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I've seen questions about pirating software down voted and closed. I'm wondering if Hackintosh questions are also disallowed? If so, why?

  • You can always put it to a vote. Post a Hackintosh question and lets see if the Community wants to keep it around. – surfasb Jan 26 '12 at 23:35
  • @surfasb How do you put things to a vote on these forums? – Jason R. Mick Apr 13 '12 at 18:11
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    @JasonR.Mick: Up Vote the bejesus out of this question. – surfasb Apr 14 '12 at 18:10
  • Can't we change the policy now? There is a good amount of upvotes for the "accept hackintosh" position. – speeder Apr 21 '16 at 5:13
  • Modern revisit: meta.superuser.com/q/12050/194458. cc @speeder – Undo Jan 27 '17 at 19:50
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Simple. It's a legal grey area. Super User doesn't want to build a reputation for encouraging something that may or may not be illegal, so it was decided to stay safe rather than sorry.

I have actually proposed to have the tag banned here and given some more reasons why.

Sathya ♦: There is no reversal in status. This answer still holds good from a moderation point of view.

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    SU doesn't want to build a reputation for encouraging something that may not be illegal? You want to rule out encouraging legal activities? – sampablokuper Apr 22 '11 at 0:35
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    @sampablokuper: We don't want to encourage using different methods than those allowed by the usage agreements, whether or not the user agreement holds in court. As there aren't worldwide guaranteed legal agreements, we can't suppose this is completely legal. We don't want to discuss every single matter that might be illegal in one or another way, it's very clear that if one does a Hackintosh that he is not using what he is supposed to be using. As a comparison, BitTorrent and Tor have their legal uses and merely serve as a medium hence those are allowed... – Tamara Wijsman Jan 8 '12 at 19:10
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    In that case, don't say, "Super User doesn't want to build a reputation for encouraging something that ... may not be illegal;" say, "Super User doesn't want to build a reputation for encouraging any activities contrary to EULAs." These are completely distinct concepts. – sampablokuper Jan 10 '12 at 19:44
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    Are you sure SU "doesn't want to build a reputation" for this kind of stuff? I seem to recall an interview with one of the stack exchange founders, where he said, in general, he has no problems at all with "questionable" questions (he was talking about breaking NDA's on stack overflow). – Abhi Beckert Jan 15 '12 at 18:05
  • Good point, @Gilles, especially as when I deleted my answer I flagged Diago's answer to ask the moderators to make Diago's answer more official. Though that flag was considered helpful, no such change was made. Any moderator: feel free to delete my answer again, if the above is indeed the official point of view. – Arjan Feb 23 '12 at 0:16
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    There is no reversal in status. Diago's answer still holds good from a moderation point of view. – Sathyajith Bhat Feb 23 '12 at 10:48
  • No. Use MacOS on Windows is not illegal. Apple just doesn't support this for any error appear !!! – hqt Apr 27 '12 at 14:32
  • @hqt see here lockergnome.com/osx/2012/02/24/are-hackintosh-computers-legal Apple does not allow it. "Use MacOS on Windows" is also wrong btw; unless the topic suddenly changed to virtualising ;) – kluka Aug 22 '12 at 13:34
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Simple. As discussed in many similar matters on Meta Stack Overflow, 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. One could use the comments to warn people about it, or when answering mention it as well. But forbidding questions smells like censorship.

So, I'd allow these questions.

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    as Diago answered quite some time ago, the moderation team has decided to discourage these questions. Furthermore, Stack Exchange is a US company, and is therefore beholden to US law. – nhinkle Apr 16 '11 at 21:53
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    @nhinkle - what US law is being broken by answering a question about "hackingtosh" installations? (Assume, for the moment, the asker has a legal unopened disc of the Mac OSX, not installed on any machine, and that the asker wants to install a single instance on one PC. (to avoid any "piracy" / torrent / etc distractions)) – DanBeale Sep 20 '11 at 15:32
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    @nhinkle If this is official policy, wouldn't it make sense to delete this answer? The current accepted answer doesn't look "official" in any way, considering that Diago stepped down as a moderator. If I were a visitor of this Q/A here, I'd find it highly confusing. – slhck Jan 8 '12 at 14:58
  • @slhck, agreed. Will delete this soonish. – Arjan Jan 8 '12 at 15:03
  • @nhinkle, please see the new comments at Diago's answer. Thanks! – Arjan Feb 23 '12 at 0:17
  • @slhck, I did delete this, but as I am not sure it's indeed a moderator decision, I've undeleted again. See the new comments at Diago's answer. (And this very answer might be deleted again; that's fine to me, if it's indeed an official decision.) – Arjan Feb 23 '12 at 0:19
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    ​@Arjan, ​​@nhinkle, @slhck: there is no applicable SE-wide policy, so this is a community decision. The moderators do not have a binding vote here. Diago spoke here as a community member, just like Arjan. Hackintosh questions became banned because until you (Arjan) posted your answer, the consensus was against them. The policy would change if your answer rose to a significantly higher score that Diago's. – Gilles Feb 23 '12 at 0:36
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    it seems that this community is very divided about this issue. The "allow the hacking/pirating!" comments are gettings as much points as the "don't censor" comments... – kluka Aug 22 '12 at 13:37
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    (For some background on the comments above, see also Are Hackintosh questions off topic because of community consensus or just moderation policy?, and the deletion history of this very answer.) – Arjan Aug 27 '13 at 10:28
  • Is this becoming a new dogma and people that really want to know or ask something will be "burned at the stake"? Seems like the history of Inquisition where if you even "DARED" to think something outside of norm you were imprisoned or tortured. It's like saying: Let's ban physics and chemistry as somebody could develop weapons or poisons. – Alex Mar 30 '16 at 10:50
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All innovation explores the limits of performance and behaviour.


