10.5.6 Right Around The Corner?

11 12 2008

Apple this week is believed throwing the finishing touches on Mac OS X 10.5.6, the last planned maintenance and security update for Leopard during the 2008 calendar year.

Developers on Wednesday were reportedly equipped with build 9G55 of the software, which included no noticeable changes from the build (9G52) that was distributed five days earlier. Another sign of a near immediate release is that both the client and server distributions currently reflect no known issues, those same people say. The client software reportedly weighs in at around 370MB while the server update is a bit heftier at 470MB.





Snow Leopard Details

18 10 2008

Finder-

People familiar with matter say the Finder, which currently stands as
one of the oldest Carbon-based applications in the Mac OS portfolio,
has been completely re-written in the company’s native object-oriented
application program environment called Cocoa.

Apple has reportedly tapped select members of its developer community
to begin testing the updated graphical file system manager as part of a
new pre-release copy of Snow Leopard belonging to the build train
10Axxx. In addition, many of the Apple-authored applications accompany
the new build are also said to have been wrapped completely in Cocoa.

ImageBoot-

When it makes its debut, likely at WWDC 2009, Snow Leopard will also
introduce a new, third option for disc image-based installation called
ImageBoot. Based on Apple’s existing NetBoot technology, which allows
Macs to boot from a remote disk over the network, ImageBoot will allow
users to set up any number of disk images on a secondary partition or
external drive, and then selectively boot their system from any one of
those disk images at startup.

This new feature will allow users to set up a series of test
environments or uniquely configured Mac OS X systems, store the
bootable systems as discrete disk images, and subsequently store
multiple boot targets on the same disk or partition. Currently, only
one bootable Mac OS X installation can be stored on a given disk
partition.

With ImageBoot, multiple NetBoot sets can be maintained locally on the
same storage partition, and the user can select any one of the disk
images available to boot from without having to restore or mount the
disk image first. The result is a system that works similar to
virtualization software such as Parallels, which can create disk images
for different PC operating systems and selectively boot from any of
them. The difference is that Mac OS X isn’t booting up in a virtual
environment; it actually boots a fully native Mac OS X system.





Snow Leopard Details

18 10 2008

Finder-

People familiar with matter say the Finder, which currently stands as
one of the oldest Carbon-based applications in the Mac OS portfolio,
has been completely re-written in the company’s native object-oriented
application program environment called Cocoa.

Apple has reportedly tapped select members of its developer community
to begin testing the updated graphical file system manager as part of a
new pre-release copy of Snow Leopard belonging to the build train
10Axxx. In addition, many of the Apple-authored applications accompany
the new build are also said to have been wrapped completely in Cocoa.

ImageBoot-

When it makes its debut, likely at WWDC 2009, Snow Leopard will also
introduce a new, third option for disc image-based installation called
ImageBoot. Based on Apple’s existing NetBoot technology, which allows
Macs to boot from a remote disk over the network, ImageBoot will allow
users to set up any number of disk images on a secondary partition or
external drive, and then selectively boot their system from any one of
those disk images at startup.

This new feature will allow users to set up a series of test
environments or uniquely configured Mac OS X systems, store the
bootable systems as discrete disk images, and subsequently store
multiple boot targets on the same disk or partition. Currently, only
one bootable Mac OS X installation can be stored on a given disk
partition.

With ImageBoot, multiple NetBoot sets can be maintained locally on the
same storage partition, and the user can select any one of the disk
images available to boot from without having to restore or mount the
disk image first. The result is a system that works similar to
virtualization software such as Parallels, which can create disk images
for different PC operating systems and selectively boot from any of
them. The difference is that Mac OS X isn’t booting up in a virtual
environment; it actually boots a fully native Mac OS X system.





Apple OS X Leopard 10.5.5

15 09 2008

Apple on Monday released Mac OS X 10.5.5, a recommended update for all users of Mac OS X 10.5.x Leopard that includes over a hundred bug fixes and more than two dozen security enhancements.

As of press time, the 321MB update was only available via the Software Update mechanism located under the Apple menu of your Mac.

In addition to general stability improvements and over two dozen security enhancements, the update addresses issues with Address Book, Disk Utility, iCal, Mail, MobileMe, and Time Machine. A detailed list of those fixes follows:

General

  • Includes recent Apple security updates.
  • Addresses stability issues with video playback, processor core idling, and remote disc sharing for MacBook Air.
  • Addresses an issue in which some Macs could unexpectedly power on at the same time each day.
  • Resolves a stability issue in TextEdit that could be found when accessing the color palette.
  • Improves Spotlight indexing performance.
  • Fixes an issue in which contacts might not sync properly with PalmOS-based devices.
  • Improves iPhone sync reliability with iCal and Address Book.
  • Includes improvements to Active Directory (see this article for more information).
  • Improves Speech Dictionary.
  • Fixes Kerberos authentication issues for Mac OS X 10.5 clients that connect to certain Samba servers, such as Mac OS X Server version 10.4.
  • Includes extensive graphics enhancements.

