Mac Users Report Trying Times with Latest Update

Reports of installation problems continued to surface online following Apple's Wednesday release of the Mac OS X 10.3.4 Update.

Following the release Wednesday of an update to Mac OS X 10.3, aka Panther, reports surfaced at Mac specialist sites of installation snafus.

The updating problems appeared to come during the optimization phase of the Mac OS X Update 10.3.4 process. Some readers reported that the software presented a restart box before it had completed the optimization. Other reports said the computers presented a blank screen and then required a "hard" restart.

For example, on the MacInTouch site, reader Paul Cook said he found problems with both Mac OS X 10.3.4 client and server installations.

"After restart, we began to notice that everything was not as it should have been," Cook said in his posting.

"One of the two machines was running Panther Server, and the admin utilities were reporting some errors—Open Directory was not happy. Then, we noticed that some applications would not launch. In this case, Safari and Disk Utility."

"As with all Apples Mac OS X updates, MacInTouch readers have experienced a variety of positive and negative effects installing Mac OS X 10.3.4 Update, some of which can be mysterious," said MacInTouch editor and publisher Ric Ford, based in Maynard, Mass. "Standard troubleshooting procedures, such as repairing file permissions, may or may not help with problems."

/zimages/4/28571.gifFor insights on the Mac in the enterprise, check out Executive Editor Matthew Rothenbergs Weblog.

According to Ford, readers who attempted installations using the standalone downloadable updater reported different results than those who used the automated Software Update application.

Results also differed depending on whether they used the 39MB standard package of the update or the so-called "combo" package, which includes several security updates and weighs in at 79MB.

"One important consideration is the security holes in Mac OS X that recently became public," Ford said. "Mac OS X 10.3.4 Update apparently includes some older security patches but not the very latest, and even the latest patch—Security Update 2004-05-24—still leaves some vulnerabilities open."

/zimages/4/28571.gifAre Mac users and developers reconciled to security threats? Click here to read more.

Apple Computer Inc. declined to comment on the reports of update problems.

MacInTouch reader Cook said he wasnt sure of the cause. "However, manually installing the appropriate combo updater fixed the problem in both cases," he said.

The Cupertino, Calif., maker packed the update with fixes and performance tweaks, including improved attachment handling by the Mail application and more robust synchronization with iPods.

Apple said the update also fixes a known issue in which the system would not run scheduled processes if a machine was asleep at the scheduled times. With the update, the OS will now run these items, such as automated backups or Software Update checks, when the computer awakes.

The update also beefs up support for OpenGL and OpenGL-based acceleration. The Mac OS now supports the standards Vertex Buffer and Replaceable OpenGL entry points, which can move vertex data handling to the video card, rather than relying on the main CPU.

In his Weblog, game developer Brad Oliver said the addition of this Vertex Buffer Object (VBO) support would make programming easier.

"Sometime in the future, when our games go 10.3 and up—most are 10.2 and up right now—we wont have to worry about writing [the older] VAR code. We can just stick with VBO, which will make the development time that much shorter."

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