Apple Updates Panther to 10.3.1 -- Late today, Apple released an update to Mac OS X 10.3 Panther, saying version 10.3.1 offers "enhanced functionality and improved reliability" with Panther's FileVault document encryption feature, printing technology, WebDAV networking, and FireWire 800 drives. Some people have reported that FileVault's Reclaim Disk Space feature wipes out personal data and preferences; hopefully this update addresses that problem, but it's not clear exactly what has been fixed. Our advice is still to avoid FileVault until it has seen more real-world use without problems.
The FireWire 800 fixes supposedly address widely reported user problems with external FireWire 800 drives becoming corrupted when computers are restarted after a Panther installation. Apple says they've "identified an issue with external FireWire hard drives using the Oxford 922 bridge chip-set with firmware version 1.02 that can result in the loss of data stored on the disk drive," and they still recommend upgrading the firmware of such hard drives, even though this software update apparently addresses some of the problem. In an omission we find concerning, Apple says nothing about FireWire 400 drives, though reports of problems running Panther with those drives continue to appear. Again, we caution restraint with all external FireWire drives until user reports appear, and if you must use one under Panther, make frequent backups and avoid restarting with the drive plugged into the Mac. The Mac OS X 10.3.1 Update is available via Software Update, and is a 1.3 MB download. [MHA]