Address Book

  • Addresses stability issues that may occur when creating a Smart Group.
  • Resolves a printing issue with address cards containing information that spans more than one page.

Disk Utility and Directory Utility

  • Improves reliability when rebuilding a software mirror RAID volume in Disk Utility.
  • Improves reliability of server status displayed in Directory Utility.

iCal

  • Updates iCal to more accurately handle repeating events.
  • Improves performance when choosing meeting attendees.
  • Resolves an issue in which the “Refresh All” option may be dimmed (“grayed out”) in the contextual menu for certain calendars.
  • Fixes issues with read-only calendars.
  • Addresses an issue that prevents an invitee from moving an event to a different calendar.
  • Resolves an issue with syncing published calendars.

Mail

  • Addresses performance issues related to displaying IMAP messages.
  • Resolves an issue with SMTP settings for AIM, Compuserve, Hanmail, Yahoo!, and Time Warner Road Runner email accounts.
  • Addresses stability issues that may occur when dragging a file to the Mail icon in the Dock.
  • Addresses an issue with the “Organized by Thread” view in which the date does not appear when the thread is collapsed.
  • Resolves an issue in which RSS feeds could temporarily disappear from the sidebar.
  • Improves Mail robustness when sending messages.
  • Improves reliability when saving drafts that have attachments.

MobileMe

  • Improves overall sync reliability.
  • Improves Back to My Mac reliability.

Time Machine

  • Improves Time Machine reliability with Time Capsule.
  • Addresses performance issues that may affect initial and in-progress backups.
  • Fixes an issue in which an incorrect alert message could appear stating that a backup volume does not have enough free space.
  • Time Machine can now back up iPhone backups that are on your Mac, as well as other items in (~/Library/Application Support).




Snow Leopard: Twice the RAM, 1/2 the Price

6 09 2008

Snow Leopard’s across-the-board leap to 64-bits, from the kernel to all of its bundled apps, will do more than just make more memory available. It will also have a significant positive impact on performance system wide, even more than the same jump to 64-bits in Windows Vista. Here’s why.

Following the initial introduction to 64-bit computing leading up to Snow Leopard and a second segment outlining issues related to the amount of RAM that can be installed and actually used by the system, this third segment examines how much memory a specific app can use and how performance will improve with 64-bit addressing despite the additional overhead involved. A follow up segment will look at how the market for 64-bit apps is unfolding and how Apple is pioneering 64-bits on the desktop.

System RAM vs App RAM

While the 4GB limit described earlier is only just beginning to affect mainstream users, there’s another problem that prevents full use of the installed memory by any specific application. In fact, the real problem for RAM-starved apps is not how much RAM can be installed in a machine, but rather the limits on the amount of memory a single application or process can address itself.

The 32-bit versions of Windows, Linux, and Mac OS X handled their 4GB limit differently. That means their transitions to 64-bits offer varying levels of improvement to their users. In 32-bit versions of Linux and Mac OS X, the kernel maps out a 32-bit, 4GB virtual memory space for itself and one for each app (or process). The virtual memory system shuffles memory around as needed to take best advantage of however much RAM is installed. The more RAM the better, of course.

In 32-bit Windows, every app only gets a 2GB virtual address space; the 4GB space afforded by 32-bit addresses is split with the kernel. By default, the split is right down the middle, so the app gets 2GB to work in while the kernel reserves the other 2GB. With a special setting, Windows can be adjusted to a 3GB/1GB split to give the app a bit more room, but there’s no way to approach a full 4GB address space in Windows. This impacts every app on the system that wants to use a lot of RAM.

The reason behind Windows’ split memory allocation is performance. Windows system calls can address memory locations mapped to the application and to the kernel in the same breath, because the CPU can directly address the app’s RAM and the kernel’s RAM at the same time using a cached lookup table called the “translation lookaside buffer” or TLB.

Road to Snow Leopard

With More RAM Comes More Accountability

In contrast, while 32-bit versions of Linux and Mac OS X give each application its own full 4GB of virtual memory, those addresses share (overlap with) those used by the kernel’s own 4GB space. That means the CPU’s TLB can’t maintain its cached addresses because there’s no way distinguish between the two.

Every time the virtual memory system moves between the two address spaces, it has to flush the CPU’s TLB. Every 32-bit system call flushes the TLB twice, repeatedly setting the cache back to zero and negating any of the performance it was designed to enable. On Windows, this only happens when the system switches between applications, because each application splits its virtual memory space with the kernel (above).

Under the 64-bit Mac OS X Leopard, 64-bit apps get a massive virtual memory allocation that breaks out of the 4GB box. This allows 64-bit apps to occupy high address spaces while the kernel uses its own low addresses. Without any shared address overlap, the TLB doesn’t need to be flushed and can therefore function as intended. That potential windfall isn’t yet fully realized because Leopard’s kernel and most Mac apps are still 32-bit (below left).

