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CUPERTINO (Rixstep) — Apple's OS update 10.6.6 realises the promised 'Mac App Store'. Phase One of the master plan is complete.

Lifehacker published a series of articles on 10.6.6 (or rather the Mac App Store which is about all 10.6.6 is about) which provides a good starting point for looking at the affair.

10.6.6 for Hackintosh

Penning in the interests of freedom, Lifehacker presented a blueprint for upgrading the OS on those ghastly immoral non-Apple boxen - in case anyone was that enthusiastic about downloading from the new store.

Mark Pilgrim was his usual sober self in the context, remarking (as others) that it was great Mac users could finally download new software; and that the considerable kinks in the interface were sure to be worked out in the next few years.

Lifehacker's Whitson Gordon guesses the upgrade will go smoothly for Hackintosh users straight from the 'Software Update' menu item and all that's needed for a new build is to remove the 'SleepEnabler' kernel extension.

10.6.6 includes the Mac App Store application which appears in the dock at reboot; a 10.6.0 Darwin kernel; and replacement NVIDIA drivers that are not Fermi capable. Some issues to be aware of:

  • Graphics. You need to re-run the NVIDIA update to regain full acceleration if you're using a 4xx Fermi card. Make sure you have a Mac Pro system definition installed from MultiBeast - or use the tonymacx86 NVIDIA update (25.5 MB).
  • Audio. Your kernel extension 'AppleHDA' will be replaced by 10.6.6 so if you're not using the ALC889a codec, you'll have to reinstall AppleHDA Rollback using MultiBeast. Users of VoodooHDA don't need to make any modifications.
  • USB. 10.6.6 replaces your kernel extension 'IOUSBFamily'. To restore full functionality to a non-DSDT or EasyBeast system, install USB Rollback using MultiBeast before reboot. (MultiBeast download here - 16.1 MB.)
  • Sleep enabler kernel extensions. They're version specific, so remove yours before applying 10.6.6.

10.6.6: What's Good About It?

This is a short list so it can be dealt with quicker. This list was compiled by Adam Dachis. Comments in cursive.

  • Convenience. Yeah it's an easy way to find and install 'good apps'. This is supposed to remedy the head-splitting conundrum of having to drag an icon.
    Yes, Apple take this seriously. They must be singularly ungifted themselves (can they use a hammer) and/or have really weird relatives.

  • Better apps. The apps used on iOS are simpler. Supposedly Mac apps will become simpler too.
    Postulating something like this requires a feat of logic heretofore unknown in computer science.

  • Copy Protection That Doesn't Suck. This is classic. One starts to wonder about the author. Some of the claims made are outright staggering. But the author insists Apple's method of copy protection is 'really good'. Nothing is mentioned about what vendors want (such as no copy protection at all).
    Because copy protection does suck and not all vendors use copy protection - some are even politically against it.

  • Games Games Games. Ignored. This is the class of apps expected - for reasons explained below. Same as iOS.
    No news here, folks - move along!

  • Purchase iWork and iLife Apps Individually and Save Money. Ignored. Who cares?

  • Mac App Store Not Part of iTunes. The best selling argument ever: point out that this new app is not part of another Apple app that totally sucks.
    That's Apple marketing!

10.6.6: What's Wrong With It?

This is a long list. And once started, it's hard to get to the end. So independent thinking (to a certain degree) will be left as a remedial homework exercise for the reader. This list was compiled by Whitson Gordon and it has a lot more thought behind it.

  • Buying things twice. Yes, dear fans, you have to purchase your favourite apps again if you want them to appear in the Mac App Store. You can still use the copies you have (Jobs hasn't figured out how to stop that yet) but you can't qualify for any upgrades unless your app is in your store. And the only way to get it there is to buy it again. Full price. Oops.

  • No test trials, demos, betas. This doesn't only toss out the entire 'shareware' market - it also literally undermines the foundation of open source development. Such as the cycle used to give Apple an OS kernel for free.
    This is so incredibly stupid it's staggering. Apple will be back in their pre-1997 days again.

  • No support. Here's where people start to see the contours of this monstrosity. When it was only about $1 shite-apps then 'support' wasn't a big deal. But even though Steve Jobs doesn't grasp it, there's a lot of high-quality, nontrivial, very sophisticated software out there that costs a lot of money and is going to need a lot of updates and a lot of support. But support implies the ability to distribute bug fixes. Apple programmers should know about them - they've got millions of bugs in their software. But App Store clients can't get emergency fixes. #EpicFail - what were they thinking?

