In the wake of my latest Advice from an Apple Tech article that focused on the use of BitTorrent to acquire older OS X installation disc images when the required OS X installation disc was unavailable, some points of clarification need to be made.
The article was in no way intended to advocate software piracy of any sort, even where out-of-print and otherwise unavailable OS X installation discs are concerned. To this end, I devoted a previous column as to how to legally find and secure Mac OS X installation discs that Apple may not be selling through venues such as eBay, Craigslist, local vendors, and local user-group meet-ups. There's always someone with the installation disc you need and they're always willing to discuss a fair value price for the item on hand.
It's also been brought to my attention that Apple does keep out-of-print OS X installation disc images available via its developer download page, which requires a fee of $99 per year. This may be the best answer to the issue at hand and solves the legal and ethical questions in one fell swoop.
The intention was to discuss mission-critical deadlines where there's literally next to no time to find the OS X installation disc in question. Yes, it's always better to find the software you need legally, but there are also deadlines in which a legacy piece of software must be supported that can only be run through an older version of OS X, the installation DVD is out of print and a task must be completed.
I did not intend to advocate piracy in general, nor should that be the final takeaway of the article. Software is honest work and people make a living from it. I explored a BitTorrent acquisition of an out of print OS X installation disc as the result of an extraordinary set of circumstances and time limitations on hand. Only so many of these disc are available, and most users wouldn't hesitate for a moment to travel to the store and pay for them. Sadly, this is not always possible.
Acquiring older OS X disc images is a last resort, and there are valid security concerns to be addressed. This, like any computer usage, puts the responsibility in the hands of the user; if software looks suspicious or seems to offer too much for free, listen to your gut and delete it. Malware is out there--even malware on the Mac--as the iServices, Java exploits, and Flash-based hacks have proven. Conversely, excellent protection software such as ClamXav is available, but it's still the user's choice as to what steps to take.
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