macOS Archive

National Instruments to Apple Mac: buh-Bye

EE Journal reports: National Instruments (NI) recently released a new version of its LabView test automation programming environment for the latest Apple Macintosh computers based on the Arm-based Apple M1 CPU/GPU SoC. At the same time, NI let its customers know that this release would be the last one for Apple Macintosh computers, sending a shock through some portion of the company’s customer base. LabView’s importance to test and measurement cannot be overstated. It was the first graphical programming language designed exclusively for test systems. The language has been continually expanded and improved for nearly 40 years and features more than 7000 software drivers for instruments from many vendors as well as support for custom, FPGA-based instruments. LabView supports many instrument interfaces starting with IEEE-488 and extending to MXI, PXI, USB, Ethernet, and probably a few more interfaces that don’t immediately come to mind. It’s a shock to many and will likely punish higher education students and a chunk of the scientific and research segment which is still Mac dominant.

A picture is worth a thousand permissions requests

What’s happening here is that Migration Assistant has migrated all my apps, and has automatically launched any of them that are listed in Login Items or are set to automatically launch in the background. They all launch, all at once, and every single one of them then prompts me for permission to do all the things they already had permission to do on my previous Mac. In this screen shot, I’ve dragged them apart, but in reality most of these windows appeared on top of each other. They float above every other window, and most of them want to open various portions of the Settings app. In the background, a few apps have launched with their own alert prompts, requesting that I perform more tasks in order to get the system ready. You will be protected.

How does macOS manage virtual cores on Apple silicon?

One of the most distinctive features of Apple silicon chips is that they have two types of CPU core, E (Efficiency) cores that are energy efficient but slower than the P (Performance) cores, which normally run much of the code in the apps we use. Apps don’t decide directly which cores they will be run on, that’s a privilege of macOS, but they register their interest by setting a Quality of Service, or QoS, which is then taken into account when they’re scheduled to run. With the introduction of Game Mode in Sonoma, CPU scheduling can now work differently, with E cores being reserved for the use of games. This article looks at another atypical situation, when running a macOS virtual machine (VM) assigned a set number of virtual cores. How does macOS Sonoma handle that? Exactly what is says on the tin.

There’s no Mac version of Counter-Strike 2 because there are no Mac players

To the surprise of absolutely nobody, Apple’s macOS gaming policy of only offering a proprietary, Apple-only API isn’t exactly paying off. One of the most popular online games in history, CS:GO, is removing support for macOS, and it won’t be coming back. From here on out, the game will only be available on 64-bit Windows and Linux. That cycle played out again in Valve’s recent Counter-Strike 2 update, which removed the Mac support already present in the outgoing Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. Today, a Valve support document for CS2 confirmed that Mac support had been removed and wasn’t likely to be re-added, along with support for ancient DirectX 9-class GPU hardware and legacy 32-bit operating systems. Fret not, though, Mac gamers – there’s always Super Tux Kart.

We deserve better from Apple: why I can no longer recommend a Mac to fellow blind computer users

As many of you will know from personal experience, there is a longstanding issue with VoiceOver on Mac where Safari will frequently become unresponsive with VoiceOver repeatedly announcing the message “Safari not responding.” When this issue occurs, the user’s Mac may become unusable for up to several minutes at a time. Sometimes it can be resolved by switching away from Safari. Sometimes restarting VoiceOver can resolve the issue. However, far too often, the user is unable to switch away from Safari or turn VoiceOver off, instead having to simply wait for their Mac to become responsive again. This “Safari not responding” behaviour when using VoiceOver dramatically impacts productivity and overall usability of Macs for blind and low vision users. Furthermore, it appears that the issue extends beyond just Safari – many other common applications that utilise Apple’s WebKit browser engine can also be affected by the “not responding” problem. I’m not highlighting this to make Apple look bad – for once – or to fill some quota. The fact of the matter is that in the blind and vision-impaired community, the Mac and iPhone are immensely popular for their accessibility features other platforms just cannot match. If you’ve ever seen a blind person use an iPhone, you know just how different their way of using it is from sighted people. As such, having a major bug like this is a huge deal. It impacts people who really have nowhere else to go, technology-wise, since switching to other platforms really isn’t a viable option in most cases. This issue must be fixed, and can’t be left by the wayside because it only impacts a relatively small number of people. Blind and vision-impaired folks have placed their trust in Apple because they’ve got nowhere else to go, and Apple needs to step up and take this seriously. Now.

