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24 Hours With Mac OSX

By Kyrrin in Technology
Thu Mar 29, 2001 at 03:50:29 PM EST
Tags: Software (all tags)

Nearly five years of anticipation finally came to a head on Saturday, March 24, when Apple released its next-generation operating system, OSX. But how does it measure up? Was it worth all the anticipation, or is the negative press correct?

I think that the answer is a cautious and guarded "yes, it was worth it". Read on for a description of the operating system, my experiences with a "typical" install, the descriptions of trying to get it to do what I want it to do, and my impressions after working with the system for a day or so.

I've been using Macintosh operating systems since 1991 and the days of System 6, before multi-tasking, when one program at a time was all you could use and God help you if you wanted to run anything RAM-intensive. I can remember when the entire system software would fit on a single 3.5" floppy disk. Looking back at that, one thing strikes me: how far we've come.

First, Some Background:

OSX reinvents many of the classic Mac ideas, including that of the Finder, the application that controlled and regulated other applications. Classic Macintosh System 7, OS8.X, and 9.X were half-kludged multitasking operating systems on top of a design that was not truly built to hold them; they lack such "modern" OS features as proper memory management and multi-threading. OSX changes all of that; its layered design makes for more stability and more flexibility.

OSX, as many know already, is based on a BSD 4.4 kernel (nicknamed Darwin), with a typical Apple GUI design (Aqua) on top of it. Aqua is run by the graphics display system, Quartz, which replaces the more-than-ready-for-retirement QuickDraw. More information about the OSX framework can be found from Apple's OSX information page. There is a layer that emulates a previous version of the software, OS 9.1, which is called, appropriately enough, "Classic".

Classic allows pre-OSX programs to run in a virtual environment, while developers gear up to release OSX versions, or for those users who don't want to upgrade to newer versions of programs they've fallen in love with. However, because of the architecture, Classic is not a true emulator; rather, what it does is replace system calls for pre-OSX functions with their corresponding OSX counterpart. Because of this, the end-user does not experience the speed hit often found when running other OS emulators such as VirtualPC.

What of OSX-native software? It comes in two flavors: Carbon and Cocoa. Carbon programs are a blend between OSX and pre-OSX architecture. It is a collection of APIs and shared libraries that "bridge the gap" between OSX and classic MacOS. Developers, rather than having to rewrite applications from scratch, will instead only have to concentrate on the parts that assume classic MacOS system calls and APIs. Carbon applications are also able to run under Mac OS 8.X and 9.X. Then, there's Cocoa, which are the NeXT interfaces used for NextStep and Open Step. It's a dynamic language, designed to work with the full OSX graphical environment -- and it's designed to keep shareware and Free Software developers happy. Considering that for years, Mac users have depended on shareware and freeware to augment the meager commercial software offerings, this is a good thing.

More information on OSX can be found on Apple's site. Beware: technical details are well-buried beneath all the marketing glitz.

My System:

I grabbed a copy of OSX from the local CompUSA on Thursday, March 28th. It's OSX build 4K78, a simple retail copy. It was installed on a 350MHz G4 with 320MB of RAM and two hard drives: one 40GB drive partitioned into two 20GB HFS+ partitions (aero and terra), and one 80GB drive with a single HFS+ partition (oniero). My previous OS 9.0.4 install was on aero; terra was a blank partition.

Note that OSX requires at least 128MB of RAM and a PowerMac G3 or G4 processor. It does not support the original PowerBook G3 models, nor does it support G3 or G4 upgrade cards. If you've got an older machine, or an older machine that has been upgraded, you're probably out of luck. There have been reports of people running OSX with the 64MB of RAM that was factory default for Macintosh machines up until recently, but from the impression that I get, it would be roughly like attempting to run Windows 98 with 16MB of RAM.

Before The Install:

First impressions upon opening the box: the documentation provided was clearly geared towards the "average user", rather than an advanced Macintosh user or someone familiar with Unix. The booklet is thirty pages long, and contains instructions for installation and basic troubleshooting, but little else. Pictures abound, which is good for those of us who are more visually oriented, but means that less technical information can fit.

Part of installing OSX is installing OS9.1, if it is not already available. The Classic layer won't work with OS9.0.4 and before. Apple thoughtfully provides an OS9.1 CD bundled with OSX. Also in the box is the OSX Developer Tools kit, which has more goodies than I can begin to relate; suffice it to say that it's a complete developer environment, right out of the box.

When originally partitoning my 40GB drive, I'd been looking ahead to the eventual OSX install, and created a separate partition for the new System folder. In reading the discussions on Apple's OSX discussion site, I think that's what saved me many of the headaches that other users experienced, and I would strongly advise others to do the same. It also means that if things don't work, you can go back to using your previous operating system just by changing the Startup Disk in Control Panels.

I'd been running a small web, mail, and ftp server on my machine for my friends (kekkai.org, if you're curious), and I was doing my best to minimize downtime while I did the install. My biggest concern ahead of time was making sure that there would be replacements for all these services.

The install process:

Installing OSX will be familiar to anyone who's installed Mac software before. Pop in the OS9.1 CD, install that, and reboot. Switch the OS9.1 CD for the OSX CD, hit the installer icon, and off we go.

The installer reboots your computer into OSX to perform the install, and that's the first look that I got at the new GUI. Hmm, not what I'm used to, but I can get used to it. My total install took about 20 minutes.

Once you finish installation, the computer reboots and brings you into the setup manager, where you create the first user account and give it a password. This will be the administrator account, so choose what you want to use. One thing that Apple doesn't mention is that the "short name" is the username that users of Unix are familiar with; choose it carefully. You'll be living with it for a while. Here is also where you set up your Internet accounts; I strongly suggest doing it here. Finding these screens later can be a bit tricky. (Yes, this means that you should write down all your settings before you do the install. I didn't; I was lucky that one of the other machines on our network had all the appropriate IP addresses still saved. One day, I will learn.)

The default install leaves "root" as an inactive account, and Apple strongly advises that users should leave it this way. Don't, whatever you do, name your first user account "root"; I didn't try to, so I don't know if the system will accept it or not, but I can imagine that it would create headaches later.

Once you've installed the software, you're up and ready to go. You'll find yourself looking at the new desktop. The Dock, a Windows-like taskbar (without many of the irritations of the taskbar; you can drag applications that are not open, for instance, into the Dock, and then click the Dock icon to open the program) is sitting across the bottom of your screen; you can change the resolution, or set it to auto-hide, which was one of the first things that I did. Your user directory should be already open. Each user directory contains folders for Desktop, Documents, Library, Movies, Music, Pictures, Public, and Sites; the latter is where the default configuration of Apache looks for web files.

Oh, didn't I mention Apache? Silly me.

Meeting The Underlying Technology:

Apple has finally tossed most of its proprietary technology out the window, replacing it with the familiar BSD services that we've all come to know and love. AppleTalk is now TCP/IP; web sharing is now Apache; file sharing is now ftp. They keep their familiar Apple names and Aqua interfaces, but turning on File Sharing, for instance, enables the ftp daemon, and turning on Web Sharing makes Apache start listening.

The good news for casual users is that the process is mostly seamless. You don't need to know anything about the BSD layer to enable these services; all you need to do is open the System Preferences panel and make the appropriate changes through Aqua. The bad news for Unix users or administrators is that the BSD layer is poorly documented, and that documentation is hiding what feels like ten layers deep on the Developer CD. Existing BSD documentation won't always apply, either. For someone like me, who's only had mild exposure to BSD administration -- though I've been a user on a BSD system for nearly seven years -- wading through all the appropriate config files will be a nightmare. For a casual user, it will be nearly impossible.

The good news for everyone is that integrating BSD technology with the Aqua GUI has been very well-thought out. If all you want to do is run an internal network or share some web files, you never need to touch the command line.

My Mac Has A Command Line!

It takes some getting used to, let me tell you. Getting to the command line is as simple a matter as opening the included terminal program; it brings you right to your home directory. This is the only way you can access the more Unix-like parts of the file structure; directories like /etc and /bin are hidden from the user when viewed through Aqua. As much as this irritates me, I will admit that it's probably best; no need to confuse Mom and Dad.

As I mentioned before, OSX installs with the root account disabled, and Apple advises against enabling it; tasks can be accomplished with sudo. If you do want to enable it, a management utility called Netinfo Manager ships with the system. Simply authenticate yourself using the Domain menu and active root; it will ask you to choose a root password. I've heard rumors that doing so will mean that Apple won't provide support, however; do so with care.

Other than that, once you're "under the hood", Darwin behaves precisely like its BSD cousins. The default shell is tcsh.

Time And Effort:

I was up and running in about an hour; that would have been the end of it, if I hadn't been trying to enable server services. Figuring out Apache's config files (and trying to make it use a different directory -- a different partition, even -- as its document root) took me about two hours; arguing with sendmail is an ongoing process, even the next day. I'm sure that those with more Unix background than I would be able to do it a lot faster. For the average user, though, switching to OSX would probably take several hours to configure, and then they'd be up and running.

So, what's the verdict?

The Good:
or, "What I like, or what Apple did well"

  • There's a new file management system in the Finder. Previously, opening a folder would spawn a new window, which would quickly clutter your desktop -- particularly if you opened windows larger to view more information. Now, there's a choice of two methods; with one, opening a folder will simply replace the current window, while with the other, clicking on a folder opens that folder in the same window, in a pane to the right of the already-open directory. This saves space on your desktop, and makes it easier to work with multiple windows. However, if you're not careful, you can quickly "lose" yourself.
  • As I mentioned, the root account is not enabled, by default. For the average user, this will never be a problem, and indicates that Apple's design team was being security-conscious.
  • Likewise, sendmail, apache, telnet, ftp, and other insecure services aren't running by default. The user has to explicitly turn them on.
  • My classic applications run nearly perfectly under Classic mode. You can set Classic mode to start up automatically when you turn the computer on; it takes about a minute to start, and from then on, you can open as many classic applications as you'd like. So far, I've tested Photoshop 5.0, BBEdit 4.5, iCab Preview 2.4/PPC, SoundJam 2.5.2, and ICQ Beta 2.0. None of them have experienced any difficulties, and indeed, ICQ is far better behaved under Classic mode than it was under OS9.0.4. The only problem I had was with the mailserver I was formerly using; that made direct calls to the Users & Groups control panels, which has changed significantly under OSX. I won't miss it; OSX has sendmail. Once I can figure the damn thing out, of course.
  • Ports of UNIX software are showing up already, and many software houses are already releasing OSX versions of their applications; unsurprising, as the Public Beta was available for a long time before the final release. Installing UNIX applications under OSX is a bit tricky, but not precisely difficult.
  • Protected. Memory. Space. I've managed to crash the OSX port of iCab no fewer than six times already, and nothing else was affected. If I'd tried that under OS9.0.4, I probably would have wound up spewing some vile curses and getting up to hard-reboot the machine when it locked so badly that it stopped responding to the keyboard reboot. This, to me, is potentially the "killer app" of OSX; it's sad that it's taken this long to get it, but now that we have it, I don't know how I lived without it.
  • Adding a new user to the computer is as easy as it ever was, with the Users panel of the System Preferences -- and then I can flip to the command line and set their directories up to use the symlinks I want them to have access to.
  • The Dock is the most wonderfully-behaved interface I've touched in a while. The icons are clean and easy to distinguish, hovering the mouse over an icon causes its title to pop up, and you can "peel off" an application's window to send it to the Dock separately. Setting it to "auto-hide" minimizes the annoyance factor, too. Hitting clover-tab activates the Dock and moves from application to application, making keyboard navigation -- long a flaw of Apple's -- much easier.
  • Many people complain that OSX crawls on their machines; many people with faster machines than I have have reported this. I, personally, haven't experienced it at all. I've done some timing of things, and on the whole, OSX is faster than OS9.0.4. Admittedly, I wasn't running OS9.1, which might be their basis of comparison. It might also have something to do with my install setup. It does occasionally slow down when going from a Classic application to a Cocoa application.

