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Psystar Open Computer Notes, Benchmarks and Video 304

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the fighting-against-the-too-good-to-be-true-adage dept.
Engadget has had a chance to play around with Psystar's Open Computer and has a few things to say about the controversial machine. "Okay, so we've been playing with the Psystar Open Computer for a few hours now, and we've formed some early impressions and put together a short video of it in action. We haven't really tried to stress the system yet, but based on our other experiences with OSx86 machines, we're expecting things to generally go smoothly. That said, there are some definite rough patches and issues, all mostly having to do with the fact that OS X isn't really built for this hardware."
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Psystar Open Computer Notes, Benchmarks and Video

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  • Anything novel here? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Lachryma (949694) on Wednesday April 30, 2008 @10:01PM (#23259122)
    How is Psystar's Mac install any different from what someone would get from, say, the Kalyway Install Disc?

    In fact, is there anything to suggest that Psystar isn't just making a quick buck from someone else's hacked Mac OS X installer?

  • by CDMA_Demo (841347) on Wednesday April 30, 2008 @11:03PM (#23259494) Homepage
    Ok, so Apple takes BSD, slaps a bubbly GUI on top of it that becomes popular. Because of its popularity, bunch of hackers decide they'll run it differently anyway. The result? More BSD! And i'm sure apple loves that, don't they?
  • by MojoStan (776183) on Wednesday April 30, 2008 @11:28PM (#23259610)

    Look at the specs though, you cant compare the two.

    and the options to select it bump it up to the same price as the only slightly slower Apple Mini.
    Slightly slower? Did you read TFA [engadget.com]? The MacBook (which is comparable to the Mac mini) got pwned by the cheap Psystar. This shouldn't be surprising, since the MacBook (and the Mac mini) has a slower notebook hard drive, a slower CPU (with slower frontside bus), and the slower notebook version of Intel's integrated graphics (lower GPU clock speed and less allocated memory).

    Where the clone is faster and has more memory, it lacks firewire, wireless (while you could get away with no wireless unless your using it for a media PC, firewire I find essential no matter what until Apple adds external SATA),
    The $600 Mac mini only has a DVD/CD-RW combo drive and 80GB hard drive, while the entry-level Open Computer comes with a DVD writer and 250GB hard drive. You need to spend $800 on the Mac mini to get a DVD writer and a whopping 120GB hard drive.

    Of course, I'm not saying the Psystar "hackintosh" is a better value than the Mac mini. In fact, I think the Psystar is a piece of crap when it's running OS X (no fan speed control and not update-able). It's kind of ridiculous to compare the two, but I guess we're "forced" to since Apple doesn't offer a headless desktop Mac with desktop (not notebook) parts. At least the Mac mini works like it's supposed to.

  • by goombah99 (560566) on Wednesday April 30, 2008 @11:47PM (#23259720)

    Look at the specs though, you cant compare the two.

    and the options to select it bump it up to the same price as the only slightly slower Apple Mini.
    Slightly slower? Did you read TFA [engadget.com]? The MacBook (which is comparable to the Mac mini) got pwned by the cheap Psystar.
    no it didn't. The cpu performance was comparable. THe disk perfromance was not bad. Yes, the video card performance lagged but by less than a factor of 2. who cares? what niche buys the cheapest piece of crap so loud you can't stand to be in the same room with then cares about graphics speed within a factor of 2?

    if you want faster disk or a dvd burner s on a mac mini you can put one in with a screwdriver or even smarter add a firewire drive.

    besides which this argument is about TCO not chest beating performance or spec for spec. it's about what's the entry level price for a mac.

      If you want chest beating then the pystar is not what you want anyhow. if you want to talk TCO, then those slower disk and slower graphics cards save you about $160 a year in power bills if you leave this thing on 24/7. the mac mini draws laptop size sips of power and has power management to boot. this thing runs at full bore.

  • Re:"it just works" (Score:4, Interesting)

    by shadwstalkr (111149) on Thursday May 01, 2008 @12:17AM (#23259868) Homepage
    Except that it doesn't. I use Linux mostly, but I work in a physics research lab that uses exclusively* macs. We still use several G4s with OS X 10.3.9. I can't install network printers on half of them, for no apparent reason. I can't mount them using firewire on newer macs. No error messages, it just stalls.

