I have a friend who has never owned a Mac. He has just built a "hackintosh" by installing VMWare on his PC running Windows, and downloading a pirated, hacked copy of Mac OS X Yosemite in a portable VMWare virtual machine volume from somewhere online.

He claims to be astonished and unbelieving when I tell him that what he's doing is illegal. He's stealing. He's committing piracy.

He tells me that he installed some hacked "distro" of Mac OS X called "Niresh". He tells me that he assumed that it was legitimate because it appeared to be supported by a large community of computer enthusiasts. He actually said to me "It wouldn't be on the Internet if it was illegal".

Now he's hitting me up for help doing further hacks to make his "hackintosh" behave exactly like a real Mac. He's asked me to run a Terminal script on my Macintosh to output my UUID, MLB (Main Logic Board serial number) and ROM values from my real Macintosh so he can clone these identifying numbers to his "hackintosh" volume.

He says, "No way. I've payed plenty of money to Apple. I bought four iPhones for my family, and an iPad too. So what's wrong with running a Hackintosh?"

He's a research scientist, and I believe he might pay attention to an authoritative published source that explains why what he is doing is illegal.

Can anybody help me find information that I can use to prove to him that what he's doing is illegal?


I sent my friend @cmason's information about the Apple OS X License Agreement, and I believe I have convinced my friend that what he is doing is not legal or ethical.

I also warned him that because he'd installed a version of Mac OS X that had been completely and thoroughly hacked, cracked, and had all its Apple-built-in security disabled, this means that it would be likely that what he downloaded and installed is pre-infected with any manner of root kits, rats, malware and viruses, and that he might now be part of some criminal enterprise's botnet. That helped to get his attention as well.

closed as off-topic by Tetsujin, Daniel Apr 28 '15 at 20:54

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    Did you make him read the OSX EULA ? – Matthieu Riegler Apr 28 '15 at 13:06
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    Whether it is "illegal" depends on the laws of the jurisdiction in which your friend lives, but it's certainly against the terms of use in the license agreement. Whether that is a binding contract that will stand up in court is a separate question. – Daniel Apr 28 '15 at 15:02
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    +1 to @Daniel's comment. Whether it's illegal is not for you to decide or to try to convince your friend. Instead you should simply be asking how to tell your friend that participation in what he's doing is unacceptable to you as some combination of a legal risk (probably very low), a practical usability risk (having the perceived authenticity of your own system compromised by sharing its uuids, etc.), and moral objection. I would try to play down the latter since it's really annoying to have a "friend" preaching "morality" about this kind of stuff. – R.. Apr 28 '15 at 15:54
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    I'm tempted to edit this to remove the "illegal" part. For something to be "illegal" it needs a specific venue and specific facts. Since Wheat's friend a university professor doing research it's hardly clear to me that case law is settled in the USA on the legality of EULA. Also, I'm glad for the civil disagreement where ideas are being challenged and not individual people. – bmike Apr 28 '15 at 17:43
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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it seems to be about how to persuade someone of something, and not about any issues you actually face with Apple hardware or software. The question isn't about what you can do with Apple hardware or software, but rather how to best convince someone else about it. – Daniel Apr 28 '15 at 20:54

How about the Apple OSX License Agreement:


in particular, Part 2, section I:

I. Other Use Restrictions. The grants set forth in this License do not permit you to, and you agree not to, install, use or run the Apple Software on any non-Apple-branded computer, or to enable others to do so. Except as otherwise permitted by the terms of this License or otherwise licensed by Apple: (i) only one user may use the Apple Software at a time, and (ii) you may not make the Apple Software available over a network where it could be run or used by multiple computers at the same time. You may not rent, lease, lend, sell, redistribute or sublicense the Apple Software.

The License earlier says how you may obtain a license to the software, which is basically: buy a Mac, buy OSX in App Store, or get a volume license. In any case, none of these grant running OSX on anything other than Apple Hardware. You can run it in a VM, but only on a VM hosted on Apple Hardware.

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    If you have legally obtained a copy, nothing on a worthless piece of paper (or click-through) can prevent you from reading/using it in any way you like, including on an emulator or other hardware. Of course IANAL and you may not have obtained the copy legally if you falsely claimed that you intend to use it on Apple hardware (that you don't have) as a way of obtaining it, but this answer is flimsy at best. – R.. Apr 28 '15 at 15:57
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    @R.. Tell that to Psystar apple.slashdot.org/story/09/11/14/1954259/… – Moby Disk Apr 28 '15 at 17:50
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    @MobyDisk: Presumably they were actually engaged in selling copies of Apple's software, not just using a copy they had legally obtained on their own hardware. – R.. Apr 28 '15 at 18:36

The mere fact that Apple claims that creating a hackintosh violates the DMCA, and that their EULA is an enfoceable contract, does not make either so. There are rulings in their favor from the Psystar case, but it is not clear whether those rulings apply to end-users or only to companies like Psystar who were reselling hackintoshes.

The chance of an individual being sued is essentially zero, because Apple doesn't want the bad PR of exposing their morally repugnant, monopolistic, anti-consumer tactics to the public any more than necessary.

It is my (totally non-authoritative paralegal-school dropout) opinion that even if Apple's EULA were ruled enforceable, the clause forbidding use on non-Apple hardware is clearly a tying agreement in violation of the Clayton anti-trust act of 1914, and so would be thrown out.

