The Problem with Psystar

Written by Scott

Topics: Uncategorized

I’ve been considering getting Mac, simply because not only do I want to use OSX, but because on their platform I can also then run Windows and Linux on the machine. But the glaring gap in the Apple lineup is that there is no non-iMac system between the Mac Mini and the Mac Pro performance and expansion-wise. And frankly that is absolutely silly, since their previous lineups with the Power Mac G4 was very much along those lines. [Apple, if you even care….take note, ok? I’m one of the millions of PC users that is very interested in switching to a Mac.]

So I looked into Psystar today. [Before we go any further, let me reply to the legality issue: yes, the lawsuit between Apple and Psystar is ongoing, but it is important to note that the judge has not agreed to an injunction to force Psystar to stop producing or selling their systems.] They do have systems along those lines, but some of their configurators seemed, well, lacking. So I emailed the following (as the main body of the email)to their sales@ email address, with subject of “questions on (Q)”, one of their models:

1. Is Bootcamp installed?
2. Any possibility of getting with a 10k rpm drive?

Simple enough, right? This first reply was decent and helpful:

Thank you for your interest in Psystar computers. Bootcamp is not supported by Psystar computers because it is Apple-hardware specific. The computer does come with the Darwin Universal Boot Loader (DUBL). Your are not required to make any changes to the computer to setup dual boot. Simply add a SATA hard drive to the computer and then install the OS onto that hard drive. Now when your computer starts it will show the different operating systems that it can boot. The Darwin Universal Boot Loader (DUBL) is capable of booting up to 6 hard drives consisting of different operating systems. Please note that Windows XP is not supported by the DUBL. Yes we offer Fast! 300GB 10,000RPM SATA2. We appreciate your interest in Open Computing. If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact us via phone, fax or email.

Ok, so clears that part up. Fair enough. So onto my next set of questions in my reply:

Fantastic. Follow up questions:
1. Any issue with Parallels?
2. How many add’l drives can the (Q) and the (3) handle, respectively?
3. For the 10k rpm drives, is that just asking for a custom quote once questions answered? 😉

The smiley was simply because their configurator did not show this drive, so assumed was a special request. The reply was, well, a little abrupt, it felt;

Thank you for your interest in Psystar computers. Pulled from FAQs:

Can I run Windows in Parallels or VMware Fusion?
Both Parallels and VMware Fusion operate correctly on the Open Computers. However, Psystar is not responsible for providing support for third-party applications. See Can I dual-boot Leopard and Windows or Linux? for information on dual-booting two Operating Systems. This method is fully supported by Psystar.

The Open3 and OpenQ have 4 SATA ports on the motherboard and could have 4 SATA drives connected to the computer.Please keep in mind that the DVD drive is a SATA drive that occupies one SATA port. Detailed specification can be found on our FAQs under the Support tab on the top left of out website. All you have to do is select the model of the computer.

URL: http://store.psystar.com/faqs/

The 10,000 RPM drives are only available with our higher end computer line not in the Open3 or OpenQ. We do not have custom quote unless it is for a large order amount. Please let us know if you have any additional questions, comments or concerns as we look forward to you becoming a PSYSTAR customer.

Sure, pointing me to the FAQ’s does answer my questions. But it is rather impersonal and the part about the drive, even if policy, is rather inflexible. And at this point, I was really disappointed, since the initial reply seemed to indicate that the 10k drives could be used. My reply:

I’d love to become a Psystar customer, but this inflexibility is feeling too much like Apple itself. The initial response to my original set of questions seemed much more helpful, and less like I was being a bother by asking questions.

One last questions then: am I able to reinstall/restore to a different drive (in this case a 10k rpm) once I receive the system?

The answer to that question is still forthcoming, but will post on here when i receive.

Psystar: Quality service is as important–if not more important–than a quality product. Even if there are millions of us that wish to do away with what appears at times to be the Apple snobbishness, they have a great following for a reason, because they combine a solid product with great service.

That’s just my $.02, though…