Mac clone lust.

This "Apple should license OS X" thing just won't stop.

Ah, spring! When a gentleman's fancy turns to Mac cloning! Like ZDNet's Jason Perlow.

... I have to think that this whole idea of commercially produced Mac Clones has legs...

Ah, so Perlow's a leg man. Well, Jason, the Macalope's not sure what you're into but, just so you know, these particular legs are likely to be of the short, stumpy variety.

But despite all the lusting, is this relationship meant to be? Sure, cloners were able to legally have their way with Windows, but OS X ain't that kind of girl. She's gonna put up a fight.

There is the obvious difference here that Apple owns Mac OS X and the rights to the hardware platform it runs on, whereas IBM had a non-exclusive license from Microsoft which prevented a loophole from being closed, but to use the hackneyed phrase -- when there is a will, there is a way.

There are certainly going to be more attempts to create unlicensed Mac clones. The problem is, who wants to buy a computer running an unsupported operating system from a company that has the life expectancy of a fruit fly?

I have always said that it made absolutely no sense that Apple backed off from the prospect of cloned systems.

And the Macalope has always said that the water fountains at ZDNet must be served with lead pipes.

How easy is it? Well, along with legal copies of Mac OS X and a special EFI firmware emulator for PC BIOS-based equipment and instructions how to put it all together it doesn't really require any more effort than what it would have typically taken a PC homebrewer to assemble their own DOS or Windows-based white box 10 or 15 years ago.

Hmm. The Macalope likes your American ingenuity, Jason, but he's not hearing the words that brings this sleazy scenario to its tacky nadir: steampunk casemod. Think about it.

If you want a clone Mac or a "Hackintosh" that badly, you can have one, for just a small amount of effort and a very modest cash investment in a relatively generic PC motherboard, processor, RAM, video card and case with power supply assembled from an ever-growing list of compatible parts.

Rob Griffiths might disagree with the "small amount of effort" part. Here's what he went through:

After all of the parts arrived at my home, it took a few hours to build the machine. ... But building the hardware is actually the easy part of the process.

...

Next, I installed Vista on the PC, just to be sure everything worked. From there, it then took many more hours to get OS X working right--while the process is relatively straightforward, there are a lot of steps involved, and BIOS settings to tweak. If you want to run Windows and OS X on the same drive, there are more hoops to jump through to get it all working. But after many hours of reading, assembling, disassembling, screaming, installing, uninstalling, reinstalling, saying bad words, pestering friends, and generally not having very much fun, I was done: my machine was up and running, and capable of booting into either Windows Vista or Mac OS X 10.5.2.

Jason, the Macalope decrees your pimp name to be "Sugar-Coatin' Perlow". But over at ZDNet, hope springs eternal:

In all likelihood, you probably can run it on the PC you have now...

That's true! But, in the Macalope's case, that's because the PC he has now is a Mac. You see, time being money, this colossal exercise is only economically worthwhile if your only opportunity cost is the hours you'll lose from your job as a fry chef down at the DQ.

Oh, you'll need to be your own support person, and it will probably be more than a little bit messy, but if you are determined to "screw the man" so to speak, than a private citizen can effectively do whatever the heck they want without any interference at all from the Evil Fruit.

Who burned the Reichstag? Why, Steve Jobs burned the Reichstag, of course. Jason's just having a little fun, but when did the computer company with the 7% market share become the Great Satan?

Don't get me wrong, Ubuntu Hardy Heron is nice and all, but a Mac OS X I could easily and legally install on any random $500-$700 Dell or Taiwanese special from Costco or Wal-Mart?

OK, the Macalope may be an ungulate, but he still doesn't like it when other people make him throw up in his own mouth.

It's baffling how someone could get through an entire article and neglect to address one simple question: what's in it for Apple?

Attracting homebrew Linux users? No offense, Jason, but that's not exactly the gold ring of desktop computer market share.

This is not business analysis. This is technology fantasy porn. And Apple's just not that into you.

All things being equal, the brown and furry one would much rather steal market share from Windows than Linux. The Macalope has a lot of respect for the neck-bearded Linux gnomes who solder and compile long into the night. Sure, they're cheap, but they live by a noble, if smelly and hirsute, code. And the Macalope loves the idea of three viable desktop alternatives really competing against each other.

In any event, licensed Mac cloning is simply not going to happen. The experience from the mid '90s is that licensees don't increase sales, they rob sales from Apple. And the amount of money to be made on licensing is never going to be greater than the sales of Apple hardware lost. That leaves unlicensed cloning which will never be really mainstreamed because of the obvious legal, technical and, well, moral implications.

Sadly, this won't stop some fevered imaginations from going on and on about how very, very hot it gets them.

Ew, indeed.

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About the author

    Born of the earth, forged in fire, the Macalope was branded "nonstandard" and "proprietary" by the IT world and considered a freak of nature. Part man, part Mac, and part antelope, the Macalope set forth on a quest to save his beloved platform. Long-eclipsed by his more prodigious cousin, the jackalope (they breed like rabbits, you know), the Macalope's time has come. Apple news and rumormonger extraordinaire, the Macalope provides a uniquely polymorphic approach. Disclosure.

     

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