    We got two new iMacs last month. One of them turns off randomly. Both of them crash randomly when we use our analysis software (a two-year old powerpc program). The OS is so slow it's nearly unresponsive (to me, the people that only use macs don't have a problem with it). On a related note, the iMac makes no hard drive noise, so I can never tell if it is just slow in responding, or if I didn't double click fast enough. File sharing is a pain to figure out. I can't easily change my icon theme without buying third party software. Don't get me started on the usability of the single menu bar. I can't find any easy way to uninstall Garage Band, et al, so that the automatic updater stops bothering me about them. I can't find a way to move windows between desktops ("spaces"), and all new windows seem to open on the same desktop that the program originally opened on, making multiple desktops virtually useless. I need third party software to have an automatically changing desktop wallpaper. Our IT guy told me that to take apart the iMac you have to buy suction cups from Apple to pull the glass off before you can unscrew the case. The "mighty mouse" can fake a right button, but you have to lift your index finger off the left side for it to work. My advisor was so used to this that he didn't even realize he was doing it. I can't drag windows around by alt-clicking on the window. I can't close a window that is minimized without showing it.

    These are just the bad things that I can think of off the top of my head. There are a lot of great things that I haven't mentioned. Maybe coming from Windows I would be blown away, but in Linux all this stuff actually just works, plus all the stuff that does work on the mac. If macs work for you, great. Just realize that you're paying a 100% tax for a pretty box, and stop telling me that it just works.

    Note that I'm not claiming in any way that macs can't do something. All that I am saying is that if I, a power user of several decades, couldn't figure out how to do it over the last year it didn't "just work." I welcome any solutions to problems that I mentioned, except solutions that include spending money.

    * The computers that run our expensive research equipment are windows. It's cheaper for them to give you a computer with windows than it is to develop a cross-platform solution.
  • Re:"it just works" (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Hackeron (704093) on Thursday May 01, 2008 @06:12AM (#23261184) Journal

    One of them turns off randomly.

    Hardware problems likely.

    Both of them crash randomly when we use our analysis software (a two-year old powerpc program).

    I've only used rosetta briefly and it was stable for me, but running analysis software under hardware emulation? - not the best idea.

    The OS is so slow it's nearly unresponsive (to me, the people that only use macs don't have a problem with it). On a related note, the iMac makes no hard drive noise, so I can never tell if it is just slow in responding, or if I didn't double click fast enough.

    So your complaint is the iMac is too quiet? -- install the OS onto a loud external USB drive then go into System Preferences -> Startup Disk and let it boot from USB by default.

    File sharing is a pain to figure out.

    Click on System Preferences -> Sharing and tick File Sharing -- from there your public folder is shared onto the local network, to add anything else just right click -> Get Info -> Sharing.

    Mac also supports NFS (not tried NFS server though), but you can mount NFS shars with mount_nfs -P host:share destination.

    I can't easily change my icon theme without buying third party software.

    Never tried but I'm sure you can find free icon collections and just overwrite the default icon files in the original location.

    Don't get me started on the usability of the single menu bar.

    KDE has this feature although it's a bit crippled and isn't system wide - but it's without a doubt one of my favourite things in OSX.

    I can't find any easy way to uninstall Garage Band, et al, so that the automatic updater stops bothering me about them.

    OSX doesn't have software installation (some packages come with installers but they just copy the application over to /Applications) - every application is a special self contained directory that you simply drag to trash when you are done with it - because OSX has spotlight, it creates any file associations as soon as you copy the application somewhere spotlight keeps a track of (think a pimped out inotify daemon on Linux).

    I can't find a way to move windows between desktops ("spaces"),

    Click on spaces in the dock and drag+drop the window wherever you want.

    And all new windows seem to open on the same desktop that the program originally opened on, making multiple desktops virtually useless.

    Go into system preferences -> spaces and assign whatever applications you want to whatever space you want.

    I need third party software to have an automatically changing desktop wallpaper.

    This is in system preferences -> desktop -- it's right there on the first page: "change picture: every": 5 seconds, 1 minute, 5/15/30/60 minutes, every day, when logging in and when waking from sleep.

    Our IT guy told me that to take apart the iMac you have to buy suction cups from Apple to pull the glass off before you can unscrew the case.

    I've never tried to take apart an iMac but a quick google search shows this: http://home.comcast.net/~woojo/DFFA53A0-F23D-4541-9015-481FD3B6532E/iMac_Disassembly.html [comcast.net] - no suction cups needed.

    Macs are generally harder to disassemble and when I had to take apart my Macbook Pro for a hard drive upgrade, there were something in the range of 4 groups of different screw types to keep track of - but at least the screws don't just fall out like my on my Fujitsu laptop and then the warranty people claim you unscrewed them and forgot to screw them back in :)

    I guess anything that has smooth edges and no little plastic doors will be harder to disassemble.

    The "mighty mouse" can fake a right button, but you have to lift your index finger off the left side for it to work

Theory is gray, but the golden tree of life is green. -- Goethe

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