72

This answer from 2010 is oft-cited as reason for questions about "Hackintoshes" (fancy word for "Running macOS on non-Apple hardware") not being allowed. The reasoning is that we don't want "a reputation for encouraging something that may or may not be illegal".

That's a horrible guideline, and it isn't even applicable here. There is no law against running macOS on non-Apple hardware. Yes, you signed an agreement to download the OS. That agreement is a civil contract. Apple could, conceivably, take you to court to claim civil damages. Very different than criminal justice.

The other two answers, one outscoring the accepted answer, make decent arguments:

there is no such things as worldwide legal agreements. Apple can put into their usage agreements whatever they like, in many countries that would never hold in court. --Arjan


No country allows its corporations to single-handedly impose statutory limits on its citizens--even when the corporation is as successful and respected as Apple. It is absurd to imagine that any arbitrary EULA might enjoy the force of law.

  • There is nothing illegal about asking questions that abjure a EULA--you cannot call it a "grey area" if there is no law to skirt.
  • There is nothing illegal about offering ideas on how one might subvert a EULA. Speculation isn't contravention--and neither one is illegal.

--Appreciative User

So, let's have the hackintosh discussion again, almost seven years later. I'd propose that the 'ban' on such questions be lifted.

Thoughts?

  • 4
    Just to note - convention on things like this here is to typically post an answer for the yay, and the nay. Upvotes on the question reflects both "hey, I want this reopened" and "hey, I agree". I'm a little annoyed at some aspects of this, and I'm pretty strongly in one camp, so I encourage someone else to write this answer. – Journeyman Geek Jan 28 '17 at 0:52
  • 3
    "There is no law against running macOS on non-Apple hardware." Except, general contracting law, right? EULAs have been taken to court and in the majority of the cases they have been upheld in a court of law. – Ramhound Jan 28 '17 at 5:01
  • 3
    This raises the question not of EULA enforcement but of how have we not been consistent with closing or not wanting questions like Hackintosh, like working on warez, spamming, etc. – random Jan 28 '17 at 21:39
  • We've got ridiculously long comment chains on answers here. I've pruned them where things got heated and moved them to comments. – Journeyman Geek Feb 5 '17 at 5:13
  • 2
    in many countries that would never hold in court is a terrible argument. By that standard we should allow parrilla questions on Electronics.SE because hey, torture may be legal in some countries. – Dmitry Grigoryev Feb 8 '17 at 10:04
  • Backlink: security.meta.stackexchange.com/q/897/2379 – Pacerier Mar 19 '18 at 12:57
36

I say that there should be no "ban" on Hackintosh questions solely based on legal grounds, and in fact, there shouldn't be a ban on them at all.

BUT...

Due to the very nature of how a Hackintosh works, there tend to be two types of questions about Hackintoshes:

  • A category of questions where it doesn't matter AT ALL that you're running a Hackintosh instead of a "real" Mac. These questions are often answerable, and commonly asked by Hackintosh users on, e.g., apple.stackexchange.com and Super User, without reporting "Hey, I'm using a Hackintosh" (they just keep that information to themselves).
  • A category of questions that only makes any sense BECAUSE the user is running Hackintosh. In many of these questions, the user is trying to do something that's simply not possible without being an Apple/$(Hardware Vendor) device driver engineer. E.g., "How do I get XYZ video card working on Hackintosh?" -- In most cases, if the driver doesn't ship with OS X, you can't.

While I support lifting the "ban", I think many questions that fall into the second category will be closed because they're not "answerable". Or the answer is "you can't, without spending ~1000000 hours reverse engineering / binary hacking a driver, and the process for doing that is so complex that it's impossible to tell you how within the character limit of an answer".

And, to be honest, questions falling into the first category will get better and faster answers on apple.stackexchange.

In short, I would be surprised to see more than a small handful of answerable, good questions about Hackintoshes asked on Super User if the ban were lifted. But we may as well lift the ban for those few that do make it, and just nuke the "HALP, HACKINTOSH DOESNT WORK WITH MY HARDWARE" questions.

