Among the system software components Apple released concurrently with the System 7.5 Update 1.0 were QuickDraw GX 1.1.1, LaserWriter version 8.2.2, the Network Software Installer "ZM" (multi-country) version 1.5, and some new PowerTalk gateways. Taken together, the simultaneous release of this new software has helped block access to Apple’s FTP servers, as Mac users all over the Internet rush to download new material. We would have told you about this stuff last week, except we couldn’t get our hands on it in time either.
There are numerous possible URLs for retrieving the software; unfortunately, many of them frequently refuse connections because of the heavy demand. Two useful locations for obtaining any of this software (and System 7.5 Update 1.0) are:
QuickDraw GX 1.1.1 — QuickDraw GX hasn’t exactly taken the Macintosh world by storm, with weighty RAM requirements, a substantial overhead for software developers, and a lack of cross-platform support. (See TidBITS-243, 244 and 245 for a detailed overview.) Many major application vendors – especially in the design and publishing markets – have taken a cautious approach to GX. In the meantime, a few major programs (such WordPerfect 3.1 and Microsoft Word 6.0) have incorporated GX printing support, and GX-specific applications and utilities are starting to appear (LightningDraw GX and Pierce Print Tools, for example). With the 1.1.1 release, Apple is showing that it hasn’t given up on QuickDraw GX.
The large update completely replaces the previous version, and consists of four high-density floppy disk images. The update offers several performance improvements, including faster printing of large character sets on printers that don’t have the fonts built in, plus faster display of print dialogs in non-GX applications. Also, GX no longer "locks users out" while downloading fonts to PostScript printers, and the desktop printer window now displays font downloading progress.
New features in GX 1.1.1 include the N-Up Printing Extension, which allows you to print up to 16 pages on a single sheet of paper – a handy feature for creating custom thumbnails of complex documents. The N-Up Printing Extension works with both GX-aware and non-GX-aware applications. Also included (in the GX custom installation!) is the EPS Extension, which lets you save a file as an Encapsulated PostScript document (handy for importing into non-GX-aware publishing and design applications).
I’ve read reports of problems using GX 1.1.1 with Word 6.0 on Power Macs; however, tests on Tonya’s Power Mac 7100/66 failed to produce any unexpected results. I’ve also read reports that the version of ATM shipping with GX 1.1.1 may fail if used with Adobe’s SuperATM. One possible workaround is to back up your existing ATM and SuperATM installation, then obtain the free Acrobat Reader 2.0.1 from Adobe. Version 2.0.1 of the Acrobat Reader includes a version of ATM 3.8.2 that appears to function correctly with both SuperATM and QuickDraw GX. If you installed this version of the Acrobat Reader before installing GX, you’ll need to install it again for the ATM setup to be correct – see the ReadMe files for details.
You might wonder what happened to GX 1.1: it existed for a day or so, but Apple withdrew it due to a "version string error." Shortly thereafter, GX 1.1.1 appeared on Apple’s FTP sites. If you have a copy of GX 1.1, you might want to hold onto it – it may not be as much a prize as original System 6.0.6 disks, but who knows? Maybe you’ll be able to auction it off at Southeby’s in 20 years.
LaserWriter 8.2.2 — LaserWriter 8.2.2 contains two bug fixes not present in LaserWriter 8.2: one prevents inadvertent faxing as a result of some applications’ manipulation of the print record, the other fixes a multi-zone network bug where users could not perform an "Auto Setup" on some printers located on the same network segment but in a different zone than themselves. The new version includes printer description files for all Apple LaserWriters, but not for third-party laser printers. Apple recommends that users of previous versions of LaserWriter 8 upgrade to version 8.2.2.
Please note that version 8.2.2 of the LaserWriter driver is not included with the System 7.5. Update 1.0. Apple released LaserWriter 8.2.2 at virtually the same time as System 7.5. Update 1.0, and it’s unclear why Apple chose to distribute LaserWriter 8.2 with the 7.5 Update if there were known problems with it.
Network Software Installer ZM 1.5 — The "ZM" in the name of this release indicates it is "multi-country" – you can use it to install network software on Macs running international versions of the system software as well as the U.S. system. Network Software Installer (NSI) requires System 7 or later, but does not require System 7.5.
NSI 1.5 contains new versions of AppleTalk, EtherTalk, and configuration files for Apple built-in Ethernet, NuBus, PDS, and Communications Slot Ethernet, plus updates to TokenTalk and Token Ring drivers. These versions fix known bugs with Virtual Memory (including RAM Doubler) and numerous model-specific fixes. Additionally, the Network Software Installer contains LaserWriter Bridge 2.0, a control panel that lets a Macintosh share a LaserWriter connected to the LocalTalk port with other Macs in the same network zone via Ethernet. Although it won’t let every Ethernet configuration see any LaserWriter connected to a LocalTalk port (Apple’s LocalTalk Bridge software offers a more comprehensive solution), LaserWriter Bridge provides a workable solution for sharing a printer on simple networks.
PowerTalk Gateways — Apple has posted a number of PowerTalk extras to its Internet file sites, including a Director-based guided tour; a "PowerTalk Solutions" document in Common Ground format, and – most interesting for actual PowerTalk users – real and trial versions of some third-party PowerTalk gateways. These include the STF PowerFax gateway (allowing faxes to be sent and received), the Ex Machina Notify! Pager gateway (enabling you to make other people around the world beep, buzz, and vibrate from your Macintosh – what fun!), and a CompuServe mail gateway, allowing easy email exchange with CompuServe. Also available are 60 day trial versions of StarNine’s QuickMail, Internet/SMTP, and Microsoft Mail gateways. In addition, the University of Michigan has made an X.500 Catalog gateway available (although not from Apple sites) that uses the LDAP protocol to let PowerTalk uses look up names, addresses, servers, and more using X.500 services. If you don’t know what X.500 is, you likely don’t need to worry about it, but if your life involves X.500, check out the PowerTalk Gateways ReadMe file and the following URL:
In Conclusion — If you can get through to Apple’s file sites, you’ll probably find some useful goodies. Access to the servers should improve with time, so if you can’t get through right away, try again during off hours or wait a day or two.