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  • About that Silly 10.6.2 Speculation

    November 5th, 2009

    All right, you don’t have to possess an inside track at Apple or be a registered developer to pretty much know that more Snow Leopard maintenance updates are on the horizon. So I will readily accept the possibility that there is surely a 10.6.2 in our future, and it may even arrive by the time you read this article.

    That said, I’ve been fascinated by the online soap opera about what this update allegedly fixes and doesn’t fix. Among dozens and dozens of changes, there is supposedly one to address that insidious Guest account bug. That, in and of itself, might actually be more than sufficient to make this update extremely imortant, particularly if you’re one of the supposedly small number of people bitten by that bug.

    In case you haven’t tuned on, that issue supposedly involves a Mac updated from Leopard to Snow Leopard, in which there’s already a Guest account. These accounts are designed for someone who, for example, wants to allow a friend, family member or coworker to use their Mac, but not mess with their settings or other personal information. When the guest logs out, all the stuff they created or configured is deleted. Unfortunately, this bug results in your entire Users directory being zapped by mistake. If you don’t have a backup, you’re screwed since there appears no other way to recover your data.

    If anything, that problem is sufficient to call for fast action on Apple’s part, but you wouldn’t want them to repair the damage and create new problems. And that is the unfortunate side effect of rushed software development.

    All well and good, but then there’s that claim that a recent 10.6.2 development build removed support for Intel’s Atom processors. Now you don’t need to remind me that there is no Mac using Intel’s low power and modestly performing chip, at least not yet. So what difference does it make?

    Well, you see a fair number of those netbooks are powered by Atom. Of course, there is no Mac netback either, but a fair number of people are engaged in building Hacintoshes, slang for installing Mac OS X on a non-Apple computer. Indeed, Apple has an ongoing lawsuit with one company, Psystar, which has been selling not just computers preloaded with Mac OS X out kits to allow you to build your own Hacintosh.

    Once news of the loss of Atom support in 10.6.2 was published, the expected complaints spread far and wide. But any way you look at it, none of these concerns seem at all resonable. After all, Apple is under no obligation to support components that they do not actually use in their own products. If a hobbyist wants to stretch the limits of Apple’s user license, they probably won’t face any legal consequences unless they try to make a commercial venture of it.

    To make this soap opera even more fascinating, a followup story said that support for the Atom had returned in the next 10.6.2 build. So what’s at play here? Did Apple read the rumor blogs and realize they had made a dreadful mistake? Do they really want to allow hobbyists to become unofficial beta testers of Mac OS X on unapproved hardware? I mean after all this is a win-win situation for Apple. If they ultimately decide to add an Atom-based Mac, perhaps in a bid to make the ultimate cheap computer, they will have a fair indication whether customers will be satisfied with Snow Leopard’s performance.

    That is, of course, whether this silly idea really makes any sense, and it doesn’t. If any of this is true, that support for an Intel processor that Apple doesn’t even use was somehow removed and then restored, it may well be that it all happened by accident, the consequence of other changes that were made during the ongoing development of 10.6.2.

    It may even be that Apple never actually intended to really support Atom or an other processor they don’t use in a shipping product, but it just happened.

    In the scheme of things, however, just where does any of this nonsense fit in with the real needs of Mac users who deserve a trouble-free operating system. It’s more important that, if a 10.6.2 is in our near future, Apple is addressing the most serious defects in Snow Leopard, and is not introducing too many new bugs as a consequence. That, too, is the unfortunate but expected side-effect of any software update, particularly when it involves an amazingly complex operating system, such as Mac OS X.

    And in case you’re wondering, I have no interest whatever in buying one of those note-books, let alone installing Mac OS X on one. Sure I’d try one out as an experiment, but once my curiosity is satisfied, I’ll simply go on about my business.



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    8 Responses to “About that Silly 10.6.2 Speculation”

    1. Patrick says:

      “Did Apple read the rumor blogs and realize they had made a dreadful mistake?”

