macOS Archive

Userspace FUSE for macOS

FUSE-T is a kext-less implementation of FUSE for macOS that uses NFS v4 local server instead of a kernel extension. The main motivation for this project is to replace macfuse that implements its own kext to make fuse work. With each version of macOS it’s getting harder and harder to load kernel extensions. Apple strongly discourages it and, for this reason, software distributions that include macfuse are very difficult to install. With Apple locking down macOS more and more, developers have to resort to ingenious solutions to maintain the same level of functionality as before. This is an example of that.

macOS now scans for malware whenever it gets a chance

In the last six months macOS malware protection has changed more than it did over the previous seven years. It has now gone fully pre-emptive, as active as many commercial anti-malware products, provided that your Mac is running Catalina or later. This article updates those I’ve previously written about Apple’s new tool in the war against malware, XProtect Remediator. Apple has been slowly building out its anti-malware and antivirus tools in macOS, and it has remained mostly quiet about it – understandable considering how bad tech press would have a field day with stories about Apple effectively turning macOS malware protection into a regular antivirus scanner.

Devs are making progress getting macOS Ventura to run on unsupported, decade-old Macs

Skirting the official macOS system requirements to run new versions of the software on old, unsupported Macs has a rich history. Tools like XPostFacto and LeopardAssist could help old PowerPC Macs run newer versions of Mac OS X, a tradition kept alive in the modern era by dosdude1’s patchers for Sierra, High Sierra, Mojave, and Catalina. For Big Sur and Monterey, the OpenCore Legacy Patcher (OCLP for short) is the best way to get new macOS versions running on old Macs. It’s an offshoot of the OpenCore Hackintosh bootloader, and it’s updated fairly frequently with new features and fixes and compatibility for newer macOS versions. The OCLP developers have admitted that macOS Ventura support will be tough, but they’ve made progress in some crucial areas that should keep some older Macs kicking for a little bit longer. I always love the dedication of these people trying to get macOS to run on hardware it was never intended to run on. It must be a small scene, actively fighting Apple every step along the way, but usually succeeding in the end. These are people giving older Macs a longer lease on life, and that’s only to be applauded.

Apple’s use of AppKit, Mac Catalyst and SwiftUI in macOS

The WWDC 2019 had a major impact on the UI toolkit landscape: while the venerable AppKit APIs remained available, Apple removed the old Carbon APIs and introduced 2 brand new frameworks: Mac Catalyst and SwiftUI. Apple sporadically mentioned some apps built with these new UI toolkits. In this article, I try to bring a better overview of Apple’s use of AppKit, Mac Catalyst and SwiftUI in the different versions of macOS, from macOS Mojave to macOS Ventura. Really great visualisation, and shows that the march to SwiftUI continues – however, I’m not entirely sure macOS users should be happy about that.

Apple’s Virtualization framework is a great, free way to test new macOS betas

One of the coolest power-user Mac features of the Apple Silicon era is Apple’s Virtualization framework. Normally the purview of paid software like Parallels Desktop or VMWare Fusion, virtualization lets you run multiple operating systems on one Mac at the same time, which is useful for anyone who wants to run Linux on top of macOS, test an app they’re developing in different versions of macOS, or take a look at the latest macOS Ventura beta without risking their main install. Apple’s documentation and sample projects provide everything you need to get a simple VM up and running with no additional software required. Still, some independent developers have built simple, free apps on top of the Virtualization framework that provides a GUI for customizing settings and juggling multiple guest OSes. A very useful feature, especially for developers.

Some Macs are getting fewer updates than they used to. Here’s why it’s a problem

When macOS Ventura was announced earlier this month, its system requirements were considerably stricter than those for macOS Monterey, which was released just eight months ago as of this writing. Ventura requires a Mac made in 2017 or later, dropping support for a wide range of Monterey-supported Mac models released between 2013 and 2016. This certainly seems more aggressive than new macOS releases from just a few years ago, where system requirements would tighten roughly every other year or so. But how bad is it, really? Is a Mac purchased in 2016 getting fewer updates than one bought in 2012 or 2008 or 1999? And if so, is there an explanation beyond Apple’s desire for more users to move to shiny new Apple Silicon Macs? Unlike in the Windows world (at least, up until Windows 11) and the Linux/BSD world, Macs are more like smartphones or tablets in that support for them is regularly cut off well before the point they could no longer run the latest version of macOS. This has both advantages and disadvantages we don’t need to regurgitate here, but it’ll be interesting to see if the Apple Silicon era will accelerate the culling of older Macs.

