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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  • Anonymous
    Pricing?! Availability?

    I would hope its priced fairly reasonable considering one would also need to purchase a copy of OSX.

    Look forward to it!

  • cruiseoveride
    Apple must have what belongs to them.

    What the hell does that mean?

    Why PC users want to even imitate Apple is so humiliating.

    And the whole "avoiding the EULA" seems very Napster. And we all know what happened to that. Or when the Florida state wanted to reduce drug abuse, they didnt go around taking drugs from users, instead they went to the supplier and shut them down.

    Why would the "liquid cooled" modder, ever want to run OSX? or Linux even for that matter? None of them would even have i2c drivers for the 101 sensors on the hardware. And needless to say that, the most sophisticated 3D application you will ever run would be the screensaver. It would be like buying a BMW M5 just to listen to the radio. It doesn't make sense.

    Windows users that want to use OSX really need to wake up. Regardless of the lack of 3rd party hardware compatibility, how long are you going to stare at iLife. For each OSX app, there is a thousand more Windows applications, and a million more Linux applications. Yes some smart ass will come in and argue, Quality/Quantity. And if that is your only retort, you deserve to use OSX on a PC.

    Multi-billion dollar companies like IBM dont turn their entire business around to pursue Linux and open source related projects, because they think its "cool". They probably have more people in management analysing growth options in open source, than EFiX and Toms Hardware have in the entire company.

    Linux has always had everything OSX has. And Windows for that matter, haha you cant even have multiple file locks yet! Linux has supported that since day 1 (over 15years ago), just an example to the extent at which Windows is behind. OSX is pretty shitty too, they took an old version of BSD and hacked it to death. The underlying operating system hardly resembles BSD anymore. So if you think a watered down version of BSD, with a body kit, is cool, enjoy. After all ignorance is bliss.

    OSX And Windows are both playing "copy the coolest", When Reebok tried to copy Nike, they lost $100 million in net worth.

    If there does exist a person who "liquid cools" and wants to run OSX on his/her PC, please show us some evidence Mr EFiX.

    Oh and.... Linux rules!
  • chaohsiangchen
    I say that Apple Corporation will sue whoever make and sell EFiX very soon after they find it even remotely popular. Software is protected by both copy-right and patent law. If they can't sue for violating EULA, they will find the other way to sue them into bankruptcy. It is likely that EFiX contain BIOS code from Apple Corporation. Overpriced hardware is the only reason that Apple Corporation's stock price is that high ($131.05 at the moment, down from $154 a month ago).

    Other than that, Apple Corporation can still be a total ass, if they aren't enough already, and issue renewed Leopard update with a hidden BIOS refresh to get around the USB booting device. That refresh might kill any none-Mac mobo running Leopard. And then you need another new version EFiX to deal with it after the mobo returned from RMA, if it's not forced out of business by Apple Corporation at that time. You think it's impossible that Apple Corporation can be a total ass to do that? Then think again. They just released iTune update to Windows with hidden driver update that will cause lock ups and BSOD on Windows Vista 64. The speedy withdraw of that faulty software makes me even more suspicious of Apple Corp.'s motive on the whole event.

    There are cheap macs, such as MacBook with 1GB RAM ($1049 on newegg.com) and Mac Mini. Well, it's "cheap" to people who, according to Sen. John Biden, should pay more tax for patriotism, which I totally agree. I am totally fine with $50 AMD Athlon 4850e and $50 HTPC board that I got from ebay and newegg as my tvpvrtypewritingspreadsheeter. Just try getting cheaper than this, and I might get interested.
  • ilovebarny
    mm i like it. Ive always wanted to try macs but i dont really need a mac. this might provide an alternative.
  • chaohsiangchen
    MadGoatPricing?! Availability? I would hope its priced fairly reasonable considering one would also need to purchase a copy of OSX. Look forward to it!~MG~

    You know that installing OSX on none-Mac, or "not Apple-labeled machines" is direct violation of Apple EULA, right? Like it or not, use it at your own risk.

    I've read from overclock.net that they will sell this thing for $150 a piece. Windows Vista Ultimate OEM is $178 on newegg, and linux is always for free. So buying this thing plus a copy of Leopard is like paying retail version of Vista Ultimate.
  • bydesign
    Why, it's not all that stable on a Mac and they know what hardware they're working with. I suppose it supports my argument that Apple people aren't productive members of society.
  • BallistaMan
    I'm probably one of the few people here who grew up on a Mac and ended up switching to Windows. Originally it was out of necessity - half of the games I enjoyed couldn't be run on OS7, 8, etc. Now I wouldn't switch back.

