Series: Mac OS X 10.1
Apple puts the spit and polish on its next-generation Unix-based operating system
Article 1 of 9 in series
On Saturday, 29-Sep-01, Apple started shipping the long-awaited Mac OS X 10.1, which brings the company's next-generation operating system a large step closer to the mainstream Macintosh audience. The first four minor updates to Mac OS X 10.0 fixed bugs and made behind-the-scenes improvements to the initial release of Mac OS XShow full article
On Saturday, 29-Sep-01, Apple started shipping the long-awaited Mac OS X 10.1, which brings the company's next-generation operating system a large step closer to the mainstream Macintosh audience.
The first four minor updates to Mac OS X 10.0 fixed bugs and made behind-the-scenes improvements to the initial release of Mac OS X. But they didn't change the user experience particularly, and that was where Mac OS X needed the most help. Third party utilities stepped in to help out and to restore useful bits of functionality from Mac OS 9, but even still, Mac OS X 10.0 felt distinctly rough. The good news is that Mac OS X 10.1 goes a long way toward polishing those rough surfaces. For the most part, the only downside is that Mac OS X remains a work in progress, so even though Apple has made great strides with this release, plenty more work remains to be done.
We'll look next at the major improvements and new features in Mac OS X 10.1, but first let's look at how you lay your hands on a copy.
Getting It -- The Mac OS X 10.1 upgrade is free to all owners of Mac OS X and purchasers of Macs that shipped with Mac OS X pre-installed. However, because Mac OS X 10.1's size forces it to be available only on CD-ROM, Apple is charging a $20 shipping and handling fee (plus local sales tax, which you must calculate yourself). The full upgrade package, available to U.S. and Canadian users via Apple's Mac OS Up-To-Date program through 31-Dec-01, includes a Mac OS X 10.1 upgrade CD, a full Mac OS 9.2.1 CD, an updated Developer Tools CD, and a user guide. Apple promises 6 to 12 week delivery times via UPS or First-Class Mail, though my copy - requested via fax on Thursday, 27-Sep-01 - arrived today. It's also possible to order the update directly from the Apple Store for $20 if you call them at 800/MY-APPLE - this approach could be faster than using the Mac OS Up-To-Date program.
You can avoid the fee and get Mac OS X 10.1 in person by going to an Apple Store or participating Apple dealer for an Instant Up-To-Date upgrade package that includes only a Mac OS X 10.1 upgrade CD, a Mac OS 9.2.1 upgrade CD, and a Mac OS X manual. The Instant Up-To-Date package will be available through 31-Oct-01 or while supplies last. To judge from today's reports on TidBITS Talk, supplies in many locations lasted only a few hours, although it's likely that Apple will replenish them - call ahead to verify that some are in stock.
Developers should note that the Instant Up-To-Date package lacks the new Developer Tools CD, which is necessary since the old tools will not work with Mac OS X 10.1. Although a free online membership in the Apple Developer Connection program enables developers to download the full set of updated developer tools beginning this week, the download is reportedly a massive 550 MB.
International Availability -- It appears that Apple is handling upgrades for customers in other countries similarly, given the almost identical pages on Apple's site for other countries in which Apple has a presence. To check out the Mac OS Up-To-Date program for another country, visit Apple's contact page linked below, click the link corresponding to Apple's home page for that country, append "macosx/uptodate/" to the end of the URL that appears in your Web browser's Address field, and press Return. The details of the Instant Up-To-Date program will undoubtedly vary somewhat; Kenneth Wedin passed on information in TidBITS Talk about how the Instant Up-To-Date program would work in Japan.
New Copies -- The full release of Mac OS X 10.1 is also now available for $130 from Apple, Apple dealers, and online retailers. To run it, you'll need a Macintosh based on the PowerPC G3 or PowerPC G4 processors (not including the original PowerBook G3 or processor upgrade cards) with at least 128 MB of RAM and 1.5 GB of free disk space.
For those who don't yet have Mac OS X, the question becomes: is now the time to upgrade? Read on for our take on the major improvements in Mac OS X 10.1, and after that we'll provide guidance on determining if you should make the jump now or continue to wait.
Article 2 of 9 in series
At the July 2001 Macworld Expo in New York, Steve Jobs previewed Mac OS X 10.1, wowing the audience with a demonstration that promised massive speed improvements, the return of features previously exclusive to Mac OS 9, and a host of interface tweaks to address the most glaring of Mac OS X's usability holesShow full article
At the July 2001 Macworld Expo in New York, Steve Jobs previewed Mac OS X 10.1, wowing the audience with a demonstration that promised massive speed improvements, the return of features previously exclusive to Mac OS 9, and a host of interface tweaks to address the most glaring of Mac OS X's usability holes. Now that Mac OS X 10.1 is here, let's look at the major changes. Rest assured that there are many smaller ones that we lack the space to cover here, which we'll write more about in future issues.
Spit and Polish, Quickly -- The worst problem suffered by Mac OS X 10.0 was performance. Throwing lots of RAM and processor power (particularly a PowerPC G4 with the Velocity Engine coprocessor) at the problem helped, but PowerPC G3-based Macs, and particularly those on the lower end of the RAM scale, were unacceptably slow. My 250 MHz PowerBook G3 Series with 160 MB of RAM couldn't even restart in Mac OS X 10.0 without timing out.
Mac OS X 10.1 reduces or eliminates performance problems across the board. The most notable improvement comes in the previously dismal performance when launching applications. Wags immediately coined the term "bouncemarks" - the number of times an application's icon bounced in the Dock - as a measure of launch speed. On my 500 MHz iBook (Dual USB) with 320 MB of RAM, I checked Internet Explorer 5.1 and System Preferences before and after installing 10.1, and both were significantly faster (though, to be fair, it's entirely likely that Internet Explorer's improvement was due to its own changes, not Mac OS X 10.1's). Applications launch more quickly after having been run once (presumably due to resources being cached or more easily located), and in my tests Internet Explorer initially took 15 bounces on the first launch, and 10 on subsequent launches. In Mac OS X 10.1, Internet Explorer took only 6 bounces on the first launch and 2 on subsequent ones. System Preferences went from 6 and 5 bounces (first/subsequent) to 4 and 2 bounces under 10.1. Unfortunately, I didn't think to test more applications before upgrading, but I can say with assurance under 10.1 that application launch time is no longer a major issue.