The Bad:
or, "Poor design and user experience flaws"

  • As I mentioned, the documentation is spotty at best, and very well-hidden. Apple did a wonderful job of making Unix available to the average user, but seems to have forgotten that not everyone who will be using this system is an average user. There's a level of user in between "complete Unix newbie" and "Unix guru", and more people than you might think fall into that gap. Better documentation would have eased a lot of my headaches.
  • Some of the default permissions need to be changed. Files that were created before OSX's install belong to the first administrator account created; their group is "unknown". An import program, or a GUI for file administration, would have saved some time. Also, to get sendmail working right, I had to mess with a lot of default permissions, particularly on / and /etc.
  • Aliases of folders don't translate into symlinks on the Unix side of things. I recognize that this would have taken a LOT of kernel hacking, but man, would it have been nice to have. Symlinks, on the other hand, do translate into Aqua aliases; that helps.
  • When turning services on through the File Sharing System Preferences panel, a user is actually enabling partially-insecure services such as telnet and ftp. However, there's no dialogue warning the user that this is what s/he is doing. I would have liked to see a warning: "Don't do this unless you know what you're doing."
  • Obviously, the Unix command-line won't recognize files with spaces in their name. Ideally, this would have been solved by invisibly changing " " to "_" under Darwin; again, impractical. Failing that, a note in documentation to use "?" in lieu of the space would have been nice; I knew it, and I suppose that Apple figured that anyone familiar enough with a command line to use the command line would also know it, but I know a lot of people who are familiar with a command line but whose education was spotty enough that this solution wouldn't have been immediately obvious.
  • The OS is complete, but some features aren't. The most obvious lack is that there is no DVD player yet, due to a lot of complicated political maneuvering. Third-party hardware support is intermittent, and depends on the hardware manufacturer. Given the choice between shipping now, or shipping later and being more feature-robust, I'm glad they chose shipping now; they had announced deadlines. However, it's irritating.
  • The GUI has changed just enough that configuring things like desktop background, color themes, scroll bar behaviour, etc. all take a while to figure out. Dammit, Apple, document! It's hidden on one page of the nearly-useless manual.
  • OSX uses TCP/IP for networking, rather than AppleTalk. This makes communicating with an OS9.X computer rather difficult. My roommate's iMac can talk to my G4, but my G4 won't mount her filesystem for me. Again, it's something I can live with for what I get in exchange, but it's irritating.
  • The one quibble I have with the otherwise-excellent Dock is that it's nearly impossible to distinguish between applications that are currently running, and applications that a user has simply dragged into the Dock for ease of use. Running applications do have a little arrow underneath them, but it's difficult to see; some other visual clue, such as a color change, would be easier.
The Ugly:
or, "God that's annoying; I hope they fix it."

  • The Aqua fonts are ugly. I heard a lot of people bitching about this before I installed, and I thought that it was just that the fonts were different -- but they're not. They're ugly. The anti-aliasing is blurry in places, and they're far, far too large. You can't see more than about 20 characters of a filename in the default window view before it collapses itself: "thisisaverylongfilename.txt" becomes "thisisavery...name.txt" until you resize the window. Shrinking the fonts is possible, but it also shrinks the icons.
  • Launching Classic applications occasionally keeps the screen from redrawing properly; if you have a Classic application running in the background, while you are in Aqua, and the Classic application redraws the screen, the screen will jump and leave white lines all over the place. Opening a Classic application causes visible screen redraw, and can cause headaches if the monitor refresh rate is set low enough.
  • Some Classic preferences don't hold over from session to session. The ones I've encountered so far have been system sounds and BBEdit file wrap.
  • Classic media players such as SoundJam produce audible dropouts and skips when switching from a Classic application to a Carbon application. Irritating when playing MP3s under your Classic setup. It also occasionally kicks in when a stray mouse movement causes the Dock to pop up.
  • There is no obvious way to minimize all Classic applications in the background; double-clicking a Classic app titlebar will not hide it in the Dock. Previously, under OS9.X and before, you would switch to the Finder and choose "Hide Others" from the applications menu -- which doesn't exist under Aqua.
  • Downloading something using a Carbon web browser will cause the focus to switch back over to the Finder if you have StuffIt Expander set to automatically decode things. This results in Expander not being invoked properly, and focus being shifted from whatever Classic application you're using. I've lost a few lines of typing before I noticed.
  • One of the most irritating glitches: copy and paste won't always work from a Classic application to a Carbon application and vice-versa. Irritating when working from my Classic mail reader and trying to paste a URL into my Carbon web browser.

The Crash Test:

It doesn't break. No matter what I do to this operating system with normal use, I haven't been able to get it to freeze completely yet. Individual applications will freeze and need to be restarted -- the Finder thoughtfully provides a Force Quit menu item -- but once the errant application is down, the rest of the system just keeps ticking. The beauty of multi-threading also means that even if one application is frozen, I can keep going with work in others until I notice.

I did have a problem this morning when I woke up and tried to get the computer to listen to me; I think it relates to the power-saving Sleep settings under Classic mode. I tweaked a few more things, and hopefully it won't happen again.

Is It Ready For Prime Time?:

My answer to this is going to have to be a guarded "yes". For me, the benefits that I get from the new operating system design outweigh the hassle of setting things up -- and there was more than a bit of hassle setting things up. For a home user, especially one who isn't afraid of a little bit of tweaking, I'd also have to say yes. For end-users who aren't familiar with the Macintosh, or users who want to run Classic games, DVD player applications, CD burners, or third-party hardware: don't throw away your OS9 CD yet. Wait for the next version, which should be released in June.

Home businesses and small offices should weigh the benefits and disadvantages carefully, and perhaps try a test install on a single machine before committing the entire network. I've heard that OSX is hard to uninstall, so installing on a separate partition is probably the way to go.

My Conclusions:

I think Apple's got a winner here: the stability of BSD, with the all the Apple experience in GUI design. It's stable, it's flexible, and it's clean. Once they get third-party hardware working better, clean up the documentation a little more to make it more accessable, and possibly tweak the Classic interface until it behaves a little better, it'll be golden.

If I hadn't been using BSD for years already, I'd have been lost the moment I stepped outside of the GUI. I suppose Apple wants it that way, to keep people from destroying their system through one careless command and then blaming the operating system, but come on, Apple! Don't rely on the user base to do all your documentation for you!

And now, if you'll excuse me, I'll just be over here marveling at the fact that my Mac has a command line. My Mac has a command line. I'll get over this soon .... no, I won't. Who am I trying to kid.

[posted from iCab Preview 2.4/OSX, a Carbon application, using OSX]


Voxel dot net
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How do you pronounce OSX?
o oh-ess-ecks 53%
o oh-ess-ten 27%
o oh-sex 10%
o ee-noh-shee-roh 9%

Votes: 180
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o anticipati on
o OSX information page
o Apple's site
o kekkai.org
o UNIX software
o iCab
o Also by Kyrrin

Display: Sort:
24 Hours With Mac OSX | 114 comments (102 topical, 12 editorial, 0 hidden)
shells, and spaces in filenames (4.33 / 6) (#3)
by Estanislao Martínez on Thu Mar 29, 2001 at 02:01:02 PM EST

Obviously, the Unix command-line won't recognize files with spaces in their name.

What do you mean "obviously"? Can't you escape spaces with '\', or put the filename between quote marks, as every single shell I've ever used lets you do?


Yes (4.00 / 1) (#4)
by Kyrrin on Thu Mar 29, 2001 at 02:08:13 PM EST

Yes; I misspoke. I meant to say "obviously, the shell will not recognize spaces in filenames without special treatment" -- such as the ones you mentioned. OSX ships with tcsh as the default shell, and users can install, if I'm not mistaken, any shell they want.

And now, if you'll excuse me, I shall crawl back into my "self-taught Unix user who always forgets there's an easier way to do things" corner.

"I'm the screen, the blinding light; I'm the screen, I work at night. I see today with a newsprint fray, my night is colored headache grey, don't wake me with so much..." -- REM
[ Parent ]
still sounds weird... (4.50 / 2) (#8)
by Estanislao Martínez on Thu Mar 29, 2001 at 02:14:50 PM EST

I meant to say "obviously, the shell will not recognize spaces in filenames without special treatment"

Yeah, but this is not something particular to MacOS X but to all Unix, so saying it just like this still sounds like you're finding fault with the shell (even if you didn't mean that)...

You probably mean "The MacOS GUI uses spaces in filenames extensively, but these require special treatment in the shell".

Still, I don't see what the big deal is with escaping spaces. A decent shell (actually, even many indecent ones) will escape them automatically when doing filename completion.

[ Parent ]

The only command line. . . (2.50 / 2) (#5)
by Anonymous 242 on Thu Mar 29, 2001 at 02:09:00 PM EST

Ello Estanislao.

You beat me to the punch.

The only command line, I've ever used that had trouble with spaces in file names are old versions of DOS. (And even then, I believe the problem is really with the DOS tool kit and not COMMAND.COM itself.) Even Windows 9x and NT can grok spaces with quotes.

I've never used tcsh. I do know that sh, ksh, and bash all do great with backslashes or quotes.

[ Parent ]

huh? (4.66 / 3) (#6)
by delmoi on Thu Mar 29, 2001 at 02:11:46 PM EST

Obviously, the Unix command-line won't recognize files with spaces in their name. Ideally, this would have been solved by invisibly changing " " to "_" under Darwin; again, impractical. Failing that, a note in

Hrm, works fine in linux, just put quote marks around the name".
"'argumentation' is not a word, idiot." -- thelizman
Umm (none / 0) (#14)
by mattyb77 on Thu Mar 29, 2001 at 02:49:12 PM EST

True, you can use quotes, or you can use "\ " (remove quotes, but keep the space). Well, it works for me on OS X, but then I installed bash on there. I'm not familiar with tcsh so I don't know if it works there or not.

"I bestow upon myself the `Doctorate of Cubicism', for educators are ignorant of Nature's Harmonic Time Cube Principle and cannot bestow the prestigious honor of wisdom upon the wisest human ever." -- Gene Ray, the wisest human ever
[ Parent ]
It does... (none / 0) (#18)
by Kyrrin on Thu Mar 29, 2001 at 03:04:35 PM EST

...I'm just an idiot. Well, not an idiot, but self-taught at UNIX with some curious gaps in what I know and what I don't know.

"I'm the screen, the blinding light; I'm the screen, I work at night. I see today with a newsprint fray, my night is colored headache grey, don't wake me with so much..." -- REM
[ Parent ]
Tab-completion works, too (5.00 / 1) (#33)
by tornado on Thu Mar 29, 2001 at 05:15:24 PM EST

Just type the first few characters of the filename and hit tab to complete it, spaces and all (with the spaces preceded with \). If there are mulitple possiblities, it lists them and you need to type more characters.

