On March 15, 1995, Apple released the Macintosh System 7.5 Update 1.0 to the world. Although the appearance of this update might seem to follow right on the heels of the release of System 7.5, this series of patches and enhancements have been in development for some time - in fact, portions of it have circulated among selected developers since at least November of 1994. If you've heard rumors about System 7.5.1, this is it: once installed, your Macintosh reports that it's running System 7.5.1, and Apple plans to ship new Macs with 7.5.1 pre-installed.
Readers familiar with previous updates to the Macintosh system software - the System 7 Tune-Up, the various Hardware System Updates, System Update 3.0, and the Apple Multimedia Tuner - will note at least one major change with this update: it's big. System Update 1.0 consists of four high-density floppy disk images. Binhexed and placed online, these files weigh in around 5.2 MB. Even with a fast modem, be prepared to spend some time downloading this update.
What's Included -- Although previous system updates changed multiple system files (such as new printer drivers, a new Chooser, and so on), the System 7.5 Update takes this a little further by including updated system extensions and control panels (Launcher, WindowShade), system items previously available (such as MacTCP 2.0.6 and Speech Manager 1.3) as well as a brand-new Finder. Here's a look at some of the functional enhancements:
Here are a few highlights of some technical enhancements in the System 7.5 Update 1.0.
Update Problems and Tips -- This update hasn't been out for long, so any summary of problems is obviously premature. However, the following issues have so far emerged:
Where To Find It -- Apple has made System 7.5 Update 1.0 available on eWorld and from its usual array of Internet servers. Unfortunately, these Internet servers have been overwhelmed with traffic since the update became available. Apple quickly put up a new server - <temp.info.apple.com> - to help spread the load, but it's still extremely difficult to get through. Currently the update is officially available on three Internet servers: <temp.info.apple.com>, <ftp.info.apple.com>, and <ftp.support.apple.com>.
Here is the main FTP URL:
You might try substituting the name of another Apple server (see above) if you can't get through. Sneaky users might try using an HTTP URL (but that's left as an exercise for the reader, and the results have been mixed). However, one back door to the update that doesn't seem to have been completely overwhelmed (yet) is:
A word about FTPing this update: if you're connecting the Internet over a slow connection or a modem and you have access to a shell account on your Internet provider's machine, consider opening a shell session and FTPing the files to a directory on your provider's machine. Why? Apple's FTP servers are restricted to anywhere from 60 to 100 concurrent anonymous users, and in all likelihood your provider's Internet connection is considerably faster than your modem. In the event you manage to get through to Apple's FTP sites, a 14.4 Kbps modem would take nearly an hour to download the update - that's an entire hour that you're filling one of those 100 slots, which isn't an efficient use of the server's bandwidth. Using your provider's faster line, however, you might be able to download the update to your provider's machine in only a few minutes, thereby freeing that slot much more quickly. Once you've done this, you can download the files from your provider's machine at your leisure, without having to worry about finding an available FTP slot on Apple's machines.
Summary -- My Quadra and PowerBook have been running the System 7.5 Update since it was released (and two pre-release versions before that) with little trouble. The update eliminated three completely reproducible crashes or hangs on my system, one involving the Standard File dialogs, another involving opening Finder windows, and one with WindowShade. My machines don't seem any slower, and CPU benchmark utilities indicate no significant shift in system performance since installing the 7.5 Update.
Finally, one complaint about the System 7.5 Update remains: the "secret about box" that appeared with System 7.5 is gone. TidBITS readers might want to consider it their mission to discover and report any replacement Apple might have included.