Many other common actions, such as moving windows, resizing windows, navigating through menus, dragging icons, and so on also feel more responsive, although it's difficult to quantify the difference. Most Mac OS X users won't see the interface speed demonstrated during Steve Jobs's keynote at Macworld Expo in New York in July - that was a demo and while not necessarily rigged, certainly wasn't representative across the board. Part of the problem is that even Mac OS X 10.1 isn't as snappy as Mac OS 9 for these actions. It almost can't be, since Mac OS 9 uses performance-enhancing tricks like resizing only the outline of a window, rather than the window itself, as happens in Mac OS X. Using Thousands of colors rather than Millions in Mac OS X's Display preference panel seems to help a little by reducing the amount of data Mac OS X has to manipulate to resize a window or drop a translucent menu.
Apple also introduced a new minimizing effect called Scale - it's perceptually faster than the old Genie effect, though the actual difference is probably only about half of a second. I've not noticed any benefit here, in part because the concept of minimizing windows to the Dock remains foreign to me - I prefer leaving application windows visible so I can use them as large buttons for application switching (which still annoys me in 10.1, since switching to an application with multiple windows by clicking a window reveals only the clicked window and no others, whereas clicking the application's icon on the Dock brings all of that application's windows to the front). Other perceptual niceties - like the zoom rectangles that accompanied application launches in Mac OS 9 - are still missing.
Finally, Apple claims that OpenGL is 20 percent faster in 10.1 and has native support for the Nvidia GeForce 3 video card, thus improving 3D rendering speed. This improvement should help performance of certain games significantly.
The only notable place I noticed no speed improvement was in starting Classic - it took 90 seconds the first time and 60 seconds on subsequent launches both before and after upgrading to 10.1. Other reports seem to contradict my experience, though. I didn't use applications under Classic sufficiently in 10.0 to have noticed whether or not they're faster under 10.1, although again, some reports indicate that Classic performance has improved, particularly on slower machines.
No Longer MIA -- Apple has been adding major missing features to Mac OS X - like CD burning in iTunes - throughout the four minimal updates to 10.0, but 10.1 offers a few more features to which Mac OS 9 users have become accustomed. Most notable is DVD playback, for all those people watching movies on their PowerBooks and iBooks on long flights (though DVD Player 3.0 works only on Macs with built-in DVD-ROM drives and AGP graphics, and doesn't yet support watching DVD movies on a PowerBook or iBook connected to a television or external monitor). DVD Player 3.0 sports a new and better interface, and shows off Mac OS X's multitasking capabilities; a friend with a PowerBook G4 Titanium played a DVD in DVD Player, played some MP3s in iTunes, and checked email, all at the same time without any hiccups. DVD authoring will also come to Mac OS X in 10.1 with the release of iDVD 2, available soon, and only for Mac OS X 10.1. And for those who have become fond of burning data CDs on their desktops, Mac OS X 10.1 now offers the capability to burn data CD-ROMs from the Finder. If you do so often, you can even add a Burn button to your toolbar in Finder windows.
Networking has also been enhanced with the addition of a version of the AirPort Admin Utility for Mac OS X, so you can now manage AirPort Base Stations without having to reboot back to Mac OS 9 (although Mac OS X still lacks Mac OS 9's extremely handy Software Base Station capability). Plus, Mac OS X 10.1 can now connect to AFP (Apple File Protocol) servers over AppleTalk as well as TCP/IP, which makes it easier for a Mac running Mac OS X to coexist on legacy networks with older AppleTalk-based AppleShare servers. New in the Mac OS in general is a built-in SMB (Server Message Block) client that enables Mac OS X to connect to SMB-based Windows and Unix file servers (though doing so requires you to type an SMB URL in the Connect to Server dialog box; see Apple's Knowledge Base for full instructions). In Mac OS 9, a utility like Dave from Thursby Systems or DoubleTalk from Connectix was necessary to access SMB servers, and if Apple's implementation doesn't become easier to use, there will still be a market for Dave and DoubleTalk.
Apple also beefed up support for printers in Mac OS X 10.1, such that it boasts over 200 PostScript printer description files for printers from Hewlett-Packard, Lexmark, and Xerox. Also supposedly improved is support for USB printers (although my Epson Stylus Photo 860 merely shows up as an unsupported printer when I plug in it).
AppleScript support has improved significantly, with additional scripting support in the Finder, plus scripting support within many of the operating system's standard components, like Print Center, Internet Connect, and Terminal. More impressive are the many bundled AppleScript scripts, some of which are useful examples (such as one that queries an Internet site for stock quotes or current temperatures via Mac OS X's new Web Services XML communication capabilities) and others of which actually provide missing functionality (a Switch to Finder script works like the Application menu's Hide Others command in Mac OS 9's Finder). Check them out in the Scripts folder in the Library folder. Even more scripts with useful tweaks to the Finder (such as opening a pair of Finder windows positioned for easy copying of items from one to the other) are available online from Apple. Promised on Apple's Mac OS X Web pages, but not yet available, is AppleScript Studio, which purports to let scripters create application interfaces with AppleScript. Although I've never found AppleScript as simple as HyperTalk (the language built into Apple's long-suffering HyperCard), I suspect the lack of built-in interface tools has been equally as daunting for many of those who appreciated HyperCard's capabilities for building stand-alone custom applications.
Last but not least, Apple has bundled the final release of Microsoft's Internet Explorer 5.1 browser, which differs primarily from the 5.0 version of Mac OS 9 in its support for Java 2 and the addition of several useful interface touches controlled from the Interface Extras panel of Internet Explorer's Preferences dialog box. It's difficult to see how much better Java 2 support really is - I found some Java applets that worked right and others that didn't, and I wasn't able to figure out how to evaluate any real world Java performance improvements.
