Mac-clone company offers custom updates

Psystar has begun distributing Apple's own updates, as well as bug fixes, to tweak Mac OS X running on generic hardware

Psystar, a Florida-based company that last month began selling generic PCs with Apple's Mac OS X operating system pre-installed, has addressed one of the major shortcomings of the systems by offering bug fixes and software updates.

Two weeks ago, the company began offering Apple's own updates, which were initially distributed via the Psystar website. As of the end of last week, however, Psystar ceased hosting the updates itself and now links to Apple's updates on the Apple website.

The firm is also offering its own bug fixes, addressing issues with the Time Machine backup feature, the Character Palette and Keyboard Viewer, CD and DVD sharing, and DHCP (Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol), a technology that allocates IP addresses.

Previously, Psystar's so-called Open Computer systems were not able to use Apple updates.

"We have released a couple of fixes for things like Time Machine, as well as a fix for DHCP issues that some customers are having," Psystar said in a statement on its website. "Computers shipped as of today have all updates available pre-installed with Leopard."

The company said it planned to begin offering updates directly via Mac OS X's own Automatic Updates mechanism, but has not yet done so.

"We will begin releasing safe updates through the operating system's Automatic Updates and will require all of our existing users to download a small update manually and install it to enable this functionality," the company stated.

Psystar claims its Open Computer systems cost a quarter of the price of Apple's hardware, as a result of the latter's heavy hardware mark-ups.

For example, an Open Computer running Mac OS X 10.5 on a system including a 2.66GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor, 250GB hard drive and Nvidia GeForce 8600 GT graphics card sells for $804.99 (£407.42). A similarly configured Power Mac would sell for about $2,500.

To date Apple has not yet commented on the matter and is not known to have taken action against Psystar.

In the past, organisations repackaging software vendors' own updates have drawn a firm legal response. Last August, for instance, Microsoft forced offline a Windows Update alternative called AutoPatcher.

Apple did not immediately respond to ZDNet.co.uk's request for comment.