Meet the Pedraza brothers, the men behind would-be ‘Mac cloner’ Psystar

The New Mac mini “Robert Pedraza is a 24-year-old self-taught programmer with a thin frame, spiky dark hair, gleaming braces, and squinty eyes. His brother Rudy is a year older and a quarter-foot taller. He counters the computer-nerd image with a half-buttoned dress shirt and an intense stare,” Tim Elfrink reports for The Miami News.

“Last year, the two Miami natives — one relaxed and jovial, the other driven and relentless — shoved a stick in the eye of America’s coolest corporation,” Elfrink reports. “Robert cracked the code behind Apple Computer’s elegant operating system, OS X.”

MacDailyNews Take: Oh, puleeze. This thing is obviously written for the nursing home crowd.

Elfrink continues, “The Pedrazas’ company — called Psystar — legally buys the software and then installs it in boxy black desktop towers that sell for as little as $599. That’s about half the price of comparable Macs. For hundreds of buyers — and lately a score of copycats in Los Angeles and around the world — the brothers’ bold move has meant freedom: Mac’s acclaimed software has been liberated from its pricey hardware.”

“Apple hasn’t taken the affront lightly. In July 2008, three months after Psystar began shipping computers from a tiny Doral warehouse, the giant firm with 35,000 employees and billions of dollars in revenue filed a 35-page lawsuit in California claiming Psystar was selling “unauthorized” versions of OS X,” Elfrink reports.

MacDailyNews Take: See, grandma, it’s David vs. Goliath, just so you know who’s side you’re supposed to be on – now drink your Ensure.

Elfrink continues, “Fred von Lohmann, staff attorney for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a group that advocates for Internet free speech issues, thinks the brothers just might prevail. ‘We’ve lived 100-plus years with the basic proposition that if you bought it, you own it,’ he says. ‘We don’t let vendors reach into your living room and micromanage how you use a product. Why should Apple get away with it?'”

Elfrink reports, “They’re prepared to take on everything Apple’s millionaire lawyers throw at them, because they believe they’re right, because they think the courts will eventually agree with them, and maybe most of all, because they don’t like a bully telling them what to do.”

MacDailyNews Take: You’re so forgetful. I just told you: David vs. Goliath. Apple’s the bully here. The Ensure, please. I don’t have all day.

Elfrink continues, “Last month, the Pedrazas released a new line of Apple clone computers with the latest operating system, Snow Leopard. And for an encore, they began selling their software online so that anyone can make a pirated Mac. ‘We’re all in, baby,’ Rudy Pedraza says, grinning wildly. ‘Go big or get the hell out.'”

Full 6-page article — complete with the drug dealer father (sentenced in 1993 to ten years in federal prison and fined $250,000 plus court costs), other “Mac cloners,” car crashes, cancer scares, Psystar’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy, Rudy Pedraza’s claim that there are no other backers (“I’m the secret funder. It’s just me.”) and more — here.

Edible Apple reports, “The profile on the Pedraza brothers references a telling quote from Rudy Pedraza, the business mind behind the Psystar operation.”

“Psystar, surprise surprise, has been accused by many of “borrowing” heavily from the work of the osx86project, a collaborative group of tinkerers who share information on how to get OS X running on PC hardware,” Edible Apple reports. “When presented with that accusation, the article noted that Rudy Pedraza ‘scoffs at the idea’ that Psystar has stolen anything. ‘The first thing you have to do is unlearn everything you’ve just read online about how to make this work,’ Rudy stated, ‘because it’s all wrong.'”

“Oh really? That’s funny, because Psystar filed a legal document in a Federal District Court asserting just the opposite – asserting that an ordinary user could use readily available information on the web to get OS X running on non-Apple hardware,” Edible Apple reports. “Rudy Pedraza even signed a sworn statement, under the penalty of perjury, indicating as such. And now we find out that the web can’t be trusted. How convenient.”