Smoother Aqua Sailing -- With Mac OS X 10.1, Apple has listened to the user feedback many of you have sent in about the new Aqua interface, and although Mac OS X's Aqua interface has by no means reached the maturity level of Mac OS 9 yet, it has definitely improved. Do keep sending in your feedback - it's clearly having an effect.
Having longer file names in Mac OS X was generally considered a step up from the previous limit of 31 characters, but Mac OS X 10.0 removed characters from the middle of the filename when it was too long to display, making it near impossible to differentiate between some similarly named files. Apple addressed this limitation in 10.1 by letting file names wrap to two lines in icon view and by making the columns resizable in Finder windows using the Column view. Drag the resize thumb at the bottom of a column to resize all columns equally; Option-drag a resize thumb to resize only that column.
Files in Mac OS X often have extensions, thanks to the operating system's Unix heritage. Although the classic Mac OS's more modern file type and creator information is still used (and used preferentially over extensions, if it's present), extensions are unlikely to go away. In 10.1, Apple hides filename extensions by default and has added an option to the Finder Preferences (look in the Finder's Finder menu) to show them on a system-wide basis.
Unfortunately, it's not that simple, and in the process, Apple has created a thoroughly confusing morass. Individual files can override the system-wide setting for showing extensions (check the Name & Extension panel of the Get Info window), but the rules for why any given file will ignore the system-wide setting remain inexplicable. For instance, if you create a file in TextEdit while the "Always show file extensions" setting is on in the Finder, that file will always display its extension, even if you later change the system-wide setting. And some filename extensions, like .html, are always set to display unless you specifically change them in the Get Info window. Apple tries to avoid some obvious problems, so if you change a file's extension while "Always show file extensions" is on, you're asked if you know what you're doing, since the change could make the file open in an application that can't read it. The entire system needs revamping - requiring arbitrary filename extensions is both poor user interface and design laziness. Apple's limp defenses of "that's how other operating systems do it" and "it's easier for Mac users to share files across platforms" are just weak - documents are created in applications, and if those applications are used across platforms, they can shoulder the burden of encouraging users to add filename extensions upon saving, as Microsoft has done well with the Microsoft Office suite.
The Dock, though essentially unchanged, has one extremely welcome new feature - you can position it on the right or left edges of the screen as well as the bottom, where it tends to obscure window scroll arrows and resize boxes. Applications can now display custom menus from their Dock icons, and when an application needs attention, its application jumps in the Dock like a kid in class begging to be called on. Apple also reduced Dock clutter by moving Dock extras to the menu bar, just to the left of the clock. Controls for switching between monitor resolutions, seeing modem status, adjusting volume, showing battery status, and switching between AirPort networks can all now appear in the menu bar (check their related System Preferences panels for controls to toggle the menu bar display). Although the Dock desperately needed to save the space wasted on Dock extras, I fear the menu bar will soon become overloaded, particularly if other developers start to put their icons up there too. One criticism - though much of Mac OS X's interface is highly attractive, the almost-crude and primarily monochrome menu bar icons seem as graphically out of place as the disclosure triangles in the Finder's List view.
Speaking of System Preferences, in Mac OS X 10.1 Apple reorganized the window by function, grouping the different preference panels by Personal, Hardware, Internet & Network, and System. The categorization improves the cluttered feel from previous versions, although it seems a bit arbitrary, and as with the menu bar icons, I fear it won't scale well if developers are allowed to add their own preference panels.
Several new preference panels have appeared, including Desktop (where you set the desktop picture), and General, which bundles together options for appearance, highlight color, scroll arrows (missing is my favorite approach - double scroll arrows at the top and bottom of the scroll bar), scroll action, recent items, and text smoothing. I've always turned off text smoothing in Mac OS 9 for fonts under 18 point, since the hand-tuned fonts display better than the machine rendered anti-aliasing to my eyes. But Mac OS X apparently lacks hand-tuned fonts, since the system font characters and character spacing are terrible without anti-aliasing turned on in Mac OS X, especially at small sizes.
Many of the existing preference panels have changed as well. The Keyboard preference panel still lacks support for customizing function keys, as in Mac OS 9, but Apple has brought back the Sticky Keys and Mouse Keys components of Universal Access, a welcome change for those with certain disabilities or who prefer to avoid the mouse entirely (see "Accessibility on the Mac: Access Solutions" in TidBITS-569). The Network preference panel renamed the Advanced panel to Active Network Ports, which is good, since "Advanced" doesn't tell you anything about what's in there (I once spent quite some time troubleshooting network problems that were related to the order of the active network ports). The Energy Saver preference panel now lets you display the battery status in the menu bar, but otherwise remains far less flexible than the Mac OS 9 version, and some initial reports claim that 10.1 once again sucks battery power in laptops unnecessarily. In the Sharing preference panel, you can now allow other users to send Apple events to your computer for controlling local applications, but on the downside, Web Sharing appears to be broken in 10.1 for many people, myself included, and never gets past the startup up phase.
There are certainly more small changes in Mac OS X 10.1 that may make the difference for you between upgrading from Mac OS 9 and not, but those will have to wait for another article. However, the question of whether or not to upgrade is up next.
Article 3 of 9 in series
The real question I'm sure many of you are asking at this point is if Mac OS X 10.1 is good enough to entice those who haven't yet set themselves up to be Apple's guinea pigsShow full article
The real question I'm sure many of you are asking at this point is if Mac OS X 10.1 is good enough to entice those who haven't yet set themselves up to be Apple's guinea pigs. Let me table the answer to that question briefly first and address the guinea pigs.
Run, don't walk, to your local Apple dealer and get a copy of Mac OS X 10.1 via the Instant Up-To-Date program (and if that's not possible, send in your $20 for the full Mac OS Up-To-Date upgrade, especially if you need the updated developer tools). The closest I've found to a reason not to upgrade instantly is that the current beta release of Retrospect Client for Mac OS X from Dantz Development can't do a full system restore in 10.1, although Dantz's testing indicates that restoring user-created documents should work. If you're doing real work on Mac OS X and relying on the Retrospect Client beta, I'd recommend extra caution. Otherwise though, 10.1 is better than 10.0 in every way I can see, and if it hasn't yet sanded down every rough edge, well, Apple developers are only human too.