Bonus tcsh tip: type one or more chaaracters and hit cntl-d to get a list of all the executables (in your path) that start with that combination.


[localhost:~] tornado% di[cntl-d]
diff diffpp dig dirs ditto
diff3 diffstat dirname disktool

"I like [Mac OS X] significantly more than I like Windows NT, which is better than 95 or 98 in the way that smallpox is better than Ebola." -- Kyrrin
[ Parent ]

And works in OS X, too... (5.00 / 1) (#30)
by Brazzo on Thu Mar 29, 2001 at 04:28:37 PM EST

Subject says it all, really. "Quotes around long filenames", tab-completion, and most of the wonderful Unix 'conventions' are alive and well in the BSD layer of OS X. Of course, NetInfo is still taking some time to get used to, and the NFS implementation is lacking (or, it might just be my knowledge). All in all, OS X is leaps and bounds above OS 9 and earlier. Classic is great, and OS X is rock-solid. And, as much as I thought I'd hate the Dock, it's pretty cool, too. Good job, Apple.

[ Parent ]
NFS and Automount (none / 0) (#105)
by ansible on Tue Apr 03, 2001 at 11:18:10 AM EST

I'm curious to know what the NFS issues are for OSX. If it runs well, and amd has been ported, then I'd seriously consider replacing all the Windows NT/2000 machines on my network with Macs.

In my mind, any kind of Unix is better than any kind of Windows... unless the Unix is Xenix or SCO of course.

[ Parent ]

No more "Second Guessing" Dialog Boxes (4.50 / 10) (#11)
by lucas on Thu Mar 29, 2001 at 02:22:16 PM EST

However, there's no dialogue warning the user that this is what s/he is doing. I would have liked to see a warning: "Don't do this unless you know what you're doing."

Argh - This is the wrong way to approach things. Microsoft does this even more with WinMe and I can't stand it.

I would like to see some sort of difficulty level that is a toggle between "Novice" and "Expert". Novice oversimplifies things so that Grandpa can use it and not screw things up or have his system compromised. Expert lets you have free reign of the system without second-guessing your intentions.

I have a problem with OS manufacturers lumping users into a single category, because it often means more mouseclicking and needless extra fiddling for those of us who actually understand what is going on.

You have a point (none / 0) (#19)
by Kyrrin on Thu Mar 29, 2001 at 03:09:07 PM EST

And you're right; it would probably drive me insane within a few days, anyway. The reason I thought it should be there is because of the heightened need for Internet security, epecially for people who are used to running computers that ship with no services and nothing "listening" by default. You also only need to interact with that panel whenever you want to enable/disable services, so I don't think it would be that obtrusive. It is, however, a bad precedent, especially for an OS that does remarkably little hand-holding.

Perhaps a note on the control panel to the rough extent that I suggested, then; it wouldn't be obtrusive, but would at least be a flag. I'm concerned about the people who have never even heard of telnet before, much less have any idea how to secure it. Or, as you suggest, an "intermediate" level of interface, for people who mostly know what they're doing, but need to be reminded to think of security now and again.

"I'm the screen, the blinding light; I'm the screen, I work at night. I see today with a newsprint fray, my night is colored headache grey, don't wake me with so much..." -- REM
[ Parent ]
confirmation prompts (4.50 / 2) (#29)
by Delirium on Thu Mar 29, 2001 at 04:19:14 PM EST

I don't mind, and even like, dialog boxes that check to make sure I really want to do something, as long as I have the option of disabling them. It's nice, for example, to not accidentally lose a bunch of work when you close Word if you thought you had saved a file but really hadn't (it'll prompt you to save a modified file before letting you close).

[ Parent ]
common mistake (2.00 / 2) (#41)
by cpt kangarooski on Thu Mar 29, 2001 at 08:28:54 PM EST

actually a lot of people think that that's a good answer.

it's not.

there are two things (not a complete list) that a UI designer must never, ever do:

first, never hide information or tools from the user, such as the toggle. (the truncated Win2K menus are really fucking annoying)

second, never change the UI.

having the toggle will not only frustrate users who never find it but would benefit from having the additional functionality, but it will also turn self-proclaimed expert users into novices, but on a system that was designed for experts who knew what they were doing.

the approach that is generally taken though is to provide expert functionality. but to also ensure that there are multiple ways of doing things so that novices have clear, simple choices and experts have more flexibility. it allows people to become experts in piecemeal fashion (unless you want toggles on every bit of the UI?)

generally, you want expert functionality to sit right in the open so that it isn't hard to get to, but novice functionality to be really inviting and perfectly adequate so that novices gravitate towards it of their own free will.

moral: don't put people on leashes and pull them where you think they ought to go. let them choose, but if they're unsure, bribe them to do what is probably safest. ;)

i know that it sounds as though people will never learn the 'right way' to do things, but if they're happy, that is important. forcing people to learn tends to backfire - high schools are like that a lot, let's not deliberately try to make computers do it either.

All my posts including this one are in the public domain. I am a lawyer. I am not your lawyer, and this is not legal advice.
[ Parent ]
command lines?! (2.06 / 16) (#13)
by eLuddite on Thu Mar 29, 2001 at 02:43:05 PM EST

What color iMac runs MOSX best?

God hates human rights.

Chartruse... (none / 0) (#63)
by darthaggie on Fri Mar 30, 2001 at 10:18:36 AM EST

...has more memory...

I am BOFH. Resistance is futile. Your network will be assimilated.
[ Parent ]

Pronounciation (2.25 / 12) (#15)
by Devil Ducky on Thu Mar 29, 2001 at 02:51:48 PM EST

I don't say any of these but I could.

  • ahs-echs
  • over marketed
  • oz-echs
  • the bsd one
  • the unix one
  • apple? they're still in buisness?
  • oh! essex.
  • that new mac

    Devil Ducky

    Immune to the Forces of Duct Tape
    Day trading at it's Funnest
  • Another one (4.00 / 1) (#42)
    by Zarniwoop on Thu Mar 29, 2001 at 08:40:37 PM EST

    Tell it like it is:

    Nekst on Yoo'neks

    Not that theres anything wrong with that... ;)

    [ Parent ]

    Nope (none / 0) (#49)
    by Devil Ducky on Thu Mar 29, 2001 at 11:26:55 PM EST

    Nothing wrong with that at all.

    The more the merrier.

    Devil Ducky

    Immune to the Forces of Duct Tape
    Day trading at it's Funnest
    [ Parent ]
    Oh Sex (none / 0) (#91)
    by FunkyChild on Sun Apr 01, 2001 at 08:21:04 AM EST

    The best pronunciation is clearly: "Oh Sex" :)

    -- Today is the tomorrow that you worried about yesterday. And now, you know why.
    [ Parent ]
    You want OS X Server (5.00 / 4) (#16)
    by The Cunctator on Thu Mar 29, 2001 at 02:54:43 PM EST

    (BTW, excellent, near Ars-Technica grade (okay, that's overboard, this is just MacWorld grade) article.)

    Your complaint "Apple did a wonderful job of making Unix available to the average user, but seems to have forgotten that not everyone who will be using this system is an average user" is off target, though anyone using OS X right now won't be an average user, but an early-adopting nutcase ("Where angels fear to tread..."). You're going to want OS X Server, which will be identical functionally to OS X (as opposed to the current OS X Server, which is essentially NextStep), but with the documentation and features that you want. OS X is very much intended to only be designed for the average user. (But then why did they add the developer tools CD? Well, I can't make my arguments perfectly consistent.)

    I don't fault Apple's strategy of separating the product line, even though the product will be essentially identical. It's necessary for them to have any chance of getting into the business market again. I suspect there are a lot of IT weenies who couldn't believe that the same OS really can run on the servers just as well as the desktop, especially if a lot of the networking is made as easy as it should be.

    As long as Apple don't charge extra for OS X Server because it's "server-grade", I won't mind. If they do, though, then there will be problems.

    Irritating marketing decisions (none / 0) (#20)
    by Kyrrin on Thu Mar 29, 2001 at 03:13:06 PM EST

    Yeah, I know that I'd probably be happier with the documentation provided with OSX Server. But I wanted it now. (I wear my nutcase label with pride.) OSX Client will do everything that I wanted it to do; it's just a question of figuring out how.

    Darwinfo has some information that I'm finding useful, including a ports page. Mmmm, rogue.

    "I'm the screen, the blinding light; I'm the screen, I work at night. I see today with a newsprint fray, my night is colored headache grey, don't wake me with so much..." -- REM
    [ Parent ]
    What I want to know is... (2.20 / 5) (#22)
    by theboz on Thu Mar 29, 2001 at 03:23:37 PM EST

    Do you like it better than Windows 9x?

    Do you like it better than linux?

    Do you like it better than etch-a-sketch?


    Nothing can beat etch-a-sketch! (4.00 / 1) (#23)
    by Kyrrin on Thu Mar 29, 2001 at 03:28:30 PM EST

    I like it loads more than I like Windows 95 and 98. I like it significantly more than I like Windows NT, which is better than 95 or 98 in the way that smallpox is better than Ebola. I like it better than I like Linux, which I haven't used much on the desktop; it's got more programs that I'm used to and a better GUI. I like it better than NetBSD for the same reason.

    Nothing, however, can ever beat the Etch-A-Sketch(tm).

    "I'm the screen, the blinding light; I'm the screen, I work at night. I see today with a newsprint fray, my night is colored headache grey, don't wake me with so much..." -- REM
    [ Parent ]
    Just testing my new .sig (4.00 / 1) (#34)
    by tornado on Thu Mar 29, 2001 at 05:21:30 PM EST

    Nothing else to see here.

    "I like [Mac OS X] significantly more than I like Windows NT, which is better than 95 or 98 in the way that smallpox is better than Ebola." -- Kyrrin
    [ Parent ]

    I'm honored (none / 0) (#38)
    by Kyrrin on Thu Mar 29, 2001 at 07:26:38 PM EST

    I think that's the first time I've been K5 sigquoted. *sniff* A girl always remembers her first... ;)

    "I'm the screen, the blinding light; I'm the screen, I work at night. I see today with a newsprint fray, my night is colored headache grey, don't wake me with so much..." -- REM
    [ Parent ]
    Nice one (none / 0) (#113)
    by deaddrunk on Sun Apr 22, 2001 at 02:57:18 PM EST

    What else can I say. I'll have to remember that one ;-)

    [ Parent ]
    I feel special. (2.37 / 8) (#27)
    by Crashnbur on Thu Mar 29, 2001 at 04:08:20 PM EST

    My vote put this story over the edge and onto the front page. :-)


    I'm specialer ;) (3.00 / 1) (#28)
    by J'raxis on Thu Mar 29, 2001 at 04:11:54 PM EST

    Your vote (1) was recorded.
    This story currently has a total score of 123.
    This story has already been posted. It must have gone up while you were voting. Thanks for your vote anyway!

    -- The lathargic Raxis

    [ J’raxis·Com | Liberty in your lifetime ]
    [ Parent ]

    UI Evolution (3.00 / 2) (#31)
    by Serge on Thu Mar 29, 2001 at 04:42:25 PM EST

    After hearing about OS X for months, hearing about the wonderful UI, the problems with the license, the problems I've had personally with Apple employees and whatnot, I've come back to the same conclusion I always do about this kind of thing.

