April 17th 2002
By Mike Flaminio
Aladdin Systems wrote in to note that their Spring Cleaning 4.0 application runs under both Mac OS 9 and Mac OS X. Spring Cleaning 4.0 is included with Symantec System Works 2.0, and in last week's column, I failed to note that the program is one of the included OS X applications.
Mac OS X releases
We can expect a point update from Apple shortly. Mac OS X 10.1.4 is the latest fix release from Apple, and will serve to hold us over for the next big release. A number of minor fixes and added device support is expected from this update.
The big news this week was that Apple would be demonstrating Jaguar, the next major release of Mac OS X at its World Wide Developer Conference in May. Most people assume this will be Mac OS 10.2. It's probably a good guess, but there may be enough in store to make this update more than a single point release. There has been some freaky vibes floating around about what Apple has in store for OS X. So will we see 10.2 or 10.5? The fact Apple's calling it by its code name Jaguar, might suggest not to expect the expected.
The weekly saga of running Sendmail continues. In a nutshell, the installed version of Sendmail in OS X requires that the root directory has permissions set for 755. The problem is, Apple's installers keep changing the root permissions, resulting in Sendmail not working correctly.
One reader suggested placing a line in the daily file that would change the directory's permissions every night. The daily file, by the way, is a short script that is run every night to do a little housekeeping. Placing this line in the file will ensure that every night the root directory will be set to 755. This can be edited via the Terminal.
chmod 755 /
The catch is, your machine has to be running at 3:00 or so in the morning to work. Also, if your machine reboots between the time of an installer update and the daily script, you may need to reboot again, once the permissions have been correctly set.
Top Ten: OS X Problems
Mac OS X has been my full time OS for over four months now. I did use OS X pretty often before this time, but it's been that long since the line had been drawn and OS 9 would only be used for specific, OS 9-only tasks.
As I mentioned in the first column, there's no going back. Now that I've gotten used to OS X, OS 9 feels restrictive and fragile. But even though OS X is my new operating system, there're still a good deal of problems.
Before we get going, be sure to check out Derek Currie's Mac OS X columns where he chased down a number bugs and features in Mac OS 10.1.x, and fixes found over previous versions. Also, note that this is not OS X bashing, so for the zealots out there, just chill out -- I'm on your side.
Here then is my top ten current issues with OS X. There are certainly more, but these are the biggest ones that annoyed me this week. Some of these points are bugs, others features and others still design concepts. Changes will surely be made, which have been highlighted by the news at the top of this week's column. So here they are in no particular order, my top ten OS X complaints as of today.
1 - Faxing
I believe the old NeXT OS had faxing built in. What a great idea. Why don't we have it? FaxSTF has a history of being problematic at best. Wouldn't it be great if we could fax as well as we could print?
2 - Printing
Well, maybe I spoke too soon. Full USB and legacy printer support is still lacking under Mac OS 10.1. Personally I don't have too much trouble here, mainly because I usually print to PostScript printers, and they seem to be well supported. I've heard a number complaints, however, of USB printers not working, even the ones Apple sells at its stores.
3 - Scanning
Not to start a theme here, but built-in TWAIN scanning should to be built into OS X as a Service. Canon, for example, plans OS X drivers for its scanners, but I haven't kept up on other manufacture's plans. You can scan from programs within the Classic Environment, but that's no fun. Being able to scan in from the Preview app would be pretty cool. If you really want to impress me, add in OCR too, but I'd settle for vanilla scanning.
4 - Window Juggling
Mac OS X has a new window management system. Of particular angst is how active windows and active applications are no longer tied together. For example, under OS 9, if an application is running in the back ground with two windows open, if you click one, the whole application comes to the foreground, including both windows. Not so under OS X. Clicking a window only brings that window to the foreground. Feature or bug? I'm too set in my ways to call it a feature.
5 - Dock Obscures Windows
Ok, so we have this dock thingy and we have windows that have no borders. Applications often open windows that place the resize corner, not to mention window contents, behind the dock. All you can do is go up to the top of the window, move it to the side then reach down and resize it to fit correctly in the desktop. That's a whole lot of work when we haven't even started doing what we intended when opening that window in the first place. OS X fault or application's? I don't care, just make it stop.
6 - Spring Loaded Folders
The battle cry during the 10.0.x days was DVD playback and CD-R support. Spring Loaded Folders seems to be that battle cry today. They're efficient and so fun to use. Who cares why they're not there now, Apple -- just bring them back to make us happy.
7 - Rage Pro Graphics
Now I don't have any older Macs laying around, but I know people who do. They're left out in the OS X cold, and guess what? They don't plan on buying a new Mac just to be able to run OS X. To Mac users around long enough to have Rage Pro graphics chips, OS X seems like a dark and scary place. The only way they're going to move over to X any time soon is on their own terms.
8 - Less beach ball, more fun
Mac OS 10.1 was a great leap in speed. But it's still not fast enough. But to give credit where credit is due, while OS X 10.1 can still be faster, those little spinning color wheels aren't all Apple's fault. Developers need to keep hammering on their Cocoa and Carbon apps to get them running better. I won't name any names this time.
9 - Network Security/Firewall
OS X would really benefit from some built-in firewall monitoring and controls. The ability to lock things down and be alerted when something fishy goes down would go a long way to easing Mac user's living-in-Unixland concerns.
10 - Dropping things
I find a weird bug where occasionally an icon gets dropped on its own. It's very frustrating, and I've seen it on more than one machine. I don't know what causes it, but logging in/out seems to clear it up for a while. Basically I'll be dragging an icon across the screen and it'll drop, or I'll hold down a drop down menu, and it will release on its own. What's up with that?
So there it is. I'll update this list every now and then in new columns, probably when new versions of OS X get released. Again, check out Derek's columns for more in-depth bug tracking from 10.0 and up.
Surely there are more problem with OS X, and some should be on this list. But like I said, these are the things that are under my skin this week. Feel free to share your list of OS X annoyances, or maybe even offer some suggestions to get around for some items on my list in the comments.