Now, for you fence-sitters: I think Apple has done their job in getting Mac OS X ready for prime time with this release, so now the question of whether to make the switch comes down to other variables.
Does Mac OS X actually offer you anything useful? If you're happy with your existing setup and you don't feel the need to start moving toward the future at the moment, there's no shame in sticking with what you're using now. At the same time, Mac OS X 10.1 is good enough that I'm starting to feel excitement - rather than constant irritation - when I play with it on my iBook.
Have the applications you need to use been carbonized, and if not, are the existing versions sufficiently functional under Classic? Here the responsibility falls at least in part to Macintosh developers (there are still problems that only Apple can resolve that may hamper developers). If the applications you need are not ready now, check again at Macworld San Francisco in January of 2002.
Would switching to Mac OS X mean the loss of any necessary peripherals? You can always boot back into Mac OS 9, but that shouldn't be necessary for a device you need to use regularly. Driver support for new peripherals should continue to improve, although I wouldn't put money on particularly elderly peripherals, especially those accessed through USB converters, being supported.
Are you willing to invest the time in learning and configuring an entirely new operating system, complete with a whole new set of quirks and foibles? It takes time to read the mailing lists for configuration tips and to hunt down the shareware utilities that eliminate interface irritations. But there's an undeniable satisfaction in getting a system just right, and doing that in the classic Mac OS hasn't been particularly challenging for some time.
Whatever you decide, rest assured that Apple is serious about improving Mac OS X and standardizing on it at some point in the future. This new version shows what Apple can do, and I have increasingly high hopes that future versions will finish playing catch-up with Mac OS 9 and start forging new ground.
Article 4 of 9 in series
by Jeff Carlson
As I continue to play with Mac OS X 10.1, I'm realizing something unexpected: it's actually kind of fun to explore and poke at this new environment. I've used previous versions of Mac OS X off and on, but like many people I was waiting for 10.1 to sink my teeth (and time) into the new operating systemShow full article
As I continue to play with Mac OS X 10.1, I'm realizing something unexpected: it's actually kind of fun to explore and poke at this new environment. I've used previous versions of Mac OS X off and on, but like many people I was waiting for 10.1 to sink my teeth (and time) into the new operating system. What follows is a collection of things - initial reactions, discoveries, or just features we think deserve more attention - gathered by the TidBITS staff and extended TidBITS community.
Before we go further though, a few quick corrections to last week's article. First, zoom rectangles are present when launching applications and opening documents in Mac OS X 10.1, though not when opening folders, as is true in Mac OS 9. We'll clean our screens better next time. Also, the online version of the Developer Tools CD is only 187 MB, not the massive 550 MB we'd heard previously. Plus, several people on TidBITS Talk have debated our assertion that file extensions were the result of Mac OS X's Unix heritage, though Apple's decision to put such emphasis on file extensions has come under almost universal derision. Worth a read, along with the many other discussions of Mac OS X 10.1.
One last thing - for those who have found that Web Sharing breaks under 10.1, it's because Apple added a module to Mac OS X's Apache configuration in the Web Sharing Update that preceded Mac OS X 10.1's release, but in the release itself, changed the name by which they reference the module in Apache's settings file. Unfortunately, Apple forgot to change the name of the module itself, causing a mismatch. Stepwise.com has posted a line of Unix commands that you can paste into the Terminal to fix the problem.
More Power to the Portables -- As a PowerBook G4 owner, I've noticed a few welcome improvements in Mac OS X 10.1. The keyboard commands for changing screen brightness and sound volume now work, even elegantly: the large indicators that appear on screen are obvious but not intrusive, and fade away when you're finished. (Earlier iBooks still have some problems, though; Apple's Knowledge Base articles have more information.)
Another helpful addition is found in the Mouse preference panel, under the Trackpad tab. Enable the option labeled Ignore Trackpad while typing if you often accidentally touch the trackpad while typing, which positions the cursor somewhere else in your document or email message.
Some portable areas still need improvement. Battery usage is still nowhere near as efficient as when running under Mac OS 9. The battery on my machine needs to be recharged about an hour earlier than when I'm running Mac OS 9; you may still want to avoid Mac OS X on long flights if you don't have a spare battery. And I've read reports that leaving a portable in sleep mode overnight without a charger results in a drained battery in the morning. iBook (Dual USB) owners have also complained about continually ejecting the optical drive tray by accidentally pressing the F12/Eject key while aiming for Delete - something that was easily mapped out in Mac OS 9's Keyboard control panel.
My main gripe, however, is the inability to switch between the built-in LCD screen and an external monitor without shutting down. I typically use the PowerBook on its own at the office, put it to sleep during my commute, and connect it to my Apple Studio Display at home. This wasn't possible at all under Mac OS X 10.0, and it's a tease in 10.1, briefly waking up to display the desktop before snoozing off again. The consequences were worse going the other direction: after disconnecting the monitor, I accidentally woke the PowerBook, which didn't activate the backlight. Restarting the machine gave me a very dim screen, and only zapping the PRAM and booting into Mac OS 9 solved the problem. For the time being, I drop back into Mac OS 9 before going to bed, so Retrospect on my Power Mac 7600 can back up my data during the night, and switch back into Mac OS X when I reach the office (waiting for Classic to load is a great excuse to go make coffee).
The Keys to the Kingdom -- Adam mentioned last week that Apple has reintroduced the Sticky Keys and Mouse Keys components of Universal Access, which is especially significant for disabled users (also see Joe Clark's "Accessibility on the Mac" series of articles beginning in TidBITS-568). However, there's still no equivalent to Apple's old utility CloseView, which magnifies areas of the screen for the visually impaired.
