Apple has been neglecting OS X since Snow Leopard, thinking that iOS is the only thing worth investing in. Microsoft apparently agrees -- they chopped up the Windows team last year, pushing out the Windows chief and dumping the remaining re-orged husk under Azure. Just for security reasons alone, it should be terrifying that there isn't a standalone Windows group anymore.
Windows hasn't been usable since 7; the current version literally requires you to let it reboot itself on a 9-5 schedule. And now this with Apple, again.
Can we move on already? Most of us spend at least half of our waking hours interacting with a desktop operating system, most of us use either OS X or Windows, and yet both of these companies have made it clear that their desktop OSes are no longer a priority! Why are so many of us still putting up with this?
I know people like to knock Linux-on-the-desktop, but you know what? I can go buy a Thinkpad, spend 20 minutes putting Debian or Ubuntu on it, and it'll just work, and I'll get software updates forever. I used to care about flashy widgets back when Gnome was cloning old OS X features, but now I just use XFCE because it looks reasonable, it works, and it stays the fuck out of my way. And when there are bugs, people make a little noise, and then they get fixed. Remind me again what version of bash Apple ships? I don't have the time or the energy to work around that crap anymore.
What exactly is the evidence behind this? They have been adding several huge components/APIs/tools that they have working for macOS (Metal, APFS, Swift, CoreML, etc), they have had added the Mac App Store, they have tons of under the hood improvements (e.g. memory compression), and so on.
What exactly did you expect to see, or was seeing before "Snow Leopard"?
>I know people like to knock Linux-on-the-desktop, but you know what? I can go buy a Thinkpad, spend 20 minutes putting Debian or Ubuntu on it, and it'll just work, and I'll get software updates forever.
Then don't let the door hit you on your way out.
In my experience in most definitely not "just work" except with very careful selection of laptop/peripherals, and all kind of uses cases break too, including no major creative/office apps like Creative Studio, Pro Tools, Cubase, Premiere, FCPX, MS Office, and so on, which I depend on.
And every now and then this or that project will decide to majorly break stuff in some transition... (Gnome does it, KDE does it, X/Wayland/etc does it, ...).
And I've used Linux (and several UNIX variants) since 1997, and still do professional (as a server OS) everyday, so not exactly new to the game.
I agree neglect is probably not the right word. I like the term Marco Arment uses on his ATP podcast: drive-by updates.
> They have been adding several huge components/APIs/tools that they have working for macOS (Metal, APFS, Swift, CoreML, etc),
These all seem to have been developed for iOS first and macOS second.
> they have tons of under the hood improvements (e.g. memory compression), and so on.
Personally I experienced rage-inducing multi-second freezes after updating to Sierra, disabling memory compression solved the problem.
> What exactly did you expect to see, or was seeing before "Snow Leopard"?
Stability, usability, and polish.
I don't think it's controversial to say that all of these have taken a precipitous fall since Snow Leopard.
There are probably many reasons for this. It seems to me the biggest culprit is the yearly release schedule.
They've shown themselves utterly incapable of releasing a quality update each year. The question is, why are they keeping it up? To sync up with iOS releases roughly maybe?
iOS and macOS is basically the same OS.
iOS uses the same kernel and main userland, and was developed just as a spin-off of OS X with more lockdown enabled, some inapplicable services removed, and a profile that fits smaller devices. Otherwise the kernel, fs, userland, etc is 90% the same, minus different APIs (mostly UI) on top (which they also try to unify for several releases now).
macOS+iOS should be seen as the same thing as far as system-level development (kernel, fs, etc) are concerned.
Of course features still need integration to the respective form factors and UI paradigms (e.g. APFS required userland and Disk Utility changes, for one), and Apple has done that for both platforms.
>Stability, usability, and polish
And yet, Snow Leopard was created exactly because people complained Leopard and earlier were not stable enough. It was the release to focus on stability and polish over new features (and they even admitted this was alluded in the name change, "Leopard" -> "Snow Leopard" as opposed to a whole new version-animal).
And if we go back then, we can find tons of complains about instability, lack of polish, the world ending, etc.
>They've shown themselves utterly incapable of releasing a quality update each year.
Given that they ship 100 million or so updates, they have almost immediate adoption (far quicker than new Windows version), and the complains always subdue after 1 point release or so, I don't think so.
Not to mention most complains now are about them deprecating stuff (32 bits for one) -- as opposed to breaking stuff.
Heck, they pushed a whole new FS to hundreds of millions of users (5x+ that with iOS in), and there hardly any issues to write home about -- and that in record time (FS experts said it normally takes 10 years to mature a new FS to do such a conversion and warned of apocalypse which didn't happen).
Sure, but when people talk about "macOS being neglected", they're referring to a neglect of work put into the things that are uniquely macOS: multi-user support (better Fast-User Switching; better Screen Sharing; OpenDirectory et al; AFS back when that was considered a good idea; Server.app features); workstation productivity (evolution of the windowing paradigm seems to have stopped after Mission Control was introduced); fault-tolerance features like Time Machine; treating non-sandboxed (incl. POSIX CLI) apps as first-class citizens; and, well, any updates at all to the natively-desktop apps like Finder and XCode.