Hacking is just making hardware do something you know it is capable of doing. When the designers don't meet expectations--whether non-tech-related considerations motivate restrictions on permissible usage, or the designers simply fall short in the inspiration department--it is only natural to marshal one's D.I.Y. resources.

Superuser should be one of those resources. The contributors here are both helpful and knowledgeable. It's a powerful combination that should be allowed to foster creativity and encourage innovation. Collaboration isn't forced on anyone who isn't comfortable with the ethical foundations of a question--if you don't want to get involved, just don't answer the question.

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.

Any site that calls itself Superuser has to allow a degree of freedom for forward-thinking.

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    While I agree with your opinion; technically an EULA is a form of contract; which again are in principle protected by law – kluka Aug 22 '12 at 13:39
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    Any site that calls itself Superuser has to allow a degree of freedom for forward-thinking ==> true that. Else it should be call "normal-user" – Dio Phung Apr 22 '14 at 7:05
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    “Any site that calls itself Superuser has to allow a degree of freedom for forward-thinking.” Where is the level of “forward-thinking” in creating a Hackintosh? The main reason people do such things is to not use Apple hardware. The process is messy & he results are questionable. How is it worth anyone’s time to constantly play “catch up” with every oddball quirk required to “hack” Mac OS X to run on non-Apple equipment? I work in Mac OS X & I save my “forward thinking” for Linux tips and tricks. A truly open world where you can share ideas and get a stable system without worries of EULA. – JakeGould Sep 8 '15 at 5:10
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    Where I live a legitimate Apple computer cost easily the same as a motorcycle, or even a car (for MacPro stuff). Also, OSX and iOS coding is the only source of income me, and many other programmers have right now (because no matter how much the economy is sinking, people wanting iOS code always show up willing to pay, even if a tiny amount, but tiny money is better than zero money). So how worth is it? To me is worth being able to afford food and medicine. – speeder Apr 19 '16 at 4:44
  • @speeder Your comment seems to advocate the use of cracked software because it makes technology affordable for poor people. This has been studied in length, and the results have always shown that IT specialists are practically doomed to poverty in countries which allow piracy, and things get better when copyright laws start to be enforced. And BTW, you can easily find a used car in EU or US with a MacBook Pro price tag. – Dmitry Grigoryev Feb 8 '17 at 10:37
  • I wasn't talking about USED vehicles, but new ones. Also, the only reason why I learned to code in first place is because I could use lots of cracked (not necessarily pirated) software. As for the studies, "what" got better when copyrights were more enforced? Wages? – speeder Feb 10 '17 at 13:21
6

The existing answers focus on "legal" issues and censorship. I think that is the wrong way to frame it, and not the basis on which a site scope decision should be made.

Legality

None of this comes under criminal law, so it isn't even a question of legality. If there is a legal issue, it is whether Apple's EULA is enforceable in a way that would allow Apple to collect damages. If Apple won a court ruling affirming its claims, or another party won a ruling that told Apple to go suck wind, that would provide a basis for discussing site policy.

Short of a court ruling, there is simply the EULA. Apple can specify any terms they want; it's their product. You don't own it, you only pay to use it within Apple's terms. If you don't like the terms, buy something else. If you agree to Apple's terms, your voluntary agreement is what binds you to them.

Implications for the site

Let's put aside the business issues, like do we want to expose SE to potential heavy-handed action by Apple; e.g., using deep pockets to win a judgement against SE regardless of merit.

Most questions of scope differentiate technical factors to define what is within SU's bailiwick. Devices other than computers and their peripherals are off-topic. Software recommendations go to another site. The community is expert on those kinds of issues and it's appropriate to decide scope by consensus.

What makes Hackintosh special is the legal and ethical issues people associate with it. I suggest that those kinds of issues would be more appropriately driven by core, guiding principles. If we decide, as a matter of policy, to make Hackintosh questions officially off-topic, it should be based on core principles rather than the winds of consensus.

Suggestion

Let me suggest that a guiding principle would be a version of the Hippocratic Oath, "First do no harm." We don't make IT administrators' lives miserable by advising people on how to circumvent their policies. We don't use this open forum to instruct people on how to create malware. We don't help people circumvent the terms of service with their Internet provider. If they want the ISP's service, they agree to abide by their terms. How is that really different?

I think the same logic applies to EULAs. Two other parties have agreed to terms and it's inappropriate for us to inject ourselves into the relationship and facilitate one of those parties violating their agreement. To Gilles' comment, below, to not facilitate violating the EULA is not putting us in a role of "enforcing" the EULA. It's remaining uninvolved.

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    I don't understand your answer. You start with saying that we shouldn't base our decision on legal issues, and you conclude by saying that we should enforce the EULA (or rather your interpretation of the EULA). – Gilles Sep 8 '15 at 8:19
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    At the end of the day, we must assume that a EULA contains legally binding clauses, until proven it does not. Since Apple has successfully and taken companies to court that supplied Hackintosh hardware we can assume that those clauses have been upheld. We as a community cannot in good faith help somebody violate a legally binding contract. It is easier for reasons of scope not to worry about those jurisdictions which have ruled those clauses are not enforceable. – Ramhound Sep 8 '15 at 13:29

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