    There's nothing Apple can do that's going to make them perfect forever. Yes, they can patent thier UI (and they have I'm sure), but many of the concepts will be adopted by other groups such as GNOME, KDE and Microsoft.

    What's sucessful will stay in and be adopted by Ximian or Eazel. What's a pain will go away.

    In fact I'm happy that Apple has done this- it means they've spent millions of dollars studying user's reactions to a GUI, and have come up with a UI which reflects that. All that means is now the rest of the world doesn't have to work as hard and can still benefit from thier labor.

    I'm not worried. Those users who want Unix for Unix will stay on Unix. Those users who wanted easy will stay on Windows, and those users who love Mac will stay on Mac.

    But thanks Apple, you've saved the rest of us a lot of time and energy.

    Your friend,

    - Serge Wroclawski

    "wonderful UI" (none / 0) (#51)
    by kubalaa on Fri Mar 30, 2001 at 12:26:35 AM EST

    While the UI is pretty (if you're into that mod-candy-coated-hipster-yuppie kind of thing), I think the general consensus is that it's an interface disaster.

    Bruce Tognazzini has some great articles on why.

    [ Parent ]

    Apple Human Interface Group (4.00 / 1) (#53)
    by cpt kangarooski on Fri Mar 30, 2001 at 01:09:20 AM EST

    Yeah - Apple probably has spent millions of dollars in interface development. However, that would have been in the 70's (before they even had a budget!) or the 80's. Apple's actual HIG disbanded in the early 90's and the members scattered into other research groups within Apple. (if you enjoy reading about Soviet purges, you'll like reading about Apple's perpetual 're-orgs') This probably had no small amount to do with the reliance on third party UI patches between 7.1 Pro and 8.

    The last remnants got canned by Steve in '97. Theoretically there are three current groups: Aqua, Server and QuickTime. The extraordinary similarities between NeXTStep and OS X implies that they do not consist of HI experts. See, Steve likes graphic designers. I'm a graphic designer, I like graphic designers (and am single in the Seattle area, all you lady designers ;) but that doesn't make us _interface_ designers. It's an entirely different field altogether.

    Getting whapped upside the head with Kai's Power Tools for half an hour ought to get that point across. And that's one of the very few examples of a product that had a terrible yet pretty interface that did well! Most fail horribly. In fact, most products with poor interfaces fail horribly ugly or pretty.

    While the prettiness factor of the interface should not be ignored, Steve's approach is similar to B-Ark marketers trying to figure out what color wheels ought to be. Remember folks, he's the same genius that had the entire NeXT factory rebuilt because the assembly line went in the wrong direction. (I am not making this up)

    Personally, I think OS X is very attractive, but it doesn't make up for the great loss of functionality. It's rather inexcusable, given Apple's history finding a lot of these principles out in the first place.

    All my posts including this one are in the public domain. I am a lawyer. I am not your lawyer, and this is not legal advice.
    [ Parent ]
    But I -like- the Dock. (none / 0) (#59)
    by Kyrrin on Fri Mar 30, 2001 at 08:30:18 AM EST

    My, Mr. Tognazzini doesn't like the Dock. Mr. Tognazzini goes into great detail as to why he doesn't like the Dock. That's wonderful for Mr. Tognazzini, but I happen to disagree with him completely. I think that the Dock is far better than the old Applications menu, and for a number of reasons:
    • Icons are clearly identifiable as to what program they belong to, even on my 1024x768 resolution monitor with the Doc running at about 50 pixels high.
    • The Trash is now cross-application; no more hiding all other windows just to throw something out.
    • The "hover time" after which the application or document name appears over the icon is nonexistent; they're all labeled to begin with.
    • You can set it to auto-hide, and it pops right back up.
    • Most importantly, I -- and most users, I think -- tend to keep the mouse at the bottom of the screen, particularly while word-processing; that's usually the location of the cursor insert, and most likely the location of where the last area clicked was. It takes less effort to get to the bottom of the screen with the mouse than it does to the top of the screen.

    Now, I'll admit that I'm not a highly-paid UI designer, but it seems perfectly usable and intuitive to me.

    "I'm the screen, the blinding light; I'm the screen, I work at night. I see today with a newsprint fray, my night is colored headache grey, don't wake me with so much..." -- REM
    [ Parent ]
    Ten pounds of good UI in a five pound bag (5.00 / 1) (#72)
    by cpt kangarooski on Fri Mar 30, 2001 at 03:52:55 PM EST

    It's possible that the Dock does make a decent applications switcher. However, aside from being larger, it's not substantially different than the app switching palette that's been around for a little while, or any number of similar tools.

    (I actually have a control strip that does this - not because I don't use the menu, which I do, but because Apple hasn't made drag and drop menus, and made the mistake of requiring click-hold-release menus, which it's never really gotten over.)

    Aside from the absurd amount of screen space that it occupies, and problems with overlapping windows and magical moving icons, it could have done okay in that respect.

    But when the Dock is also supposed to become the replacement for the Apple Menu, Control Strip, container for really important elements, like the trash, exhibits apparently destructive behaviors and has no text labels, it becomes rapidly overloaded. Then it fails. Real fast.

    Actually one proposal for the Lisa, upon which the Mac is very closely based, had icons with no text labels. After all - people can recognize them entirely spacially, or visually, open them up, or organize them, and we don't have to have unrealistic little tags floating next to stuff. This was discovered to be an awful idea in a short amount of time.

    In developing the dock, which is really the old NeXTStep dock, plus the shelf, heated up in the microwave and served as though it's fresh, Apple ignored their own research and testing. They ignored the old HI adage "A word is worth a thousand pictures." And they really screwed up people like myself who have a perfectly good organizational system that involves a lot of folders.

    Macs are supposed to fit their users - anything that doesn't actually cause it to break which improves my productivity ought to be fair game. OS X imposes a certain Steven P. Jobs' work habits on everyone, and doesn't really provide us with a good way out, or even non-kludgy workarounds.

    If the dock is good for you, great, by all means use it. But stripping away choices and functionality is a Bad Thing. The dock, at most, should have been yet another option, perhaps incorporating some of the widgity behavior of the control strip. It's a truly awful one-size-fits-all solution for anyone who is not that one size.

    BTW: don't assume people put their cursors where you do. Or even that you put it where you think you do. If you're really curious the ONLY way to find out is to write a little program that tracks it, have a large group use it, and accept the results even if they're totally contrary to what you expected. UI design is in many respects a science, not an art form.

    All my posts including this one are in the public domain. I am a lawyer. I am not your lawyer, and this is not legal advice.
    [ Parent ]
    Rants, not consensus (none / 0) (#90)
    by selkirk on Sun Apr 01, 2001 at 05:12:47 AM EST

    I don't see this consensus at all.

    Tog's main complaint, if you read his articles is that the OS does not go far enough, not that it is a disaster. Tog's specific issues with the dock were based on the beta and most of the his complaints were addressed in the shipping version.

    Most of the complaints about the UI are coming from users who are used to the old interface and haven't yet gotten used to the new, or people who have never used it.

    If you are familiar with some of the quantification models of UI, such as keystroke timing, fitt's law, hick's law, etc, you will realize what an advance the dock is. Jeff Raskin, one of the original mac team, wrote a good book on UI design, The Humane Interface which discusses some of these issues. Most people don't realize how long operations in the UI actually take in real time. People will find that they are more productive in aqua than in OS 9 or windows after they get used to it.

    If you read Alan cooper's rants about dialog boxes, saving and file systems in About Face, you would again see how good aqua is.

    The primary goal of aqua was not to be pretty (it is), but to fix some common, well-known usability problems. Read the Aqua design guidelines on the apple site. Everything is there for a reason.

    [ Parent ]
    quick reply (none / 0) (#106)
    by kubalaa on Tue Apr 03, 2001 at 11:54:44 PM EST

    I'll give you this much; Aqua is good for new users, especially the dock. It's simple. It's pretty. It sucks for power users. Some of the most egregious problems---no infinite icons, no hierarchical apple menu---were fixed. Others, like the lack of text labels, the instability of icon locations, and the general trying-to-do-to-much-at-once nature of the dock, were not. You're also right about seasoned Mac users not liking it, because OS X tries to mix the spacial metaphor of the old desktop with a browser metaphor and fails at both.

    I've read Rankin's book, and it's very thought-provoking, but has nothing to do with Aqua. I think it's pretty clear from the history of the dock that the design team hasn't been worrying much about "theoretical" concerns like Fitt's Law. (They only fixed the limited height of the dock after they got roasted alive by the press for making such an amateurish mistake.) Apple's interface has never been non-modal, which is Rankin's number-one point in that book.

    I haven't read About Face, but I imagine you're referring to the one innovative, useful interface feature Apple did add: sheets. One good idea does not a pleasant user experience make. As for your other points, there's nothing special about OS X's file system, other than it's inconsistent use of file extensions, and I'm not sure what you mean by "saving."

    Other than vague generalizations, can you point specifically to the "common, well-known usability problems" which OS X fixes? And explain why its numerous undebatable problems are unimportant?

    Ars Technica's review covered the interface very well from a purely pragmatic standpoint.

    [ Parent ]

    Stop /tempting/ me! (5.00 / 3) (#32)
    by Denor on Thu Mar 29, 2001 at 04:44:42 PM EST

    I'm planning on getting a new system this summer, as my current system is dying a slow death. I've specced out parts for a ~$600 computer I want to build.

    But I'm going to have more money available to me this summer than that... and I've wanted one of those macs ever since they got good again...

    Seriously, an excellent review. Makes me want to try it out. So stop it :)


    You *can* hide others (5.00 / 3) (#35)
    by mcc on Thu Mar 29, 2001 at 05:31:33 PM EST

    I may be misunderstanding you, and this is a very minor point, but regarding your comments on Classic apps and "hide others":

    As in classic Mac OS, holding down option while moving from one app to another causes the app you left to be hidden; however, Mac OS X adds the trick that yuou can hold down option and command together and click on an app, and you will simultaneously switch to that app and hide all other apps. So, <u>command-option-click the classic app in question's icon in the dock</u>, and there you are.

    Not a big thing, but could be useful to some of you.

    (i for one am still using os x public beta, waiting for my copy of Mac os x final to come.. like a fool, i chose to get my copy by buying a student APple Developers Connection membership. which means i have to wait a couple weeks for my box to come in the mail. AUGH!)

    Aside from that, the absurd meta-wankery of k5er-quoting sigs probably takes the cake. Especially when the quote itself is about k5. -- tsubame

    That's wonderful (none / 0) (#39)
    by Kyrrin on Thu Mar 29, 2001 at 07:30:12 PM EST

    Thank you, thank you, thank you. Thank you. Did I say thank you? That solves one of my (admittedly minor) quirks about the UI, and will deal with one of my serious irritations -- as soon as I retrain my fingers to use it.

    "I'm the screen, the blinding light; I'm the screen, I work at night. I see today with a newsprint fray, my night is colored headache grey, don't wake me with so much..." -- REM
    [ Parent ]
    This isn't new (none / 0) (#50)
    by Michael Leuchtenburg on Fri Mar 30, 2001 at 12:14:26 AM EST

    This is in MacOS 9.1 as well. And yes, it is very useful.

