The Open Computing experiment begins

An updated version of Psystar's Open Computer doesn't seem to be as loud as the first ones that left the assembly line.

Tom Krazit Former Staff writer, CNET News
Tom Krazit writes about the ever-expanding world of Google, as the most prominent company on the Internet defends its search juggernaut while expanding into nearly anything it thinks possible. He has previously written about Apple, the traditional PC industry, and chip companies. E-mail Tom.
Tom Krazit
2 min read
Psystar's Open Computer, running Mac OS X Leopard, has arrived. Tom Krazit/CNET News.com

I'm writing this post on Psystar's Open Computer running Mac OS X Leopard 10.5.2.

The Open Computer arrived Wednesday, and I spent some time this morning setting it up. The plan for now is to use it as my main work system (at least while I'm in the office) for about a week and see how it goes. For a full review, check out what my CNET Reviews colleague Rich Brown had to say, but I've noticed a few tidbits in the early going.

About This Mac says I'm running Mac OS X Leopard 10.5.2... Tom Krazit/CNET News.com

For one, the fan is much, much quieter than I had expected based on the early reports. When I called Psystar head Rudy Pedraza last week for comment on the story I did about Psystar's potential legal problems, he mentioned that the latest batch of Open Computers were shipping with a new fan. I've had the system running on my desk right next to my keyboard all morning, and the noise coming from the fan hasn't been that bad at all.

The noise from the CD-ROM drive, however, is deafening. I imported a CD into iTunes, and instinctively ducked when a sound like an airplane taking off filled the air.

When I open up the "About This Mac" section under the Apple menu, it says I'm running Mac OS X 10.5.2. However, the Leopard disc that shipped with the Open Computer is labeled Mac OS X 10.5.1. The CD gave my colleague Daniel Terdiman the option of upgrading to Leopard on his MacBook Pro when we tried it out, but I didn't want to inadvertently hose his computer. We haven't tried to upgrade a Tiger-based Mac yet using that disc; if that works we'll let you know.

...but a shot of the boxed copy of Leopard that shipped with the Open Computer shows that copy contains 10.5.1. James Martin/CNET News.com

The system recognized my Dell USB keyboard normally used with my ThinkPad after a few keystrokes, although I keep forgetting that copy and paste is done using the Windows key on a Mac OS system using a Windows-oriented keyboard. On my Mac, I never forget to use the Apple key instead of the Ctrl key, but I'm having trouble remembering that on the Open Computer.

The Open Computer comes with a Leopard disc and instruction manual, a manual for Intel's Core 2 Duo processor, and a manual for Gigabyte's GA-G31M-S2L motherboard. It doesn't, however, come with any documentation on how to get the Open Computer up and running. It's not like that's very hard, but still, a page or two saying something like "Welcome to Open Computing" might not be a terrible idea.

Anyway, a few hours into the Open Computer experiment, everything seems pretty normal. Software Update, as we already knew, was disabled by Psystar before the machine left the factory, so I'm stuck on 10.5.2 indefinitely. This isn't the prettiest machine I've ever used, but it works.