A Neutral Look at Operating Systems/Mac OS


Classic Mac OS


Mac OS was introduced in 1984, after the Apple Lisa project. The earlier OSs were very simple and used a monochrome color scheme.

Macintoshes have built in speakers. When one is turned on, a chime sounds, indicating successful hardware detection. The loading of these early OSs involve several grey screens, depending on the type of hardware installed. The first thing to appear is a movable mouse arrow. Common error messages include a Question Mark on top of either a folder or a diskette. Occasionally startup errors occur, some of which can be resolved by themselves. An example is a question mark appears on a folder for several seconds, alternating with the Finder logo and finishing with the Finder Logo. Another grey screen appears with a successful startup message. The successful startup message is called "Happy Mac", which is a picture of an 1984-era Macintosh with a smiley face on its display screen. A system failure can present "Sad Mac". These images later evolved into iPods, such as the "Sad iPod" image. Sad Mac can also be accompanied with sound effects, such as glass shattering or a car crashing.

The fact that the Mac OS has the mouse arrow loading first, instead of last, means that the Mac OS is more GUI-oriented and does not include a command line interface.

The Operating System loads, usually with a seamless transition to the desktop by gradually loading parts of the desktop. It begins with a Splash Screen, main extensions loading, and then the Menu Bar loads. The installed extensions load, often taking over one minute to load depending on the number of extensions, and then the desktop icons and any application switchers load.

The first Mac OSs, or Systems, were very basic and had very little release numbers. 1.0 jumped directly to 2.0 for example. Also there isn't any multitasking available on very early Mac OSs.

System 7 was the first OS with noticeable improvements. OS 8 included more improvements.

Software that can be installed on these OSs include many games and After Dark screen saver packages.

The last version of OS 9, and the last version to use the original Mac OS source code, is 9.2.2. You can see that it contains an early version of the Aqua and Brushed Metal color schemes. Additionally, iTunes, QuickTime, Sherlock 2, and a few other applications use a brushed metal appearance similar to OS X.

Also with Mac OS, a monochrome Pinwheel mouse cursor is used to indicate that the system was busy. It would occasionally be shared with the mouse arrow cursor. Other busy cursors is a monochrome watch that usually does not have its needles, or "hands", move. Occasionally the minute hand moves. Another icon (not a cursor) is a circle with two monochrome arrows rotating clockwise. This resembles the rotating Lou Scheimer-Norm Prescott production logo. In OS X, Two of these busy signals would be updated. The monochrome pinwheel was replaced with a color one, and used more often instead of the watch. The pinwheel would not be shared with the mouse arrow cursor. The two arrows was replaced with several lines arranged in a circle. The watch was not updated and only appears occasionally.

9.2.2 and earlier are not supported by Apple, Inc. Software Update will not function. Additionally, there isn't any Yahoo Messenger that will function on 9.2.2 and earlier. Podcasting is impossible with 9.2.2. Many applications are only released as Disk Images or .dmg files which are not read by 9.2.2 and earlier. 9.2.2 and earlier can not mount any case sensitive volumes. Mac OS 9.2.2 CAN load most graphic images such as JPEG, and can also open up .sit, .iso, .smi, and .bin files.

Mac OS X server was released before 9.2.2, and the rest of the operating systems transitioned to the NeXTstep OS-like OS X.

Aftermarket Software for Classic Mac OS


The Mac OS before OS X is still compatible with most new technologies with the use of aftermarket software. A dock can be added with an extension called "A-Dock". Documents can be saved in Rich Text Format with iText. Internet browsing can be accomplished with "Clasilla", an updated Mozilla browser.

Performance with this software:

The Classic Mac OS versions use a spring-loaded Finder. The Dock resembles OS X's dock with the exception of A-Dock being spring loaded.

iText can save files with RTF formats, making the documents compatible with OS X's TextEdit.

Navigating is stable with the exception of scrolling (toggling the scroll bars can cause the entire operating system to crash, and instead users have to use the Page Up and Page Down keys) There is a "Use Style: None" option to disable style sheets. Page loads are slower compared with OS X browsers.

Mac OS 9.2.2 is the last Mac OS to use the original source code (OS X is similar to the NeXTstep operating system) "After Dark" screen savers are not officially supported on 9.2.2 but an application has been released to use most of the After Dark screen savers.

9.2.2 also has some compatibility with hardware that was made after its release. This includes USB storage devices, and wide screen LCD monitors.

