Mac OS X Archive

Apple open-sourced iOS and macOS kernel for ARM

Apple has always shared the kernel of macOS after each major release. This kernel also runs on iOS devices as both macOS and iOS are built on the same foundation. This year, Apple also shared the most recent version of the kernel on GitHub. And you can also find ARM versions of the kernel for the first time.

The code was pushed to Apple's open source site, as well as to their official GitHub mirror.

Apple releases macOS High Sierra

Apple has released macOS High Sierra.

macOS High Sierra is designed to improve on the previous macOS Sierra operating system with some major under-the-hood upgrades and a handful of outward-facing changes.

Apple File System (APFS), a file system designed for solid state drives, is the new default for these drives in macOS High Sierra. APFS is safe, secure, and optimized for modern storage systems. It features native encryption, safe document saves, stable snapshots, and crash protection, plus it brings performance improvements.

An interesting new feature in high Sierra that was only recently unveiled: the new version of macOS checks your Mac's firmware against Apple's own database once a week to see if it's been tampered with.

Apple sets release dates for macOS High Sierra, iOS 11

Aside from new iPhones, theres more Apple news - the company has set release dates for iOS 11 - 19 September - and macOS High Sierra - 25 September. I can't say much about High Sierra - I don't have a Mac - but iOS 11 is an absolute must, especially for iPad users. I've been using it for a long time now on my 2017 iPad Pro 12.9", and I haven't looked back to my laptop since buying it and installing iOS 11 on it.

iOS 11 is a huge leap forward for the iPad, and it'll make your tablet feel like a new, and much more capable device.

“We need to document macOS”

I spend an inordinate amount of time searching for information about macOS. Whether I am researching the answers for my section in MacFormat magazine, or trying to solve my own problems here, I am also daily reminded of Apple's wholesale failure to provide consistent and complete documentation of its flagship product.

The idea you would donate an inordinate amount of time and effort for free to the richest company in the world to perform work they ought to be doing is wholly and completely baffling to me.

Building the XNU kernel on Mac OS X Sierra

From version to version, I always love to play around with the kernel. And it has always been a great lack in guides and documentation on how to build Mac OSX's kernel, XNU. For those of you that already have tried compiling XNU for Mac OSX 10.12 (Sierra), you probably noticed that earlier build guides like ssen's blog - Building xnu for OS X 10.11 El Capitan don't work anymore. However, many thanks to ssen to put in time to write a guide.

The problem is that Apple introduced something named Circular dependency with the libdispatch library and the kernel headers. So the order of the build process just got really important.

Apple showcases macOS High Sierra

macOS High Sierra will deliver new video and graphics technologies that will lay the groundwork for even more improvements to macOS down the line, according to Apple. The big additions in High Sierra include Apple File System (APFS), support for High-Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC), and an all-new version of Metal - simply called Metal 2 - which will allow Apple's advanced graphics tech to power even more Mac apps, including machine learning and VR-based content.

Apple also mentioned that macOS' window manager will run on Metal 2. As always, be sure to take a peek at Apple's official High Sierra page.

Hackintoshes show that Apple should just build a Mac tower

Apple is working on new desktop Macs, including a ground-up redesign of the tiny-but-controversial 2013 Mac Pro. We're also due for some new iMacs, which Apple says will include some features that will make less-demanding pro users happy.

But we don't know when they're coming, and the Mac Pro in particular is going to take at least a year to get here. Apple's reassurances are nice, but it's a small comfort to anyone who wants high-end processing power in a Mac right now. Apple hasn't put out a new desktop since it refreshed the iMacs in October of 2015, and the older, slower components in these computers keeps Apple out of new high-end fields like VR.

This is a problem for people who prefer or need macOS, since Apple's operating system is only really designed to work on Apple’s hardware. But for the truly adventurous and desperate, there's another place to turn: fake Macs built with standard PC components, popularly known as "Hackintoshes". They've been around for a long time, but the state of Apple's desktop lineup is making them feel newly relevant these days. So we spoke with people who currently rely on Hackintoshes to see how the computers are being used - and what they'd like to see from Apple.

My 2009 article on building a hackintosh is still one of the most popular articles on OSNews. This movement is anything but new, and has always been far more popular than people seem to think - it's only been brought to the forefront again lately due to Apple's abysmal Mac product line-up.

Darwin 0.1 and Rhapsody DR 2 booted

So the recently recovered source code to Darwin 0.1 corresponds with the release of the PowerPC only OS X Server 1.0. However as we all found out, Darwin will still built and maintained on Intel, as it was a very secretive plan B, in case something went wrong with the PowerPC platform. Being portable had saved NeXT before, and now it would save Apple.

So with this little background, and a lot of stumbling around in the dark, I came up with some steps, that have permitted me to build the Darwin 0.1 kernel under DR2.