Sonoma’s log gets briefer and more secretive

Little did we realise then that Sierra was going to change all that, and by Mojave we’d be enduring 4,000 and more log entries in a second, when our Macs were feeling loquacious. That was because Apple introduced the Unified log, with its entries written not in plain text but compressed binary format. This was the death-blow for the casual reader of logs: for a start, the replacement Console app was unable to access any log entries made in the past, and its tools were, and remain, woefully inadequate for tackling the increasing torrent of log entries. Despite its many great strengths, the Unified log has suffered two problems that are limiting its usefulness in Sonoma: its diminishing period of coverage, and censorship. This article highlights some real problems with the logs in macOS. Logs are so crucial in finding out why something is happening to a system so having them limited or restricted would drive me nuts.

OpenCore Legacy Patcher project brings macOS Sonoma support to 16-year-old Macs

When Apple decides to end update support for your Mac, you can either try to install another OS or you can trick macOS into installing on your hardware anyway. That’s the entire point of the OpenCore Legacy Patcher, a community-driven project that supports old Macs by combining some repurposed Hackintosh projects with older system files extracted from past macOS versions. Yesterday, the OCLP team announced version 1.0.0 of the software, the first to formally support the recently released macOS 14 Sonoma. Although Sonoma officially supports Macs released mostly in 2018 or later, the OCLP project will allow Sonoma to install on Macs that go back to models released in 2007 and 2008, enabling them to keep up with at least some of the new features and security patches baked into the latest release. OpenCore Legacy Patcher is an indispensable tool for Mac users, since a lot of machines no longer support by Sonoma are perfectly fast and capable enough to run Apple’s new release. No longer supporting machines that are only five years old is absolutely bonkers, and should simply not be legal. It’s a sad state of affairs people will have to resort to community tools, but at least the option is there.

macOS 14 Sonoma: the Ars Technica review

Apple released macOS 14.0 Sonoma today, and what’s the best way to celebrate the new release? Why, the Ars Technica review, of course. So macOS Sonoma is a perfectly typical macOS release, a sort of “Ventura-plus” that probably has one or two additions that any given person will find useful but which otherwise just keeps your Mac secure and avoids weird iCloud compatibility problems with whatever software is running on your phone. You probably don’t need to run out and install it, but there’s no real reason to avoid it if you’re not aware of some specific bug or compatibility problem that affects the software you use. It’s business as usual for Mac owners. Let’s dive in. You can download and install it from the usual place if your Mac supports it.

Mac ROM-inator II restock and partnerships

In the last few years, several other vendors have begun selling Mac ROM SIMMs too. Friendly competition is great, but it creates a potential dilemma for me if someone buys another vendor’s ROM SIMM and reprograms it with BMOW’s base ROM in order to get the on-the-fly ROM disk decompression and other features. It could turn into a situation where my base ROM software is subsidizing another competing product. To compound the problem, I didn’t have any clear usage policy or “license” for the base ROM to say whether this type of use was OK. Furthermore my FC8 compression algorithm is free open-source, but the BMOW base ROM which incorporates it is not. This all created a large gray area. I hope to clarify this now by making the BMOW base ROM image explicitly free for personal use with anybody’s own Mac ROM SIMM, no matter what vendor they purchased it from. This is the simplest and best way of resolving the ambiguity for the benefit of the classic Mac community. I only ask that you don’t resdistribute the base ROM image elsewhere – come back to the BMOW Mac ROM-inator II details page if you need to download the image. Excellent move.