When was the last time you saw Apple announce a new feature of an app that exists only on macOS? Or announce a new OS feature that only makes sense, design-wise, on a desktop? They used to do both of these pretty frequently. The only things I can name from the last two releases are tabs (Finder) and dark mode (macOS generally.) Those are pretty small beans.
Oh, and there was also the whole NeXT-y paradigm of document bundles, Spotlight discovering app bundles and registering their file-type handlers and provided components, etc. That seems to have been lost in the shuffle—maybe the people responsible for it have all left. Remember QuickLook plugins? Remember when Preview worked on basically every file-format that you would run into on the internet, rather than not even knowing how to display a WebP?
I'm aware of that. But they are not exactly the same, are they?
> Of course features still need integration to the respective form factors and UI paradigms.
Isn't that what usability and polish are all about?
> And yet, Snow Leopard was created exactly because people complained Leopard and earlier were not stable enough. It was the release to focus on stability and polish over new features (and they even admitted this was alluded in the name change, "Leopard" -> "Snow Leopard" as opposed to a whole new version-animal).
I know, and that's why we all love Snow Leopard. Why the regression since then?
> >They've shown themselves utterly incapable of releasing a quality update each year.
> Given that they ship 100 million or so updates, they have almost immediate adoption (far quicker than new Windows version), and the complains always subdue after 1 point release or so, I don't think so.
They release updates alright, but what about the quality? The fact is overall, macOS has gotten slower, buggier, and uglier with every release.
Yes, in minor ways I already mentioned.
>Isn't that what usability and polish are all about?
Yes, and as I already wrote: "Apple has done that for both platforms.". You don't get a lesser Metal or a lesser APFS on macOS vs iOS, or less UI integration.
>I know, and that's why we all love Snow Leopard. Why the regression since then?
I'm not particularly fond of Snow Leopard over other releases, nor I see much "regression since then". There are several legendary Siracusa reviews until Yosemite (after which he passed the torch) here: https://arstechnica.com/author/john-siracusa/
Here's e.g. Mavericks:
Over the past three years, each successive release of OS X has found its way onto all of my Macs in less time than its predecessor. This year, I may have already gone Mavericks-only across my whole household by the time you read this. Barring any unforeseen bugs or compatibility issues, Mavericks seems like a no-brainer upgrade to me.
And here's Yosemite:
Viewed in isolation, Yosemite provides a graphical refresh accompanied by a few interesting features and several new technologies whose benefits are mostly speculative, depending heavily on how eagerly they’re adopted by third-party developers. But Apple no longer views the Mac in isolation, and neither should you. OS X is finally a full-fledged peer to iOS; all aspects of sibling rivalry have been banished.
Do you see much talk about regression there? There are also post-Siracusa reviews on Ars for each macOS release up to and including Catalina.
>They release updates alright, but what about the quality? The fact is overall, macOS has gotten slower, buggier, and uglier with every release.
Uglier is pretty subjective if not downright wrong. The new dark mode is great, and the UI is as good as ever. What was better? The skeuomorphic years? The candy colored Aqua years?
Slower is easy: it's 100% wrong. In fact, can you show any number of it? If anything, memory compression and battery savings in recent releases made the macOS more performant, and dropping 32bit apps (and double-loading of the same libs for 32/64) even more so... And APFS is also a big improvement over HFS, and Metal is faster than the previous stack and has already given significant performance boost to FCPX and other apps.
I'm not sure what exactly you find "slower" then...
Yes I saw it the first time. They certainly did it. But we're talking about how well they did it, aren't we? Usability and polish?
> I'm not particularly fond of Snow Leopard over other releases, nor I see much "regression since then".
You clearly aren't and clearly don't, but quite a few macOS users are, and do.
Here's a sampling of regressions for your perusal:
> Uglier is pretty subjective if not downright wrong.
If you like the new looks, good for you I guess.
> Slower is easy: it's 100% wrong. In fact, can you show any number of it?
I don't have any numbers. What I do have, is the experience running these successive releases on the same laptop. And it has definitely not been positive.
Can you be specific? What exactly is the problem with "usability" and "polish" of said features I've mentioned, like Metal, APFS, Swift, SwingUI, etc? The only credible example I could think of that's unpolished is Catalyst (for porting iOS apps to Mac, unified backend) which is a work in progress...
>You clearly aren't and clearly don't, but quite a few macOS users are, and do.
Bad for them I guess. I, however, linked to a pro and well respected OS X reviewer, so there's that...
>Here's a sampling of regressions for your perusal:
I can give you tons of reports like those for any version you wish. Here's from an article about the myth of the "stable" Snow Leopard:
"Initial experiences with Snow Leopard weren’t as blissful as more recent commentary remembers. The troubled rollout of MobileMe, iCloud’s precursor, was still an open wound. Soon after release, a major bug was discovered in Snow Leopard that would cause the home directories of guest accounts to be wiped completely. The issue was prevalent enough that Apple publicly responded and later issued an update, 10.6.2, to address the problem.
