May 20, 2009

Macintosh vs Hackintosh

I heard an excitement about a Hackintosh project a couple of times last month. Hackintosh makes Mac OS X available for computers designed by vendors other than Apple.

I do not want to discuss legal or moral issues here. I think Apple has all rights to limit its software to its hardware. They are the owners, they have all rights to define license terms.

What remains mystery to me is why so many people are excited about using those other computers and notebooks to run Mac OS X?

Mac is not only Mac OS X, it is also hardware. Since I bought a Mac I never could find anything that looks better, works smoother and more pleasant. Everything in Mac is very well though, from size to the "breathing" tiny light and mil–colored shining Apple logo. I read at the Adobe site that Apple has created over 100 real prototypes before they released a MacBook. Can anybody compete with the company that puts so much effort to research if the usability and ergonomics? Can all these PsyStars compete? Nope. Their products are ugly. Their products are surrogates. They will work for people who want a beautiful shiny Mac but cannot afford it. Those surrogates are not Macs! They do not make Hackintosh users Mac users.

This is why I cannot understand all this excitement about Hackintosh. Yes, it is fun as a software project but only like that. It is not worth anything else. It is not a Mac.


  1. But Mac is too expensive for a lot of people. For example, in Russia you may buy 2 or 3 "normal" computers on a Mac price.

  2. Alexey, I strongly have to disagree with you. If you buy a Mac you also get the operating system MacOSX (currently 10.5). Yeah, buy a pc and you also get windows, but which version? Not the one that is comparable in regards to functionality of MacOSX. Then, every new Macintosh is shipped with the free iLife suite. And not a trial version or shareware. The complete package.

    Then..... running MacOSX isn't as expensive as running a windows pc. You don't need a virus-scanner (at least I don't). I don't need to spend hours (think money as a freelancer) to update the system, do defragmentation, check for viruses, check for spyware/adware/trojan horses. These applications also take up a lot of resources which slows down the pc. And by slowing down the pc it takes longer to do your thing (think money again).

    Then a Macintosh does keep it's value longer than a pc. When walking out of the door with a pc, it already became worthless, while a Macintosh can still be sold after 2 years for a lot of dollars. So, initial investment may seem higher, people forget the TCO when buying a machine like that.

    Then still a lot of people think they are paying for the design of the Apple Macintosh. I haven't bought a Macbook Pro because it looked nice. I have bought a Macbook Pro since it does what I need to do. Although the design of the machine helps the user find it's way. Clever design helps people do their job :)

  3. Mark - I think what Alexey meant was that in his country the price of a mac is not the 40% over a PC you pay in America/Europe but really factor 2 or 3. At the T3CON09 in Dallas someone from South America bought a MacBook Pro, IPod and IPhone because Apple prices where so outrages in his country. Obviously with a smaller distribution channel compared to PCs the price of Macs vary a lot more in other countries.

    As for the hackintosh projects I agree with Dmitry - set aside all the potential compatibility problems and future update problems you are facing - it won't deliver the same experience as a real Mac - simple as that.

    Then again - and I've tried, I don't like the Apple Operating System although it would come second. I've tried Mac/Vista(7) and personally my operating system of choice stays Linux and KDE as my Graphical Desktop environment. Unfortunately for some professions key applications are not available on this platform so not everyone has the freedom to agree/disagree with me since most professionals don't buy their computer for the OS it runs but the applications available for it.

    1. So, you're saying there will be applications on a 'Hackintosh' (no matter how expertly done) that won't run correctly, but would on a 'real' Mac? Why is that? If the OS recognizes all the hardware, and it's hardware available to both Apple and consumers, where's the rub? Take linux, for example--some machines work better with it than other. But, if you build the right machine, it works great. So, the question is either, what's the right home grown machine for Apple's OS and applications (does it exist?) or, why haven't fans given up on the idea?

  4. I am not sure about Russia. I am from there but I do not live in Russia since year 2000. In general prices for Mac are not higher than for PC considering how many applications do you get with Mac OS. It would cost more if you buy that all for Windows. Windows now includes some really primitive versions of similar applications (like Movie Maker) but it is nowhere close to Mac. Hacintosh makes it available on other hardware by stealing quite a lot of return money from Apple. I think Apple should be rewarded for their great work by purchasing Macs. They deserve it. Hackintosh basically makes bad job to Apple.