    I just wish all the little shortcuts and chords and whatnot were actually documented somewhere... I have yet to see anything. :( One day I shall use an OS with decent docs... maybe.

    [ #k5: dyfrgi ]
    [ TINK5C ]
    [ Parent ]

    File Sharing (5.00 / 2) (#36)
    by Rand Race on Thu Mar 29, 2001 at 05:34:59 PM EST

    "OSX uses TCP/IP for networking, rather than AppleTalk. This makes communicating with an OS9.X computer rather difficult. My roommate's iMac can talk to my G4, but my G4 won't mount her filesystem for me. Again, it's something I can live with for what I get in exchange, but it's irritating."

    This has been driving me crazy. I've been tinkering with OSX here at work all week. We have an Appletalk network with about 50 boxes on it. Of these 50 odd machines (running 8.6, 9.04, or 9.1) exactly two can be seen from the OSX machine (one 9.04 and one 9.1). I can not find what it is that makes them show up. It's not TCP/IP filesharing and it's not an OpenTransport setting. The two machines serve different purposes (one is a file server the other a workstation), are different models (iMac and B&W G3), and are on different zones (server is in the interactive dept, the workstation in accounting).

    Other than that the thing is fantastic. Unlike the PB it will run Quark quite well and on the DP boxes it is super fast in things other than Photoshop. I won't be rolling it out here at work until summer, but it's going on my new G4 when I get it (my poor old 3400 will be going away now).

    "Question with boldness even the existence of God; because if there be one, He must approve the homage of Reason rather than that of blindfolded Fear." - Thomas Jefferson

    File Sharing (none / 0) (#69)
    by mercury on Fri Mar 30, 2001 at 03:09:20 PM EST

    Rand Race, I had the same problem, and it was driving me crazy as well. I finally discovered that "Enable File Sharing Clients to connect over TCP/IP" had to be activated under OS 9 (in the File Sharing Control Panel) in order to see them from an OSX machine... Scot

    [ Parent ]
    I think I know the reasons (5.00 / 2) (#85)
    by larkost on Sat Mar 31, 2001 at 12:24:58 PM EST

    There are a couple of things you have to know about AppleTalk-over-IP to understand what is going on here. The first thing is that MacOS X only can see other servers that are using the latest version of SLP (Service Location Protocol), this includes only the MacOS 9 and above and AppleShareIP 6.3 Servers. It can still talk to other AppleTalk-over-IP servers (MacOS 8.5+ and Win2000 Server I think) if they are talking IP, but you need to type in the IP number.

    There is a company that makes a bridge so that you can access non IP Appletalk over AppleTalk-over-IP, and they make a product that can convert the older SLP advertisements to the new way of doing things. The company is OpenDoor (www.opendoor.com), and if you look in a MacOS 9 system folder you will find that the Extension (ShareWay IP Personal) that allows you to use AppleTalk-over-IP is by them.

    The other problem that you might be running into is that if you are in a multi-zone (with routers) network, your routers might not be allowing the IP-Multicast packets that SLP needs to automaticly discover servers. It might be that the routers are not allowing the packets to propagate properly, talk to your network admins if this is the case. There is quite a bit of technical info on Apple's developer site about SLP, and if you need more help, contact me at: larkost@softhome.net

    [ Parent ]
    Filesharing 9 and X works great for me (4.00 / 1) (#93)
    by //violentmac on Sun Apr 01, 2001 at 04:16:08 PM EST

    I mounted my OS 9.1 machine over my home ethernet and mounted its file system on OS X. Just click enable TCP/IP filesharing on the os 9 machine and give it a local IP like 192.168.1.X. Then on os X select GO menu connect to server, type in the IP and you'll be greeted by th os 9, login screen.

    I think i know what your problem is. This only works if the machine you are connecting to doesn't have a PPP connection. In otherwords OS 9 doesn't seperate TCP/IP and PPP settings. There can be only one! So if your other machine has a PPP dial up account you can't connect to it with out manually changing the config file to TCP/IP only. Try it!

    Also you can't put root as your login it won't accept it during the install. You have to manually turn it on.

    Good review.

    [ Parent ]
    Don't like it (I like long posts and I cannot lie) (3.54 / 11) (#40)
    by cpt kangarooski on Thu Mar 29, 2001 at 08:14:50 PM EST

    I've been discussing this a lot on various Mac fora, but if the subject has been brought up here, I may as well put my $2x10^-2 in.

    Steve has simply brought out NeXT Step 6. He's worse than the PHB - he's actively evil when not just an incompetant manager. And he repeats all of his old mistakes over, and over, and over again.

    What I believe Mac users wanted, and what we've been practically begging for during all of the 90's. (remember Pink? Copland?) was a vanilla Mac that just didn't crash.

    That is not OS X.

    OS X is fundementally NeXTStep; itself the bastard product of an unholy union of an odd UI with BSD. And I've got a NeXTCube, I know what I mean! NeXT doesn't really respond like Unix enough for that half of it to be of great value. It doesn't isolate people who only want to use the GUI enough from Unix. (as in the filesystem, which is entirely alien to Mac Users and now to Unix users alike)

    OS X is slow, it is tied to Apple hardware which is not a selling point in the real world, (read: x86) the Classic environment is not nearly as good as it ought to be, it has no native software, and the UI is considered a step backwards by many long-time Mac users such as myself.

    As always, Steve doesn't listen to people, he piles on features, he congenitally misses deadlines, he has no respect for HI engineers, instead letting graphic designers have free reign, he's an infamously bad manager - the list is a long one.

    Even if Apple had had an instant hit with OS X, it's highly dubious that the company would have been saved. It's certainly needed saving since the big fuckups of the late 70's and early 80's. (2 of the 3.5 were Steve's fault, in fact!) That need has just become more and more dramatic as the Wintel platform outstrips anything Apple or NeXT or whomever can do.

    But for OS X to actually alienate some of the very few loyal Mac users left? It's like signing a death warrant.

    I've been using Macs since 1986, at home and at work. I'm writing this on a G4 with 9.0.4. I've used OS X retail, I've had no good experiences with it, and it is to me just like throwing away the good parts of the Mac and getting something that's not a joy to work with.

    If I'm going to be treated like that, Win2K starts to become a much more likely option. At least I don't have to worry about native software or the company going out of business. It's plenty bad in other ways - I'll really be up shit creek if the subscription model comes to pass - but it does offer more advantages when compared with OS X. Nothing is a natural successor to the real MacOS.

    Basically Apple's been shooting themslves in the foot for twenty years. Ever since they built the Apple II, which had one cunningly fatal flaw. This time they seem to have shot right into their heart, and I no longer expect Apple to even sustain the little corner of the industry that it's retreated into.

    Me? I've had enough. Whoever's figuring out market share can bear that in mind.

    All my posts including this one are in the public domain. I am a lawyer. I am not your lawyer, and this is not legal advice.
    Wow (4.00 / 1) (#44)
    by driph on Thu Mar 29, 2001 at 09:18:19 PM EST

    Oh golly miss molly, I'm not even going to attempt to bite at this. :]

    Guess we'll just have to wait and see what happens, eh?

    Vegas isn't a liberal stronghold. It's the place where the rich and powerful gamble away their company's pension fund and strangle call girls in their hotel rooms. - Psycho Dave
    [ Parent ]
    A Response, from another Mac user (4.83 / 6) (#46)
    by Brazzo on Thu Mar 29, 2001 at 09:45:28 PM EST


    That's a lot of negative for such a short piece. Excellently written, well thought-out and well reasoned. I just happen to completely disagree.

    I'm a Mac user from a long time ago, too. I'm writing this from my Lombard, within OmniWeb. I've got an SE/30 and a Quadra 700 in my closet, and a Mac Classic at my office that's effectively a footrest. I can't seem to part with them. And, until last week, I couldn't think of parting with OS 9.1.

    OS X is, first and foremost, an initial release of Apple's next-generation OS. Yes, it's slower than OS 9 (for now). Yes, there aren't many native applications. Yes, Apple completely reworked the UI. But, these are either Things to Be Improved, or more importantly, Things That Needed Changing.

    OS 9 is a hodge-podge of interface oddities and hacks to System 1. Let's be honest -- OS 9 is the result of nearly seventeen years of refinement.

    Off the top of my head, I can think of several things that were added to OS 9 after being available as third-party hacks and utilities:

    • Spring-loaded folders;
    • the Control Strip;
    • Contextual menus;
    • the menu-bar clock.
    When Public Beta was released, people whined and hollered for their "old stand-by's" that Apple took away from them. Some of them were Good Ideas - bringing back the Apple Menu, for one - but some of them were just plain whining.

    Mac OS has been a wonderful OS, and we've grown accustomed to it. It's like the reliable old car that we don't want to get rid of. But, OS X is the future.

    Apple will improve OS X. They will add features and refine the UI and make OS X better. They will continue to optimize code and drivers, and will release faster and more robust updates as the years roll on.

    I love OS X. It's beautiful, it's fast enough for all my Cocoa and Classic work, and it's rock stable -- 2.5 days without rebooting, and I only rebooted then to install the 10.0.1 update.

    Don't feel like living on the edge? Wait for MWNY. But, OS X is here, and while it's not perfect, it's better than the alternatives.

    Or, hadn't you noticed the Microsoft Copy Machine starting to whirl out Windows OS X... Windows XP. Whatever.

    [ Parent ]

    So switch to Linux, already... (4.00 / 1) (#54)
    by inti on Fri Mar 30, 2001 at 03:09:05 AM EST

    For someone as sophisticated as you seem to be GNOME or KDE offer all of the convenieces of a modern GUI, and all of the power of the CLI, GNU tools and such. I wouldn't try to sell my grandma on it, but you might like it.

    And you never have to worry about the company going out of business - there isn't one - or the subscription model taking over - nobody would stand for it.

    I was a Mac guy myself for over 10 years. No longer, though, because Apple is no longer the good guy, though they remain the underdog. Try Linux, *BSD or somesuch. You'll never go back.

    Claim your namespace.
    Support the OpenNIC

    [ Parent ]

    Nix on 'Nix (4.00 / 1) (#70)
    by cpt kangarooski on Fri Mar 30, 2001 at 03:31:49 PM EST

    Having used Gnome a bit, I disagree.

    Good UIs are more than skin deep. One of my biggest objections to OS X has been the crappy Unix file structure as mentioned above. Or keeping the GUI and CLI as seperate worlds. Gnome makes a lot of power available to me, and there are things in the shell that are sophisticated. The problem is in virtually requiring that sophistication to be able to do even simple tasks. In most respects Gnome is very, very much like Win95, and often worse.

    While Win95 has definately got some worthwhile UI elements, it's not exactly the best thing out there. I still reserve that spot for later versions of the MacOS, though even it could use significant improvements that Steve has ignored utterly no matter what their source. (I mean, look at Windows' drag and drop start menu. That's a frickin' great idea!)

    As for the company not going out of business, yes that's a plus. But the foundation of the OS is largely irrelevant to me. For all I care, magical pixies make my computer work. I just want to be able to do stuff with it, and have it not ever get in my way. Given the state of the industry, I don't think that Linux has good hopes - barring something really big happening - of making inroads.

    Due to being a DTP guy, and not interested in messing with the guts of the computer unless I feel like it, I'll probably be stuck on Windows after I've gotten all the mileage I can out of MacOS 9. The second-best OS I can think of was BeOS, but it was really intended to get bought by Apple to replace Pink. Didn't happen, it's not really in the running now, and needed a lot of UI work even though the heart was in the right place.