      I can’t tell if you’re being facetious or not, but the answer is NO. For two reasons:

      1. The turnaound on the update restoring Atom functionality was too quick to allow for management notice, management decision, and implementation action;

      2. Apple doesn’t read rumor blogs, nor care about what the reaction of rumor blog readers is. Apple doesn’t design to focus groups, they design to their internal standards.

    2. dfs says:

      What will be in 10.6.2, besides a fix to the Guest account bug? Probably not very much. There have been reports of sluggish behavior on the 27-in. iMac, but it would be more typical for Apple to address this with a separate firmware update. So will there any surprises? Probably not, but if somebody forced me to go out on a limb, I’d say just possibly the universal introduction of iPhone-like smooth scrolling, which has just been added on the special standalone Magic Mouse software release.

    3. Walt French says:

      You’re giving too much credence to the original rumor — absolutely not “news” — that Apple removed Atom support in one build.

      Of course, that claim, though widely repeated, sourced from somebody who chose to remain anonymous. If I had discovered that I couldn’t install the beta on MY Hackintosh, I certainly would’ve reported it anonymously. But the report could be as simple as an accidental glitch in the somewhat complex installation process to get OSX to play with the Dells.

      I’m no stranger to using, and hacking ultra-portables; I upgraded my WAAY ahead-of-its-time 2400c Powerbook (10″ screen; 4 lbs) with a new CPU. I know it’s not exactly smooth as glass. But while Apple may yet choose to lock down OSX to only run on its own hardware, this looks like a bunch of pre-emptive posturing by the hacker community.

    4. Dave52 says:

      “Apple doesn’t read rumor blogs, nor care about what the reaction of rumor blog readers is. […]”

      Maybe Apple management doesn’t read rumor blogs, but their lawyers certainly must. And would a technical directive from management necessarily be required to re-enable Atom support?

      • Larry says:

        @Dave52,

        You’re saying that it would be illegal for Apple to remove Atom support from OS X? You’re saying Apple’s lawyers ordered Apple to re-enable Atom support? Is that what your are implying? Wow, just wow.

        • Dave52 says:

          @Larry,

          I’m not saying anything of the kind.

          I’m just pointing out that the assertion “Apple doesn’t read rumor blogs, …” is false. Apple has a reputation for threatening websites with legal action if they don’t remove (e.g.) leaked screenshots, future product photos, etc., so clearly someone at Apple (i.e., their legal department) is looking at rumor sites, even if only in response to tips they might receive.

          I’m also wondering aloud whether a technical change in the Mac OS X code would necessarily require management approval. It should, but that might not necessarily be the case, especially if involves re-enabling a feature that had been [mistakenly] disabled.

          I am certainly not suggesting that Apple’s lawyers would routinely be handing out technical guidance.

    5. Larry says:

      Everyone has their favorite “bug” that they just know will be fixed by the 10.6.2 update. They may be only one of six people in the entire world that has the “bug” but they are confident that Apple is fully aware of the problem even of it’s not really a bug but some stupidity on their part. Then, when 10.6.2 is released and doesn’t address their “bug”, they switch to full outrage mode. They shower the blogs and forums with the typical “doesn’t Apple test this stuff before releasing it?” screed. It’s a hilarious pattern that repeats over and over again. There’s no convincing them that their “bug” is really caused by some third party hack or system corruption. Nope, it’s Apple’s fault and they’re gonna tell the world by god. roflmao!

    6. Bill Burkholder says:

      Apple products are what they are, EULAs and all.

      Intellectual property may be composed of bits transported by electrons, but it has worth. That worth is protected by a license. Note that when you “buy” a retail software package, you are buying a license with specific, limited rights to the use of that software under certain terms and conditions. You are not buying the software, outright, and you are not buying unlimited rights to do with it what you please.

      Some pretty ignorant people are engaging in some pretty unethical, immoral, and illegal behavior by deliberately breaking EULAs and loading OS X on PCs. So what? You can physically do it. But it’s breaking the law. Would you consider this more or less wrong than stealing from a bank, DWI/DUI, or cheating on your spouse?

      Hackintoshing is breach of contract, pure and simple. Who cares if the ATOM is suddenly unable to run MAC OS X, except for a bunch of petty criminals?

      Respect the creative community. Don’t steal software or creative content.

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