Another addition that some users will appreciate is the capability to assign shortcuts to control certain interface elements from the keyboard, including the menu bar, Dock, toolbars, and palettes. For this functionality, turn on Full Keyboard Access in the Keyboard preference panel. It also offers the capability to tab to any control in a window, including radio buttons, pop-up menus, and tabs. Mac OS X previously seemed too mouse-intensive, so this level of keyboard control is a smart addition.
Apple has also reinstated screenshot hot keys: Command-Shift-3 takes a picture of the entire screen, and Command-Shift-4 gives you a selection cursor and takes a picture of the selection. Screenshots are still named "Picture 1," with incrementing numbers, and are stored on the desktop (which is the desktop for the current user); screenshots taken in Classic applications, though, are stored at the top level of the hard disk or partition where your Classic system resides. Add the Control key to either keyboard combination to copy the screen or selection to the clipboard instead of sending it to a file. There's no way to restrict the selection to the active window automatically, as in Mac OS 9; for that (and all the other features anyone serious about screenshots needs), you'll need a utility like Ambrosia's Snapz Pro X.
General System Stuff -- Mac OS X 10.1 is a big update in terms of size as well as importance. Steve Jobs has said that people will be discovering new things long after they've installed the software, and I believe him based on the following miscellaneous changes.
People who deal with more than one language on a regular basis will notice that Mac OS X 10.1 increases support for other languages, adding Czech, Hungarian, Polish, Slovak, Bulgarian, Russian, Ukrainian, Icelandic, and Turkish. Typing text in Chinese and Korean requires a localized version of Mac OS X (text in those languages can be read, however). Tom Gewecke <firstname.lastname@example.org>, who has written about using other languages on the Mac (see "Unleashing Your Multilingual Mac" in TidBITS-557), points out that the Thai keyboard present in Mac OS X 10.0 seems to have disappeared, and there's no word on when Indic, Hebrew, and Arabic (which are available in Mac OS 9) might appear.
When Apple brought back Apple menu functionality in Mac OS X, it reinstated the capability to access recent applications and documents. However, it was limited to displaying only five of each, which bordered on useless. Now, the General preference panel includes pop-up menus to specify a number of items to show, ranging between 5 and 50.
Copying files picks up a feature more familiar to Windows users. Instead of dragging files to a new location to copy them, you can select one or more files, choose Copy (Command-C) from the Edit menu, navigate to the new location, and choose Paste (Command-V) from the Edit menu to complete the copy action. Note that this feature only copies files - there's no way to use it to move files, which limits its utility. The feature is welcome for those of us who aren't quite accustomed to the way Finder windows operate or who find them clumsier than in Mac OS 9, where dragging from one window to another wasn't difficult. Although I know I can make folders always open in new windows as they do in Mac OS 9 (you'll find this option in the Finder's preferences, and if you want to do it only occasionally, try Command-double-clicking the folder icon), I want to give the new style of using just one window a chance to prove itself. So, copying a file or folder, then navigating to a new location and pasting the files is a quick and easy alternative.
And speaking of the Finder, the visual geek in me is happy that I can now change my hard disk icons, which previously displayed pictures of metallic hard drives (objects most users have never even seen). Use the Finder's Show Info command to copy and paste icons. Web sites such as the Iconfactory and xicons.com are regularly adding new icon sets that you can download.
I'm also extremely pleased to report that Finder windows set to display in List view now remember column widths. Plus, a few controls that should have appeared in the first releases of Mac OS X are now present, including a Set Time Now button in the Network Time tab of the Date & Time preference panel, and a checkbox toggling the Empty Trash warning located in the Finder's preferences (although the Empty Trash warning doesn't give you any details of how much will be deleted, as did the version in Mac OS 9 - even using Show Info on the Trash doesn't reveal this information).
Apple updated more than just the operating system, of course, as pointed out by TidBITS reader Tomoharu Nishino <email@example.com>, who discovered the capability to encrypt disk images using AES encryption in the Disk Copy utility. AES (Advanced Encryption Standard) is the proposed successor to the U.S. government-approved DES (Data Encryption Standard). "One thing I miss dearly is PGPdisk, which I use to carry around sensitive data. It looks like Disk Copy will tide me over until the PGP suite of tools becomes available for Mac OS X." Nishino also points out that Palm synchronization under Classic is working again, an interim solution until Palm releases a Mac OS X version of Palm Desktop by the end of the year.
Internet Explorer 5.1 -- Adam mentioned last week that Internet Explorer 5.1 is now more responsive under Mac OS X 10.1, but Microsoft also added a few goodies to its browser. Check Internet Explorer's Preferences window for the new Interface Extras pane, which gives you three new options.
You can decide if the first click in the Address field should select the entire URL (useful for copying URLs) or place the insertion point where the click was (useful for editing URLs).
When another application asks Internet Explorer to visit a page, you can now choose whether Internet Explorer should reuse the front browser window or open a new one. I generally prefer opening multiple windows, since I often read numerous related pages at the same time, switching back and forth to compare information.
When new browser windows open, you can choose whether they should start with all of Internet Explorer's many toolbars expanded or use the state of the current default window.
As a last tip, there's a new hidden feature in Internet Explorer 5.1 that's ideal for anyone on a slow Internet connection. You've long been able to Command-click a link to open it in a new window. Now you can Command-Shift-click links to open them in new windows behind the current one. That way they load in the background while you continue reading the frontmost page - it's a great feature.
Bold Explorations -- Perhaps the most telling reason why Mac OS X 10.1 will start to make inroads into the Macintosh mainstream is that exploring this new version often results in useful little discoveries. All too frequently in previous versions of Mac OS X, explorations were simply met with failure - all you found was a lack of interface functionality, a lack of flexibility, and an almost complete lack of customizability, all viewed through a lens of poor performance. We're clearly still in the phase of adding back to Mac OS X the features that set Mac OS 9 apart from the madding crowd, but we're within sight of being able to add innovative features.