  5. Mark,

    Mac hardware is more expensive than a PC and I can't afford it in France. When you buy a pc, stop thinking you can only get windows with it. Ok, you buy the licence with it but sometimes, it's possible to buy only the PC in rare cases. Don't forget that you can install a GNU/Linux distro and personaly, i'm a Ubuntu addicted user. I never startup my windows boot sessions, or only for graphic design (I aknowledge that at least). So please, don't forget Linux ;) ANd all of that is free.

  6. The price difference in Australia compared with the Netherlands is only the difference in tax rates. So, it's not Apple hardware which is more expensive, it's the government. Apple hardware is superior to any other hardware vendor I've seen. It's not possible to compare apples with oranges, although customers like to think that way when looking for a new computer.

  7. Ohw..forgot to mention. Linux is being used by me as well. I tried to use it for many years on the desktop, but kept falling back to the other OS-es. Now a very happy Mac user (who still is running Linux on the webservers)

  8. I switched to a MacBook Pro 2 years ago now and I have no regrets.

    I did so because in my opinion the OS is just miles ahead of Windows right now, I prefer XP to Vista, I would have simply switched to a new PC with kubuntu on however if the Adobe suite & iTunes were available for it.

    Dashboard & Expose are great features, also Spaces (ok it was copied from Linux but why reinvent when it is not necessary?). I run VMWare so if I really need windows I don't have to resort to bootcamp and I can still use Konqueror under linux which I think is great for SFTP. I also bought a time capsule which is good investment, nothing like peace of mind that all your work is being backed up hourly whilst you continue working, I haven't seen a more elegant solution for this. I have now what I consider a setup far superior to anything Windows or Linux could offer me at this time.

    The advantage Apple enjoys when designing it's OS is that it knows exactly what hardware it should be run on allowing them to squeeze every last drop of performance, it makes no sense to run it on any other hardware, the outcome will not be the same. I have had this laptop 2 years and I see it lasting another 2 before I upgrade, the initial investment is greater but you will save money/time in the long term.

    Oh and if there is a sexier looking range of computers I haven't seen them :)

  9. Christian, you *can* run Linux, etc on the PC, this is clear. However it does not run as smooth as Mac OS X does anyway. I had 7 computers to date and tried various Linuxes on each of them and each installation had problems with hardware (just like Windows).

    When I turned on my MacBookPro for the first time, it installed the system automatically from the hard drive (no DVD necessary) and it was ready to run in less than half an hour I think.

    When I installed Linux or Windows, I had to go through complicated setups, search for drivers, fight wi-fi not going online, etc. It was a nightmare, not even close to the productive work. Now guys from Hackintosh try to do the same but with Mac OS X. No point really.

  10. As this seems to drift a little into a general OS discussion I just had to think of this little comparison.

    If you compare Mac OSX with linux it is in a way like Playmobil and LEGO. When you buy a Playmobile package you unwrap it and you can start playing straight away. It all fits neatly together and serves the specific purpose as advertised on the box. With LEGO you get a bunch of bricks which you first have to put together, whether you follow the manual or not is up to you. The end result can be very personal and specialized but depending on what you build it might also have a couple of rough edges or a different coloured brick somewhere.

    Personally I've been always a LEGO person and I enjoyed also the creative process besides playing with the result. Others didn't and just wanted to play.

    Since in LEGO land everything is made out of bricks though, it is easier to share your creation with friends or copy something you saw they did and build it youself. This is not always possible with playmobil.

    Now if I just could place my bought Playmobile figures in my LEGO house I would be really happy - but atm that is not always possible.

    I can't really fit windows in this comparison but IMO it is neither as tailored nor as customizable.

  11. @Thomas: very nice comparison.

    However, I think I have outgrown the LEGO or Playmobil time. What is expected from me is that I do my work within schedule (both timewise and moneywise). I don't have any time left to play around (either with LEGO or Playmobil). And therefore for me a Macintosh running OSX is the ultimate working machine. Does your customer pay you for playing around with LEGO? Mine don't

  12. Running smoother may interest me indeed. However, they made good progress in hardware detection with the latest kernels and Ubuntu might be the better compromise for a Desktop computer(especially for beginners) :)

  13. Does your customer pay you for playing around with LEGO? Mine don't

    A long time ago a friend of mine gave me an old computer with linux installed on it and showed me a couple of commands to find my way around. Another one burned me some SUSE 6.4 CD's which I installed on my Desktop Computer. During my civil service I had nothing better to do than to tinker with the system. After that period I started my first job as a Solaris System Administrator, so yes - playing with LEGO can pay off sometimes.

