Apple OS X

Copyright 2002-04, 2008-09 by Ronald B. Standler


Table of Contents

Introduction
Books
OS X
Software for OS X
         Firewall & Anti-Virus Software
         Webbrowser
         E-Mail/Telnet/FTP
         Wordprocessor & Text Editor
         Disk Defragmentation/Optimization
         Scanners
Hardware
DOS/Windows Compatibility
Conclusion

Introduction

I have used Apple computers since May 1992, primarily for music composition and wordprocessing. Since May 2002, I have also used an Apple computer as my principal machine for e-mail and webbrowsing, as a way of obtaining additional protection from malicious computer programs (e.g., viruses and worms) that are prevalent for computers running some version of Microsoft Windows. The Windows monoculture makes users of Windows vulnerable to a wide variety of malicious programs.

The last version of the traditional (i.e., begun in 1984) Apple Macintosh operating system is version 9.2.2. My separate webpage on OS 9 mentions my favorite software for this traditional Macintosh environment and some hints on how to run this old software on a modern Apple computer. After Apple switched from the PowerPC microprocessor to Intel microprocessors, programs written for the old Macintosh operating systems (OS 9 and earlier) are difficult — but not impossible — to run on modern Apple computers with Intel microprocessors.

In the middle of year 2001, Apple began shipping its computers with a copy of OS X installed, in addition to either OS 9.1 or OS 9.2.

The X in the name of the new operating system is the Roman numeral for ten. More importantly, OS X is based on Unix from the University of California at Berkeley. The Unix foundation makes OS X very resistant to crashes. When an application crashes, it does not also crash OS X.

System X includes an optional UNIX command line interface, which is the first time since 1984 that an Apple operating system has contained a command line. I have programmed computers since 1968 and I prefer using a command line interface (e.g., like DOS), instead of a graphical user interface.

Apple refers to the various editions of operating system by names of big cats:
  1. Cheetah 10.0
  2. Puma 10.1
  3. Jaguar 10.2
  4. Panther 10.3
  5. Tiger 10.4
  6. Leopard 10.5
  7. Snow Leopard 10.6


Books

Since the mid-1990s, Apple computers have been shipped with minimal printed manuals. Users need to purchase a third-party book to fully understand how to use OS X.   I have found the following books helpful:
  1. David Pogue, Mac OS X: The Missing Manual, published by O'Reilly.

  2. Kevin M White, Mac OS X Support Essentials, Second Edition, published by Peachpit

Apple Computer maintains an extensive online collection of technical information on their software and hardware in their so-called Knowledge Base and support website

You may want to subscribe to a computer magazine that specializes in Apple computers and software, such as MacWorld, to learn about solutions for current problems and new software.


OS X


OS X contains maintenance scripts to run some housekeeping tasks Therefore, it is a good idea to leave the computer on continuously in the sleep (i.e., low-power) mode, except while away on vacation.


Software

I refuse to use any Microsoft applications software on my Apple computer, because of (1) Microsoft's longstanding, evil, monopolistic practices and because (2) using Microsoft software exposes me to many tens of thousands of malicious computer programs written for Microsoft software.

For security reasons, I do not say which anti-virus software and which firewall software that I use. The following links to vendors of software are provided for the convenience of readers.

Firewall & Anti-Virus Software

My essay Examples of Malicious Computer Programs, at my professional website, explains why users need anti-virus software. Another essay at my professional website, Tips for Avoiding Computer Crime, explains why users need firewall software.

Apple OS 10.2 and later includes a firewall program that blocks ports.

There are only a few anti-virus and firewall software programs available for the Apple operating system: I think it makes sense to purchase a bundled security suite of software from one manufacturer that includes both anti-virus protection and a firewall. Using a suite is not only less expensive, but it helps obtain seamless compatibility between the elements of the security software.

Webbrowser

Apple includes in OS X their Safari browser. There are other webbrowsers for the Macintosh OS X:
  1. Firefox, open-source browser.   Firefox uses Mozilla's Gecko engine.

  2. Opera browser from a company in Norway.

  3. i-Cab browser from Alexander Clauss in Germany.

  4. OmniWeb.

  5. Flock, intended for social networking websites (Facebook, Flickr, Twitter, etc.). Uses Mozilla's Gecko engine.

  6. DevonAgent.

  7. Camino   and   SeaMonkey, other open-source software that uses Mozilla's Gecko engine.

  8. Netscape Navigator, was the first commercial webbrowser (introduced in 1994). The final owner of Netscape, AOL, discontinued support and development of Netscape on 1 Feb 2008.   Netscape 5.0 became open-source in 1998, and is distributed by the Mozilla Foundation.
Microsoft released version 5.2.3 of Internet Explorer for Macintosh OS X in June 2003. This was the final version of Internet Explorer for the Macintosh and is no longer supported by Microsoft.