Is macOS’s new XProtect behavioural security preparing to go live?

A third XProtect was discovered in Ventura, this time observing potentially malicious behaviour such as attempts to access private data for browsers and messaging apps. This XProtect Behaviour Service (XBS) has used a set of Bastion rules embedded in the strings in syspolicyd to record behaviours in a new database, but so far has been an observer and hasn’t blocked such behaviours. Security researchers have already been able to discover its records of novel malicious code, and Chris Long has documented how to access its database, but so far syspolicyd has only watched and recorded. Recent descriptions of Bastion rules have identified four, last updated in syspolicyd in macOS 13.5 on 24 July 2023. Those changed on 8 August, when Apple released its first update to the Bastion rules, and again a month later on 1 September, when they changed again. There’s now a fifth Bastion rule, and XBS appears to be getting ready to fly for the first time. If you had told me in 2005 or so, when I was a fervent Mac user, that one day, macOS would come with an extensive set of antivirus and antimalware tools that ran silently in the background, checking everything you do on your computer – I’d have thought you were crazy. But here we are.

MacLynx beta 5: UTF-8, pull-down menus and more dialogue boxes

I’ve been working off and on doing further Mac-ification to my updated fork of MacLynx, the System 7-compatible port of the venerable text browser Lynx for classic 68K Macintoshes (and Power Macs) running A/UX 3.x or System 7.x and later. There’s still more to do, but a lot has been worked in since I last dropped beta 4, so it’s time for another save point. Meet MacLynx “beta 5”. Extraordinary work, and a great way to keep an old Mac connected to the web.

Why macOS anti-malware scans can behave oddly

macOS Catalina and later include an anti-malware scanning service, XProtect Remediator (XPR), that periodically checks your Mac for known malware. If it detects anything untoward, it tries to remove it in a process Apple terms remediation. Because this is all performed as a background service, XPR doesn’t inform you when it scans, or when it detects and remediates malware. Instead it records those events in the log, and in Ventura and later makes them available to third-party software through Endpoint Security events. To help you keep track of this, three of my utilities report on XPR: SilentKnight runs a quick check on the last 24 hours, as can Mints, and XProCheck provides detailed reports for periods of up to 30 days. Every few weeks I get a flurry of comments here, and emails, when those using XProCheck, or browsing the log, notice warnings and strange behaviour by XPR. This article explains what’s happening, and why it’s perfectly healthy. It seems absolutely bizarre to me that such malware scans just happen in the background without informing the user when it finds anything. That feels a lot like treating the symptoms while the patient’s sleeping, without informing them they’re sick.

Tetris Max 2.9.1 and Macintosh System 6.0.8 bugs

31 years ago Tetris Max for the Macintosh was born, an improved clone of Tetris, and it became an insanely popular Mac game during the 1990s. I may or may not have had some involvement in its development. Macintosh System 6 was the current OS version at the time of the game’s release, but System 7 was introduced shortly afterwards. It’s recently come to my attention that the final version of Tetris Max (v2.9.1) may not work when running System 6 on certain Mac hardware, even though the game was advertised as System 6 compatible. I haven’t yet been able to fully verify this myself, but there’s a Macintosh Garden bug report from ironboy36 in 2022, and more recently a detailed bug report complete with video (thank you James!). Obviously I need to fix this stuff ASAP – 31-year-old bug be damned. And I need your help! Consider this a group debugging effort. This is such a cool story. If anyone can contribute to fixing this – please help them out.