Apple announces macOS 13 Ventura, the next major software update for the Mac

As expected, Apple has used the stage at its WWDC 2022 keynote to reveal the features and changes coming to macOS in the next major software update for the platform, macOS 13 Ventura. Ventura’s headlining feature is a new multitasking interface called Stage Manager. It’s being billed as a way to fight window clutter on a busy desktop—enter Stage Manager mode, and one of your windows floats to the center of the screen, pushing your other windows into a compressed navigation column on the left of the screen. Click a different app window on the left, and it will fly to the center of the screen, knocking the app you were using before into the navigation column. I’m not entirely sure if adding a second dock to the Mac is going to be a pleasant experience, but I at least like the throwback to a very deep cut – looks-wise, this reminded me a lot of Sun’s Project Looking Glass, a weird, fully 3D *NIX desktop environment with flippable and rotatable windows built in Java. Then again, Apple’s Expose is still one of the best window management features of the past two decades, so after some use this new Stage Manager feature might be of the same pedigree.

Apple discontinues macOS Server

As of April 21, 2022, Apple has discontinued macOS Server. Existing macOS Server customers can continue to download and use the app with macOS Monterey. The most popular server features—Caching Server, File Sharing Server, and Time Machine Server are bundled with every installation of macOS High Sierra and later, so that even more customers have access to these essential services at no extra cost. I doubt many people are running macOS Server installations at this point, so I don’t think this will impact a great number of people.

Hello Mac OS X Tiger

2005! The future is here! You have just spent $129 for the newest release of Mac OS X: Tiger. You’re amazed by the brand new Spotlight and Safari RSS, you like your new OS so much you want to develop apps for it. You read on Apple’s website about this app “Xcode” that just received the version 2.0 update. That’s it! Time to code! You fire up Safari, go to Yahoo! and start searching for Xcode tutorials, unfortunately, besides a bunch of Geocities websites mentioning “Web 2.0” (or whatever that means), you don’t find much information online on how to create apps for Tiger. Wouldn’t it be nice to find a tutorial to help you to get started? I attended a launch party for Tiger at a third party Apple reseller in Berlin. The good old days – when Apple was fun. Good times.

macOS Monterey released

Monterey feels of a piece with maintenance-mode macOS updates like El Capitan or Sierra or High Sierra—change the default wallpaper, and in day-to-day use you can easily forget that you’ve upgraded from Big Sur at all. It’s not that there aren’t any new features here—it’s just that improving any operating system as mature as macOS involves a lot of tinkering around the edges. But there are plenty of things to talk about in even the most minor of macOS releases, and Monterey is no different. The update refines the Big Sur design and rethinks automation and what’s possible via local wireless communication between devices. It also makes a long list of minor additions that won’t be exciting for everyone but will be interesting for some subset of Mac users. It’s available now, but it does cut support for quite a few Macs that Big Sur still supported.

The perils of M1 ownership

In the next few days those using M1 Macs will be updating to Big Sur 11.5, blissfully ignorant of how, as an admin user, their Mac could refuse to update. Because now, in addition to regular users, admin users and root, there’s another class of admin user: the Owner. Let me explain. Just something to be aware of.

Extensions are moving away from the macOS kernel

Kernel extensions have long been one of the most powerful and dangerous features of macOS. They enable Apple and third-party developers to support the rich range of hardware available both within and connected to Macs, to add new features such as software firewalls and security protection, and to modify the behaviour of macOS by rerouting sound output to apps, and so on. With those comes the price that kernel extensions can readily cause the kernel to panic, can conflict with one another and with macOS, and most of all are a security nightmare. For those who develop malicious software, they’re the next best thing to installing their own malicious kernel. For some years now, Apple has been encouraging third-party developers to move away from kernel extensions to equivalents which run at a user level rather than in Ring 1. However, it has only been in the last year or so that Apple has provided sufficient support for this to be feasible. Coupled with the fact that M1 Macs have to be run at a reduced level of security to be able to load third-party kernel extensions, almost all software and hardware which used to rely on kernel extensions should now be switching to Apple’s new alternatives such as system extensions. This article explains the differences these make to the user. A good, detailed look at what Apple is doing with kernel extensions in macOS.

