The autumn harvest from Apple's programmers came in last week, as Apple updated almost their entire software product line. Although each major application saw revisions, most Mac users will be interested in Mac OS X 10.4.8, a bug-fix update that spans several areas of the operating system.
Notable changes include security enhancements, improved connections using the Apple USB Modem, support for the EAP-FAST protocol to improve wireless network authentication security, better compatibility with third-party USB hubs, better performance on some broadband networks, and improved camera RAW support. Also, Apple has addressed a few bugs that affect Microsoft Office, and fixed a problem where Rosetta code translation on Intel-based Macs could be inaccurate.
The coolest new feature is that if you hold down the Control key while scrolling with a scroll wheel (or a pseudo scroll wheel, such as is provided by Raging Menace's Side Track utility), the screen zooms smoothly. Screen zooming has been available for a long time (see the Universal Access preference pane), but using keyboard shortcuts to zoom in and out is awkward. Scroll wheel-based zooming, which you can control in the Mouse view of the Keyboard & Mouse preference pane (and where you can also choose another modifier key besides Control), will be a boon to anyone with less-than-perfect eyesight or presenters who want to focus on a particular aspect of the screen.
Mac OS X 10.4.8's release notes were chatty, for Apple, but we're still pondering several of the items, such as "Windows File Sharing now generates only one process, avoiding an issue that could cause a Mac OS X computer to become unresponsive if it won a master browser election" - might a recount help?
Then there's "Resolves an issue in which a Finder alert message with the buttons 'Initialize', 'Ignore', and 'Eject' might not appear after connecting a partitioned FireWire hard drive." We generally prefer not seeing that dialog when we connect FireWire hard drives of any sort, other than uninitialized ones.
And although Apple does explain this next comment in a link, our first reading had us desperately trying to recall our classes in theoretical physics: "Improves Apple File Sharing client performance by changing the default AFP WAN quantum size."
The update is available in several forms, depending on your machine. Software Update should deliver the correct version, but updaters are also available as stand-alone downloads. For the Intel updates, Apple notes that the computer will restart twice after the update has been applied. As with all system updates, we recommend making a backup before proceeding. You can find the updaters here:
- Mac OS X 10.4.8 Update (Intel) (206 MB)
- Mac OS X 10.4.8 Update (PPC) (31 MB)
- Mac OS X 10.4.8 Combo Update (Intel) (294 MB)
- Mac OS X 10.4.8 Combo Update (PPC) (149 MB)
- Mac OS X 10.4.8 Server Update (PPC) (62 MB)
- Mac OS X 10.4.8 Server Combo Update (PPC) (196 MB)
- Mac OS X 10.4.8 Server Update (Universal) (202 MB)