Mac clone maker's site back online, taking orders

'No comment' for now about how it will handle Apple's licensing restrictions

The company that made news yesterday by announcing a Mac clone said today it had "no comment" about how it will address legal issues in Apple Inc.'s licensing agreement that bans installation of Mac OS X on hardware made by others.

A spokesman for the Miami-based PsyStar Corp. said that the company "had been clarifying things all morning" after InformationWeek reported that another employee had said PsyStar would contest the Mac OS X end-user licensing agreement, or EULA. "So at the moment, we just have no comment," said the spokesman Tuesday when asked how PsyStar would deal with Apple or its lawyers.

Apple's EULA expressly forbids users from installing its operating system on hardware not sold by the computer and consumer electronics maker. "You agree not to install, use or run the Apple software on any non-Apple-labeled computer, or to enable others to do so," Apple's EULA reads (download PDF).

Yesterday, a PsyStar worker who identified himself only as "Robert" told InformationWeek that the firm thinks the ban might not hold up to a legal challenge. "What if Honda said that after you buy their car, you could only drive it on the roads they said you could?" Robert told the publication.

PsyStar's Web site, which was offline almost all of Monday, was live today, and its online store was taking orders for the clone, which had been renamed Open Computer since yesterday when it debuted as the OpenMac.

According to the Web site, PsyStar will pre-install Leopard, Apple's current operating system, on new systems for an additional $155. The base Open Computer model is priced at $399 without Mac OS X, and comes with a 2.2-GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor, 2GB of memory, a 250GB hard drive, optical drive and on-board graphics based on Intel's Graphics Media Accelerator 950 graphics processor.

Options include a bump up to a 2.6-GHz Core 2 Duo, a 400GB hard drive, more memory and a separate graphics card -- nVidia Corp.'s GeForce 8600GT -- to replace the on-board Intel graphics chip set.

PsyStar also expanded its comparison with Apple's lowest-priced Mac, the $599 Mac Mini, on its revived Web site. "When comparing base configurations, the Mac Mini costs 150% of the price of the Open Computer while offering poorer performance, smaller storage space and RAM," claimed the company.

OpenComputer by Psystar

"With the Open Computer, you can run OS X natively as if you had purchased an expensive Apple computer except that while paying less, you receive more," the site added.

PsyStar is also selling an upscale $999 system called OpenPro Computer that can be configured with a quad-core processor and a choice of operating systems, including the Ubuntu distribution of Linux, Windows XP, Windows Vista or Leopard.

Apple has not responded to a request made Monday for comment on whether it plans to contact PsyStar in an effort to enforce its EULA.

Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

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