The default webbrowser used by OSX when a user clicks on a link (e.g., in e-mail or an Adobe PDF document) is specified in the Preferences for Safari, in the General tab.

All webbrowsers seem to have security flaws. Using an uncommon webbrowser may give you some protection from hackers who target vulnerabilities in webbrowsers with a large share of the market. I emphasize "may", because if the flaw is in a common component, such as Mozilla's Gecko engine, the flaw will affect all webbrowsers that use that engine.

E-Mail Programs/Telnet/FTP

Apple includes their own Mail program with OS X.   Other e-mail programs for OS X include: Apple has a handy sheet for information from your ISP to enter into the Mail program.

Apple OS X includes a Telnet/SSH program, called Terminal. Informative webpages about Terminal have been posted by
I use the Fetch file-transfer protocol (FTP) program to upload files from my computer to my websites.

Wordprocessor & Text Editor

Corel discontinued WordPerfect for the Macintosh on 29 Oct 1999, about two years before OS X appeared. If you want to see WordPerfect release in an OS X version, send an e-mail to Corel. It is not good for computer users when Microsoft Word is the only major wordprocessor for OS X. I am continuing to use the old, unsupported, but still excellent, WordPerfect 3.5 in Mac OS 9.

Other wordprocessors for Apple OS X:

Text Editor

The widely acclaimed BBEdit text editor is available in OS X native form. I admire the slogan for this text editor: "It doesn't suck."

Apple includes its TextEdit program with OS X.

TEX

Instead of using a wordprocessor, one can use a version of the TEX typesetting program that includes mathematics typesetting features. Because this is open-source software, you get to assemble your own software. You will need at least:
(1) the TEX distribution software, (e.g., iTEXMac),
(2) a text editor (e.g., BBEdit), and
(3) a viewer.

I have not yet personally tried TEX, but I have collected the following links to components and instructions at: Discussions and recommendations:

disk defragmentation/optimization

Disk defragmentation refers to writing each file in one contiguous space on the hard drive, so the head does not need to jump around on the disk while reading the file. Disk optimization refers to writing frequently accessed files in one region of the disk, writing infrequently accessed files in another region, and putting all of the free space in one contiguous block. Since hard disk drives first appeared on personal computers in the early 1980s, users have needed to run a utility program to defragment and optimize the disk drive for fast performance and to restore a large block of free space on the hard drive.

Beginning with OS 10.3, Apple had included automatic defragmentation when opening files with sizes less than 20 megabytes. Apple no longer recommends use of defragmentation or optimization software.   My experience has been different: after only twenty months of using OS 10.5, there were almost 9000 fragments in 18 Gigabytes of files and directories on my hard disk. While I had 56 Gigabytes of free space on the hard disk, the largest block of contiguous free space was less than 1 Gigabyte. It took about two hours to optimize my hard disk with TechTool Pro.

If you want to use defragmentation/optimization software, the following are the leading utility programs:

Scanners

One of the nicest things to do with a computer is to use an optical scanner to convert a printed page of text to a graphics file, then use optical character recognition software to convert the graphics file to a text file that can be used in wordprocessing software or uploaded to a website. This technology spares us from tediously retyping pages of old text.

If you have a scanner that was manufactured before the year 2001, there is a chance that the manufacturer of the scanner has no drivers to interface the old scanner to a computer running Apple OS X. You can either purchase a new scanner that has drivers for OS X or you can try programs from:
  1. Hamrick Software or
  2. LaserSoft Imaging.

Personally, I continue to use my old scanner and optical character recognition software in OS 9, which works well.


Apple Hardware

I hate the reliance of both the Windows and Macintosh operating systems on a mouse to point to commands. The mouse is just an invitation to repetitive motion injuries!   Of all of the pointing devices that I have tried, I prefer the Kensington "Expert Mouse" trackball. The ball has a diameter of 6 cm and can be rolled with the palm of one's hand, without putting additional stress on one's fingers.

The keyboard that comes with most computers, including Apple computers, is a cheap commodity keyboard. I use the Matias TactilePro.