  • @AndreaLazzarotto - dosen't quite feel like comments are the right place to make this argument. No one's really posted an argument for it that we can unambiguously point at and go "Hey, here's an answer the community likes" So, if you wish to carry this further please post an answer. – Journeyman Geek Feb 5 '17 at 5:06
  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – Journeyman Geek Feb 5 '17 at 5:09
  • 1
    @JourneymanGeek, thanks but no thanks. I don't fancy the idea to get 200 down votes because some of the users here cannot have a civil conversation. I enjoyed exchanging POVs and I appreciated your politeness. I have nothing more to add. :) – Andrea Lazzarotto Feb 5 '17 at 13:09
  • Its meta. Downvotes don't count - outside the community expressing themselves. And quite honestly, a well written, dissenting opinion would be good here. – Journeyman Geek Feb 5 '17 at 13:46
  • but most of those you have to make your own graphics driver answer are absurd and answered by people who have no knowledge of hackintoshing. There are over one hundred kexts (drivers) for OS/X that are not official allowing you to run a lot more hardware then people think. The problem is... there is no one place to find them and no one place where they are tested and ranked. This... would help that- except the hosting them part so links would come and go. – Eric Sebasta Feb 9 '17 at 12:27
  • 1
    Can I just disagree with you in stating that macOS questions will get better and faster answers at the Apple SE? This feels a little too generalizing to me and ultimately doesn't shine a good light on SU either. – slhck Feb 10 '17 at 7:56
16

In a practical sense, we don't really support pirated software anywhere. Yes, Hackintoshes are a specific and very visible example, but its no different from someone using "Windows 10 pirate edition". Its entirely consistent, and every situation where something similar happens, we probably end up needing to close.

I'd readily admit, its a rule that got put in place by an ex mod, and it feels vaguely 'by fiat' but its in line with the Stack Exchange TOS in my opinion

Subscriber represents, warrants and agrees that it will not contribute any Subscriber Content that (a) infringes, violates or otherwise interferes with any copyright or trademark of another party, (b) reveals any trade secret, unless Subscriber owns the trade secret or has the owner’s permission to post it, (c) infringes any intellectual property right of another or the privacy or publicity rights of another....

Even with a "vanilla" copy of OS X with some suitable tool that does nothing more than bypass the hardware checks, its no different from running windows with an activation crack. Our policy's been pretty consistent there.

So, unless someone from SE corporate says "Yeah, its fine", publicly, and tells us our interpretation of the TOS is wrong - I'm disinclined to think it is acceptable.

In addition, while Allquixotic has made most of the point I wanted to make for me, outside of a small range of hardware - the secondary argument I make against pirated variants of commercial OSes - that its impossible to know what has been added or removed, making it difficult to pinpoint an error is worth considering.

  • 2
    I'm just going to poke my head in here to say I support this position. I'm not opposed to questions which may incidentally be used in the breaking of DRM or piracy of software. We have plenty of questions e.g. about doing things with mp4 files which could be used for movie piracy, but that isn't the point of the question. As allquixotic alludes to, questions that are about Hackintoshes are different from questions about OS X which may happen to be running on non-Apple hardware. I see little room for Hackintosh-specific questions which don't involve knowingly supporting EULA violation. – nhinkle Feb 3 '17 at 22:23
  • 3
    "its no different from running windows with an activation crack" That's definitely not the same as an activation crack if the copy is obtained legitimately, e.g. from Apple and not via torrents. You could argue it's similar, but "no different" is quite strong. – Andrea Lazzarotto Feb 4 '17 at 20:07
  • 3
    I could download and run a crack on a legitimate copy of Windows. Only difference is with apple, you run a hacked bootloader and kernel extensions to lie to your system rather than a piece of software to lie to the os that it's activated – Journeyman Geek Feb 4 '17 at 23:51
  • 1
    @JourneymanGeek Windows is paid and requires a serial number, macOS cannot be bought (only downloaded for free from the MAS) and doesn't have any activation step. I agree that it might look similar but it's a bit different. I don't mind the policy here since I use a real Mac, but I still think there are differences. – Andrea Lazzarotto Feb 5 '17 at 0:52
  • @AndreaLazzarotto Older versions of Windows (and old software in general) cannot be bought anymore either. It's still illegal to crack those. – Dmitry Grigoryev Feb 8 '17 at 10:17
  • 1
    @Dmitry you are talking about stuff that is not and never has been distributed as a free download. Also, nobody was talking about "cracking" or using keygens. Now, of course if you get a copy from torrents or other random places it is not the same as getting it from the legitimate source. – Andrea Lazzarotto Feb 8 '17 at 22:24
  • 1
    @AndreaLazzarotto My understanding is that OS X will refuse to run on a non-Mac hardware unless you make it believe it's a genuine Mac. How is that different from a keygen simulating a HASP key? – Dmitry Grigoryev Feb 9 '17 at 8:12
  • 1
    @Dmitry, regarding the how part... AFAIK the only check it does is two strings in the EFI firmware. Such values are configured via any VM software. There are no license keys tied to a user and Apple doesn't sell licenses with such keys. Would a OS with an EULA that says you must have a Intel GPU be "cracked" if you put it in a VM with that value, while your host really has a Nvidia card? – Andrea Lazzarotto Feb 9 '17 at 15:14
  • 1
    @AndreaLazzarotto the reason why there's no user-specific keys is that anyone possessing the Mac hardware is a legitimate user. The protection mechanism Apple has used may be weak, but that doesn't make breaking it any more legal. Old copy-protected applications sometimes asked you to enter the first word from page 10 of the manual: that's not user-specific either, but it's a copy protection nevetheless. – Dmitry Grigoryev Feb 9 '17 at 18:04
  • 1
    @Dmitry, again those were paid for boxes, not freely available downloads from the publisher. I get what you are repeating, I simply do not agree on the "they are exactly the same" part. We could go on forever, but repetition doesn't necessarily make one change their mind. – Andrea Lazzarotto Feb 9 '17 at 18:41
6