Article 5 of 9 in series
by Matt Neuburg
The dust has settled, and Mac OS X 10.1 has brought Apple's new operating system from embryo to infancy. We all have our favorite features: the new keyboard shortcuts for controlling menus and dialogs, copy and paste (and Undo!) to manipulate files in the Finder, the restoration of AppleScript to something approaching first-class citizenshipShow full article
The dust has settled, and Mac OS X 10.1 has brought Apple's new operating system from embryo to infancy. We all have our favorite features: the new keyboard shortcuts for controlling menus and dialogs, copy and paste (and Undo!) to manipulate files in the Finder, the restoration of AppleScript to something approaching first-class citizenship. But what's the worst thing about Mac OS X? That question is rhetorical, so don't answer; I'm going to tell you. No, it isn't the file extensions crudding up the end of file names (though I'd be willing to admit the closeness of the race there). It isn't the lack of support for your favorite peripheral, either. For me, it's the Open and Save dialog boxes.
Since System 6, I've been outraged at Apple's Open and Save dialogs. To see why, all you have to do is watch my mother use a Mac. Here's this computer whose default environment (called the Finder, though she doesn't quite grasp that) is a wonderful and easy way of navigating the file system. She has become accustomed to, and quite adept with, the way this works. But then, every time she wants to open or save a file, she is suddenly confined to a little dialog that works in a completely different and much clumsier way. This confuses her utterly. She doesn't know where she is or how to get to the place where she wants to be; missing are all the Finder's visual cues that have come to mean "a place on the computer" and all her shortcuts and standard actions for reaching places quickly.
Developers have complained to Apple about this at every World-Wide Developer Conference talk-back session for the past decade or more. With Mac OS X, Apple had a chance to fix this long-standing problem, to root it out and start all over from scratch. And they fumbled the opportunity almost entirely.
I say "almost" because one or two things are definitely improved. The new Open and Save dialogs have a multi-column arrangement, so it's easier to get a sense of where you are in the file hierarchy. The menu interface to commonly used and "favorite" folders is far better than in the Mac OS 9 Navigation Services dialog, so you're much more likely to use it; and some recently used folders are included. Some improvements introduced with Navigation Services are carried forward as well. The dialogs can be resized (though you may not guess this in Mac OS X, since they sometimes don't show their grow handles). And if you can arrange the windows acceptably, you can drop a file or folder from the Finder into an Open or Save dialog as a way of navigating to it; this strongly mitigates the frustrating situation where you could actually see the file or folder you wanted, right behind the dialog in the Finder, but you had to go through navigational contortions to reach it in the dialog itself.
Finder Mimicry? But the question remains: why don't the Open and Save dialogs work like Mac OS X's Finder? (Let's skip the broader question of why there are Open and Save dialogs at all; I've always thought that when you want to open or save a file you should just find yourself in the Finder. But perhaps that's too much to ask.)
The Finder has several views: icon view, list view, and column view. The Open and Save dialogs have only one: column view. Why? What if that isn't the view you'd like? What's wrong with list view? It isn't multi-columnar, but it has some important advantages: in particular, it can be sorted on criteria other than the filename. Why can't the Open and Save dialogs let you do that?
Furthermore, the column view in Open and Save dialogs isn't really the column view at all; it's just a pale and inconsistent imitation of the way the Finder does it. The similarity to the real column view, combined with the differences, results in confusion. For example, the Finder's column view now lets you widen and narrow the columns manually, so that you can see the entirety of long names; the Open and Save dialogs do not. In the Finder, holding the Option key lets you immediately see all of a long name that's otherwise curtailed; in the Open and Save dialog, it doesn't (you have to float the cursor over the name and wait, drumming your fingers, until the tooltip deigns to appear).
Worst of all, keyboard navigation works differently, so much so that behaviors you've learned navigating in Finder windows can foul you up in Open and Save dialogs. In the Finder, Tab and Shift-Tab navigate levels, whereas in the Open and Save dialogs they rocket you out of the file navigation area altogether. In the Finder, you can use left and right arrows to navigate levels, and use the up and down arrows to navigate the level you're in (plus typing a name to jump to the first item with that letter); but in the Open and Save dialogs these work inconsistently. Sometimes right-arrow works; sometimes it does nothing - even though I can see the level I want to navigate down to, I can't get there by using the keyboard. Sometimes left-arrow does nothing; sometimes it works; sometimes it navigates up a level but instead of selecting the containing folder, the alphabetically first folder at that level is selected (as if I'd hit left-arrow and then up-arrow many times). And for some real confusion, just try pressing the up-arrow or down-arrow repeatedly in Open and Save dialogs in Carbon applications.
Typing a letter key is no better. Sometimes I type a letter and find myself in an unfamiliar part of the file hierarchy with no relation to where I intended to go. Sometimes I type a letter and the whole file navigation area of the dialog goes blank!
To experience this insanity, you need a Carbon application, because part of the problem is that Carbon and Cocoa work differently in this respect. Let's use Sherlock. In Sherlock, choose File -> Open Search Criteria, and in the Open sheet, navigate to the top level of your Mac OS X hard drive. Using arrow keys only, navigate down to /Library/Scripts/URLs. So far so good, but now you're stuck; the right-arrow key won't move you into the URLs folder. Now hit the down-arrow key. Were you able to guess what would happen? Do you know where you are now? Hit up-arrow to try to return to where you were. You should now be very confused; the dialog's navigation area may well be blank, and you may see some odd cosmetic glitches at the left side of the sheet. I think I can deduce the keyboard navigation "rules" here, but there's little point, since they're both hellishly difficult to obey and capriciously inconsistent with keyboard navigation in both the Finder and Cocoa application Open and Save dialogs.
This situation is unacceptable. Too long - for over 600 issues of TidBITS - we users have been subject to this silly dichotomy, where there are two completely different ways of navigating the file hierarchy, the Finder and the Open and Save dialogs. Let us not sit meekly by! When you see the Open and Save dialogs behaving badly, don't just shrug and accept the situation. Send Apple back to the drawing board and ask them to fix not just the unnecessary inconsistencies, but the whole shooting match! Open and Save dialogs should work just like the Finder! The time to pound the table is now, and the URL at which to do it is below.