A single USB port on a computer can support up to 127 devices. To connect more than one device to a port, one needs a hub, which commonly provides sockets for four to seven devices. I suggested getting a powered hub, which can supply DC power to operate floppy drives, modems, and other peripherals. Manufacturers of powered USB hubs include Port Authority and D-Link.


DOS/Windows Compatibility

It is necessary for the minority of people who use Apple computers to somehow be compatible with the majority of people who use some version of the Microsoft Windows operating system.

Apple OS X will recognize a CD-ROM or Zip disk that is formatted in DOS or Windows 98.

PowerPC microprocessor

For the traditional Apple computers that contained a PowerPC microprocessor (the successor to the Motorola 68000 series microprocessors used in the Apple Macintosh computers since 1984), one can run programs for DOS or Windows by using software to emulate an Intel microprocessor's commands on the Motorola microprocessor in the Apple computer.   The best-known PC emulator software is Virtual PC from Connectix, which was purchased by Microsoft in mid-2003.

Intel microprocessor

The new Apple computers use an Intel microprocessor, and one can install a Microsoft operating system (e.g., XP or Vista) on the hard disk drive, using one of the following: In January 2008, Apple required the entire Windows system to be installed on one partition (i.e., all files on the C: drive). I like to put my wordprocessing and data files on the D: drive and programs on the C: drive, so that I can backup the D: drive weekly, without copying unchanged program files.

Note that Apple Boot Camp officially supports only Windows XP with Service Pack 2 and Windows Vista. Some of the other vendors also support DOS, WfW 3.11, and Windows 98.

All users of Windows should have current anti-virus software and firewall software installed on their computer, if they connect to the Internet from within Windows.

MS-DOS in VMware Fusion 2

In March 2009, I installed MS-DOS 6.22 in a virtual machine running under VMware Fusion2.0.   Fusion prefers to boot an operating system from a CD/DVD drive.   Fusion apparently can not boot from a floppy disk in a USB floppy drive attached to an Apple computer.   Because most computers in the early 1990s (when DOS6.22 and WfW3.11 were in widespread use) did not have the capability to record a CD-R disk, it is difficult to make a bootable CD-R with DOS on it.   For that reason, I have posted my notes for how to install MS-DOS 6.22 in Fusion2.   VMware has posted its MS-DOS installation instructions in their KnowledgeBase Article Nr. 1004063.

Note the following limitations of DOS in Fusion2:
On a Mac mini with an Intel Core2Duo microprocessor at 1.83 GHz with 2 GBytes of RAM: Norton Utilities for DOS version 8, System Information, reports that the virtual machine runs 6.0 times faster than a Pentium 66 MHz microprocessor, for an effective speed of a Pentium microprocessor at approximately 400 MHz.

Conversion Software

One can use software designed for the Macintosh plus a utility program to convert wordprocessing files for Windows, graphics files for Windows, and various formats of data files for Windows. The file conversion utility that I currently use on my Apple computer is MacLinkPlus, from DataViz.

Most wordprocessing and other programs have options to write files in different formats when using the SaveAs command from the File menu. Also, most wordprocessing programs have a limited set of file conversion programs included, which operate automatically when one tries to open a document file that was created in another wordprocessor.

While it is easy to use conversion utility programs like MacLinkPlus from DataViz (or its counterpart in the Microsoft Windows operating system: ConversionsPlus), often a better way is to use a platform-independent format, such as Adobe's portable document format (pdf):
  1. Software to read and print PDF files (i.e., Adobe Acrobat Reader) is a free download from Adobe.

  2. The Adobe software to create and edit PDF files (including converting a PostScript file to PDF), Adobe Acrobat.
Documents posted on the Internet in a fancier format than HTML are commonly in the PDF format.


Conclusion

If all you want to do with a computer is surf the Internet and send/receive e-mail, then OS X is a great improvement over OS 9. If you want to do other things with a computer, be sure and check to see if the applications software that you want to use is available for OS X, before you decide to switch to OS X.

While OS X is a definite improvement over OS 9, what really matters to most computer users is the availability of applications software. When Apple abandoned OS 9 in May 2002, I believe Apple shot itself in the foot, because there is less applications software available for OS X than for OS 9. One of the traditional problems with Apple computers is that they always had a much smaller share of the computer market than machines that ran some version of the Microsoft Windows operating system, which means that there always was less applications software for the Apple than for Windows. Now that Apple has converted to OS X, the scarcity of applications software is a bigger problem for users of Apple computers.



This document is at   http://www.rbs0.com/osx.htm
created 11 June 2002, modified 6 Oct 2009

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