Mac OS X Archive

OS X El Capitan license: in plain English

I thought it'd be a "fun" project to see what the "El Capitan License" actually says. Cool idea, huh? Kind of like spelunking through a cave that everyone says they’ve been through, but maybe no one really has. What will I find wedged in a wall or lurking in the dark around the next turn?

These software licences are always pretty much the same - and unlike what many people assume, they're really not targeted at us, the user, but more at limiting liability for the company that writes them. Clearly, as always, Apple is no different than all the others.

El Capitan’s System Integrity Protection

With El Capitan released, there's one 'feature' that really needs to be highlighted - for better or worse.

System Integrity Protection (SIP, sometimes referred to as rootless) is a security feature of OS X El Capitan, the operating system by Apple Inc. It protects certain system processes, files and folders from being modified or tampered with by other processes even when executed by the root user or by a user with root privileges (sudo). Apple says that the root user can be a significant risk factor to the system's security, especially on systems with a single user account on which that user is also the administrator. System Integrity Protection is enabled by default, but can be disabled.

Here's Apple's WWDC presentation about SIP, and here's the Ars review's section about it.

OS X El Capitan released

All the reviews are already published, but today, Apple also actually, you know, released OS X El Capitan.

OS X El Capitan, the latest version of the Mac operating system, builds on the groundbreaking features and beautiful design introduced in OS X Yosemite, refining the experience and improving performance in lots of ways that you’ll enjoy everyday.

Y'all know where to get it!

OS X 10.11 El Capitan: the Ars Technica review

Sadly no longer written by John Siracusa, but still a good read: Ars' Max OS X El Capitan review.

Really, this is the first time in several years that iOS and OS X have felt like they've gotten (and needed) the same amount of attention from Apple - both get to spend a release in the slow lane as Apple puts its marketing muscle behind newer platforms like the Apple Watch and the new Apple TV. Like iOS 9 (and Mountain Lion, and Snow Leopard), El Capitan is about refinement. Yosemite's big statement was "This is what OS X looks like now." El Capitan's is a relatively meek "Hey, I have a couple neat tricks to show you."

Apple releases OS X 10.10.4, iOS 8.4

Speaking of Apple:

Apple today released OS X Yosemite 10.10.4, an under-the-hood update that introduces several bug fixes and performance improvements. Most notably, 10.10.4 includes the removal of the problematic Discoveryd process, which has caused multiple networking issues for some users in OS X Yosemite.

I'm curious to see if this will solve the reconnect-on-wake issues my retina MacBook Pro has. In addition, Apple also released iOS 8.4, which includes a radio station, in case you're sick of listening to the music you want without some random dude blabbering through your songs.

Mac OS X El Capitan preview

Looking across the updates in El Capitan, the story is clear: Apple is making life way better for people who live in its ecosystem. But if you don't live in Apple's garden, the benefits are less clear. Yes, it's faster and there are bugfixes all around, but to take advantage of Apple's updates you really need to use Apple's apps.

I just want El Capitan's Metal and Aero Snap. That name is horrible, though.

Apple drops discoveryd in latest OS X beta

After many complaints from the developer community about poor networking performance on Yosemite, the latest beta of OS X 10.10.4 has dropped the discoveryd in favor of the old process used by previous versions of Mac operating system. This should address many of the network stability issues introduced with Yosemite and its new networking stack.

A clearer sign that discoveryd was a mess, there is not.

iOS 9 & OS X 10.11 to bring ‘quality’ focus

For the first time in several years, Apple is changing up its annual iOS and OS X upgrade cycle by limiting new feature additions in favor of a "big focus on quality," according to multiple sources familiar with the company's operating system development plans. We first reported in February that iOS 9, codenamed "Monarch," would heavily feature under-the-hood optimizations, and we've now learned that Apple is taking the same approach with OS X 10.11, codenamed "Gala." Sources have revealed additional new details on how Apple will optimize the new operating systems for improved stability and performance, add several new security features, and make important changes to its Swift programming tools for developers.

OS X’s discoveryd clusterfuck

Regardless of the many issues people were reporting with discoveryd, Apple went ahead and released it anyway. As a result, this piece of software is responsible for a large portion of the thousand cuts. Personally, I've wasted many hours just trying to keep my devices talking to each other. Macs that used to go months between restarts were being rebooted weekly. The situation is so bad that I actually feel good when I can just kill discoveryd and toggle the network interface to get back to work.

Seems to be a huge paint point in OS X right now. I've experienced this issue once with my new retina MacBook Pro since I got it (a week ago), and it basically stops any data from being transferred to the Mac. The wireless connection remains online, but it just does't transfer any data. I hope Apple gets to fixing this soon.

Apple releases OS X 10.10.3 beta with new Photos application

Apple released a beta version of OS X 10.10.3 today, and it includes the first preview of its new Photos application.