Article 6 of 9 in series
Mac OS X 10.1's significant improvements in performance and usability may have plenty of people considering a switch from the reliable workhorse of Mac OS 9, but it seems clear we can never go home again with regard to the issue of securityShow full article
Mac OS X 10.1's significant improvements in performance and usability may have plenty of people considering a switch from the reliable workhorse of Mac OS 9, but it seems clear we can never go home again with regard to the issue of security. A number of security issues, most with Mac OS X's Unix underpinnings, have surfaced since the operating system's initial release, and although the Mac OS X 10.1 release offered fixes for a number of concerns that had arisen, three more cropped up almost immediately. One affected Internet Explorer 5.1, another dogs WebDAV and iDisk, and a third enables any application to run with root privileges. Apple reacted more quickly than in the past, publishing a workaround for the Internet Explorer problem within days and offering fixes for the Internet Explorer and root access problems on 19-Oct-01, less than three weeks after Mac OS X 10.1 shipped.
That's good, but other aspects of Apple's approach to addressing security issues remain problematic. After an initial quiet period following the release of Mac OS X 10.0 during which many (including TidBITS) called for Apple to make public statements about security breaches, Apple finally created a security announcement mailing list and a set of related Web pages, one of which lists security updates to Mac OS X. Unfortunately, the mailing list has been used only once since it was created in May of 2001, and then only to tell subscribers to visit the Security Updates page. Worse, that page has not yet been updated to explain the 19-Oct-01 fixes. Even if it's not completely up to date, it's worth visiting that page periodically to see at least those security concerns Apple has acknowledged and addressed.
Let's look at the three recent issues, including the concern with WebDAV and iDisk, which remains outstanding.
Mac OS X Easily Rooted -- Although we generally think of crackers taking over machines remotely over the Internet, local exploits are becoming a concern to some users given Mac OS X's Unix underpinnings and multi-user capabilities,. In previous versions of the Mac OS, anyone who could sit down at a Mac unprotected by third-party software (or in Mac OS 9, Apple's built-in file encryption) could access any data on the Mac. The old Multiple Users feature was helpful for keeping kids from messing up a Mac, but wouldn't stop anyone who wanted to break through. With Mac OS X, though, there's more of an assumption of security, so it was troubling to discover that there was a trivially easy way to gain root access for anyone at the desktop, even if you've never enabled root access. All you had to do was launch certain applications that always run as root (like NetInfo Manager, Disk Utility, or Print Center), then launch another application from the Apple menu's Recent Items menu (or from anywhere in the Apple menu). Apple fixed this problem with Security Update 10-19-01, available via the Software Update preferences panel (choose About this Mac from the Apple menu, then click "Version 10.1". If "Version 10.1" is replaced with "Build 5L14", you have the fix.) You may still find it interesting to read Stepwise.com's explanation of how this breach worked.
Why was this a concern? From the Unix perspective, root access is a big deal, since it gives someone complete control over the machine despite any previous restrictions. But from the perspective of a normal Mac owner, who likely has only a single user and has that user set to login at startup, this security hole wasn't a major concern. I'm far less worried about someone gaining root on my iBook locally than stealing it, which seems a lot more likely given the need to have physical access to the machine. To be fair, the discovery of this exploit also points out the need to be careful with remote control programs like Netopia's Timbuktu Pro and the various VNC servers and clients.
For an additional bit of perspective, remember that anyone can reboot a Mac OS X system using a Mac OS installation CD or a copy of Mac OS 9 installed on the hard disk. Afterwards, this person has full control of the system, since Mac OS 9 doesn't recognize or honor Mac OS X file permissions on local disks. Apple is working on securing Open Firmware to close these holes, but Open Firmware restrictions can still be bypassed by resetting Open Firmware or transplanting the disk to another computer. As a result, this local root exploit is best thought of a reminder that anyone with physical access to a machine effectively has full control over it, despite any software security short of an encrypted filesystem.
Internet Explorer 5.1 Automatic Execution -- By default, Microsoft Internet Explorer 5.1 is set to decode MacBinary and BinHex files automatically during download. Nothing new here, and that's not a security concern. But for some reason under Mac OS X 10.1, Internet Explorer 5.1 automatically launched at least some applications that were encoded in MacBinary or BinHex without being compressed by StuffIt as well. With normal applications, that wouldn't be a problem, but if someone posted a Trojan horse - a malicious application that masqueraded as something benign - damage could result. It's not entirely clear what types of applications (Classic, Carbon, Cocoa, etc.) would be automatically launched or why, but it's moot now that Apple has released Internet Explorer 5.1.3 via the Software Update preferences panel. If you aren't able to update right away for some reason, the problem is easy to work around. In the Download Options pane of Internet Explorer's Preferences window, turn off "Automatically decode MacBinary files" and "Automatically decode BinHex files." Changing these settings has no functional liability; all it does is cause Internet Explorer to hand off decoding tasks to StuffIt Expander rather than performing them internally.
iDisk via WebDAV Exposes Passwords -- In Mac OS X 10.1, Apple modified the Finder so it accesses your iDisk via WebDAV rather than the older Apple Filing Protocol (AFP). Unfortunately, as Alan Oppenheimer of Open Door Networks has pointed out, Mac OS X's WebDAV implementation sends your password as unencrypted text across the Internet. This is a violation of the WebDAV specification and basic security principles. Someone who could monitor your Internet connections could discover your password and use it to access your iDisk and mac.com email account (and since many people reuse the same password many times, other services could be compromised as well). AFP remains secure, but to use it you must access your iDisk by choosing Connect to Server from the Go menu and then typing "afp://idisk.mac.com" (after which you can make an alias to the iDisk or add it to your Favorites for easier future access). FTP also sends passwords as unencrypted text, so your level of concern here should match your level of concern over exposing passwords via FTP. If you must use FTP or iDisk via WebDAV, common sense would dictate not reusing passwords used for those services with more sensitive services. As an alternative for FTP, try Interarchy 5.0.1 or RBrowser, both of which can use SSH encryption (built into Mac OS X 10.0.4 and later) for secure connections.
