightmare Hypervisor Arrives

Summary: Miami, Florida-based Psystar, which is currently under litigation from Apple for producing Mac-compatible clones and is counter litigating the company for monopolistic practices, has announced that they are OEM licensing their virtualization technology and ICAP so that any PC vendor may easily produce Mac clones.In July of 2008, in my piece entitled "Psystar's Thermopylae won't end Apple's Clone Nightmare" I wrote the following during the heat of the inital phases of the Psystar vs.

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Miami, Florida-based Psystar, which is currently under litigation from Apple for producing Mac-compatible clones and is counter litigating the company for monopolistic practices, has announced that they are OEM licensing their virtualization technology and ICAP so that any PC vendor may easily produce Mac clones.

In July of 2008, in my piece entitled "Psystar's Thermopylae won't end Apple's Clone Nightmare" I wrote the following during the heat of the inital phases of the Psystar vs. Apple imbroglio:

"...If I were Psystar, I’d poison pill the entire situation for Apple by making all of the ICAP they created to build the systems — sans the Apple OS X software itself — available on a public website. Then Apple will have a huge mess on their hands.

Such a thing doesn’t exist now, but give it a year, and Nightmare Hypervisor will rise from the depths to bite a chunk out of Apple’s juicy flesh

Let’s face it — virtualization is eventually going to make the hardware dependent eccentricities of OS X and Mac’s feeble attempts at DRM meaningless.."

Click on the "Read the rest of this entry" link below for more.

That was 14 months ago.

Flash forward to October 5, 2009. Psytar, which is currently in the depths of litigation that will almost certainly bury the company in legal bills, announced the following:

"Psystar will begin certifying manufacturer's hardware to allow the licensing of Psystar's new virtualization technology, effectively making their systems Mac OS X compatible. Psystar's virtualization technology, specifically engineered for Snow Leopard, allows for seamless operation of the Mac OS on generic Intel Hardware and would be offered on all Psystar Certified machines.

In an effort to spread the Snow Leopard experience to an ever-expanding number of people, the licensing initiative will allow manufacturers to have their hardware Psystar Certified and have their computers pre loaded with our unique technology including the Darwin Universal Boot Loader (DUBL)"

Translation: Hello Persians, meet the Spartans. Or rather, the Chinese, the Russians, the Koreans, and any other vendor that resides in a country where Apple has little legal recourse. The Nightmare Hypervisor, as predicted, has arrived.

Will Psystar be able to successfully make a business model out of licensing the "Cloning Kit" to OEMs? Probably not. Apple almost certainly will sue the company to oblivion before that happens. But that's not important.

What's important is that an easily reproducible method for making Mac OS X run on any PC hardware in existence is going to find its way into the wild, one way or another. Psystar's DUBL and virtualization techniques are going to become part of the discovery process of any ongoing or new litigation, and they will be open for public examination. And almost certainly, before the company dies, this DUBL and virtualization technology, which is based upon Open Source software, will end up being sold or distributed on public websites by vendors outside of the US where Apple has little or no reach. It will live on long after Psystar dies.

So if Simple Mac Cloning for Dummies becomes a reality -- which at this point is inevitable -- it merits further analysis of whether Apple itself should put the entire situation at rest by assembling a fully sanctioned OEM licensing program in partnership with the key PC vendors, such as Dell, HP, Acer and Lenovo. No matter how hard they try to stop it, Apple is going to lose control of what Mac OS X can run on, so they might as well prepare for "Kosher" implementations of Mac clones rather than foreign sites which will sell "cloning kits" based on on Psystar's methods.

Psystar will die. No doubt about it. But their legacy is going to live on long after it is gone and provide the fuel for further revolt. It's up to Apple and Steve Jobs to learn the lessons of the Persians and fully embrace the idea of fully legal Mac Clones before its monopolistic hardware reign ends, as Darius' great empire fell to the determined armies of united Greeks, who remembered the brave Spartans in their historic battle.

