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$329 for a MacBook? Well, really a 'HacBook' built on an old HP

Bring your own Mac OS licence and cross your fingers before the legal letters land

An outfit called “Hacbook” is channeling Psystar*, offering Mac OS laptops for US$329.

The laptops are actually refurbished HP EliteBooks, with a 14-inch, 1600x900 display, Sandy Bridge i5 CPU, 802.11 a/b/g/n, up to 1TB of disk and 8GB of RAM. That's a spec Apple could have sold you in about 2013.

“Looks like a Mac. Feels like a Mac,” says HacBook's blurb, which describes the “HacBook Elite sports” as offering “a gorgeous full-aluminium body that looks and feels extremely polished.”

The machines ship with no operating system but do include an installer its makers say “shouldn't take you more than 15 minutes to set up.”

Jack Kim, one of the people behind the project, suggests you buy an OS X licence from Apple.

Apple's not keen on having OS X run on anything other than Apple hardware. Even virtual Macs are only supposed to run inside real Macs.

We therefore asked Kim if he's lawyered up. He told us “We're merely selling kits that users can then do whatever they want with afterwards.”

“It's optimized to run OS X, but you can install Linux or Windows on it and use it however you want - that's completely up to the user. If Apple contacts us with concerns we'll work together to solve them.”

Hacbook's site says its backers have built hacbooks-a-plenty over the years, so are now seeking expressions of interest before a starting a production run. If you send them your email address here, they'll even discuss customisation.

The outfit's target market is developers and the curious. El Reg imagines those with an appetite for litigation may also be drawn to the device. ®


It's not the first time someone's run up a version of OS X on much cheaper hardware. Those with long memories will recall Psystar, which fell victim to Cupertino's lawyers in 2009.

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