Mac OS X


Mac OS X ("ten") is the current version of the proprietary OS made by Apple Computer. It is largely based on the NeXT operating system and the Macintosh System Software. Apple also produces Mac OS X Server, which is geared towards high-end computing needs, such as clustering and remote management of individual CPUs. Apple promotes Mac OS X as being more user-friendly than its competitors' operating systems with a powerful UNIX foundation. Mac OS X has been 64-bit compatible since version 10.3, allowing it to run on the G5 processor.

Backwards compatibility with Mac OS 9 and earlier was maintained by using the "Classic" and "Carbon" environments. Carbon is a cleaned-up version of the old Mac API, designed to run well on MacOS X. Classic is the new term for the old Mac API, cruftyness and all. Classic apps suffer from some limitations, in much the same way that old Windows 3.1 apps suffer in the WoW environment of Windows.

Older Macintosh technologies, such as QuickTime and Keychain, were incorporated into the design of OS X with other predominantly NeXT technologies, such as the Dock and its kernel. Although the Macintosh System Software is proprietary in origin, NeXT's operating system was developed from Open Source BSD. Much of the Darwin kernel can be traced back to NeXT. Darwin remains publicly available: As a PowerPC binary, an Intel-x86 binary, and as source code (Binary versions are available for major revisions, such as 10.0, 10.1, 10.2, etc.). Many of the graphics routines stem from the Macintosh QuickDraw graphics routines, which were updated and renamed "Quartz" in Mac OS X 10.2 (a.k.a. "Jaguar").

Recent versions of computers running Mac OS X include "iApps", such as iTunes (jukebox software), and iLife applications, including iPhoto (a picture organizing application), iMovie (a non-linear video editor), etc. Remember: most of these applications do not come as part of the operating system, but rather are pre-installed.

At its launch, Mac OS X was criticized by many users as being more NeXT-like than Mac-like. It was also criticized due to its heavy memory requirement (128 megabytes), narrow scope of supported processors (PowerPC 604, G3, and G4), size on hard disk (approximately 2 gigabytes), and its relatively drastic user interface change from Mac OS 9 to Mac OS X, leaving many users feeling unfamiliar with the operating system. There were also minor complaints, such as the disappearance of the "Happy Mac" (an icon displayed on the screen at startup to indicate a successful self-test result). Also hampering support for Mac OS X was a lack of "Carbonized" software, such as Microsoft's Office software suite, and Adobe's Photoshop image editing program.

The Microsoft Windows GUI (Graphical User Interface) and the Aqua window manager of Mac OS X differ cosmetically, but both use the same desktop paradigm. The main differences are in widget, icon, and menu bar placement. The menu bar placement is reportedly in conformance with Fitt's Law for interface design. Among Apple's distinguishing interface design features is its one-button mouse and command key. While Microsoft Windows expects the use of a two-button mouse (and on some Linux and Unix OSs, three), Apple has used a one-button mouse since the introduction of the Macintosh in 1984, and uses the control key on the keyboard as a click-modifier (called "control-click"), analogous to the Microsoft Windows "right-click". However, Apple does make a multi-button mouse called the Mighty Mouse which is available separately, and third party multi-button USB mice can also be used. Finally, the command key is dedicated to the purpose of selecting menu items by its keyboard-based equivalent.

  • Interesting side note: The command key symbol, represented by Unicode glyph U+2318, means "place of interest". It was intended to be the only marking on the command key. However, it was decided that the Apple logo should also be on the key, in order to maintain backwards compatibility with the Apple II line of 8-bit computers.
  • Side note: Recently, Apple decided to make its multibutton mouse, the above mentioned Mighty Mouse, the standard mouse for its iMacs.

From January 10, 2006 to August 7, 2006, Apple transitioned from PowerPC to Intel processors. PowerPC chips had been in use from OS 7 to 10. Jobs stated the transition was enacted because of IBM's failure to develop the PowerPC chip as rapidly as Apple has hoped. Furthermore, Intel chips offered higher performance per watt, and had cooler operation - essential for laptop production. Some software will only work on PowerPC or Intel architecture, even though it runs under the same system. However, most updated software is now available in a Universal version - with binaries for both PowerPC and Intel Macs. Universal software will work on both PowerPC and Intel Macs that meet basic system requirements.

  • Side note: Support for older (pre Mac OS X) software under the "Classic" environment is not provided on Intel-based Macintosh computers. "Classic" was supported by the Motorola 68LC040 emulator built into the PowerPC chip.

From OS 10.6 and above, the Mac OS X disables any possibility of it being on a system with a PPC processor and can only run on Intel processors.