Safari 15 on Mac OS, a user interface mess

The utter user-interface butchery happening to Safari on the Mac is once again the work of people who put iOS first. People who by now think in iOS terms. People who view the venerable Mac OS user interface as an older person whose traits must be experimented upon, plastic surgery after plastic surgery, until this person looks younger. Unfortunately the effect is more like this person ends up looking… weird. These people look at the Mac’s UI and (that’s the impression, at least) don’t really understand it. Its foundations come from a past that almost seems inscrutable to them. Usability cues and features are all wrinkles to them. iOS and iPadOS don’t have these strange wrinkles, they muse. We must hide them. We’ll make this spectacular facelift and we’ll hide them, one by one. Mac OS will look as young (and foolish, cough) as iOS! I haven’t encountered a single person who likes the new Safari tab design on macOS.

Strong ARMing with MacOS: adventures in cross-platform emulation

BlackBerry recognizes the importance of supporting the cybersecurity community in the fight against cyberthreats, and is therefore following up its release of the PE Tree Tool in 2020 by sharing this methodology report to inform security researchers and pen-testers on how to successfully emulate a MacOS ARM64 kernel under QEMU. Pen-testers and researchers can use the virtualized environment of a stripped-down MacOS kernel for debugging and vulnerability discovery, and this illustrates the extent to which one can use emulation to manipulate and control the kernel to their desired ends, whether it be to find a critical bug or to patch an area of the kernel. More importantly, this project was a successful experiment in cross-platform emulation that has the potential for future development. BlackBerry telling you how to virtualise ARM macOS. Yeah.

Parallels Desktop 16.5 review: Windows comes to Apple Silicon (sort of)

After sixteen major releases, you might think there’s not much left to be added to Parallels Desktop – and for the vast majority of Mac users who are still using Intel CPUs, there isn’t. For them, this update to the popular virtualisation software tidies up a few bugs and adds support for the latest version of the Linux kernel, but that’s largely it. Overall it’s not even consequential enough to warrant a full ticking up of the version number.  Yet arguably, this is the most significant release of Parallels Desktop since it first appeared in 2006. Just as version one unlocked the potential of Apple’s then-recent switch to the Intel architecture, this one breaks new ground by allowing you to install and run Windows 10 on Apple Silicon. They conclude it’s a great first release, but that it still has ways to go.

Using a PowerBook in 2021

It has been recently announced that the venerable TenFourFox web browser for PowerPC (PPC) Macs was going to cease regular development, which rekindled my interest in playing around with my trusty PowerBook G4, which only gets occasional use if I’m testing a PowerPC version of some of my own software. Such is the way of aging hardware and software: the necessity to support them wanes over time, but it does question how useful can an 18 year old laptop be in 2021. Can it still be useful, or is it relegated to a hobbyist’s endeavors? As usual, the internet and networking are the hurdles.

TenFourFox, Classilla wind down development

Two browsers for old Mac OS X and classic Mac OS releases, developed by the same developer, are shutting down. TenFourFox, the browser developed specifically to give PowerPC Mac users a modern browser, is the first. I’ve been mulling TenFourFox’s future for awhile now in light of certain feature needs that are far bigger than a single primary developer can reasonably embark upon, and recent unexpected changes to my employment, plus other demands on my time, have unfortunately accelerated this decision. TenFourFox FPR32 will be the last official feature parity release of TenFourFox. Today is a one-two punch, because Classilla, too, is calling it quits. Classilla is a modern-ish browser for Mac OS 9 and 8.6. An apology is owed to the classic Mac users who depend on Classilla as the only vaguely recent browser on Mac OS 9 (and 8.6). I’ve lately regretted how neglected Classilla has been, largely because of TenFourFox, and (similar to TenFourFox in kind if not degree) the sheer enormity of the work necessary to bring it up to modern standards. I did a lot of work on this in the early days and I think I can say unequivocally it is now far more compatible than its predecessor WaMCoM was, but the Web moves faster than a solo developer and the TLS apocalypse has rendered all old browsers equal by simply chopping everyone’s legs off at once. There is also the matter of several major security issues with it that I have been unable to resolve without seriously gutting the browser, and as a result of all of those factors I haven’t done an official release of Classilla since 9.3.3 in 2014. It’s an inevitable consequence of just how complex the web and web browsers have become. Single individuals – or even a small group of people – simply cannot maintain a modern web browser, let alone two, let alone on two outdated platforms. A big hit for PowerPC Mac and Mac OS 9 users, for sure.