    All my posts including this one are in the public domain. I am a lawyer. I am not your lawyer, and this is not legal advice.
    [ Parent ]
    Not a substantive criticism (4.00 / 1) (#75)
    by paulT on Fri Mar 30, 2001 at 08:37:23 PM EST

    To disagree with part of another post, if you're going to be critical at least give me something substantive to work with. After reading the post all I see is someone who appears to have a knee jerk reaction against Jobs and doesn't give any specific reasons why X is bad. If you're going to contradict a detailed article on a subject at least do it in kind.

    "Outside of a dog, a book is probably man's best friend; inside of a dog, it's too dark to read." - Groucho Marx
    [ Parent ]
    simplifying vs treating users like idiots (4.00 / 2) (#43)
    by scruffyMark on Thu Mar 29, 2001 at 09:01:09 PM EST

    This is what bugs me - the option that turns on telnet, and maybe a few others (rlogin? rsh?) but not ssh (it's not included) reads:

    Allow remote login
    Allows other users to access your computer using terminal applications.

    Aaargh! Which terminal applications? How do I control which terminal applications? It seems to be all or nothing, not a good way at all of doing things.

    <pontification>By default, it should turn on ssh if you want to, with a minimum of hassle. If you want telnet, etc., you should turn those on one at a time, and there should be plentiful warnings about security risks. Not popup confirmations, because those should die, but explanatory labels.</pontification>

    /etc/inetd.conf, baby (5.00 / 1) (#61)
    by DJBongHit on Fri Mar 30, 2001 at 09:00:29 AM EST

    By default, it should turn on ssh if you want to, with a minimum of hassle. If you want telnet, etc., you should turn those on one at a time, and there should be plentiful warnings about security risks. Not popup confirmations, because those should die, but explanatory labels.

    If you want more power over your system, there's nothing to stop you from firing up vi, editing /etc/inetd.conf, and then sending SIGHUP to inetd. Just because there's a pretty layer on top of it doesn't mean it's not Unix.

    And, at least in the beta, you can do all this without disturbing or confusing Apple's GUI tools.


    GNU GPL: Free as in herpes.

    [ Parent ]
    Don't tell me, tell Grandma (none / 0) (#77)
    by scruffyMark on Fri Mar 30, 2001 at 11:31:51 PM EST

    I have edited the heck out of /etc/inetd.conf, installed a pop3 daemon, ssh, and a few other bits and pieces. That's all well and good for me.

    I think, though, that the secure options (eg. ssh) should be the one-click ones, and the insecure options (eg. telnet, ftp) should be the ones that take a little more doing. Lumping it all together as "terminal programs" disempowers the large number of people who are not total Unix newbies, but not quite up to hacking around with /etc/inetd.conf with perfect confidence.

    [ Parent ]

    Nits to pick but good writeup (5.00 / 4) (#45)
    by Skippy on Thu Mar 29, 2001 at 09:32:30 PM EST

    OSX, as many know already, is based on a BSD 4.4 kernel (nicknamed Darwin), with a typical Apple GUI design (Aqua) on top of it.
    Last I checked most of the OS was BSD 4.4 lite but the kernel is a Mach microkernel. (I believe the BSD kernels are monolithic).

    I'm surprised that you didn't mention that Aqua is actually display PDF (just like the NeXT gui was display postscript) one of the coolest ideas ever. According to my Mac friends who also happen to be early adopters and designers, this is one of its best features.

    # I am now finished talking out my ass about things that I am not qualified to discuss. #

    Nits to pick but good comment: you mean Quartz (5.00 / 4) (#48)
    by The Cunctator on Thu Mar 29, 2001 at 11:05:49 PM EST

    Aqua is the interface system, Quartz the graphics system. Quartz is a bit more complicated than display PDF, though you wouldn't know that fromApple's pages; see David K. Every's MacKiDo Quartz article and John Siracusa's Ars Technica's review.

    Quartz is descended from NeXT's DPS, Apple's QuickDraw GX, and Adobe's PDF, which are all mutually cross-pollinating technologies, leading back to Bill Atkinson's QuickDraw, which leads back to Jef Raskin's QuickDraw thesis and work at Xerox PARC, which leads back to Doug Engelbart's ARC at SRI, which leads back to Ivan Sutherland's Sketchpad.

    As Every writes, "The only one that seems to have NOT contributed anything to the graphics market (or much of anything) seems to be Microsoft."

    One important thing to note is though Quartz is compatible with and implements PDF, it's an independent implementation; thus Apple isn't paying royalties to Adobe.

    [ Parent ]

    Oh, great. NOW you've done it... (3.66 / 3) (#60)
    by Brazzo on Fri Mar 30, 2001 at 08:34:30 AM EST

    ...you mentioned DKE by name, with link and with praise on a website frequented by Windows and Linux folks.

    I've rarely seen something that can raise the hackles of more readers quicker than the liberal, well-placed and appropriate use of a DKE article -- especially one from MacKiDo. Next thing you know, we'll be forced to read his stuff from over at the webzine formerly known as MacWEEK. I mean, his iGeek articles were crap anyway, right?

    Please stop referring to DKE in public. We don't want to let the secret out, now do we?

    [ Parent ]

    Pretty interesting write up... (3.00 / 1) (#47)
    by Zeram on Thu Mar 29, 2001 at 10:46:18 PM EST

    (And before anyone flames the hell out of me for my editorial comments don't. I actually read the article this time, ok? I'm wqas wrong, I admit it.)

    This is rather intertesting to me espically because I am part of the Achelous project. I figured that Apple still had a ways to go on this, although now it seems further than I had at first thought. Maybe oneday they will be able to turn this into something useful.

    Like Anime? In the Philly metro area? Welcome to the machine...
    Achelous (4.00 / 1) (#78)
    by sinclair on Fri Mar 30, 2001 at 11:49:22 PM EST

    I just cruised through the pages for Achelous, and I have to say, I wouldn't bet a dollar that it'll turn it into something useful. I could get a Coke for that dollar, instead. Cloning MacOS X on Intel, from scratch, is a huge undertaking, and I don't see signs that the developers involved have any sense of the scope of the task they've undertaken.

    Hell, even Apple didn't write MacOS X from scratch, or even anything close. They started with a completely functional operating system called OPENSTEP, updated to the latest Mach, added some NetBSD code, injected the FreeBSD userland, tore out DPS and fitted a more-or-less "Display PDF" system. To this, they added Carbon (née Toolbox), Classic (MacOS 9.1), and a Java runtime environment. Notice that none of this stuff did Apple build from the ground up. And it took them 4 years to do it. NeXT had 8 years to get OPENSTEP up to the point where Apple took over, and they didn't start from scratch either. They had the Mach microkernel, BSD 4.3 code, GCC, StepStone's Objective C language, and Adobe's work on Display Postscript to build upon.

    And here's Achelous, talking about duplicating what it's taken dozens of well-funded companies many years each of development time to put together. Oh certainly, it's easier just to clone a design that exists, but that's still an awful lot of programming hours. Even GNUstep, with its far more modest aim of implementing OpenStep, has taken quite a lot of time. And jeepers, look at how long it took Linux to get just TCP/IP done right!

    If you're really interested in an operating system like MacOS X on Intel, here's what you do: leverage. (BTW, shoot me if I ever start saying things like, "We need to think out of the box to leverage our core competancies to focus on the big picture, going forward," but leverage is a useful word.) Leverage existing code, take advantage of similar projects, and leverage the talents and enthusiasm of the people who work on those projects. It may not result in exactly the OS you want right away, but as we all know, worse is better.

    A general outline: Port Darwin so it runs well on Intel. If you're looking to clone MacOS X, nothing like using some of its own code to do it. This gets you the kernel, userland, CoreFoundation, et cetera. It's a solid base and it already works. Get Display Ghostscript and/or the DPS extension to XFree86 working. It's not Quartz, but you can convince it to do many of the same things. Adopt/adapt GNUstep.

    You won't end up with your perfect MacOS X clone yet, but Apple gets Darwin on Intel, XFree86 gets DPS, GNUstep gets a big boost, and you get a lot of good will from the developers of these projects. Plus an OS that you can actually boot and use. You've got a good base on which to build the dozens of Carbon APIs, and to do the PPC emulator for Classic. Later, you can re-write the kernel or the display layer, if you like.

    Anyway, that's my take on it: Working together, you'll get further, faster.

    [ Parent ]

    Leverage? (none / 0) (#112)
    by deaddrunk on Sun Apr 22, 2001 at 02:39:12 PM EST

    Why can't you say 'take advantage of', rather than 'leverage' which, when I went to school (admittedly a long time ago), was a noun, not a verb.

    [ Parent ]
    3rd party hardware (4.00 / 2) (#52)
    by Cnote on Fri Mar 30, 2001 at 12:29:10 AM EST

    It may still be a while before you see a lot of third party hardware supported on OSX. A developer in my group just went to Apple two weeks ago for a crash course in OSX driver development. You think they would've had a seminar more than a week before they released the OS.

    Mac isn't our biggest seller for hardware in any case. Wintel is probably our biggest seller. We actually charge quite a bit of money if somebody wants a driver for one of the Unixes. I imagine that OSX will discontinue that trend for us. I don't imagine that the people we sell hardware to will really pick up OSX for a while.

    However, it is great that Apple finally has a pre-emptive multithreading OS. I think apple was just a small step behind the industry on this one.

    Is there any chance that I can right-click on something in OSX anytime soon?

    Right-click (none / 0) (#57)
    by Kyrrin on Fri Mar 30, 2001 at 07:22:02 AM EST

    I've got a Kensington Orbit trackball -- sweet piece of hardware -- and just attempted to right-click in my Carbon version of iCab, and got a rather nice little menu indeed; looks like your answer is "yes". :)

    "I'm the screen, the blinding light; I'm the screen, I work at night. I see today with a newsprint fray, my night is colored headache grey, don't wake me with so much..." -- REM
    [ Parent ]
    scroll wheels too (none / 0) (#98)
    by bnenning on Mon Apr 02, 2001 at 03:17:55 PM EST

    Using my MS Intellimouse, not only is the right button supported but the scroll wheel also works in OmniWeb and all other Cocoa applications I've run, with no driver installation. I would not be surprised if Apple makes a two-button mouse an option on their next G4 towers.

    [ Parent ]
    Yup. (none / 0) (#101)
    by Pope Slack on Mon Apr 02, 2001 at 04:18:47 PM EST

    I've got a 3 button Logitech USB 'gamer mouse', and the right button works beautifully on it as well, didn't have to install drivers or anything.


    [ Parent ]
    Mac OS X - Public Beta Version 2 (4.50 / 2) (#55)
    by rwyatt on Fri Mar 30, 2001 at 03:41:04 AM EST

    Like many obsessed Mac-heads, I couldn't wait to get OS X. Not only had I installed both DP4 and the Public Beta, but I'd owned a NeXT computer at one point, so I was very eager for NEXTSTEP's rebirth. I always loved NEXTSTEP and knew that, had Jobs stayed at Apple, it probably would have been the next MacOS. Some things are just meant to be...