As far as we can tell, this WebDAV security hole was not fixed in the Security Update 10-19-01, although Apple is aware of the problem. A related discussion on TidBITS Talk indicated that Mac OS X 10.1's WebDAV implementation may support only Basic authentication, which eliminates one of the significant advantages of WebDAV over FTP.
The moral of the story is that it's definitely worth letting Software Update look for updates regularly, since that will almost certainly be the fastest way to receive any updates that Apple releases. In the meantime, if you're interested in learning more about some of the basics of security in relation to Mac OS X, Roland Miller has posted a report about 10.0 that applies in large part to 10.1 as well.
Article 7 of 9 in series
Now that Mac OS X has evolved into a far more usable operating system with the release of 10.1, we're starting to see both new versions of applications and a steady stream of incremental updates to programs already in the pipeline. Apple Releases iDVD 2 -- Apple is now shipping iDVD 2, a Mac OS X-only update to its software for easily creating and burning DVDs in a SuperDrive-equipped MacShow full article
Now that Mac OS X has evolved into a far more usable operating system with the release of 10.1, we're starting to see both new versions of applications and a steady stream of incremental updates to programs already in the pipeline.
Apple Releases iDVD 2 -- Apple is now shipping iDVD 2, a Mac OS X-only update to its software for easily creating and burning DVDs in a SuperDrive-equipped Mac. Previewed at Macworld Expo New York 2001, the new version adds motion menus (full-motion menus and buttons), more themes, a new interface, and the capability to add a soundtrack to slide shows of still images. More significantly, iDVD 2 can store up to 90 minutes of video on a DVD disc (up from 60 minutes in the previous version). iDVD 2 can also perform MPEG compression and disc burning while in the background. The upgrade appears to be free, but since it is distributed on a DVD disc, Apple is charging a $20 shipping and handling fee. iDVD 2 requires a Power Mac with a SuperDrive (the program does not appear to support external DVD burners at this time), Mac OS X 10.1 or later, and a minimum of 256 MB RAM (384 MB recommended). [JLC]
Snapz Pro X 1.0.1 Adds Features, Compatibility -- Ambrosia Software has released Snapz Pro X 1.0.1, an update to their Mac OS X-compatible screen capture utility (see "TenBITS/03-Sep-01" in TidBITS-595 for more on Snapz Pro X's new features). The new version incorporates numerous small changes to provide compatibility with Mac OS X 10.1; minor performance enhancements to the movie capture feature; bug fixes; and localizations in French, Japanese, and Italian, along with localized French and Japanese documentation. New features include a movie guide that shows you the area of the screen being recorded, a separate selection rectangle for movies, the capability to turn off desktop preview icons, and DVD capture with Nvidia graphics cards. Snapz Pro X 1.0.1 is a free upgrade for registered users; it's a 9.9 MB download. [ACE]
Timbuktu Pro 6.0.1 Mac OS X 10.1 Compatible -- Netopia has released a free update to Timbuktu Pro 6.0.1 that adds no new features to the remote control application under Mac OS X, but does provide necessary compatibility with Apple's recent Mac OS X 10.1 release (see "TenBITS/23-Apr-01" in TidBITS-577 for more on what's new in the Mac OS X version of Timbuktu Pro). You'll need your serial number and activation key to download the update. [ACE]
Article 8 of 9 in series
by Jeff Carlson
Mac OS X 10.1.1 Update Released -- Apple's Mac OS X 10.1.1 update, released 13-Nov-01 via the Software Update mechanism, rolls a number of fixes and improvements into Apple's new operating systemShow full article
Mac OS X 10.1.1 Update Released -- Apple's Mac OS X 10.1.1 update, released 13-Nov-01 via the Software Update mechanism, rolls a number of fixes and improvements into Apple's new operating system. The update adds unspecified improvements to many USB and FireWire devices, recognizes more digital cameras, and improves CD and DVD burning. Networking has been tweaked as well, with changes made to the operation of AFP, SMB, and WebDAV protocols (including a fix to the iDisk/WebDAV security hole mentioned in "Mac OS X 10.1 Security Issues Fixed" in TidBITS-602, although Apple has once again failed to update their own Security Updates page in a timely fashion). The Finder and Mail applications are also improved (again in unspecified ways), as is printing support. Hardware accelerated video mirroring has also been enabled for the latest PowerBook G4. The update is available only from the Software Update preferences panel and is a 14 MB download. According to Apple, you must previously have installed the Installer Update 1.0, released 08-Nov-01 via Software Update as well, to perform this latest Mac OS X update. [JLC]
Article 9 of 9 in series
Apple Issues AirPort, Mac OS X Language Updates -- Apple last weekend released a number of updates via Software Update. The AirPort Driver Update 2.0.1 for both Mac OS 9 and Mac OS X includes an updated driver for the AirPort Card that improves robustness and properly prompts for a password when joining a password-protected Computer-to-Computer networkShow full article
Apple Issues AirPort, Mac OS X Language Updates -- Apple last weekend released a number of updates via Software Update. The AirPort Driver Update 2.0.1 for both Mac OS 9 and Mac OS X includes an updated driver for the AirPort Card that improves robustness and properly prompts for a password when joining a password-protected Computer-to-Computer network. Also included is new firmware for the original AirPort Base Station (Graphite; the new AirPort Base Stations are the same white color as the new iBooks and don't need the firmware update). Improved in the update for the original AirPort Base Station is PPPoE support; after downloading the update, launch the AirPort Admin Utility, select your base station, and click Configure to start the update process.
Over the weekend Apple also released updated localizations of Mac OS X in Brazilian Portuguese, Simplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese, Danish, Finnish, Korean, Norwegian, and Swedish. Although most people probably don't need all of these languages, since older versions are probably already installed in your copy of Mac OS X, it might be best to download them to stay up to date for the off chance you need to switch languages unexpectedly. Or, of course, you can just select them in Software Update and choose Make Inactive from the File menu to prevent them from cluttering Software Update's list from now on. [ACE]