Apple’s Interactive Television Box: hacking the set Top box System 7.1 in ROM

One of the coolest things to come along in the 68K Mac homebrew community is the ROM Boot Disk concept. Classic Macs have an unusually large ROM that contains a fair bit of the Mac OS, which was true even in the G3 New World Mac era (it was just on disk), so it’s somewhat surprising that only one Mac officially could boot the Mac OS entirely from ROM, namely the Macintosh Classic (hold down Cmd-Option-X-O to boot from a hidden HFS volume with System 6.0.3). For many Macs that can take a ROM SIMM, you can embed a ROM volume in the Mac ROM that can even be mirrored to a RAM disk. You can even buy them pre-populated. How’s that for immutability?Well, it turns out Apple themselves were the first ones to implement a flashable Mac OS ROM volume in 1994, but hardly anyone noticed — because it was only ever used publicly in a minority subset of one of the most unusual of the Macintosh-derived systems, the Apple Interactive Television Box (a/k/a AITB or the Apple Set Top Box/STB). And that’s what we’re going to dig into — and reprogram! — today. I had never heard of this obscure Apple product, so I was like a kid in a candy store reading this. Great weekend material.

How long will the last Intel Macs be supported?

A year ago, we compiled a model list of Macs spanning over two decades, complete with their launch dates, discontinuation dates, and all the available information about the macOS updates each model received. We were trying to answer two questions: How long can Mac owners reasonably expect to receive software updates when they buy a new computer? And were Intel Macs being dropped more aggressively now that the Apple Silicon transition was in full swing? The answer to the second question was a tentative “yes,” and now that we know the official support list for macOS Sonoma, the trendline is clear. The only thing this article makes clear is that if Apple truly cared about its customers, it would post exactly how much longer each Mac is planned to be supported.

Why can’t you just roll back from a bad macOS update?

As some of us learned in the last week, it’s easy to uninstall a troublesome Rapid Security Response (RSR). Several naturally asked why that isn’t possible with a macOS update, pointing out that it was available and worryingly popular between High Sierra and Catalina 10.15.2, since when the ability has been lost. The answer is as straightforward as you’d expect: the updates themselves, as well as the update process, have become more complicated than they used to be, and rollback would be difficult to implement. As such, the advice for those unhappy with a new macOS version is as simple as it is disruptive: For those who decide that they want to roll back a macOS update on an Apple silicon Mac, by far the simplest procedure is to back the Mac up fully, put it into DFU mode, use Configurator 2 to restore the IPSW image for the previous version of macOS including its firmware, then to migrate the backup to that fresh boot disk. That also caters for all problems that may have arisen with the update. Apple always moves forwards, never backwards – even when you might want to.

The Mac sure is starting to look like the iPhone

The general trend of macOS releases over the past few years is that it has been moving closer and closer to the look and feel of iOS. The icons have become iOS icons, and their shape has become the iOS shape, and you can now use your iPhone as the Mac’s webcam, etc. etc. This occasionally comes at the expense of other functionality (ask me how I feel about the new Settings menu), but it is the direction that Apple has clearly been heading in since (arguably) Big Sur. Every so often, other splashy features are announced (Stage Manager, Universal Control, Quick Notes) that I write a lot about and then never end up using ever again. So, good news for Continuity fans: that’s basically what’s going on with Sonoma. Ventura looked a heck of a lot like iOS, and Sonoma looks even more like iOS. I turned my office’s Mac Studio on after installing the developer beta and thought, for a second, that I might be hallucinating my iPhone’s lockscreen. It’s remarkably reminiscent. It’s crazy how Microsoft always seems to be doing things about 10 years before everyone else catches on, for better or worse. I’m not a fan of the iOS look, and it looks whacky and childish to me when ported to the Mac – especially since macOS has also become almost Windows-like by having so many application frameworks, some from iOS, some from macOS, and some a weird combination of the two. It’s making macOS far messier and more inconsistent than it used to be, leaving the Linux desktop as the last bastion of people who value a dekstop-first, consistent interface. If you told me this 10-15 years ago, I’d have called you crazy, but we’re now living in a world where a GTK or QT desktop is far more consistent and focused on the desktop than Windows and macOS, which both feel lost in the woods at the moment.