We Interview EFiX Creators: OS X on PC

It’s no secret that enthusiasts have been trying (with some success) to get Apple’s operating systems to run on standard PCs. With Apple’s switch to Intel processors, the attempts to get Mac OS X running on non-Apple branded hardware became even more popular — and there was no more need to have an emulator running.

In the last year, several attempts at getting OS X to run on standard PC hardware were being tackled by two companies that offered to sell Mac clones. The first was Psystar, which is now in a legal battle with Apple. Psystar actually claims that it has the upper hand in the case, although we doubt that it would walk away from the court room hands free.

The other company, which launched in Europe, was Open System. This company however, didn’t last very long, looked shady, and offered to sell itself in whole for a measly $50,000. Obviously the intent was to create hype for a lost cause and then sell off the idea, make a quick buck, and disappear.

The unfortunate problem with both these companies — one of them obviously questionable — is that they both attempt to circumvent the Apple EULA. Both companies tried to sell fully built systems that bundled with hacked versions of OS X Leopard, essentially selling Mac clones, and as we all know, there aren’t any licensed makers of Mac clones.

Then a small company came along and introduced something called the EFiX. A small USB-based device, the EFiX connects to a motherboard’s internal USB header, and transforms it into a nearly authentic Mac system. By nearly, we mean the EFiX actually tricks a retail copy of Leopard into thinking that it’s been installed on a real Mac. With this setup, users don’t have to patch their operating systems nor do they have to worry about crippling their setup due to a system update from Apple.

The simple installation process accompanied with the reassurance that everything runs as it does on real Mac hardware, makes things really attractive for those who want to avoid the costs of buying Apple hardware but want to run Leopard.

I had the chance to sit down with Davide Rutigliano, CEO of Art Studios Entertainment, the company behind the EFiX device. I questioned him on the legality of the product as well as many technical aspects on just how the device works. Read on.

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  • ubertiger
    What's the estimated cost on these pieces of kit?
  • pjumpleby
    108 euros from mm services (swiss company)

  • ImagineTek
    Well as you went to the trouble of interviewing this guy, you could of asked some more pertinent questions. Apple's EULA states that the OS should only be installed on Apple branded hardware, so what are they going to do...run of a batch of sticky back Apple logos? Can't see how that is going to fly. Also this thing about them wanting to move in the same direction as Apple...I'm assuming that wasn't to point of contacting Apple over this to see how they felt about it.

    Don't get me wrong I think the concept is very clever and would consider it seriously if I thought it was going to last long term. However I can't help but think that Apple will just let them pour their capital into this project then haul them into court. Then whoever has coughed up for one of these will quickly find Apple has found a way to stop it from functioning, which is a loss of about £150 if you add the cost of the hardware and OSX.

    He's right in so much as I believe there is a sizeable number of people who would like to try OSX but will absolutely not cough up Apple's hardware prices or accept the hardware limitations (especially the graphics). They might however be tempted by this set-up if Apple gave assurances that they wouldn't try and kill it.

    There are wins for Apple in this. They get revenue from the software sale and possible accessories. Perhaps more importantly, with Vista struggling for acceptance, the timing might never be so sweet again to see how much they could eat into the market share of Windows. They must know that it will never be significant as long as they tie it into their own kit, but this way... well who knows.

    As a neutral in all aspects of computing, I believe competition and choice is a great thing. At the very least, putting OSX into the melting pot like this would really force MS to pull their fingers out with regard to Windows.

    So what do you say Apple, are you ready to try a new revenue stream with none of the risk. It may come to nothing, but it may just be a sea change.
  • rtfm
    I want to know where is the anti trust case for Apple. Come EU, you hassle MS for bundling a free media player with Windows (bit like prosecuting Ford for putting in CD players in their cars) but don't blink an eye at Apples dodgy practice of Knobbling software to only work on Apply H/W (which we all know is basically just a low end PC). My point is people shouldn't need these bloody usb dongles [/rant]
  • 01bora
    Go look at the spec's for the base model Mac Pro. I don't recall ANY low end PC's having Dual Quad core Xeon processors...come to think of it I don't think there are any low end Servers that come equipped that way either. Do your research or at least get current. As for getting exposure to OSX, why not just pony up for the Mac Mini? I support PC's all day in my job so I am not a PC hater...they keep me employed. =)
  • darkstar782
    All this does is take over the functions of the BIOS with an EFI (extensible firmware interface) compatible system.

    This in itself is perfectly legal and nothing to do with Apple. EFI is an Intel system they have designed to try to replace the ageing BIOS.

    The fact that apple use the existence of EFI rather than a BIOS to confirm the machine is a Mac, is completely irrelevant to the conversation, and is frankly apples problem.