  14. IMHO you'll all missing the point. The posting wasn't about comparing OSX with Windows and Linux. It's about running OSX on cheap (but faster) hardware. It looks like a win-win to me. The full operating system and iLife for less than you'll get when buying all Apple. And Apple uses all standard hardware (proc, chipset, gfx etc. so no worries about compatibility as long as you stick to the compatible hardware.

  15. I purchased my MacBook Pro about two years ago, and it all went downhill after that. I have had my mainboard replaced twice due to a graphics chip error, then one of the speakers stopped working. After that, my battery swollen so much it fell out of the laptop on itself. The recent failure (which i did not repair yet) happened recently: the superdrive (not so super, i guess) won't burn DVDs anymore. It reads them but it will not burn them. So apple, i'm not impressed.

    It does look good, but don't judge a (mac)book by it's cover.

    Mac OS on the other hand, is a great operating system, that's why i decided to give this hackintosh option a try in the near future, because i've built many computers on my own and none failed me so far.

  16. Usability and ergonomics?

    To my knowledge there is no Mac laptop around with a numeric block, nor was there a scroll wheel (until recently I heard), or is a 3 button mouse. There were exploding accus, you can't use the 17" on the lap without burns, there are power supplies that are not able to charge the accu while running the computer, and more. And to be honest, the laptops don't look good.

    You fanboying Dmitry ;-b

  17. I forgot: The underlying BSD is from the 80s (NextStep), and is a grand security gateway. Which nobody cares to pass ;-)

  18. I never used the numeric key block :) I always use numeric keys at the top of the keyboard. No idea why. It just happens so. I have an Apple keyboard and I still use numeric keys at the top.

    For the scroll wheel, it is made with two fingers on the touchpad. If you mean mouse, Mighty mouse has four buttons actually and it has a wheel.

    I never tried 17" MBP but 15" sometimes gets hot (only if some process takes over 80% of the CPU). Otherwise it is pleasantly warm.

    Never had problems with battery chargers either.

    May be I am lucky :D

  19. I was guessing since some time why there are now so many great FOSS developers using MACs and claiming for them? it has not sense? It's worst than a PC, they are not only closed source software but also your are tight on the hardware!

    I'm a Linux user since around 1997, I have only exclusively Linux on all my computers since about three years (XUBUNTU, power to the user and its applications), and it's true the way has not been so easy and clean, sometimes you need to fight with some issues (Most of the time it's related to drivers issues, from abusive manufacturers not realising them, and contributing this way to the monopoly) but it's becoming better and better and we need to pass trough this until the ring is break, otherwise it's a : "I don't use it because hardware doesn't work on it" and "I doesn't do the driver because nobody uses it yet"

    And for all them that will claim things like: "Hey but they works like no others" et. Sure it be like that a first sight and taking in to account the amount of money the have invested on them, but I must to say, that easy way now can imply an ugly way in the future: or what would you do if they start to do things that are not convenient for you? or if they take decisions or implements things with the potential of damage you in the near future?

    I think web developers are must to learn a great lesson from the Browser monopoly, every body know how many losses it caused on time, money, quality, (health?).

  20. Eric, "easy and clean" is exactly what I want from the hardware and software :) I like to focus on my work instead of constantly fighting hardware/software problems. Mac allows me to do it and I find it very convenient. In addition I like how Mac and Mac OS X looks like :)

    The browser monopoly is not a good example because you can choose Mac vs not–Mac and you have a lot of non–Apple software for Mac. For example, I use OpenOffice Writer instead of Apple Pages. There is no problem with alternatives.

    I owned three different notebooks before the MBP. They were:

    - "noname" (cheap)

    - IBM ThinkPad T25 (I think I remember right)

    - Fujitsu-Siemens Amilo

    All three had a terrible battery life (no more than 40 minutes despite claimed 1.5h) and become looking bad inside very quickly after constant use. Apple's MacBookPro battery lasts 3.5–4 hours for me though it should be near 2–2.5 hours. Also I use it for 1.5 a year and wear is minimal. So it costs its money. You get what you pay for :)

  21. I agree with Dmitry here,

    my alu macBook get's barley warm when using it. My Dell always got hot.

    But Dmitry's point here about productivity is gold, this is something what people not realize and just look at the price.

    At and hourly rate for some users ranging from 50euro/hour to 150euro/hour (there are high/low exceptions) a macBook can be bought with 40 hours worth of work. Considering the usage time of 2 years, I think this is a good deal.