    OS X as it stands today, however, is another beta at best (greatly improved, but still beta). In the several years that I used my NeXT computer every day, I only managed to completely crash the system once or twice. I've already had MacOS X crash with a kernel panic on two occasions. Mail.app downloads old mail or just stops downloading mail altogether for a while. It seems to have a mind of its own. :-( IE 5.1 Preview is a total DOG. OmniWeb and iCab are better, but that isn't saying much. Classic is very finicky. It works pretty well overall, but there are some screen re-draw issues and problems with third party preferences, etc (ie: Conflict Catcher). And it definitely feels slow. On my Dual/533 system, OS X feels slower than OS 9.1, yet 9.1 doesn't even take advantage of multiprocessing whereas OS X does. Come on Apple. What gives!

    That said, I would definitely NOT recommend installing OS X yet, especially if you're in a business or school. Home users who want to play around and check out the latest and greatest, be warned: OS X is flakey. If you think it will help you get your work done faster or more efficiently, think again. It's worth a look, but it will be months before it's ready for prime time. I had fun with X for a few days, but I'm booting back into 9 now. Perhaps Apple will fig a few of the MORE GLARING bugs in the next few weeks and I'll give X another try. If not, I'll probably wait until summer before taking another look.

    about speed... (3.00 / 2) (#68)
    by naasking on Fri Mar 30, 2001 at 01:47:46 PM EST

    And it definitely feels slow. On my Dual/533 system, OS X feels slower than OS 9.1, yet 9.1 doesn't even take advantage of multiprocessing whereas OS X does. Come on Apple. What gives!

    I do not believe that SMP is enabled in the current MacOS X build. But I guess your point was 'neither does MacOS 9.1, so what's going on?'

    [ Parent ]
    SMP is on (none / 0) (#99)
    by bnenning on Mon Apr 02, 2001 at 03:21:48 PM EST

    SMP is enabled, and I believe has been since the Public Beta. (run hostinfo from a terminal, you'll see "Kernel configured for up to 2 processors."). But that only helps performance in an individual application if it is properly multithreaded, which many (most prominently the Finder) are not.

    [ Parent ]
    Mult-tasking = slower file manager (none / 0) (#96)
    by //violentmac on Sun Apr 01, 2001 at 05:38:26 PM EST

    Under os 9 the finder gets close 100% of the cpu, under os x its treated as another process. Give it 100% of the cpu it'll seem zippy as os9.

    It's a work in progress. It's not great yet but it has all the foundations to be great.

    [ Parent ]
    A few points... (4.66 / 3) (#56)
    by DJBongHit on Fri Mar 30, 2001 at 05:28:03 AM EST

    About running on a 64MB machine... I'm running it on a PowerBook G3 (Wallstreet Edition) with 64MB of RAM, and it runs decently - not great, but certainly better than Win98 with 16MB. It's probably closer to running Win95 with 16MB of RAM, which is actually the setup I had on my 486. Admittedly I'm still running OS X Beta, but I've heard that the full version is faster anyway.

    About the Aliases-as-symlinks feature... I don't think it should have taken much crazy voodoo, like you suggest - since the infrastructure is already there which treats symlinks as aliases anyway, why didn't they just have the purty GUI interface create a symlink when you create an alias, rather than doing an alias the old fashioned way? It seems to me that this would've been a good idea, and it doesn't seem like it would've been hard to do.

    And yes, I share your "Mac-with-a-command-line" enthusiasm :)


    GNU GPL: Free as in herpes.

    On symlinks and Aliases (none / 0) (#94)
    by //violentmac on Sun Apr 01, 2001 at 04:48:36 PM EST

    The finder recognizes symlinks but creates only aliases. When it encounters a symlink it presents it as an aliase. There is no visual distinction between the two. You can make a symlink from the terminal with "ln -s".

    It's important to understand the difference between the two items, for brevity SL and A. SL are stuck in one directory, if you move them above their parent directory the link is broken. While A can be moved anywhere in the volume and the link is still good.

    Well, why use symlinks at all then? Because an A refers to a specific file. If that file is replaced by a new version the A is broken. But, a symlink always links to its file even if the file is replaced by a new version.

    This was taken from The mac os x system overview. It's here http://developer.apple.com/techpubs/macosx/SystemOverview/devessentials.html


    [ Parent ]
    A few nits are easy to unpick (4.50 / 2) (#58)
    by paulmc on Fri Mar 30, 2001 at 08:20:36 AM EST

    You mentioned not being able to connect via appletalk to an MacOS 9 machine: that should be a simple matter of changing the "File Sharing" control panel on the MacOS 9 machine to "Enable File Sharing Clients to connect over TCP/IP". I'm pretty sure that this is the only language that OSX "Appletalks".

    I don't have the "copy and paste don't work between carbon and classic" problem that you mentioned. There *are* a few glitches in some applications (IE, in addition to some amazingly blatant problems refuses to put text from the address field onto the clipboard, and probably the reverse as well: maybe that's what you're describing here). Most likely it's dependent on the carbon app's implementation. Omniweb CF3 (*not * the thing originally dumped on idisks, which might have been CF1) is behaving beautifully now. Highly recommended!

    Final point: wouldn't the difficulty with emulating aliases via symlinks be that symlinks cease working when you move the original whilst mac aliases are "dynamic" in that sense? That is, still point to the file of interest. I don't have much imagination, but can't see a way to do that with symlinks.


    IE 5 Workaround (none / 0) (#62)
    by Remy on Fri Mar 30, 2001 at 09:58:37 AM EST

    IE, in addition to some amazingly blatant problems refuses to put text from the address field onto the clipboard, and probably the reverse as well: maybe that's what you're describing here.

    I found a workaround for this; simply grab the @ symbol icon that's on the leftmost part of the address bar and drag it to wherever you need to paste. I've successfully done this to native apps and to Classic apps.

    You would thing MS would've gotten something like simple copy/paste working, but oh well. I'm also having a frustrating bug where I can't point it to the new copy of Stuffit Expander to use when post-processing files. Guess it's not expecting the right app type.

    -- "The need to be observed and understood was once satisfied by God. Now we can implement the same functionality with data-mining algorithms." - Morpheus, Deus Ex
    [ Parent ]
    IE 5 Workaround (none / 0) (#79)
    by paulmc on Sat Mar 31, 2001 at 12:11:03 AM EST

    Thanks for the workaround, which takes care of one of the IE problems; dragging on the "@" works nicely. IE's address field does accept text *from* the clipboard, but can't be dragged to. The one enormous problem that remains for me is the inability to breathe in IE when a download is taking place. (Switching to another app is fine of course)

    Ah yes, there's always one more... I too have grown weary of having the old stuffit grab downloads, and then having to point things at the new one manually. IE seems incapable of changing any application mappings: if I see another instance of a ghost from my past (Outlook 5.02) start to come into existence when a mailto is clicked I'll scream. In fact I have screamed enough already. Time to change that default web browser until there's a revised IE. Every day I think "they've surely got to put something in its place soon..."

    Anyway, I find this somewhat sad, because IE5 for OS9 is in my Mac+Unix experience the finest browser available. Yeah, I know I sound like MS promo-folk, but I can't even recall the last time it crashed on me, it's fast, it uses MRJ well, and supports standards pretty well. On my machine it flat out *just works*, even in classic. I know this experience is not universal!


    [ Parent ]
    Stuffit solution (none / 0) (#84)
    by flimflam on Sat Mar 31, 2001 at 11:31:27 AM EST

    My solution to the wrong stuffit expander opening problem was to just delete the old (5.5) version of stuffit expander. The new was is carbon, so should work in both OS X and OS 9 (though I haven't tried it in 9). At any rate, expanding works perfectly from both sides for me now.
    -- I am always optimistic, but frankly there is no hope. --Hosni Mubarek
    [ Parent ]
    aliases (none / 0) (#81)
    by tobythain on Sat Mar 31, 2001 at 03:46:37 AM EST

    Aliases under MacOS actually work in (at least) two modes: the "robust" aliases you mention are similar to UNIX hard (inode) links, where the file is referenced by HFS file ID rather than symbolic location (i.e. a UNIX hard link can never lose its referenced file, regardless of what happens to that file - any other links can even be deleted without affecting the linked file, unlike Mac aliases). MacOS also uses symbolic links in aliases under some circumstances, which can also become orphaned from their referenced file.

    [ Parent ]
    Finally... (2.50 / 2) (#64)
    by Skeevy on Fri Mar 30, 2001 at 10:51:53 AM EST

    Now I can say it:

    Mac OS X = BeOS R1


    == LinuxPPC (none / 0) (#82)
    by tobythain on Sat Mar 31, 2001 at 03:54:19 AM EST

    LinuxPPC has offered many of MacOS X's features - memory protection, performance, UNIX compatibility, MacOS runtime environment (Mac on Linux) - for a year or two. It's a mature system which is a brilliant alternative for those "unsupported" machines (runs perfectly happily with 64MB, for instance).

    [ Parent ]
    Does it have focus on cursor available? (4.50 / 2) (#65)
    by Langley on Fri Mar 30, 2001 at 12:09:27 PM EST

    One thing I love about X is that I can set my window focus to be the window under the cursor.

    No stupid, clicking on a tiny title bar to gain focus of an app, just move the mouse to the window and start working.

    Hopefully apple has a flag somewhare in their config files (I'm sure this is not somethig that will be easy to find) that allows focus on cursor to be enabled.

    I should only have to explicitly click on a window to bring it to the front. Then again, why should windows even overlap? But that is another argument.
    A Prohibition law strikes a blow at the very principles upon which our government was founded. -Abraham Lincoln (Sixteenth President of the United States of America)

    I'm in this camp as well.... (4.00 / 1) (#74)
    by Xchris on Fri Mar 30, 2001 at 06:21:04 PM EST

    Most people not familiar with focus on cursor like the sloppy focus ( window stays below in focus unless clicked ) dont have a clue what I'm bitching about while using MS Win*. However, this is as important to me as custom key bindings, another item lost on most mass consumption GUI designers. It speeds my work on the computer significantly and lack of these options is too insane to consider for everyday usage.

    [ Parent ]
    Nitpick (none / 0) (#89)
    by fluffy grue on Sun Apr 01, 2001 at 12:08:26 AM EST

    sloppyfocus means that you point to focus, and pointing to the root window won't focus the root window (traditional point-to-focus means that the app will lose the focus when the mouse curos goes into the root window). That's separate concept from raise-on-focus, which is typically a separate configuration in most window managers. I hate raise-on-focus, and love sloppyfocus. Which happens to be the only focus policy supported by pwm. :)
    "Is not a quine" is not a quine.
    I have a master's degree in science!

    [ Hug Your Trikuare ]
    [ Parent ]

    Have you tried Tweak UI (none / 0) (#103)
    by ambrosen on Tue Apr 03, 2001 at 06:05:12 AM EST

    I think it's on the CD of most recent Windows versions and it lets you control focus follows mouse and autoraise settings. The one thing it doesn't control is that a mouse click in a window brings it to the front, but you can type and use the scroll wheel in a window which is the focus but not at the front, which gives many of the advantages.