Apple might have just fixed that for Mac users with the new Photos app. It's the final piece in a plan that Apple unveiled last June, and one that both fixes and unifies a patchwork system it rolled out in 2011. It's a rethink of how people manage their photo library on a Mac, something that's been iPhoto's home turf for more than a decade. Apple's discontinuing that software along with Aperture (which is aimed at pro photographers), in favor bringing the tools people have on their iPhones and iPads to the Mac. It's also been built with Apple's iCloud in mind instead of an afterthought, which feels years overdue.

Over time, iPhote gradually turned into an iTunes-esque behemoth of a program that couldn't handle larger amounts of photos and generally had serious performance issues. This new Photos applications looks amazing, and I know many, many people who are going to love this.

MPW on Mac OS X

Back in the days of Mac OS X 10.2-10.4, I toyed with backporting some of my programming projects, originally developed in Carbon with Project Builder, to MacOS 9, and downloaded MPW (since it was free, and CodeWarrior was not) to do so. The Macintosh Programmer’s Workshop was Apple’s own development environment for developing Mac apps, tracing its lineage from the Lisa Programmer’s Workshop, which was originally the only way to develop Mac apps (yes, in 1984 you could not develop Mac software on the Mac itself).

A follow-up from last week's MPW story.

MPW, Carbon and building Classic Mac OS apps in OS X

Steven Troughton-Smith:

Just to provide an example for this post, I put together a trivial drawing app called BitPaint. It isn't very interesting, but it should illustrate a few things:

  1. What's involved in bringing a trivial classic Mac app to Carbon
  2. How the Classic Mac OS build process works
  3. How much source compatibility exists between 1984's Toolbox and Carbon today

The answer to the third question is surprising: a lot. In fact, Steven managed to build an application that runs on every version of Mac OS/OS X, all the way from System 1.0 to today's OS X 10.10 Yosemite. I've been following Steven's progress (and by following I mean 'looked at pretty screenshots' because I don't understand the developer stuff), and it's quite incredible to see a single codebase run on such a long string of Mac OS/OS X releases.

A crucial aspect in this whole endeavour has been mpw, "an m68k binary translator/emulator whose sole purpose is to try and emulate enough of Classic Mac OS to run MPW's own tools directly on OS X".

I am incredibly psyched about mpw. Its developer, ksherlock, has been very responsive to everything I've come up against as I stress test it against various tools and projects.

Right now it's a fully usable tool that makes Classic Mac OS compilation possible and easy to do on modern versions of OS X, without requiring emulators or ancient IDEs or the like. To my knowledge, this is the first time this has been possible (excluding legacy versions of CodeWarrior).

This entire post is a must-read.

Google publishes three 90-day OS X vulnerabilities

Don't look now, but Google's Project Zero vulnerability research program may have dropped more zero-day vulnerabilities - this time on Apple's OS X platform.

In the past two days, Project Zero has disclosed OS X vulnerabilities here, here, and here. At first glance, none of them appear to be highly critical, since all three appear to require the attacker to already have some access to a targeted machine. What's more, the first vulnerability, the one involving the "networkd 'effective_audit_token' XPC," may already have been mitigated in OS X Yosemite, but if so the Google advisory doesn't make this explicit and Apple doesn't publicly discuss security matters with reporters.

You'd think a writer at Ars Technica was aware of what a zero-day is. These are 90-days, meaning Google is giving - int his case - Apple two to three times as long as industry sort-of standard (which is 30-45 days). Of course, Google dropping zero-days on Apple will draw a lot more clicks, but that doesn't make it any less bullshit. Then again, it isn't like this is the first time this particular author sensationalises to the point of ridiculousness.

The other points from before, of course, still stand. In addition, it'd be great if other companies started combing through Google's stuff too.

Why DNS in OS X 10.10 is broken, and how to fix it

For 12 years, the mDNSResponder service managed a surprisingly large part of our Mac's networking, and it managed this task well. But as of OS X 10.10, the mDNSResponder has been replaced with discoveryd, which does the same thing. Mostly.

Some of the bugs in Yosemite discussed in an article linked last week seem to have origins in moving from mDNSResponder to discoveryd. Here is an explanation of what specifically is not working, and how to fix it. However, it is not for the faint of heart: you can potentially leave your Apple in an unbootable state, and who knows what will happen when an update is installed.

A power user’s guide to Yosemite Server

OS X Server's rate of improvement has slowed in recent years, though Apple is hardly ignoring it. It did get a full Yosemite-style visual overhaul, after all, which suggests that Apple cares about it enough to keep developing it in lockstep with the consumer version of OS X. The continuous addition of features and fixes over the course of the Mountain Lion and Mavericks releases of Server suggests that Yosemite Server will continue on in slow and gradual but still active development.

If we were going to worry about the state of the Mac server in 2014, our primary concern would actually be hardware. First they came for the Xserve, and I did not speak out, because Apple was clearly not going anywhere in Windows- and Linux-dominated enterprise-level server rooms. Then they came for the Mac Pro Server, and I did not speak out, for the cheese-grater Mac Pros were far too expensive to be practical for the new home-and-small-business focus of latter-day OS X Server. Then they came for the Mac Mini Server, and there was no one left to speak for it.

OS X Yosemite Server reviewed in-depth by Ars Technica's Andrew Cunningham.