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Subject: [aclug-L] Network Computing Sneak Preview Network & Systems Infrastructure Apple OS X
From: Anthony A Bogardus <abogardus@xxxxxxxx>
Date: Thu, 31 Jan 2002 04:12:38 -0600
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S N E A K   P R E V I E W  

Apple OS X Upgrade Delivers Fast, User-Friendly Unix OS 

  November 26, 2001
  By Michael J. DeMaria 

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I know I'm going to get flamed for writing this, but Apple Computer's Mac
OS X 10.1 is what Linux-on-the-desktop people crave: a Unix-based OS with
an interface even a novice can handle. Although it contains some quirky
parts, this free update for OS X users delivers a much needed speed
increase, CD- and DVD-burning capabilities and some interface tweaks. 

Apple Macintosh users have been waiting years for a rewrite of the
classic Mac OS. After the delays and cancellations of Pink, Taligent,
Copland and Rhapsody, Apple finally released Mac OS X in March of this
year. Unfortunately, version X is sluggish and has very few native
applications--basically it was aimed at early adopters. Apple CEO Steve
Jobs said the transition from classic to OS X would take a year, and 10.1
comes at the midway point. To date there have been four minor OS
upgrades, and now 10.1, a major update. All new Macs are shipping with OS
X installed. With the release of version 10.1, OS X has gotten
significantly faster and is quite usable. Application launch, menu access
and window resizing are all speedier. 
Apple sent me a dual 800-MHz G4 with Superdrive (CD-RW & DVD-R burner)
for testing, and I upgraded my first-generation iMac (233-MHz G3) from
10.0.4 to 10.1 for an additional speed-comparison test. I got the gear,
made some Kool-Aid and was ready to test. 
Want Onion Rings With That Apple? 
The biggest concern about switching to Mac OS X right now is the lack of
applications. OS X is a new architecture, so existing applications don't
run natively. Most of today's 15,000 Mac applications should work fine in
the classic compatibility environment: When you run a classic
application, the machine boots a copy of Mac OS 9 into memory and runs
the two OSes simultaneously. This adds a delay to the initial launch of a
classic application--I clocked it at about 15 seconds on the G4. To speed
things up, I configured my machine to start up OS 9 on login. 
BSD Base 
The BSD subsystem on which the operating system is based assists with the
porting of open-source software that has been written for a Unix-like
system. Sendmail and Bind 8.2.3 are included with Mac OS X 10.1, but both
are off by default and there is no GUI interface to turn them on. 

Apple OS X,
(screen view)

Click here to enlarge

Web pages are served via Apache, and remote access is available through
OpenSSH. Both these enablers are off by default but can be turned on
through the GUI by an administrator. Other available packages include
Pine, Emacs and an X server. OS X 10.1 also includes CVS (Concurrent
Versions System) installed, and SourceForge has added OS X 10.1 to its
compile farm. 
Apple claims that 1,400 Mac OS X "carbonized" applications are available.
Native OS X applications can leverage the protected memory and
multiprocessing capabilities of the carbonized applications. 
The carbonized version of Microsoft Office is scheduled for release this
month. Adobe Illustrator, Alias Wavefront Maya, Bare Bones Software
BBEdit, Claris FileMaker Pro, Intuit Quicken, Macromedia Freehand,
Microsoft Internet Explorer and Pica Software Canvas have already been
"carbonized." Additionally, Adobe says the next major release of
Photoshop will support OS X natively. 
Because a good number of traditional Mac programs have been carbonized,
it makes sense to start your upgrade process now. The upgrade is a
platform change, and you'll need time to learn how to administer the new
system and train users on the new interface. Your Photoshop users may
prefer to wait until Adobe releases a native version, but those using
Office and Internet Explorer could switch today. 
System Changes 
Apple has increased support for mounting shared drives. You can now
connect to servers via AFP (AppleTalk File Protocol), SMB (Server Message
Block), NFS (Network File System) or Samba servers. I was able to connect
to my Microsoft Windows NT box by typing smb:// Borgcube/share me and
supplying my Windows NT user name and password. You cannot yet browse the
Windows network, so you must know the server's name and shared directory
before you can connect. 
The error messages I encountered weren't very informative; in fact, when
I entered a wrong password, the error message merely said I should try
again later. This should be addressed in version 10.1.1. 
NetInfo, which NeXTstep aficionados may be familiar with, handles
password, user-name and domains management. Information on integrating OS
X in an NIS environment, which may play nicely in some existing Unix
shops, is also available. Apple representatives have told me that Unix
administrators will love OS X. 
Burning Love 
Support for burning data CDs can be found within the finder. When you
insert a blank CD in the drive, it appears in the Finder as a normal
volume. Copy the files you want to burn (just like you would if backing
up to a regular disk) and select the burn menu command. Owners of
Superdrives, available on the higher-end Pro line, can burn data DVDs the
same way. 
The location manager is a great feature, especially for laptops. I
installed an AirPort card and set up IP addresses on the built-in
Ethernet and wireless adapters. When I unplugged the Ethernet connection,
it failed over automatically and started to transmit traffic over the
wireless adapter. A laptop user with OS X 10.1 can switch between the
corporate LAN and home wireless with no user intervention. You also can
use the multihoming feature by setting multiple, simultaneous IPs on the
Ethernet cards. 

Vendor Information

Mac OS X version 10.1, $129, shipping and handling of the upgrade for
existing Mac OS X users, $19.95. Available: Now. Apple, (800) MY-APPLE,
(408) 996-1010.

With the Unix underpinnings, remote access and administration should be
easier, compared with those functions in the classic OS. Unix knowledge
is not required, and you don't need to see the Unix underside to use Mac
OS X--but it's there if you want it. This is by far the friendliest and
simplest Unix derivative available. 
In addition, by installing the developer tools (available on CD or by
free download), I had access to a project builder and C/C++ compiler.
I've searched for free C compilers for the classic Mac OS before and
couldn't find any. Now anyone can be a Mac developer, which may mean a
revival of the Mac shareware community. 
With the new remote capabilities, Mac security will be a bigger deal and
will need to be examined more carefully over the next few years.
Fortunately, most services are turned off by default, and OS X comes with
a built-in ipfw firewall, a software firewall with GUI shareware tools. 
Mike DeMaria is an associate technology editor for Network Computing. He
has been using and administrating Macintosh computers for eight years. He
built system images and repaired damaged Macs at Bethpage, N.Y., School
District early on and worked in Mac tech support for the residential
campus network at Syracuse University. He also owns a Newton for no good
reason. Send your comments on this article to him at


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