Skip the navigation

Mac clone maker Psystar dupes Apple's updates

Its security updates look like copies of Apple's, but is it breaking any rules?

May 21, 2008 12:00 PM ET

Computerworld - The Florida-based Mac clone maker that first attracted national attention last month has posted several updates to Apple's Mac OS X 10.5 for its users, including some that appear to be copies or modified versions of Apple's own security updates.

Psystar Inc., a Doral, Fla.-based company that sells Intel-based computers with Mac OS 10.5 pre-installed, has added 13 Leopard patches to its support site.

"Safe updates, as well as bug fixes and work-arounds, are now available in our Support section," the company said in a message posted earlier this month. "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."

Those updates, said Psystar in the same message, have been rolled into an update added to the factory-installed edition of Mac OS X that users can order when they configure one of the company's clones. Psystar sells two different Mac clone models starting at $399 without Leopard, or $554.99 with Apple's operating system installed.

"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 said.

Several of the 13 patches on Psystar's support site look like direct copies of Apple's own updates, including some security fixes. Among them:

Other Psystar patches appear to be specially crafted updates and don't have corresponding Apple-made fixes. The "Realtek NIC Update + DHCP Fix," for instance, was touted by Psystar as "an update for the Realtek NICs used in the Open Computers [that] fixes DHCP issues with AirPort Extreme routers as well as DHCP issues after wakeup."

Apple's End User Licensing Agreement (EULA) doesn't expressly forbid others from posting the company's software updates, but it does ban others from copying or modifying its software. "Except as and only to the extent permitted by applicable licensing terms governing use of the Open-Sourced Components, or by applicable law, you may not copy, decompile, reverse engineer, disassemble, modify, or create derivative works of the Apple Software or any part thereof," according to the Mac OS X 10.5 EULA (download PDF).

Searches of Apple's Web site revealed no documents spelling out a policy that would bar others, whether a company like Psystar or individuals, from posting Apple updates on non-Apple servers. However, other operating system vendors, such as Microsoft Corp., have taken a dim view of the practice, and have actively quashed unsanctioned updates and warned users from obtaining updates from unofficial sources.



Our Commenting Policies
Consumerization of IT: Be in the know
consumer tech

Our new weekly Consumerization of IT newsletter covers a wide range of trends including BYOD, smartphones, tablets, MDM, cloud, social and what it all means for IT. Subscribe now and stay up to date!