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10/23/2008
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Mac Clone Maker Psystar Offers $299 Linux PC

The Miami reseller remains fully operational despite its ongoing legal tussle with Apple.

Mac clone manufacturer Psystar, which has been sued by Apple for copyright violation, isn't putting all its eggs in the Mac OS market. The Miami-based system integrator has introduced a Linux-based personal computer that sells for just $299.

Psystar's OpenLite system ships with the Ubuntu Linux desktop preinstalled, running on a 1.8-GHz Intel Celeron chip with integrated graphics support. Upgrading to a dual-core Pentium chip costs an additional $40. "With unparalleled affordability, this computer can bring Windows computing into every home and office," Psystar boasts on its Web site, even though the system runs Linux, not Microsoft Windows.

Psystar, however, is offering a dual-boot option, which, for an extra $75, gives buyers an additional hard drive and the ability to boot the Mac OS or Windows alongside Linux. Psystar's Web site, which appears to have undergone a significant makeover recently despite its battle with Apple, also prominently features other Windows- and Mac-based computers.

Psystar earlier this month asked the court hearing its copyright tussle with Apple to let stand its countercharges that Apple's technology and marketing tactics breach federal antitrust laws. Psystar filed the charges in a counterclaim in U.S. District Court for Northern California in August in response to Apple's accusation that Psystar's Mac clones violate Apple copyrights. Apple asked the court to dismiss the counterclaim earlier this month.

Apple filed its original copyright suit against Psystar in July. Psystar sells low-cost knockoffs of Apple's pricey Macs -- including models that run the new Mac OS X 10.5 "Leopard" operating system -- from a nondescript warehouse in Miami. For its defense and countersuit, Psystar has retained high-profile Silicon Valley law firm Carr & Ferrell.

A trial date for the case has not been set. Last week, a judge placed the case in the court's dispute-resolution program, but it will likely proceed to trial if a settlement is not reached.

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