Two Lines of Defense . . .

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Rather surprisingly, Extremetech decided to build an Intel Mac using some, well, less than legal techniques.

The article is worth a read, but what it illustrates is that when the Intel Mac goes prime-time, there’s going to be two layers of defense against those who’ll want to run MacOS X on a non-Apple machine.

The first is a TPM chip, and well, they’re going to need to get better than they’ve been so far if they expect to stop people. Indeed, one need not be too paranoid to suspect that the pre-release versions are Apple’s way of finding the holes in TPM and patching them.

The second is rather more subtle. It’s hard to run equipment when there are no drivers for it. While much computing equipment uses generic drivers based on set standards, some do not (at least not for anything more than minimal functionality). Video cards are the best example of that.

Apple can greatly inhibit the spread of non-Apple OS X machines simply by limiting the drivers it writes for components to a bare minimum, that being the actual equipment used in an Intel Mac.

Note the word “inhibit.” It doesn’t prohibit, or prevent non-standard equipment from being used. All you have to do is write, or have someone else write, a driver for it.

It can be done. In at least some cases, Linux drivers can be modified to handle the task. Some are doing just that (or writing them from scratch).

However, this is not so easy even for ├╝ber-geeks, much, less anyone even vaguely fitting the profile of the typical PC (never mind Mac) user. And, let’s face it, the typical hobbyist who writes drivers very rarely has ease-of-use as a top priority.

I don’t think Apple really cares if their system gets “broken” like it is now. What they do care about is making the breaking such a hassle that only obsessive-compulsives would want to do.

It’s like protecting your home. Few, if any of you, have any defense against thieves using acetylene torches to get through your door. However, few, if any of you, have anything in your house worth the bother and risk of using acetylene torches to break into.

I think Apple will be safe enough.

Ed

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