    Honestly, as nice as OSX may be, once Apple became popular, everything went downhill. Old Macs were fun because they had their unique quirks. Now that they're the "hip" thing they pretty much lost most of their potential to be the "best" thing.

    As for this little device. I like the concept and I think it'll open up some interesting doors provided Apple doesn't sue it on sight (something which I'm unfortunately expecting), but I doubt *I* will have much use for it. I've used OSX plenty at work, discovered it's not compatible at all with my computing style (who on earth thought that GUI intuitive? Limited maybe...) and that's enough for me.
  • enforcer22
    actualy paying the retail price for vista is about double that, That is the OEM price. Mac OS would be for me like buying something i leave in a box and sit in a shelf somewhere since i cant do a damn thing i want to do with it. Linux for me is almost as bad but at least i wouldnt have to pay for it. So personaly i would rather buy the windows OS since i never have to think "will this do what i want? will the hardware or software i want work on it?" I know im one of the few that looks at $300 knowing im buying this for about 5 years and doesnt see much cost but hey thats logic for ya. Sorry EFix i have a operating system thats stable only crashed when my memory went bad and doesnt requier vary specific hardware that wont run anything i want to run with the quality i want it run at.

    But yeah i see this getting sued out of exsistance really fast though i do like the idea. Booting other os's from a thumb drive to toy around has always been fun.

    To the guy up there boasting about linux you got it backwords. though not entierly true it should be millions of windows apps and thousands of linux apps. One thing you cannot say is either have more programs or more support then windows. and i think you took the artical wrong i believe he said the target isnt the people with the OC'ed fridge cooled pc's since they wouldnt be interested.

    IBM and other companys switched to linux for 2 good reasons. #1 cost of operation. #2 they got sick of microsfts vary limiting licences.
  • Anonymous
    I have to disagree with EnFoRceR22, as an engineering student i use computers every day...and i run a whole range of apps, I started using Linux about a month ago and my biggest problem so far has been deciding which app to use, there are just so many of them. Sure windows (which i use for gaming only now) has just as many apps but only a limited selection in each category that are really good. I haven't been using Linux long enough to know the good / bad ratio of apps yet but i'm sure it will be the same as windows a few good ones in each category and they will be the ones i end up using. As for OS X *shrug i don't see the point.....my Linux with compiz is better looking and really really stable and super easy to use (i was surprised)
  • crinosil
    Can you say con job?? The EFix are in the mail!!! LOL!!!
  • Tindytim
    This has been possible since Mac OSX 10.3. All you need is WMware and an install disc. Haven't used it because it's rather pointless with an XP + Ubuntu x64 multiboot.
  • JonathanDeane
    I await the hacked version that I can just toss on any old thumb drive... lol kidding :) I would think about this for putting it on my kids PC (they use Vista for the time being....) might be easy enough for them to use yet still avoid most of the windows/myspace virus crap.
  • chaohsiangchen
    JonathanDeaneI await the hacked version that I can just toss on any old thumb drive... lol kidding I would think about this for putting it on my kids PC (they use Vista for the time being....) might be easy enough for them to use yet still avoid most of the windows/myspace virus crap.

    Maybe you want to check this:


    Yeah, it's old news, but Mac isn't anywhere more secure than, say, Ubuntu. I'd rather give kids Ubuntu so that they might develop useful skill such as script, python or perl programming.
  • v12v12
    Sounds like a nice idea, but a little too late esp with the rising cost of OS's and hardware etc.

    A few points of noteworthiness:

    1) The Linux zealot at the start: Buddy, unfortunately what your self-proclaimed "superior" OS does NOT offer is a decent learning curve. It takes a hardcore (usually zealous) user to be even semi-proficient in Nix. Also, the Nix community of users (ones that are proficient) are of EXTREME “RTFM” type. I'm a SR Tech at a major .edu and nothing is more frustrating than dealing with the no-life, stereotypical looking, acting, and haughty-attitude having Nix user(s). As if they are some Jedi-Knight of computer usage. Yes you may have "superior" skills with Nix, BUT you're the last guy ANYONE wants to converse with outside of work (and sparingly there also), the last guy to get invited to any holiday parties, and certainly and none the least, the VERY LAST guy going out and enjoying themselves with other humans, esp the female variety. HAHA Yes, HA - HA - HA, so pick your ego up at the coat check. Noob.

