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Mac OS X 10.3.6 Improves Networking, Application Reliability

On 05-Nov-04, Apple released Mac OS X 10.3.6, a free update to Mac OS X 10.3 Panther. The update includes a new version of the Safari Web browser that will no longer stop trying to load a Web page or submit a form after 60 seconds, but will instead keep trying until the user cancels the attempt. Apple has also fixed a bug with iDisk synchronization for .Mac users; 10.3.5 did not correctly update the volume’s size if the user’s space allocation changed.

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Apple has also improved file sharing via AFP (AppleShare-style networking), NFS (Unix file sharing), and SMB (Windows-style networking), and the capability to open applications from a network volume. The update provides new versions of the Calculator, DVD Player, and Image Capture, as well as several other patches.

The Mac OS 10.3.6 update is available either through Software Update or as a standalone updater; via Software Update, it may be as small as 14 MB for 10.3.5 users with recent security patches already installed, but can be considerably larger (up to 34 MB) for users without some recent updates installed. (Software Update may be able to reduce the installation size if some files can be modified instead of replaced.) The update is also available as a combo installer (a 92 MB download) that will update any version of Mac OS X 10.3 prior to 10.3.5.

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Apple also released Mac OS X Server 10.3.6, which updates Open Directory, File Services, Fibre Channel Utility, Mail Server, and LDAP, in addition to the changes in the Mac OS X 10.3.6 update.

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We’ve noticed two unintended consequences with Mac OS X 10.3.6, one bad and one good. First, the Safari update renders the June 2004 developer preview version of Safari unusable; developers can download a new developer preview from Apple, provided they have another Web browser (such as Camino or Firefox) available. Second, Apple appears to have fixed a recent tendency of iBooks and PowerBooks to require several seconds to over a half minute to fall asleep when closing the lid or selecting the Sleep command. The delay, which quietly vanished after the upgrade to 10.3.6, could over time have resulted in excessive wear to laptop hard drives from being moved before the computer is fully asleep. (When I close my laptop, I want to put it in its case now, not in 40 seconds!)

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