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Mac OS X 10.6.4 Fixes Highly Specific Bugs

In what was clearly an attempt to distract Mac users from hammering the Apple Store while pre-ordering the iPhone 4, Apple last week shipped Mac OS X 10.6.4 to fix a variety of bugs and security vulnerabilities, and to ensure that everyone running Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard upgrades to the included Safari 5. It's difficult to summarize the changes, since most of the bugs fixed are pretty specific. Apple says that the Mac OS X 10.6.4 Update:

  • fixes a bug that could cause the keyboard or trackpad to become unresponsive
  • fixes a bug that could cause some Adobe Creative Suite 3 applications from opening
  • resolves various issues related to copying, renaming, and deleting files on SMB file servers
  • improves reliability of VPN connections
  • solves a problem related to playback in DVD Player when using Good Quality deinterlacing
  • fixes a problem with Parental Controls Time Limits for Open Directory or Active Directory users
  • fixes a bug that could cause the right speaker to sound louder than the left speaker in the MacBook Pro (Early 2010)
  • resolves a display sleep issue with the MacBook Pro (Early 2010)
  • improves compatibility with some Braille displays
  • resolves pairing issues with Apple remotes
  • eliminates noise when using some third-party FireWire audio devices

A few issues relate specifically to digital photography, so the update also:

  • adds raw image compatibility for more digital camera models
  • resolves an issue related to editing photos in full screen view in both iPhoto and Aperture
  • provides tethered shooting support for more digital cameras in Aperture 3
  • addresses IPTC metadata compatibility issues in Aperture 3
  • resolves an issue with using third-party USB webcams

Security -- On the security side, Mac OS X 10.6.4 eliminates 23 separate vulnerabilities, including problems in CUPS (Mac OS X's printing system), Mac OS X's handling of symlinks, iChat, image handling, Kerberos, URL handling, Open Directory, Ruby, the SMB file server, and - in Mac OS X Server - SquirrelMail and Wiki Server. These fixes are also available for Mac OS X 10.5.8 Leopard in Security Update 2010-004 (Leopard-Client) and Security Update 2010-004 (Leopard-Server).

A few things jumped out at us from the security notes. Most notably, the Mac OS X 10.6.4 Update includes Flash Player, which is itself significantly vulnerable, so if you haven't yet installed Flash Player, do so manually after updating to 10.6.4 (for more details, see "Adobe Flash Player Blocks 32 Security Holes," 11 June 2010). Luckily, it appears that Apple's delta installer does not overwrite the later Flash Player if you've already installed it. However, as our friend John Baxter discovered, the combo updater can install the older Flash Player over a newer version, so if you use the combo updater, be sure to check your Flash Player version after updating and reinstall manually if necessary.

Also, Apple describes a problem that has apparently existed for some time in Leopard and Snow Leopard, but is now fixed. "When 'Apply to enclosed items...' is selected in the Get Info window in the Finder, the ownership of the enclosed items is not changed. This may cause the enclosed files and folders to have unexpected permissions. This issue is addressed by applying the correct ownership." This comment is somewhat distressing, and if you've changed permissions for enclosed items via the Get Info window recently, you might wish to check to make sure the ownership is what you want it to be.

Snow Leopard Server -- In addition to the general fixes in the desktop version, Mac OS X Server 10.6.4 features its own collection of improvements, including fixes for:

  • CalDAV querying of email addresses with Active Directory and Open Directory servers
  • stability and reliability when accessing Wiki Server pages
  • viewing movies on Wiki Server with Safari on iPad
  • accessing public wikis when logged in to the Wiki Server
  • listing blogs on Wiki Server
  • vacation mail notices that span multiple days
  • updates from Software Update Server being viewable by clients
  • stability and reliability related to Software Update Server synchronization
  • downloading of software updates by Software Update Server
  • creating NetInstall images that include iLife updater packages

Downloading -- The specificity of these bug fixes means that you shouldn't necessarily hurry to download and install Mac OS X 10.6.4 until early adopters have had a chance to determine if there are any problems lurking in the release. Or, of course, unless you're experiencing one of the bugs that 10.6.4 addresses!

As usual, Mac OS X 10.6.4 is available in a variety of packages, including a special one for the just-released Mac mini (Mid 2010) that fixes some problems on that machine related to graphics compatibility and performance, and improves compatibility with large-format SDDXC memory cards.


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Comments about Mac OS X 10.6.4 Fixes Highly Specific Bugs
(Comments are closed.)