    2) These other so-called "watered down" OS's have USER FRIENDLINESS, however unstable or buggy they maybe, still the point DOMINATES any self-alleged "superiority" of your chosen OS. And this point has made these two inferior OS's a multi-BILLION dollar industry, while your day-dream of Jedi-dominance ends in a dorm room, or a cold, secluded, isolated server cave... so as you would tell us "noobs" to RTFM, we can tell you to STFU and go back to monitoring servers.

    I hate to be nasty, but this whole “*my* OS is superior than yours is” pure asinine. These guys made a really neat invention and their efforts should be applauded. Maybe THEY will be the ones to bridge the divide in future efforts. I hope so; I'm tired of the limitations of Windows and the overpriced control of Jobs... An OS with an acquisition of both OSs positives would so be welcomed, but alas—either side is too greedy to allow such a logical merger to be borne.
  • harrycat88
    If I was forced to run only one OS, that would be linux. Linux is superer to both OSX and VISTA. When I installed Fedora Core on my system, I didn't have to download or even install 1 driver. The Gnome GUI is amazing when the Gnome effects are enabled. It makes Microsoft's areoglass look like a cheap polar treak. And what's really nice about linux, is, it has a program called WINE that allows you to run most Windows based applications and even Direct X 10 based games without going through all that BS with Vista driver support. And the thing that amazed me the most was I was able to run a DirectX 10 game with a Dual core processor, an ATI AGP video card and a Nforce 3 motherboard without getting a stupid code 43 error.
  • v12v12
    Hey I don't have any hate toward Nix in itself, but I do not like the community supporting it: The typical high school nerdling version of a "bully." “I'm smarter than you, I know nix, blah blah...” RTFM is all I see in most of these forums. MANY people don't have neither the time nor the patience, heck and or sense of "direction." We're humans, not machines, so if something doesn't come easy, to even a PC enthusiast, should they be scorned?

    Everyone LOVES deflecting my stereotypical statements regarding Nix users, BUT if you all weren't BS'ing then the, grubby, smart assed IRC-Nix chan op/forum user wouldn’t have that nasty little "RTFM" connotation attach to them now would they? Just like if I said "most dogs are friendly..." that's b/c majority of them ARE, while not all, MOST are. And most adv Nix users are stereotypical "nerds," aka unpleasant to converse with, socially-impatient with others, and have superiority complexes. Give it up Nix users, your OS isn't going anywhere, it's going to stay confined to the server and grubby nerdling sector unless YOUR attitudes change regarding the less technically adept.

    I personally run it, play around with it sparingly, why? B/c I have no need to invest time into seriously learning it. My antiquated XP is stable enough for my usage, requires little or no interaction with said type of users and runs games great... Oh and I don’t give a jack shat about stupid arse fancy visual distractions like Beryl/Aero/OSX etc. Give me a stripped down Win2000 looking platform to launch appz. Therefore it's simple and easy. Hacks, viruses? HAHA what a f'ing joke. I haven't had either of them in +10yrs (before even XP) b/c I'm a SMART user—Duh. Nix isn't superior to anything to me, b/c I don't need it atm (that’s MY reality, not opinion). Maybe I will switch, but until it's necessary, I'd rather have a life outside of my computer and help forums... Ciao. Hrmm wait… I do like playing around in BacktrackIII quite often, so I guess I do support it! Hahha… |-|8erz!
  • martel80
    V12V12Hey I don't have any hate toward Nix in itself, but I do not like the community supporting it: The typical high school nerdling version of a "bully." “I'm smarter than you, I know nix, blah blah...” RTFM is all I see in most of these forums. MANY people don't have neither the time nor the patience, heck and or sense of "direction." We're humans, not machines, so if something doesn't come easy, to even a PC enthusiast, should they be scorned?

    Have you ever been to Ubuntu forums? Obviously not.
  • spaztic7
    Meh... They didnt explain anything. How does it work?
  • chaohsiangchen
    spaztic7Meh... They didnt explain anything. How does it work?

    Basically, just a mini OS loader on USB device that can mimicking itself as Apple BIOS to fool Leopard installer.
  • Titanius
    It's not so much that I want to kill you Tuan, its just that I don't want you to live anymore...LOL! Just kidding!

    But seriously, EFiX sounds very promising, here's me waiting on if they can actually pull it off...without Apple interference (you know what I'm talking about).