Apple Updates Snow Leopard, Possibly Disabling 'Hackintoshes'
Apple released its newest operating system update, Mac OS X v10.6.2, on Nov. 9. In addition to fixing a number of underlying and user-facing aspects of Snow Leopard, the update reportedly also prevents netbooks from using Apple's operating system.
Those netbooks running Snow Leopard, referred to as "hackintoshes," largely use Intel's Atom processor; Apple's update apparently denies devices using that processor the ability to run Mac OS X10.6.2.
StellaRolla, an OSx86 hacker, wrote on his blog that "the netbook forums are now blowing up with problems of 10.6.2 instant rebooting their Atom based notebooks," adding that, "My sources tell me that everytime a netbook user installs 10.6.2 an Apple employee gets their wings."
On message boards such as MyDellMini, users suggested that OS X 10.6.2 did indeed force their devices into an endless loop of boots. Similar forums, such as MyHPMini, saw users backing up their 10.6.1 kernels in case Atom support was indeed ending.
"If they break my OS X install, I'm just switching to Win7," one poster wrote on MyDellMini late on Nov. 9.
On the surface, the update fixes a number general operating system issues that have cropped up since Snow Leopard's release, including an issue in Front Row that "could cause sluggish or slow frame rates while watching videos," the "creation of mobile accounts for Active Directory users," and "general reliability improvements for iWork, iLife, Aperture, Final Cut Studio, MobileMe and iDisk." So says Apple, which posted a complete list of the updates and changes here.
That update page makes no mention of Atom processors. For weeks, rumors had been circulating on forums such as MacRumors.com that Apple planned on disabling support for Atom in the next Mac OS X build. Apple executives have publicly voiced their disdain for netbooks in the past, and the very concept of "hackintoshes" doubtlessly irritates many of those up in Cupertino, Calif.
The update also includes a massive security patch addressing nearly 60 vulnerabilities. This newest batch fixes nearly three times as many fixes as a similar security update pushed out in August. The most recent bugs fixed include a memory corruption issue in DirectoryService that could allow a remote attacker to execute arbitrary code or crash applications within a vulnerable system.
The batch also corrects issues with Apple's Adaptive Firewall, as well as QuickTime and open-source components including Apache, OpenLDAP and OpenSSH.
Apple has been busily releasing new updates for its various operating systems. At the beginning of October, the company issued an iPhone and iPod Touch update, 3.1.2, correcting bugs such as the smartphone's occasional refusal to awaken from sleep mode, something derisively referred to as "coma mode" by some device owners.
Apple's recent updates to its iTunes not only tinker with various features, but also prevent the Palm Pre from syncing with the media-center application. Palm and Apple have been playing a game of cat-and-mouse over iTunes compatibility with the Palm Pre, which was launched on June 6 as a potential "iPhone killer" smartphone. Although that prediction has not panned out, at least in terms of unit sales, Palm's repeated attempts to sync the Pre with iTunes have been a consistent source of irritation for Apple.