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Apple’s Busy Update Week

Based on the number of times Software Update popped up on my screen last week, I’d believe Apple’s programmers were cranking to meet some end of quarter quota. The company released a number of miscellaneous updates and utilities for both Mac OS X and Mac OS 9, ranging from essential security enhancements to machine-specific fixes. Here’s a quick rundown.

Security Update July 2002 — A few vulnerabilities were recently discovered in two underlying Unix components that enable users to run Web Sharing and connect to servers remotely under Mac OS X. The Security Update July 2002 fixes a problem in Apache that could allow remote denial of service attacks and also corrects a problem in OpenSSH that could potentially allow a remote intruder to execute code on one’s machine. The update is a 1.2 MB download.

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Apple has gotten better about responding to these types of security holes, issuing the update within days after the problems were discovered, and publishing more detailed information about the changes on its Security Updates Web page. It’s worth noting in this case that these vulnerabilities wouldn’t affect most Mac OS X users, since Apache and OpenSSH are turned off by default. Apple also sent an email message to its Security Announce list stating that Mac OS X and Mac OS X Server are not affected by a separate buffer overflow problem in Multiple DNS Resolver Libraries, described online in a CERT advisory.

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Networking Update 1.0 for Mac OS X — Apple released Networking Update 1.0 for machines running Mac OS X 10.1.5, Build 5S60. (To determine the build number, choose About This Mac from the Apple menu, then click the version number.) According to Apple, the update improves Internet and network access after you wake the computer from sleep or restart it. The update is a 284K download.

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iMac Update 1.0 — If you’re using an iMac running Mac OS X 10.1.5, Build 5T91, this update includes the Networking Update, mentioned above, and also improves support for installing third party applications. The update is a 2.5 MB download.

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Repair Privileges Utility 1.0 — One side effect of having a Unix core in Mac OS X is that everything is based on privileges: installing software, changing preferences, printing, etc., are governed by which users on a machine are allowed to perform those actions. If your privileges get out of whack, you can run the Repair Privileges Utility 1.0 to reset them (at least those for the Mac OS itself and Apple-provided software) to their original configuration. Some common errors that could require the utility include problems mounting disk images using Disk Copy, trouble spooling print jobs, or the inability to unlock files in the Finder. Apple cautions that although the utility doesn’t alter permissions set by third party software, that software may not work as expected. The utility is a 112K download.

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CarbonLib 1.6 — CarbonLib 1.6, the glue that links applications that run under both Mac OS X and the Classic Mac OS, improves reliability and performance under Mac OS 8.6 and 9.0, as well as Classic under Mac OS X. The update is a 2.9 MB download, and must be installed while booted from Mac OS 8.6 or 9.

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AppleScript 1.8.3 Update — The latest version of AppleScript, available in separate Mac OS 9 and Mac OS X versions, corrects performance issues with some applications, improves reliability when using Unicode text data, and works with files and folders whose names contain accented or special characters. This version also makes file and alias objects behave as they did under Mac OS 9; a previous version caused many scripts to fail in an attempt to make the behavior more compatible with Mac OS X. The updates are 1.5 MB (Mac OS 9) and 2.2 MB (Mac OS X) downloads.

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AirPort 2.0.4 Update — For owners of the Snow (Dual Ethernet) model of the AirPort Base Station, the AirPort 2.0.4 Update adds the capability to dial into the base station using a PPP phone connection and administer the base station and connected computers without being on the network (which is pretty neat). The update also adds compatibility with Windows clients that use PPTP (Point to Point Tunneling Protocol) or IPSec-style VPN (Virtual Private Network), as well as AOL 5.0 compatibility within the United States. The original Graphite model of the AirPort Base Station doesn’t gain any new features, but all versions of the AirPort cards installed in Macs pick up improved compatibility with other wireless networks.

Although you can install these updates using Mac OS 9, the new features must be configured using a Mac running Mac OS X, after which Mac OS 9 machines can take advantage of them. The updates are available as 8.5 MB (Mac OS 9) and 3.6 MB (Mac OS X) downloads.

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