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    Amen! I was astonished that other answers confirmed OP's worries. – jetlej Apr 28 '15 at 18:21
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    Well, his worries aren't totally irrational--those Psystar rulings are there. But I'm not worried. In fact, I was just inspired to go to Amazon and buy a copy of Snow Leopard to play with. I signed no contract, clicked no agreement with Apple of any kind--just gave Amazon my credit card. I will run it on an Intel NUC box. Maybe I'll even post a Youtube video of me doing it. Come and get me, Apple! – Lee Daniel Crocker Apr 28 '15 at 18:26
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    Software licenses don't really work that way, you might want to read the fine print. Just opening the shrinkwrap binds you to the agreement. – TombMedia Apr 28 '15 at 18:37
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    @TombMedia USA might be the only jurisdiction in the world where this is true, and only for a limited range of products (software) and relatively recently. Generally, common copyright and contract law does NOT mean implicit acceptance of any contract by 'opening the shrinkwrap', pretty much everywhere else and at least in my home any shrinkwrap agreements and EULAs are completely meaningless; and using a legally obtained copy of software (as opposed to redistributing it to others) does not require accepting a licence, so using it without accepting a licence is not a breach of copyright. – Peteris Apr 28 '15 at 19:10
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    Yes, that's true. But you can't have contracts in violation of public policy. A contract for sale of illegal drugs, for example, or a "tying" arrangement that says you can only put Gilette razor blades in your Gilette razor. These have been illegal since 1914. – Lee Daniel Crocker Apr 28 '15 at 22:15

Google gives the following definition of "illegal":

contrary to or forbidden by law, especially criminal law

However, your friend appears to have only committed copyright infringement, and possibly breach of contract if you believe that end user license agreements are enforceable contracts and that he formed a contract with Apple by using its operating system.

I am not a lawyer, but I think that in most countries breach of contract and small-scale non-commercial copyright infringement are civil wrongs rather than crimes, so perhaps "illegal" is not the right word to describe your friend's use of a hackintosh.


"It wouldn't be on the Internet if it was illegal".

LOL! I guess he hasn't used the Internet much. Anyway, moving along...

Pirated software is certainly illegal, but for the sake of discussion we'll assume that your friend owns a legal license for OS X that isn't currently being used on another computer.

As mentioned in other answers, making a hackintosh is definitely against Apple's EULA.

Do companies expect users to comply with their EULA?

I would say that companies hope that people read and follow the EULA, but have the common sense to realize that they won't.

From anecdotal experience (having contributed to a EULA for work once), EULAs are written with the full understanding that the user:

  1. Won't read them, and
  2. Certainly won't follow them.

They're written because they provide some protection for the company in the event something bad happens. However, if there's something you really want the user to know, good companies know they need to make it show up somewhere the user will actually look, like a popup window in their software or in the user manual in bold, brightly-coloured print.

I don't know if Apple has done this, but their company persona makes it abundantly clear that they wouldn't approve of people doing this kind of thing.

Are EULAs legally binding?

Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer.

As to how legally-binding EULAs are, it's a bit of a coin-toss. I'll address the US here, since Apple is an American company, but all of this may not apply to non-US citizens.

Some court cases have upheld EULAs as legally-binding contracts (ProCD, Inc. v. Zeidenberg is the big one that often gets referred to). There are also court cases that ruled against EULAs being legally binding: (Step-Saver Data Systems, Inc. v. Wyse Technology)

Then is it legal to build a hackintosh?

Probably the most relevant case to answer that question is not a EULA case, but Apple vs. Psystar. Apple has successfully shut down the hackintosh company Psystar by claiming not only that they violated Apple's EULA (which is kind of a gray zone as demonstrated above), but also violated Apple's copyright by installing OS X on non-Apple computers. Copyright law is a veritable jungle in the United States, but I would think that this case sets the precedent that hackintoshes are a violation of copyright.

I would think it's very unlikely that Apple would come down on your friend since he's not selling them or hurting Apple's business, but it probably is legally dubious if not explicitly illegal. Apple likely will come after Hackintosh Zone or Niresh or whoever's behind the cracked software build of OS X that he's using at some point.

Is it ethical to build a hackintosh?

The objective answer is that this is something your friend will have to decide for himself. There's a lot going into this question, that basically boils down to:

  1. Is it ethical for Apple to have such restraints in their EULA? (I personally think not, but as I said that's up to your friend to make that call.)
  2. Is your friend hurting anyone by building a hackintosh? (He is keeping Apple from one potential mac sale, but would he buy one anyway?)
  3. Why does your friend feel like he needs to build a hackintosh? (The answer to this one is truly subjective.)

Is it safe to use a hackintosh?

Most likely no. OS X has had a couple of serious security issues recently (example 1, example 2), and I'm sure they aren't planning on providing patches for cracked versions of their OS.


No way. I've payed plenty of money to Apple. I bought four iPhones for my family, and an iPad too. So what's wrong with running a Hackintosh?

It sounds like your friend is either already aware or doesn't care that what he is doing is in violation of copyright law.

I thought those people had ethics

Something being illegal and something being unethical are two different things. Based on his rationalization above, it seems your friend was trying to convince you that he thought what he was doing was ethical because he felt he had already compensated Apple sufficiently.

There are some people who view copyright law as a whole as itself unethical and thus view any form of copyright 'piracy' as perfectly ethical.

But if the problem is that your friend really doesn't know that what he's doing is actually illegal, see cmason's answer.

  • Psystar used exactly the same argument - they lost. – Tetsujin Apr 28 '15 at 18:43
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    Psystar was reselling the product, not just buying it for personal use. That's a big difference under the law. Consumers have lots of rights that commercial enterprises don't. – Lee Daniel Crocker Apr 29 '15 at 0:07

First off who cares, it is what it is, if hes truly blissfully unaware that it is indeed infact illegal that's his problem not yours. Second the reality of the matter is that it doesnt matter cause apple doesnt care enough to go after individuals for this. Lastly if he wants something free and better than Apple OS point him to distrowatch where he can choose from many different free open source linux distrobutions