  • No paid upgrades. Brilliant. Violates the #1 rule of good salesmanship: the best customer is a repeat customer. People can't get rebates on upgrades anymore. Upgrades appears as totally new applications.
    Think about this for a second: you wouldn't have been able to get 10.6 for $29 - you'd have had to pay $100 more. Downright ridiculous.

  • No background processes or login items. Oh goodness. Apple's own software can continue to do this but yours can't. Great, innit?

  • No UI imitations. /Facepalm. And who determines who's copying who? Apple's crack team of course! /FaceHittingKbd.

  • No root permissions. Seriously. That knocks out so many real life application domains it's not funny. Cast your memory back to the 'Month of Apple Bugs' when 'LMH' and Kevin exploited several of Apple's own 'SUID' modules and even found some really wacky Apple system design bloopers.

  • No programs that download others. This doesn't seem so bad at face value - but it'll knock out a number of online software merchants. But it could be used to knock out alternative web browsers, FTP clients - the works.

  • FOSS out? The VLC scandal with the App Store shows trouble is on the way - and it's also the height of hypocrisy for a company that can't write their own OS but get one for free from the world of FOSS. Self-destructive and reprehensible.

'I'll stick to scouring Google if it means I can bypass Apple's walled garden', concludes Gordon. Which works fine. For now.

Flipping the Switch

Starting now, Apple control all aspects of software development and release. There is no free market anymore. Freedom is gone.

All Steve Jobs has to do to lock out any apps he doesn't like is flip a switch - issue a new OS update with a new kernel that refuses to run software not toting an Apple root certificate.

Steve Jobs becomes the new Joe Stalin. And all the pieces are already in place.

The current 'code sign' system on OS X is worthless - certificates can be removed manually from code-signed apps and they run just fine, thank you.

The only hitch is if Steve Jobs flips the switch in the kernel - and this is something he can do at any time.

It's a little bit like the work of Rowdy Yates - coax the cattle into the corral. Keep the gate open. Don't get too forceful with them - make them want to enter. And once they're all inside? Close the gates.

Apple's Whistleblowers

Apple have - or at least had - a whistleblower inside the organisation. Rixstep published what a lot of people suspected nearly a year ago. For one purpose only: to force Steve Jobs to deny it all. Did it work? Yes it worked.

The ridiculous Apple fanboys thought the sky was falling. An app store? On noes!!1! Oh please Steve tell us it's not true! So he told them it's not true. They were satisfied. Then he announced the app store anyway. Were they upset? Oh noes!!1! Now it was a good thing!!1!

But there's no 'walled garden' precisely like the iP* devices yet. The cattle aren't yet in the corral. But they'll get there. And then Rowdy Yates will push the gate shut and lock it. Giddyup.

Mark Pilgrim doesn't think Apple will have a computer OS in five years. So far he's been right about everything.

And Apple long since gave up on the 'enterprise' where the 'real' money is. Their 'Mac App Store' doesn't even work for corporate licences, much less more sophisticated site or enterprise licences.

They may be making a lot of money, may have a market cap bigger than the soon extinct Microsoft - but who cares? They're a small-time petty player just as they were fifteen years ago.

All the promises - all the baits and switches - have only proven what they're really about. And it's nothing good for the computer science industry as a whole.

Start looking for the exit signs.

Everything is proceeding as I have foreseen.
 - Emperor Palpatine to Darth Vader

Further Reading
Red Hat Diaries: Apple's Mistake
Dive into Mark: Tinkerer's Sunset
Red Hat Diaries: Code Sign of the Times
Rixstep Red Hat Diaries: The Steve Gambit
Developers Workshop: Hacking C0d3 S1gN
9 to 5 Mac: Rixstep Warns, Steve Says 'Nope'
Industry Watch: Mac Developer Program Update
Industry Watch: Mac Developer Program Update II
Industry Watch: Steve Jobs to App Store for Mac: 'Nope'
9 to 5 Mac: Mac App Store, Verification? Steve Jobs: 'Nope'

Industry Watch: Doomed to the Margins
Lifehacker: Why the Mac App Store Sucks
tonymacx86 Blog: Mac OS X 10.6.6 Update
Lifehacker: How to Update Your Hackintosh to Mac OS 10.6.6
Lifehacker: Why You Might Really Like the Mac App Store in the Long Run

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