There’s much more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: No matter what happens in the courtroom, even they they do run into some crazy judge, Apple wins regardless. They’d simply have to make Mac OS X dependent on chip(s) of their own making (P.A. Semi, Imagination, etc.). Chips that would just not be available – and would never be available – to any random Joe Schmo and his brother who can’t understand the difference between owning a license to use a product and owning the product itself.

Basic economics: There is no impetus whatsoever for Apple to have developed and/or continue developing Mac OS X if they can be forced to sell what they own to others. And, if they ever were crazily forced to sell it to others, the actual price tag would be totally prohibitive. Apple sells Mac OS X licenses for far less than they are actually worth because the OS sells with the hardware. Take away the hardware and each shrink-wrapped Mac OS X box would cost many thousands of dollars, assuming Apple would account for the full amount of R&D, man hours, marketing, etc. that goes into each OS release.

That copy of Mac OS X you’re using? You don’t own the code, Apple does. You own a license to run the code – if you’re using it on an Apple-branded system and are in compliance with the rest of the license agreement. Read Apple’s Software License Agreement for Mac OS X 10.6.x here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “James W.” for the heads up.]


  1. I suppose Psystar are arguing that hardware and software are always totally independent products, with which you are free to do what you can with in terms of what you run on them and so on. Apple are obviously of the opinion that Apple computer hardware plus Apple computer software combine to make a Mac and you can upgrade that Mac to a certain extent by upgrades to that hardware (varying with the original design) and the software. Personally, in the digital era, whilst I don’t like overly restrictive usage terms for stuff (DRM on music) I don’t see a problem with a company limiting their software for use on their hardware only.

  2. What I don’t understand is why Apple dosen’t just call the shrink-wrapped version of OSX an “upgrade”. Every Mac ever purchased comes with a “full” version of the OS, and you can buy an “upgrade” off the shelf. Dosen’t that just about completely solve the issue?

  3. Apple could go back to the original Mac game plan and put part of their OS code on a chip like they did with the Tool Box. (Ok, I am a very old programer and owner of the first generation 128K Mac. It took me more than a month to find one to buy.) Or Apple could make a Key Chip and put it in the box!

  4. FYI, I prefer Boost. Now where’s my cane, I have a cat to chase…

    I have to side with Apple on this. The licensing agreement clearly states that it is for upgrade installs on an existing mac. Psystar is in violation of the license agreement. If you want to argue the legality of licensing agreements, that’s another issue. But the fact that they have to HACK the install to get it to load on non-apple hardware shows to me clear intent to violate the license.

  5. People…… take a breath and think.

    Just look at the BS that Microsoft goes thru to keep people from stealing their software…… their only product.

    MS Advantage, that goofy software to keep people from pirating the software and all the other dumb stuff. Apple does not have to resort to that cause they are selling the hardware and giving the software as part of the product. Also, Apple knows that the end result will be good cause they can make it happen.

    Put OSX on a crap box and you get what ever crap you get. It may be good, but it may be crap. If Apple gets huge, then they may come up with a non-Apple hardware version of the OS. But until then, its the easiest way to keep things good.

  6. They don’t like a bully telling them what to do??? Bully? You mean these law breakers who hack properly working mac owned properties don’t like what the law tells them… Which is don’t break the law. And that’s understandable. Why should they start now? Why should anyone? If they won, that could start a precident. Apple got where it was because of great products not because of family drug cartels and theivery. Boo hoo they hard a hard life and suffered. We all have. Suck it up like the rest of us.
    I’m happy apple isn’t going to let some idiots try to get away with this. Otherwise we might as well all drive Mercedes and BMW clones, just without the quality and safety.

  7. The tortoise like movement of this lawsuit points to the real backers of Psystar: trial or contract lawyers who need a little love in these tough economic times. ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”wink” style=”border:0;” />

  8. I’ve been buying Psystar boxes at wholesale prices then rebranding the machines as HMCIVstar and selling them for $399. I’m making a killing (after my Chapter 7 bankruptcy clears) but Psystar is threatening to sue.

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