Snow Leopard will deliver both a 64-bit kernel and a full set of 64-bit bundled apps, erasing the entire TLB flush issue because the new kernel won’t have to share any address space, even when running 32-bit apps (below right). This will benefit all 64-bit Mac users with a Core 2 CPU or better, even those lacking a Santa Rosa platform-style chipset, as being able to run 64-bit code and virtual memory is not tied to the amount of addressable system RAM.

Road to Snow Leopard

More, Better, Faster

Today’s 32-bit Mac apps have access to more memory than 32-bit Windows apps, but incur the TLB flush performance hit every time an app places a system call, rather than only when switching between apps. With 64-bit apps, Leopard offers better performance with virtually unlimited addressing.

In 64-bit Windows, apps finally break out of the 2GB limit (they now split the 16TB address space in half with the kernel), but there’s no significant new performance advantage related to the TLB, because Windows wasn’t dealing with that problem.

Both platforms will benefit from being able to take advantage of the additional registers on x64 that are so desperately missing from the 32-bit x86 architecture, as noted in the first segment in this series. That factor is also why PowerPC G5 users won’t see much performance benefit from general purpose apps ported to 64-bits; 32-bit PowerPC apps already have plenty of registers. In many cases, they will actually get slightly slower due to the extra addressing overhead. That’s also a key reason why Snow Leopard will be Intel only.

The dark side of 64-bit

There is also some additional overhead with handling 64-bit addressing on Intel, of course. There’s also a “chicken and egg” problem related to developing a market for 64-bit apps before there’s any significant installed base of 64-bit operating systems to run them. The mainstream Windows install is still 32-bit. Many 64-bit PCs are sold with and/or end up running 32-bit Windows, because Microsoft doesn’t have one OS that runs all apps seamlessly.

Windows 64-bit users complain about many 32-bit apps, drivers, codecs, and utilities not ready or not working properly. That includes Microsoft’s own Office Document Imaging tools, Silverlight, and Windows Media Player. And because 64-bit kernels and apps won’t work with 32-bit drivers or plugins, the lack of 64-bit Silverlight or Flash prevent many users from running the 64-bit Internet Explorer. Additionally, the way Microsoft delivered 64-bit Windows causes problems for app developers, as simple changes or customizations to the system can hose everything, as Adobe has warned the beta users of 64-bit Photoshop CS4.

In contrast, all of Apple’s Macs are now 64-bit and running a 64-bit OS, as there are no problems that prevent adoption of Apple’s rather seamless 64-bit deployment. Except for, of course, a paucity of popular 64-bit Mac apps from everyone from Adobe to Apple itself. Apple will also need to provide 64-bit drivers and plugins for its kernel and apps, and get third parties to all do the same. The next article will look at the market for 64-bit apps, and how quickly Apple and third parties are going to be able to take advantage of the technical 64-bit lead on the Mac platform.

Appleinsider Article-Great Job!





Untitled

23 06 2008

One of the “under the hood” improvements that Apple might be planning for Mac OS X Snow Leopard might involve a crash diet for key Mac applications.

Roughly Drafted reports, in a long list of features expected to appear in Snow Leopard, that Apple is working on reducing the footprint required by many of its key applications, such as iCal, Mail, and Preview. The report also says the size of the Utilities applications could be dramatically reduced, from 468MB to 111.6MB.

Smaller applications could make Snow Leopard more snappy and more stable, as Apple prunes out unnecessary code and features. This would also make Snow Leopard more friendly for computers with solid-state drives, like the one found in the MacBook Air, Roughly Drafted suggests.

Snow Leopard is expected next year, and 64GB flash memory drives like those found in the MacBook Air will be still very expensive at that point. And flash drives north of 100GB, as most hard drives are these days, are out of reach for just about everyone.

This could also make Mac OS more mobile-friendly. Apple’s operating system development is headed down two paths at the moment, for the Mac and the iPhone. However, we know OS X iPhone and OS X Leopard have an awful lot in common, and if Snow Leopard has a smaller footprint it could extend battery life in a mobile device.

Apple discussed Snow Leopard in front of its developers two weeks ago at the Worldwide Developers Conference, but hasn’t said all that much about the next operating system in public. The company has said it plans to focus on improving the internal structure of the operating system rather than focusing on new features, specifically revealing plans to improve support for multicore processors and graphics chips.





Pro Tools Is Upgraded To Leopard

20 06 2008

Digidesign released an update on Thursday for its digital audio workstation, Pro Tools, bringing compatibility with Appleā€™s Mac OS X Leopard. Pro Tools 7.4.2 is available for Pro Tools|HD, Pro Tools LE, and Pro Tools M-Powered.

Dave Lebolt, Avid vice president and general manager of Digidesign, said they have been working closely with Apple since the release of Leopard, focusing on performance and reliability. Testing of the new Pro Tools versions have been qualified with Mac OS X 10.5.3.

There may be a gotcha for some Pro Tools users. The company said that not all shipping plug-ins are compatible with version 7.4.2 running on Leopard. Digidesign provides a plug-in compatibility page that is updated regularly.

The update is being provided free to all registered users of Pro Tools 7.4.








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