    The comparison with US prices cannot really be made, everything is cheaper there, even oil!!! And consider that the US buys oil, and that europe has gas and oil, it's even more strange that in europe gas/oil is far more expensive.

    For me personally, a mac and OSX left me with far less frustrations then a windows system. I remember countless time that this or that software tool didn't automatically update special virus removal tools. Except a virus that was always perfectly up-to-date :D.

    Installing software on a mac is a snap and NO freaking registry anymore!!!!

    Linux is in the same ball game as OSX but you need to be willing search for some drivers and compile program X and Y once a while (I did compile my own PHP, PostgreSQL on OSX also.... that comes to you as a software developer).

    @Thomas M: Appel products are 30% more expensive compared to the US and compared to holland.

    In holland the same macBook with an exchange rate of 1.35 would be 1620USD, in Ecuador I bought it for 1670. so I bought it for 50 USD more then in NL. So it's really not outrages more expensive. You cannot just compare prices with the US.

    I cannot image that even in russia that apple products cost 2 to 3 more compared to US. Even the grannies in Russia use a macBook!!

    OSX + Hardware is great value for money, really.


  22. Ries, thank you very much! :) Great arguments!

  23. you have to admit once in a while some other company brings out a note/netbook that doesnt suck. if you could use your favored os on it and save 1000$, why not?

    the point of the project is to bring all those productivity enhancing factors of the mac to cheaper hardware. so comparisons of how much more productive OSX is compared to windows, and how much money you save on antivir software and the like are completly missing the point.

    i would focus on:

    - hardware support, can it be done?

    - should we abuse apples selling model? they sell a complete solution, the price tag of the software alone probably doesn't reflect the investments they make.

    i'd say people how actually do use it are not the ones how can "easily" afford a mac. of course, if you go down that road, why buy a license?

    in the end, nobody gets hurt. except maybe a few windows partitions.

  24. The fact that hackintosh's work so well is proof of the fact that there is nothing special about apple hardware... it's the same as any other intel pc.

    I use my hackintosh (imb x60s - cost $150) all the time but I'm under no illusion that Apple are at least as evil as Microsoft. To read about Steve Jobs lecturing Adobe on "closed systems" is the funniest thing I've heard all year!!

  25. I installed OSX 10.6.4 on my acer timeline, core i5, 4GB ddr3, Mobility 5750, 128gb SSD ... i've timed it against the new macbook air and it is about 2 seconds faster at boot up... everything works perfect, only thing actual macs take the key in is the feel of the touchpad ... i can run iLife, Paralels, Final Cut, Premier no problems at speeds faster then any macbook (haven't yet benchmarked against any i7's).... the reason why everyone thinks Mac's are worth it is pure and simple how they look, if they actually found out the architectural differences between the two machines, they would find out there are more similarities then they would care to admit (christians, muslims and jews)... they have the same x86 based hardware as PC's, only difference is software and prettyness... we can copy the software and beauty is in the eye of the beholder

  26. mac operating system 10 is a very nice OS i and every person not stuck up bill gates's arse will agree, that it costs up to £100 on its own is more than reasonable because windows 7 costs about the same and functins as reliably, however the fact that this £100 software NEEDS a £900 machine to legally function is market robbery and until apple doesnt realise this and start making MORE money by selling the OS to non mac users they will continue to have the problem of hackintosh macbuntu and windows user hatred. with a hackintosh you have the freedom of a pc that can be physically modified, can be any colour as standard, can have the technology YOU want from the companies you want to buy from, apple limits its own abilities by making mac operating system 10~(i refuse to bow down to OSX marketing crap~ a macintosh owner only environment, let people hackintosh their pc.. they deserve it

  27. "What remains mystery to me is why so many people are excited about using those other computers and notebooks to run Mac OS X?"

    What remains mystery to me is why so many people are still interested in paying like u$s 1000 extra in the same hardware specs (comparing mac pro hardware, for instance)?

    if you can install os x without modifications in other hardware then apple's hardware will be valuable for people interested in hardware design only...

  28. Hardware specs do not really matter. Experience - this is what matters. My son asked me what cpu frequency my iPhone has but I told him I never cared. It is a different feeling. Mac hardware is so polished that you simply do not care about the rest. And it all works so great together, that I will never ever go back to anything else.

    This is really hard to explain. You have to try it and than try going back. You will understand it at once.