Mac OS 8.5: The must-have upgrade

Federal Macintosh aficionados have another reason to stay loyal to the Apple Computer Inc. desktop platform: a new operating system. With Mac OS 8.5, which was released last month, Apple is offering speedier performance as well as improved file searching and broader network support.

Federal Macintosh aficionados have another reason to stay loyal to the Apple Computer Inc. desktop platform: a new operating system. With Mac OS 8.5, which was released last month, Apple is offering speedier performance as well as improved file searching and broader network support.

In fact, federal Mac users are calling the decision to upgrade to 8.5 a "no-brainer."

"I'd swear on a stack of Bibles that [Mac OS 8.5] is four times faster," said Mark Miller, a senior systems engineer at the National Institutes of Health's Clinical Center Information Systems Department. "Anybody that has an iMac should get 8.5."

"Its speed is impressive," agreed Scott Weininger, a network engineer at the Naval Undersea Warfare Center. "Someone sent me a large Word document, and I accidentally hit Print. It printed so fast that the printer was spewing out pages. I haven't seen that type of printing ever on a Mac."

We tested Mac OS 8.5 on a 300 MHz Power Macintosh G3 and found the performance enhancements worth the upgrade. However, not all Mac users can take advantage of the software. Mac OS 8.5 doesn't support 68K-based Macs, Mac-based clones or systems with PowerPC processor upgrade cards.

With Mac OS 8.5, a majority of the code is now native PowerPC code. For example, AppleScript, the scripting language used for automating tasks under the Mac OS, was updated to pure PowerPC native code, which resulted in fivefold performance increases over previous versions. In addition, Apple optimized existing code, such as Process Manager and Open Transport, for better performance.

Mac OS 8.5 also boasts new features, such as Sherlock, an advancement to the tired Find utility. Sherlock lets you index your local or network drives and search the drives for files using natural-language queries. After you submit a query, Sherlock will provide matches ranked by relevance. This means you can search the text of multiple files at once without actually opening them. Sherlock also provides summaries for each match.

Sherlock also can be configured to search and return results from popular Internet sites. By downloading and adding plug-ins to Sherlock, you can search sites ranging from Yahoo! and HotBot to CNN Interactive and Amazon.com. Check out the Sherlock plug-in page at www.apple.com/sherlock/plugins.html.

Another new feature makes jumping between applications easier. Using the Command-Tab keys on a Mac OS 8.5-based system, you can easily switch between running applications. (This is similar to the Alt-Tab key function on Windows-based PCs.) The new Mac OS also provides an Application Switcher, which displays a floating palette of open applications and their icons. By clicking on an icon, you can change between the running applications - another Windows-like feature.

Another plus for end users is the new direct printing feature, which lets you easily drag and drop a file to the printer without having to open the application that created it.

In addition to Netscape Communications Corp.'s Navigator and Microsoft Corp.'s Internet Explorer Web browsers, Apple has included Microsoft's Outlook Express e-mail client with Mac OS 8.5. Outlook Express supports the POP, SMTP, IMAP and LDAP e-mail protocols and can be scripted via AppleScript.

Improved Networking

Mac OS 8.5 ships with the latest version of Open Transport 2.0.1, the Mac OS networking architecture that supports AppleTalk, TCP/IP and third-party protocol stacks. Version 2.0.1 provides improved performance and stability over previous versions. In particular, Open Transport has been improved for 100 megabits/sec Ethernet network environments utilizing TCP/IP.

Open Transport's support for the Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol has been enhanced to correct a number of issues, including incompatibilities with Microsoft's Windows NT DHCP servers. This improvement will be popular with network administrators who monitor dynamically generated IP addresses for Macs and PCs.

"Now you can see the name of the Mac in the DHCP list. That helps us track things down," Miller said. "Now we have an idea where a Mac might be."

Another problem that has been resolved is retaining TCP/IP leases across multiple machine reboots. This prevents machines from receiving multiple dynamically generated IP addresses during a day when a single system has been booted more than once.

Open Transport 2.0.1 now includes support for the Simple Network Management Protocol with Management Information Base II support - a plus for agencies managing large installations of Mac OS-based systems through centralized management consoles.

Also in Mac OS 8.5, Apple Remote Access (ARA) 2.0 and Open Transport Point-to-Point Protocol (PPP) have been combined to form Apple Remote Access 3.0. The new ARA 3.0 uses native Open Transport interfaces and runs natively on PowerPC-based computers for improved performance. ARA 3.0 also supports the open PPP standard and can be configured to connect to multiple-protocol PPP servers. And ARA 3.0 is scriptable via the AppleScript programming language.

Also, Apple has introduced the Network Browser navigation tool in Mac OS 8.5. Now navigating network zones, servers and volumes is as easy as browsing through your hard drive using the Finder.

Look for easier Internet setup and configuration with the new Internet Control panel, which lets you enter all your preferences. With the Internet Control panel, all your Internet-based applications can have centralized access to information such as your e-mail address, your default home page Uniform Resource Locator, your default Web browser and your default news server. You also can create groups of Internet settings and easily switch between them.

The networking enhancements are a boon to federal Mac shops. "Apple cleaned up the networking protocols inside Mac OS 8.5, and that boosted performance significantly," said Charles Heizer, the hot line help-desk tech lead at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. Heizer said his group is running Mac OS 8.5 on PowerPC Macs connected to a 10Base-T network that connects to Windows NT and Unix servers. "The Macs running Mac OS 8.5 really interact very well with the [servers.]"

Clone Problems

On the downside, several bugs have been reported on popular Mac-based World Wide Web sites since the recent release of the new OS. The most fearful has been the hard drive "kiss of death" bug. Apparently, users with clone-based Mac OS-based systems have experienced hard disk data loss after upgrading to Mac OS 8.5. A spokesperson for Apple said the company was aware of the reported bugs but had yet to confirm them.

As with any major OS upgrade, we recommend first backing up your critical data. Before installing, be sure to review the Mac OS 8.5 installation tech note at til.info.apple.com/techinfo.nsf/artnum/n58130. You also may want to check on Apple's Web site or the Web site of your clone manufacturer for updated information on compatibility issues.

-- Marshall is the information systems manager at FCW Media Group. He can be reached at john_marshall@fcw.com.

REPORT CARD

Mac OS 8.5

Apple Computer Inc.

(408) 996-1010

www.apple.com

Price and Availability: A CD-ROM of Apple's Mac OS 8.5 is available direct from CompUSA Inc. for $100. For more information, call (800) 266-7872 or visit its Web site at www.compusa.com.

Remarks: Even with the few bugs in the product, we found Mac OS 8.5 to be a must-have upgrade, considering the number of performance enhancements. From a revamped AppleScript to a tuned-up Open Transport networking system, the new OS will draw out more horsepower in your PowerPC-based system.

Final Score: Excellent

BY John Marshall
Nov. 23, 1998

More Related Links

NEXT STORY: What are implied contracts?

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.