    Procrastination does not make you cool. Being cool makes you procrastinate. DesiredUsername.
    [ Parent ]
    probably not (4.00 / 1) (#83)
    by eMBee on Sat Mar 31, 2001 at 08:13:00 AM EST

    focus follows mouse is not easely done because of the menu. if the focus switches when you enter another window it may be impossible to reach the menu for the app that you were in initially.

    greetings, eMBee.
    Gnu is Not Unix / Linux Is Not UniX
    [ Parent ]

    Download full X windows free here! (5.00 / 1) (#95)
    by //violentmac on Sun Apr 01, 2001 at 05:15:17 PM EST



    Xtools is a full implementation of the X Window System running on Mac OS X. Based on X11R6.4, Xtools inherits the clean, fast, stable, and portable codebase from XFree86. Integration with the Aqua environment is enabled by building the X server on top of Cocoa, providing a rootless X window display while still retaining the ability to use native applications.

    Oh yeah it rocks!

    [ Parent ]
    Files with spaces in their name... (4.00 / 1) (#66)
    by chewie on Fri Mar 30, 2001 at 12:17:09 PM EST

    * Obviously, the Unix command-line won't recognize files with spaces in their name. Ideally, this would have been solved by invisibly changing " " to "_" under Darwin; again, impractical. Failing that, a note in documentation to use "?" in lieu of the space would have been nice; I knew it, and I suppose that Apple figured that anyone familiar enough with a command line to use the command line would also know it, but I know a lot of people who are familiar with a command line but whose education was spotty enough that this solution wouldn't have been immediately obvious.
    I'm assuming that BSD installs with either tcsh(1) as its shell program. Most shell programs will reognize an escaped space: For example
    tcsh ~> mv File\ With\ Spaces.txt file_without_spaces.txt

    assert(expired(knowledge)); /* core dump */
    Or quotes? (4.00 / 1) (#67)
    by Muzzafarath on Fri Mar 30, 2001 at 12:29:44 PM EST

    Works in bash, I see no reason why it shouldn't work in tcsh ;) tcsh ~> mv "File With Spaces.txt" file_without_spaces.txt

    [ Parent ]
    So true (none / 0) (#109)
    by QuantumG on Sat Apr 07, 2001 at 06:24:56 PM EST

    it is a sign of a true unix geek that he would rather type 8 backslashes than two quote marks. I've never understood it myself.. of course, in bash you can just type the first word of the file and press tab and it will quote the thing itself!

    Gun fire is the sound of freedom.
    [ Parent ]
    versatile quotes (none / 0) (#114)
    by dutky on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 02:29:23 PM EST

    You can even be pretty lazy with where you put the quotes. For example, given that we have a file named "name with spaces" and we want to copy it to a file named "name_without_spaces", all of the following are equivalent and work just fine:

    • $ cp "name with spaces" name_witout_spaces
    • $ cp name" with "spaces name_witout_spaces
    • $ cp name\ with" spaces" name_without_spaces
    For these simple cases, you can even substitute single quotes for the double quotes I used above, but this has implications for how the shell will parse more complex commands (those that use various kinds of substitution, such as environment variables or back-ticks).

    [ Parent ]
    OS X OK (4.50 / 2) (#71)
    by superfly on Fri Mar 30, 2001 at 03:49:44 PM EST

    I installed OS X last night. It only took about 25 minutes and didn't wipe out Debian, so I was happy. The Airport config didn't work during installation, but was no problem right after.

    Everything looks very nice, and *very* NeXTish (file browser, dock, etc.).


    • IE sucks
    • no ssh
    • no bash (at least it has tcsh instead of csh)

    The dialog that pops up when an application crashes is very careful to reassure you that everything else is okay. Hooray for protected memory! I think that'll keep a lot of Mac users happy despite any problems they have with the interface change.

    most of the OS X annoyances can be dealt with... (5.00 / 2) (#76)
    by robespierre on Fri Mar 30, 2001 at 09:27:42 PM EST


    * IE sucks

    it sure does. it is quite slow, cumbersome and showing signs of bloat[?]. i reccomend grabbing a copy of OmniWeb from the OmniGroup. the have been doing Obj-C coding on cocoa since the days of NeXT so their apps are quite nice indeed.

    * no SSH
    there were some problems getting SSH included in the default package due to export regulations. while it is not illegal to include SSH it was discouraged. jump over to StepWise scott put up a small tutorial to get OpenSSH quickily up and running.

    * no bash (at least it has tcsh instead of csh)
    you can grab the source and build it though, i believe that bash compiles natively for darwin now.

    [ Parent ]
    thanks (none / 0) (#102)
    by superfly on Mon Apr 02, 2001 at 07:38:21 PM EST

    I knew that there were solutions out there -- I was just whining. Thanks for saving me some time with your pointers.

    OmniWeb is quite nice. It has crashed once, but otherwise everything is fine.

    SSH was easy to compile, and is running nicely.

    I'm actually not that concerned about Bash. tcsh feels a little weird because I haven't used it in a long time, but it does everything I need.

    [ Parent ]
    IE an' stuff (none / 0) (#100)
    by Pope Slack on Mon Apr 02, 2001 at 04:04:57 PM EST

    IIRC (I'm at work now, and can't check), the IE that was included with my copy of OSX-final is
    labeled "Preview Release" or "Release Candidate" in the About box.
    There might still be some debugging code in there that's bogging things down a bit.

    I coulda' sworn that SSH was in the beta, I can't imagine why they would take it out of the final. There's an off chance it may be on the dev disc.
    If not, you can bet that a package will show up RSN.

    BASH should be pretty easy to get, as it'll prolly compile right outta the box, if there isn't a package available already.


    [ Parent ]
    An article on MacOSX (4.00 / 1) (#73)
    by Holloway on Fri Mar 30, 2001 at 05:22:58 PM EST

    ...needs screenshots. Give me screenshots, or give me death.

    == Human's wear pants, if they don't wear pants they stand out in a crowd. But if a monkey didn't wear pants it would be anonymous

    Sure! (5.00 / 5) (#80)
    by Kyrrin on Sat Mar 31, 2001 at 02:37:47 AM EST

    Since I don't know where you live to drive/fly there and give you death, I guess I'll have to give you screenshots instead. 800x600 JPGs.

    Any other picture requests?

    "I'm the screen, the blinding light; I'm the screen, I work at night. I see today with a newsprint fray, my night is colored headache grey, don't wake me with so much..." -- REM
    [ Parent ]
    Screencapella (3.00 / 2) (#86)
    by The Cunctator on Sat Mar 31, 2001 at 12:59:41 PM EST

    Man, you're a serious a capella fan. Gotta love those Amherst Madrigals, kickin' ass, takin' names.

    [ Parent ]
    A cap (none / 0) (#87)
    by Kyrrin on Sat Mar 31, 2001 at 01:18:07 PM EST

    I adore a-capella. My girlfriend is, for the record, the director of the Amherst Mads this semester. I will pass on your comments. :)

    "I'm the screen, the blinding light; I'm the screen, I work at night. I see today with a newsprint fray, my night is colored headache grey, don't wake me with so much..." -- REM
    [ Parent ]
    Cool sounds! (4.00 / 1) (#88)
    by DaveMe on Sat Mar 31, 2001 at 11:38:01 PM EST

    Man, it plays Sofa Surfers in a Dorfmeister remix and you don't even bother mentioning it. Get a life!

    Only a decade too late. (2.00 / 6) (#92)
    by DeadBaby on Sun Apr 01, 2001 at 12:03:56 PM EST

    A lot of the features you talk about liking in OSX have been in Windows, even 9x, for many years. (much less other OS's)

    The only difference is it looks "better" while doing it.

    "Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity -- in all this vastness -- there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves. It is up to us." - Carl Sagan
    Nice Review (2.00 / 1) (#97)
    by k5er on Mon Apr 02, 2001 at 03:18:59 AM EST

    Nice review, I posted a link from my site to it.
    Long live k5, down with CNN.
    I hate to be pedantic, but... (3.00 / 2) (#104)
    by teferi on Tue Apr 03, 2001 at 08:21:25 AM EST

    For the fifteen hundredth time, Darwin is not BSD#)*!%# It's a Mach microkernel, with a 4.4BSD-derived personality running on top, a design dating back to NeXT. The design gives the flexibility of a microkernel (device drivers as userland programs, etc) while still allowing coding to standard POSIX-ish APIs.
    It may look like BSD, it may act like BSD (that's the point!), but it -isn't- BSD.

    (Disclaimer: As I'm a NeXT freak myself (got a color slab to-be-upgraded-to-turbo-soon and a get a cube whenever possible), I'm obviously biased. :) Take it as you will.)

    Sort of (none / 0) (#107)
    by reeses on Wed Apr 04, 2001 at 10:36:13 AM EST

    NEXTSTEP/OpenStep did not use a microkernel. It used Mach 2.5, which is a monolithic kernel.

    [ Parent ]
    No. No, no, no, no. (none / 0) (#108)
    by teferi on Thu Apr 05, 2001 at 08:29:54 AM EST

    Mach, in -any- way, shape, or version, is a microkernel. Looking at 'ps' output on my slab shows a good herd of servers running - audio, network, input, window, etc.

    [ Parent ]
    Not Exactly (none / 0) (#111)
    by ink on Thu Apr 12, 2001 at 04:10:40 PM EST

    The BSD portion of Darwin often bypasses the Mach uK in an effort to make it quicker. MacOS really isBSD andMach at the same time; one could even argue that the BSD portion of the kernel space does a lot more work than the Mach portion (it handles practically all the I/O, for example).

    [ Parent ]
    **IMPORTANT** FTP security (5.00 / 1) (#110)
    by interactive_civilian on Mon Apr 09, 2001 at 01:25:55 AM EST

    My apologies if someone has already noted this, but this is very important.

    DO NOT turn on FTP unless you REALLY know what you are doing. OS X's user permissions are not set-up well for multiple users in systems with multiple partitions and/or drives.

    By default, ALL USERS have global read/write/execute access to non-root volumes. Obviously, this is not good, especially if you are running an FTP server, and doubly especially if you are using the bundled BSD FTPd that is activated by that seemingly harmless little checkbox in the sharing control panel.

    This was a big source of trouble to me as I wanted to run a not-quite-anonymous FTP server for many online friends to share files with me (such as some anime music videos, art, etc). I wanted to set up a user account with very few access privileges, no login shell, and to be rooted to a single portion of the directory tree. I found this to be exceedingly difficult to do with the bundled BSD FTPd. My solution?


    I installed this server, and by altering the 'ftp' line in /etc/inetd.conf, made it the server that activates via the checkbox. With this installed, simply adding a few lines to the proftpd.conf file caused me to have a server where users are rooted to their home directory (as defined in netinfo manager), can only have 4 simultaneous connections, have the ownership of uploads changed to my account, allow resumable uploads, etc. Also, by adding /dev/null to /etc/shells and then changing the shell of the user account to /dev/null (in NetInfo manager).

    Anyway, I don't know if my solution is the best solution, but it is MUCH more secure than the default configuration provided by Apple. And if I could figure it out, it must be one of the easier solutions, as I am far from a good sysadmin/*nix hacker.

    Incidently, if you plan to have multiple users on your system in any way, I suggest getting to know NetInfo Manager pretty well. It could save you a lot of headache later.

    BTW, if you want to know exactly what I did, feel free to email me at tadpole_005@yahoo.com
    I plan to set up a tutorial page on what I did, and I will provide the URL as soon as it is ready. Also, if I can find the time to learn how, I will probably try to build an installer package for this as well.

    I hope this is helpful to some of you.

    24 Hours With Mac OSX | 114 comments (102 topical, 12 editorial, 0 hidden)
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