Topics: Cloud, Apple, CXO, Enterprise Software, Hardware, Legal, Storage, Virtualization

About

Jason Perlow, Sr. Technology Editor at ZDNet, is a technologist with over two decades of experience integrating large heterogeneous multi-vendor computing environments in Fortune 500 companies. Jason is currently a Partner Technology Strategist with Microsoft Corp. His expressed views do not necessarily represent those of his employer.

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  • THIS IS SPARTA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    nt
    D T Schmitz
    • There wasn't quite enough spittle coming out when you screamed that...

      ... but otherwise, nice imitation.
      Hallowed are the Ori
    • What I don't understand...

      ...and it's probably because I've been busy being a husband and father and not had time to monitor the situation since a while before they did this, is why did they STOP using their own proprietary hardware base? I mean, if Apple doesn't want people making Mac Clones, why in the world would they go to using OFF THE SHELF computer hardware!!!???

      Was it a cost of parts issue? If that's the case, and they're getting a much better deal on the PC parts than they were on their own more proprietary parts, why not pass that savings on to the end user, thereby creating more of a cost-based incentive for people to still purchase GENUINE Apple PCs - I mean, Macs?

      If it's a competition in performance issue, I can't at this point come up with an argument for that, either pro or con.

      But, it seems that if Apple was so dead-set AGAINST the Clone market idea, they wouldn't have dropped the non-proprietary hardware and software.

      With the older "new" Macs, it was harder to run Windows on them, and you SURE couldn't run it "native" - it had to be done under some sort of virtualization software or additional hardware in conjunction to virtualization software. (IE, the "orange pc" type setup.)

      And, it seems like they would have done something, pulled something out of their cornucopia of creativity to boost productivity of their hardware and suffer *some* hardware price-loss (well, profit loss, but just a little, not a lot...) in order to ship faster and more powerful machines.

      If I can go down to the "store" and buy an ASUS motherboard, this processor, that video card, and so on and so forth, and the ONLY difference between a Mac and the computer I put together is the one I put together costs FAR less and minus ONE CHIP that differentiates the motherboard between Mac and PC, where is the GENUINE advantage (sorry, microsoft for using your catchphrase - don't sue me, please!) in buying a GENUINE Mac?

      If I can get the Mac OS - legitimately, disregarding the illegitimacy of RUNNING said OS on non-Mac hardware - and install it with VERY little difficulty, so long as I'm purchasing a fully legitimate copy of the OS, I don't see the advantage to having a big pretty Apple Logo on my hardware? (Aside from the fact it would make my computer far sexier than the average PC... just look at my eMAChine - I mean, my Emachine with the Apple logo on it!)

      Yeah, Apple... back before you dissed your own PPC processors in favor of the Intel setup, I was ALL FOR purchasing and using a LEGITIMATE Macintosh, after all, it was the HARDWARE that made you different from the "core" out!!!

      As far as I can see it, Apple has few options here:
      #1. Continue on insisting that their hardware and software is unique and rely on brand-loyalty and "easy converts" looking for a status symbol than using the Mac for what it's truly capable of and end up losing large amounts of opportunity to unlicensed clone manufacturers.
      #2. License out to specific OEMs so that they can run the Mac OS on their machines but still give credit where credit is due, lose less money, and realize that a LOT of people will insist on "brand loyalty" and the legacy that Apple has to convert former PC users thereby generating more cash flow for the company.
      #3. Return to a truly Apple/MacIntosh SPECIFIC hardware design, rethink thinking differently and dramatically increase productivity and all the things that a chip manufacturer and hardware OEM need to do in order to blow an alternative away, REBUILD their OS:X to something that, while still retaining the power of Linux/Unix/*nix, is compiled specifically for THEIR processor, THEIR BUS, THEIR Motherboards, designed from the ground up to NOT be a PC. Then, turn it into an AWESOME machine capable of blowing away a "similarly equipped" PC such as what was so prevailant back in the 90's and therabouts after. Then, the money, and loyalty, and converts, and wannabes and hackers/crackers, etc. will return to the true Apple/Mac and once again bring back the "glory days."