This is beyond awesome.

Debugging macOS kernel using VirtualBox

Late last year, I upgraded my old MBP to the 2016 model with a Skylake processor. As I was debugging a kernel exploit, it turned out that SMAP was enabled inside my VMWare Fusion VM. I wanted to avoid dealing with SMAP, but couldn't figure out how to disable it in Fusion. Luckily, VirtualBox VMs do not support SMAP (yet?).

This post will be a step-by-step guide on how to setup macOS kernel source-level debugging using VirtualBox. Though all the step examples are geared toward VirtualBox, this guide can also be used to setup kernel debugging on VMWare Fusion since it's even more straightforward in Fusion.

Compiling a Mac OS 8 application on macOS Sierra

In 1999, armed with a brand new copy of Metrowerks Codewarrior and a PowerMac running Mac OS 8.5.1, I wrote a basic implementation of Minesweeper to test out the Powerplant application development environment. It's the oldest project of mine that I've kept, so I wanted to see if I could get it running again for the first time in 17 years.

There's no Swift or Objective-C code in this article but there are disk-eating koalas, deliberately misspelled cities, Zernike polynomials, Cocoa software (but not the Cocoa you're thinking of), resource forks, master pointer blocks and in the end, I finally earn the admiration of my family.

Great, entertaining story, you learn something, and it mentions BeOS. I can't think of anything that would make this story even more likely to get posted on OSNews.

Using QEMU to explore the Mac OS Nanokernel

The beauty of the internet: there's always someone else who is also interested in the things you're interested in. It turns out, even people who are working on trying to bring Mac OS 9 to the PowerPC G5 can find each other online. Now, it's important to note that even the people themselves acknowledge that this project is a very, very long shot and unlikely to succeed - but that doesn't mean it isn't worth trying and learning something along the way.

This project (we call it "CountDown G5") is ambitious, sure, and unlikely to succeed. But a few things make it worthwhile:

  • I am learning a lot about low-level kernel programming, which I find fascinating as a hobby.
  • We are crafting a build system in MPW, inspired by that source leak, for very low-level assembly and linking of a NewWorld ROM. This will be useful to other hackers in the future.
  • We have an intermediate goal of increasing the usable logical address space on OS 9 to near the 2 GB hardware limit.
  • The G5 isn't all that different. It has facilities for running 32-bit OSes, and early G5s thankfully left the Block Allocation Table mechanism intact.

Be sure to follow the thread on the forum if you're interested in this type of exotic hacking.

Meanwhile, also definitely 100% be sure to follow Steven Troughton-Smith, who, over the past few days, has been doing an absolutely crazy amount of work on things that go far beyond my comfort zone (he pointed the above thread out to me just now). He's been investigating all the work the Qemu people have been doing on PowerPC emulation, and he's trying to get all the early and often exotic Mac OS X builds to boot on Qemu. This includes things like altering and recompiling BootX, diving deep into Open Firmware to remove a number of 'fixes' put in place that prevented early OS X versions from booting, and tons of other things.

How Apple alienated Mac loyalists

Mark Gurman, trustworthy and extremely reliable Apple reporters with uncannily good sources inside Apple, paints a grim picture of the future of the Mac.

Interviews with people familiar with Apple's inner workings reveal that the Mac is getting far less attention than it once did. They say the Mac team has lost clout with the famed industrial design group led by Jony Ive and the company's software team. They also describe a lack of clear direction from senior management, departures of key people working on Mac hardware and technical challenges that have delayed the roll-out of new computers.

And just in case you're one of the people who ridiculed or attacked me for stating OS X is effectively dead and iOS is Apple's future, this nugget might interest you - emphasis mine.

In another sign that the company has prioritized the iPhone, Apple re-organized its software engineering department so there's no longer a dedicated Mac operating system team. There is now just one team, and most of the engineers are iOS first, giving the people working on the iPhone and iPad more power.

It's been clear to anyone with an unbiased, open mind towards Apple's past few years that the Mac simply has no or low priority within Apple, and this only further solidifies it.

Tim Cook assures employees that it is committed to the Mac

Tim Cook, in a posting to Apple's internal messaging board:

The desktop is very strategic for us. It's unique compared to the notebook because you can pack a lot more performance in a desktop - the largest screens, the most memory and storage, a greater variety of I/O, and fastest performance. So there are many different reasons why desktops are really important, and in some cases critical, to people.

The current generation iMac is the best desktop we have ever made and its beautiful Retina 5K display is the best desktop display in the world.

Some folks in the media have raised the question about whether we're committed to desktops. If there's any doubt about that with our teams, let me be very clear: we have great desktops in our roadmap. Nobody should worry about that.