What about Apple Mail not able to send at random while still being able to receive?
Adam Engst  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2010-06-16 04:11
There wasn't anything about Mail in the release notes, so we'll just have to wait to hear from those people experiencing the problem.
Adam Engst  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2010-06-16 10:48
It has now become clear that Mail was updated (since it wants to upgrade the Mail database on first launch), but barring further testing, it's impossible to know what was fixed.
Jonathan Lundell  2010-06-16 17:30
Mail got bumped to 4.3 (from 4.2), so I suppose there's hope. I don't see anything about it in the notes. I've had some odd problems with the MobileMe mail beta, and am hoping they go away. Too intermittent to tell yet.
John Baxter  2010-06-15 21:41
I installed the combo 10.6.4 updater (mostly habit, but I do have two machines), and that install did downgrade Flash back to the vulnerable version. So if you use the Combo, check and (probably) update.
Adam Engst  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2010-06-16 04:06
Oh, that's good to know, thanks! I'll update the article. That definitely did not happen with the delta updater.
Nick Collingridge  2010-06-16 06:36
Can you clarify the comment about "Apply permissions to enclosed items...". It is not clear (at least to me) whether this is a problem that existed prior to 10.6.4 but which is fixed by the 10.6.4 update, or if it is a problem which exists following the 10.6.4 update. Thanks.
Adam Engst  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2010-06-16 09:24
Sorry, this is a fix to DesktopServices in the update, so the problem existed before 10.6.4. I'll clarify the wording.
Nick Collingridge  2010-06-16 06:39
I applied the 10.6.4 Combo update after I had previously applied the Flash Player 10.1 update and in my case the combo updater did NOT overwrite the newer version of Flash Player. I checked this by running the version test at
Adam Engst  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2010-06-16 09:23
Hmm, that's interesting, and in conflict with what John Baxter found. I don't think it's worth huge amounts of testing to come up with what will probably inconclusive results, so I'll just modify the article to recommend checking.
Andrew Laurence  2010-06-16 10:45
I installed the Combo updater and now have Prior to the update I was running the 'Gala' preview release,
Andrew Laurence  2010-06-16 10:42
Also fixed was a bug which cosmetically duplicated data from LDAP directories. I filed that bug, so I think this is an awesome update.
Michael Wenyon  2010-06-16 20:24
Since 10.6.3 our IMAP server passwords were being frequently rejected by's servers, taking those accounts offline. With two users who swap machines all day, we keep Mail open on both user accounts on both machines through fast user switching--four instances in total. Dreamhost said the server was regularly being overwhelmed by the number of simultaneous connections Mail was making from the same external IP address, and then rejected any more.

After 10.6.4, things are better: with four instances running again, checking every 5 mins, we had one password rejection all day today. Checking every 15 mins seems to work without password rejects at all (so far!)
WTF, they updated mail without indicating that in the release and that disables SpamSieve.
and it you try to put Spamsieve back, Mail spits it back out.
And on Mail, really wish they'd fix the "messages disappear until you rebuild your mailbox or restart bug."
Ian Downie  2010-06-21 15:10
The upgrade appears (so far, fingers crossed) to have cured the freezing cursor/unresponsive keyboard bug in my MacBook Pro which was introduced by 10.6.3. I 'cured' it by downgrading to 10.6.2 and since this was specifically mentioned amongst the bug fixes, I took the risk of applying the combo updater to update to 10.6.4. I did a safe boot and let Software Update do its work while still booted in Safe Boot mode.

The bug has not reared its head again, thank goodness. However, I have come across a few funnies like .doc files wanting to open with Pages, which I don't have and the system telling me that I am opening several applications for the first time. These may be related to my installing under Safe Boot mode, or not.
Julian Y. Koh  2010-06-21 19:18
The "improves reliability of VPN connections" relates to a bug I first reported back to Apple years ago after 10.3 or 10.4 started supporting L2TP/IPSec. Basically, whenever you connected to a Cisco VPN concentrator through a NAT device, renegotiating a new IPSec key would fail, and the connection would drop at whatever the rekeying interval was set to (default of 45-60 minutes). Apple claimed my bug report was a "duplicate" over and over again, and numerous Cisco people were unable to convince them as well. We finally found the right combination of Cisco and Apple SE's to help us out, and the bug was finally squashed in 10.6.4. Thanks to both Cisco and Apple for helping out with this, although Apple did refuse to classify this as a security bug and thus backport the fix to 10.5. :) Because of this bug, we've been stuck supporting PPTP connections on our Cisco concentrators for years.
Nancy Partner  2010-06-29 07:54
Speakers will not work with X.6.4: my external usb speakers (from G4 Cube) no longer have sound, although all settings are correct and speakers are "recognized". Quick web search shows that many people have discovered the same problem, with all usb external speakers. The problem seems to be AppleUSBAudio.kext (version 2.7.3) which replaced version 2.6.8 in the pre-update of X.6.
– Question: can I fix this by simply replacing 2.7.3 with the previous version (2.6.8) if I can find a copy?