      Or, get sued out of existance by anti-trust and anti-monopoly lawyers the world over.

      (oops... did I type that out loud?)
      zach.winchester
      • Well, when it stops 'just working' remember it's not Apples fault!

        You want OS X? Buy Apple hardware. Perhaps Apple should go the Microsoft route and determine if your hardware is actual Apple hardware and 'stop' the OS from working (i.e. Windows Authentication)?
        No More Microsoft Software Ever!
  • Time for Jobs to send the immortals

    to fight little Psystar and pals
    markbn
    • Immortals... We put their name to the test...

      (movie is so awesome....)
      Fark
    • The Imortals...

      I am Duncan MacIntosh of the Clan MacIntosh. I am Imortal. There can be only one.

      SLIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIICE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      Stunned look on Psystar's head as it slides off shoulders...

      !/!/!/LIGHTNING\!\!\!

      (Yeah, right!)
      zach.winchester
  • And Psystar fights in the shade. (nt)

    ..
    Letophoro
    • ...and takes out most of the persian army =) (nt)

      nt
      privatejarhead
      • And how well did they fare

        at the end of the movie...?
        GuidingLight
        • Sure they died.

          But they did damage entirely out of proportion to their relative numbers while galvanizing a resistance. Psystar might end up doing the same to Apple by making Apple's hardware sales disappear.
          Letophoro
        • Oh they died, every single one of them.

          But about 150 years later, Alexander the Great and his armies that remembered the battle of the Spartans and Persians at Thermopylae laid waste to the entire Persian empire, mercilessly.
          jperlow
  • Apples and Oranges (no pun intended)

    When are you folks gonna get it? Apple is a hardware vendor. They are not looking to compete with Microsoft by selling operating systems. All they have to do to stop clone-makers dead in their tracks is to add some type of hardware key that can't be duplicated because it is a sealed "black box" technology than can't be analyzed by non-destructive means. Most of the people with legitimate Macs wouldn't care and the general public wouldn't care about the very small number of people with bootleg Mac clones who suddenly found their computer died because of an update.
    Rick_R
    • A hardware key, you mean like ProTools?

      .... because Pro Tools already does the same thing and is hacked almost immediately after each release.
      trance2tec
    • Pears and bananas

      [i]They are not looking to compete with Microsoft by selling operating systems.[/i]

      Then, they should stop competing with MS by selling their Operating System.

      [i]All they have to do to stop clone-makers dead in their tracks is to add some type of hardware key that can't be duplicated because it is a sealed "black box" technology than can't be analyzed by non-destructive means[/i]

      Or better still, stop selling OS X at retail. Apple's technical chops preclude them from making some kinda "black box".

      They can't even stop the jailbreakers, for instance.
      rtk
    • Too late ...

      ... once Pandora's box is open there is no shutting it.

      The case of illegal tying has come to court. If Apple loses this case (it may win the other case) then any future attempts to re-entrench will not only be transparent but result in severe penalties.
      jacksonjohn
    • you mean...

      Apple is a OS seller, who use generic x86 (or x64) hardware to make it's OS run. but since apple whole business model is based of extremly high (borderline illegal)profit margine. (29$ OS, yea right). Mac Clones (who are completly LEGAL) will mean that Apple actually have to compete legally and finally understand that a computer is NOT A VIDEO CONSOLE.

      A powerfull mac Clone for 600$ yes i whould get one, a overprice underpowered computer a 2000$ no thanks.
      Mectron
  • Apple bashing, again and again...

    Mister Perlow, do you hate Apple for being a hardware company ?

    You want Apple to license Macos but do you remember the "OS/2"
    episode ? Do you want MS to do for Apple what they did for IBM ?
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Criticism_of_Microsoft#Licensing_agreemen
    ts

    Goooood morning , Redmond...
    Joseph_Proudhon
    • I love it too. Apple = Monopoly /eom

      eom
      Arapey
      • Monopoly of what?

        .
        People