When a CEO has to go out and say the company is committed to X, the company is probably not committed to X.

Why Apple is removing ‘time remaining’ battery life estimates

Apple clearly thinks the 'time remaining' estimates were causing more harm than good for users, so the new battery life status menu will now instead only show a percentage of remaining battery life, like on iOS devices, which should offer an accurate prediction. The change will be introduced for all in today's macOS update.

Apple claims that the reports of terrible battery on the new 15" MacBook Pro life are inaccurate, and in response, they removed the "time remaining" indicator.

Apple’s new OS “activation” for Touch Bar MacBook Pros

I think it's safe to say the macadmin community has been hearing rumblings about the future of macOS administration. Whether it was Michael Lynn's excellent blog post, m(DM)acOS, APFS or even Sal Saghoian's position being axed, many macadmins (myself included) are worried about the future of macOS administration being a MDM only world.

What if the new TBP Macs were the first piece to this future?

An interesting technical look at what happens when one of the Touch Bar-equipped MacBook Pros can't find the embedded operating system running the Touch Bar, and what conclusions we can draw from that.

Darling is still trying to run macOS software on Linux

Darling, the project to bring macOS binaries to Linux, is still active. After a period of inactivity, the project has picked up speed, according to phoronix.com.

Darling is still progressing but in its latest state can not run any macOS GUI applications but rather only basic command-line apps with both 32-bit and 64-bit capabilities. From the Darling Shell there is support for working with DMG images and even using Apple's Xcode toolchain for compiling basic "Hello World!" type applications for macOS and running from a Linux system.

MacOS Sierra released

macOS Sierra brings Siri to the Mac, allowing users to conduct voice searches to find files, look up information, and more, with the ability to pin searches to the Notification Center for continual monitoring. There are new Continuity features including an "Auto Unlock" option for unlocking a Mac with an Apple Watch, and a "Universal Clipboard" option for copying text on one Apple device and pasting it on another.

MacOS being in maintenance mode, this isn't the most significant update the operating system's ever seen. But hey, it's free, so go get it.

The Apple goes mushy: OS X’s interface decline

Nicholas W. Howard:

Wander into almost any online forum or article comment section about a controversial announcement from Apple Inc. and you will almost certainly hear a variation of this sentence: "Apple has gone downhill since Steve Jobs died." The sentence slithers around vaguely; it never seems to specify how, or in what ways, Apple has gone downhill. I agree, nonetheless, that it has. Whether or not Steve Jobs's absence caused the decline (though I suspect it did), I grow frustrated as I watch each software update further erode one pillar of Apple's formerly astronomical greatness.

No: I am not referring to their software's stability, important and perhaps worsening with time as it may be. I walk a different tightrope. The design-community-approved articles pertaining to an "Apple software decline" focus on bugs (see Marco Arment, Glenn Fleishman, Russell Ivanovic) or even lunge for their shields to claim that Apple has no such software problems (see Jim Lynch), with the glaring exception of this thoughtful and much-needed lament by Don Norman and Bruce Tognazzini. The article you are about to read will address the same unsung subject as Norman and Tognazzini's article: the design, not the engineering, of Apple's graphical user interfaces. But where their article is general, I have harvested specific example after specific example of the user interface decline of (the now-former) OS X.

A great article with which I wholeheartedly agree - but my agreement comes with a twist.

Where Howard seems to regard the purest form of the Aqua graphical user interface as the bar for the decline, I consider the bar to be what is now referred to as the Classic graphical user interface, but which is actually named Platinum, which reached its zenith in Mac OS 9.

Platinum in Mac OS 9 was elegant, clear, memorable, focused, and pleasant. Forget OS 9's multitude of structural problems - it was a terribly designed house of cards that would crumble if you looked at it funny - and just focus on the UI, in which elements are clearly marked, there's tons of useful but not annoying visual feedback, and a rare sense of spatiality to it all.

Aqua has always been too candy cane for me, and it's only gone downhill from there for Apple - iOS and Mac OS today are dreadfully bland and void of character, and this article does a decent job illustrating it.

macOS Sierra developer preview: different name, same ol’ Mac

It's tempting to read the "macOS" rebranding as some grand statement about the Mac, but, truth be told, "Sierra" is more indicative of what we're getting. The name comes from a mountain range that encompasses Yosemite and El Capitan rather than moving away from them. It's another year of building on Yosemite's foundation, another year of incremental change, and another year of over-saturated mountain wallpapers.

Like El Capitan before it, Sierra focuses on a few marquee features, a couple of under-the-hood changes, a smattering of smaller tweaks, and one or two signposts pointing toward future development. It's the next release of OS X, new name or not. And we've spent a week with the first developer beta to dig into some of the new features ahead of the public beta in July and the public release in the fall.

Insights into the developer preview.