How is that different from questions asking how to cheat your ISP? Those are also about circumventing the terms of use associated with the product or service.

Why does differentiating a civil contract from criminal law make a difference? It's intellectual property. Apple made the investment to develop it, and they can apply any terms they want to its use. If you choose to use it, that use is subject to whatever terms Apple wants unless or until a court rules that they don't have that right. You don't buy and own the OS; it isn't yours to do whatever you want with. You purchase a right to use it according to some terms. If you don't like the terms, don't buy it.

There are legal concepts of fair use and of limitations on restrictions a "monopoly" might try to apply unilaterally in a EULA. Those are arguments that can be used in court if a EULA is litigated. The existence of the concepts doesn't mean that all EULAs are meaningless until a court rules that one is legitimate. It's the opposite.

Previous use of terms like "illegal" was unfortunate, because the issue isn't about whether Hackintosh is a criminal matter. "Gray area" has also been misapplied. There's no reason to get side-tracked in a discussion of legal nuances. That fact that you can find places on the planet where the EULA isn't enforceable isn't relevant, either.

It isn't our job to know and enforce the TOS for every company and product. But that doesn't mean that the site should actively promote anarchy and the flaunting of any TOS. Where the TOS are well known, we should not knowingly promote, sanction, or facilitate cheating or piracy.

By "well known", I don't mean there should be a threshold of "well-knownness" that determines whether or not we enforce a EULA. If and when we are aware that a question seeks to violate a EULA or TOS, we don't facilitate that. On little-known products or companies, stuff will slip through. We get a large number of Hackintosh questions, enough to put the subject in a league of its own, the EULA is clear, we are well aware of it, and there is nothing wrong with covering that in a policy since it comes up so often.

The underlying objective is not to enforce EULAs, or to be uniform and fair in which EULAs we enforce. The objective is to not facilitate piracy or cheating on intellectual property rights when we are aware of it and it is easy for us to refrain from doing that.

-3

I remember, in maybe iPhone 1 or iPhone 2 days, someone commenting on a news report that X million iPhones sold and jailbroken represented a major loss to Apple, and someone incredulously asking, "Apple is selling millions of iPhones and it is hurting them?!?" (Back in the days where you had unlimited data at a snail's pace from AT&%$^@#T.)

Apple is a company that tries to make money from its hardware sales, and software is essentially the bait that gets people to bite into their hardware. I do not have informed comment on EULA enforceability, but Hackintoshes are a way to enjoy Apple software goodness whilst circumventing Apple's approach to making a profit. In that sense it is like a non-Microsoft-generated license on Windows 10 circumventing Microsoft's approach to making a profit.

The point that Apple is making quite a lot of software free on their hardware doesn't mean that their way of making a living is not being circumvented on Hackintoshes.

  • 1
    This is a correct observation, but the answer doesn't really address the question as written. Can you close the circle? – fixer1234 Feb 10 '17 at 21:24

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .