Mac OS X Archive

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.

20 Tips to Use Yosemite Like a Pro

Macworld UK has the details on minor interface and usability tweaks that are new or expanded in OSX Yosemite. Did you know that RSS support in Safari is back? That you could see an overview of all images that a chat partner has sent? That you can un-flattify the UI somewhat? Or that the super-useful document annotation features in Preview are now even better? Now you do.

How to Get Yosemite’s Handoff to Work

I guess today's the day that people finally got around to trying to make Handoff work, because both Time and Gizmodo published short articles outlining the finicky steps it takes to get your Mac and iOS device to recognize each other. The key step seems to be to log off and back on to iCloud in both devices, because as with everything dealing with iCloud, it's a bit of a crap shoot. But when it does work, it's pretty nifty. The best part of the read was one of the comments on the Gizmodo with a classic quote from Anchorman: "60% of the time, it works every time."

Yosemite Post-release News Roundup

Anandtech published a detailed look into OSX 10.10 and iOS 8.1 and how they interoperate. Online ad network Chitika compares Yosemite post-release adoption to Mavericks and Mountain Lion and finds that free upgrades matter a lot. Cult of Mac says that Yosemite's new Mail version is a memory hog. The San Jose Mercury News contrasts Apple's conservatism in gradually changing OSX and iOS with Microsoft's recent penchant for making overly bold changes then backpedaling.

John Siracusa’s OS X Yosemite review

Apple officially released OS X Yosemite today, and to mark that occasion - as has become tradition among our people - the only OS X Yosemite review you need, from John Siracusa.

OS X and iOS have been trading technologies for some time now. For example, AVFoundation, Apple's modern framework for manipulating audiovisual media, was released for iOS a year before it appeared on OS X. Going in the other direction, Core Animation, though an integral part of the entire iPhone interface, was released first on the Mac. Yosemite's new look continues the pattern; iOS got its visual refresh last year, and now it's OS X's turn.

But at this year's Worldwide Developers Conference, Apple made several announcements that point in a new direction: iOS and OS X advancing in lockstep, with new technologies that not only appear on both platforms simultaneously but also aim to weave them together.

These new, shared triumphs run the gamut from traditional frameworks and APIs to cloud services to the very foundation of Apple's software ecosystem, the programming language itself. Apple's dramatic leadership restructuring in 2012 put Federighi in charge of both iOS and OS X - a unification of thought that has now, two years later, resulted in a clear unification of action. Even the most ardent Mac fan will admit that iOS 7 was a bigger update than Mavericks. This time around, it's finally a fair fight.

Grab some tea or coffee, and enjoy.

Mac App Store: the subtle exodus

My ultimate fear is that the complacent state of the Mac App Store would lead to the slow erosion of the Mac indie community. The MAS is the best place to get your software, it comes bundled with your OS, it's very convenient but when all the issues compound, developers will vote with their feet and continue the slow exodus. I feel that Apple needs to encourage the availability of high quality software rather than quantity over quality - the first step would addressing the core issues that have been known for years. The Mac platform would be a much worse place if we prioritise short-term gains, boasting about the hundreds of thousands of free abandonware rather than concentrate on the long-term fundamentals to sustain a healthy and innovative ecosystem.

It's finally starting to dawn on people that application stores' primary goal is not to make the lives of developers easier. No, the one true goal of application stores is to drive the price of software down to zero or near-zero - and if the side effect of that is that the independent and small developers who built your platform go out of business or leave the platform altogether, that's just too damn bad.

It was fun in the short term, when the low-hanging fruits were ripe for the picking, but everyone with more than two brain cells to rub together could see the unsustainability of it all. The 'app economy' is pretty close to bust, and I suspect zero to none of the suggestions listed in this article will be implemented by Apple. It's not in their interest to raise the prices of software in their application stores.

HFS+ bit rot

HFS+ lost a total of 28 files over the course of 6 years.

Most of the corrupted files are completely unreadable. The JPEGs typically decode partially, up to the point of failure. So if you're lucky, you may get most of the image except the bottom part. The raw .CR2 files usually turn out to be totally unreadable: either completely black or having a large color overlay on significant portions of the photo. Most of these shots are not so important, but a handful of them are. One of the CR2 files in particular, is a very good picture of my son when he was a baby. I printed and framed that photo, so I am glad that I did not lose the original.

If you're keeping all your files and backups on HFS+ volumes, you're doing it wrong.

HFS+ is a weird vestigial pre-OS X leftover that, for some reason, Apple just does not replace. Apple tends to be relentless when it comes to moving on from past code, but HFS+ just refuses to die. As John Siracusa, long-time critic of HFS+, stated way back in 2011:

I would have certainly welcomed ZFS with open arms, but I was equally confident that Apple could create its own file system suited to its particular needs. That confidence remains, but the ZFS distraction may have added years to the timetable.

Three years later, and still nothing, and with Yosemite also shipping with HFS+, it'll take another 1-2 years before we possibly see a new, modern, non-crappy filesystem for OS X. Decades from now, books will be written about this saga.

OS X Yosemite under the magnifying glass

There are still many rough edges in the new OS but overall I am really excited about the visual direction that Mac OS X Yosemite is taking. It demonstrates a more mature and subtle approach in adapting iOS 7 design language. No ultra thin fonts, no crazy parallax, no ridiculous icons, just subtle use of translucent materials accompanied by a bright and cheerful palette. Using the new OS feels fresher, exciting, and more modern. I am looking forward to exploring other design changes in the the new OS that I may have missed.

I'm definitely pleased with the design direction Apple is taking OS X into, despite the fact that as it currently stands it's clearly still in flux. We're in beta, though, so that's just fine. The two biggest issues to me are one, that text input fields and buttons are not visually different, and two, that neither of them get any mouseover effect whatsoever - both cursor and button/input fields remain exactly the same.

Something else I've noticed: is it just me, or does Apple use a different theme on-stage during a keynote than what actually ships in the beta right now? The transparency and colours pop way more during the keynote than while using the beta. Odd.

Apple eliminates the random resize button in OS X 10.10

Close, minimize, and maximize are now close, minimize, and full screen, eliminating the extra full-screen control and consolidating the window controls in one place. Streamlining these and other elements of the interface means you can navigate the desktop more efficiently.

OS X' idea of "maximise" was "some random window resizing nobody really used anyway", so I'm glad Apple finally replaced it with something else. Too bad OS X' fullscreen view is way too disruptive for my tastes to be of any practical use.

Compile 68k Mac applications for System 1.1 in OS X 10.9

Like most of you, I've always wanted want to code and compile 68k Mac OS applications in OS X that work on System 1.1. This question kept me up night after night, but thanks to Steven Troughton-Smith, we now know that it is, indeed, possible. It started with a 68k application on System 6. Not long after, he managed to compile a simple application that worked on System 1.1. This test application's code is available on github.

This is possible using ksherlock's MPW Emulator, which, as the name implies, is an emulator that allows you to run the Macintosh Programmer's Workshop on any OS X 10.9 system (a case-insensitive HFS+ volume is required).

I'm glad this matter has been settled. In all seriousness, while the number of useful applications for this is probably limited, it's still very cool.

iTunes 11.2 update hides Users folder on OS X

One side effect of the iTunes 11.2 update on Thursday, May 15th 2014 has been that some but not all Macs were seeing the /Users and /Users/Shared folders disappear.

The permissions on the /Users folder were also changed to be world-writable, so that anyone could read and write to the /Users folder.

As far as bugs go, this is a very fascinating one. Initially, people thought the OS X 10.9.3 update was the culprit, but as it turns out - it's the iTunes 11.2 update. I'm interested to (eventually) hear the root cause of all this, but for now, the linked article contains a temporary workaround.

NetBoot PowerPC, Intel Macs from Mavericks Server

As part of some maintenance here, I did a little research as to how to set up NetBoot for various different Macs. For this piece, interchange 'NetBoot' with 'NetInstall' if you're being pedantic - I'm NetBooting the install disc for a particular OS. NetBooting a full install should also be possible using the same techniques.

Mavericks Server (an app free to all developers) has a built-in NetBoot (NetInstall) server GUI, but it only supports a handful of modern versions of OS X. Thankfully, if you follow the instructions in the bootpd manpage you can manually build NetBoot images supporting both PowerPC and Intel Macs going back to OS X v10.2.

Because we can.

Improving the state of 4K display support under OS X

In my Mac Pro review I lamented the state of 4K display support under OS X 10.9.0. In my conclusion I wrote: "4K display compatibility under OS X is still a bit like the wild west at this point". Compatibility was pretty much only guaranteed with the ASUS/Sharp 4K displays if you cared about having a refresh rate higher than 30Hz. Even if you had the right monitor, the only really usable resolution was 3840 x 2160 - which ends up making text and UI elements a bit too small for some users. Absent were the wonderful scaling resolutions that Apple introduced with its MacBook Pro with Retina Display. Well it looks like that won't be the case for long, last night I got reports (thanks Mike!) that the latest developer build of OS X 10.9.3 includes expanded support for 4K displays, 4K/60Hz support for rMBPs and scaled resolutions below 4K.

So, OS X is essentially the only desktop operating system with proper HiDPI support, right?

OS X 10.9 Mavericks: the Ars Technica review

Apple has released OS X 10.9 Mavericks - for free - so it's that time again: John Siracusa's excellent OS X review.

According to Apple, Mavericks has a dual focus. Its first and most important goal is to extend battery life and improve responsiveness. Secondarily, Mavericks aims to add functionality that will appeal to "power users" (Apple's words), a group that may be feeling neglected after enduring two releases of OS X playing iOS dress-up.

Is that enough for Mavericks to live up to its major-release version number and to kick off the next phase of OS X's life? Let's find out.