Early updates to Snow Leopard were packed with fixes to a long list of bugs. A 2009 article from iLounge on Snow Leopard’s reliability is filled with comments from frustrated users, some considering moving back to Leopard. Time heals all wounds, right?"
>If you like the new looks, good for you I guess.
Are there many people on record that they don't like them? I've never read any major complaints about the "new looks" anywhere. In fact the Dark Mode was almost universally praised...
Not to mention the "new looks" are just incremental evolution (and mostly refinement) of how OS X looked since forever. What exactly don't you like? Anything concrete?
Prefer this look? (10.2):
Or this (10.4):
Or maybe this (Snow Leopard):
I'll take this at any day:
(Not to mention the dark mode)
>I don't have any numbers. What I do have, is the experience running these successive releases on the same laptop. And it has definitely not been positive.
10.7 is where they removed Expose (replaced it with Mission Control) and it frustrated me to no end not being able to have rows of workspaces. It go so bad that was around the time I started doing everything in a Linux VM in Parallels. Lion was the last version I used, and at other places I worked, I just heard endless frustration about permissions, root access restrictions and other issues that are pretty specific to developers.
> In my experience in most definitely not "just work"
A lot of stuff doesn't when you need commercial integration, sure. Evolution-ews does mostly just work with Exchange though. You can connect to Docker containers without needing a VPN. Package management in most Linux distros is more straight forward and can update almost everything. You can add 3rd party repos and not be tied to an "App Store."
Linux does require some more work sometime, but I know how to fix things on it. I'm not digging through some Mac or Windows weird subsystem bullshit, trying to figure out why I'm getting permissions errors all over the place.
* the previous monstrosity.
Windows will now let you carry on without updating until seriously important security updates are a month old. They really do have to force the hand of ignorant users eventually, else Microsoft gets blamed for an insecure OS.
I also don't understand where you get the idea that msft doesn't care about their desktop OS. They are basically overhauling it twice a year, for free. These larger updates do take 30 minutes, but, mind you, which is it: do they care too little or too much?
Chrome and Firefox are also noticeably faster on Linux than on a fresh Windows install on the same machine. Don't know WTF is up with that, but this has been consistent for years.
> Do they still randomly revert telemetry settings on updates?
Yup. I've heard that this is a bug? Who knows, I just know I still see it flipping.
> What was that thing I read last week about no more local user accounts?
It's hidden behind the "Join a Domain" option, or triggers when you're not online. Dark patterns!
No. Windows now remembers that you have uninstalled these apps.
If I specifically tell it not to install, yes.
If I want it to automatically install everything, then give me a notice it needs to reboot? Then I keep having windows shut down in the middle of the night, right after installing, no notice, no "forcing the hand eventually". Has this changed in the last couple months?
At least they seem to have finally figured out how to get virus definition updates automatically while reboot-needing updates are set to notify.
Theoretically, Microsoft could restructure their whole OS to support hot code reloading of system components, such that nothing ever needs rebooting. I mean, nobody else does it, either; but it'd be neat, wouldn't it?
Windows 10 is quite usable, it's in use all over the world by millions of people. The home versions force a reboot when upgrades are required, but even those upgrades and the associated reboots can be delayed 35 days. The enterprise versions and pro versions can be completely controlled as they should be. Forcing upgrades is probably the best thing MS has ever done for the general security and health of the internet.
Linux is still today a piece of shit, as it has always been.
Apple ships zsh, not bash. If you want an upgraded version of bash you install home-brew and do brew install bash. Done. Or just use zsh because it's better.
If you are an xfce linux on the desktop user, you are very out of touch with modern operating systems.
For a couple of years I believed on the dream, nowadays I rather invest my time elsewhere.
Something like macOS Frameworks, Android Frameworks, .NET/UWP.
Which is a quite different issue.
They are allowed, but some of the legal consequences to the new terms in GPLv3 are worth stalling updates, choosing alternative system components and even rewriting components to avoid.
Apple doesn't want to ship a new version because they don't want people to see how they've modified bash. I don't know what patents or top secret features they've added to make their version of bash incompatible with GPL, as they're allowed to ship GPL code in a closed source product just fine as long as they ship it as a separate binary, but it's more important than their users' convenience apparently.
Also note that Microsoft ships entire Linux distros without having a problem with GPL licensing.
This is just false, the old bash is GPL2 and Apple publishes the source for their bash on their open source compliance page. The reason they don't upgrade is the GPL3 patent grant clause, they ship the last GPL2 release for all GNU utils. The linux kernel is GPL2, so Microsoft doesn't have this problem.
I don't exactly know how WSL2 works, but the main difference is that they now use an actual Linux kernel inside a lightweight VM, and that kernel's source is on GitHub. Userland still comes from appx-wrapped tarballs from Canonical.
I suspect Microsoft is also very careful to make sure they don't ship any GPL v3 components with Windows itself, even when they're available via separate download, because they want to be able to ship locked down devices.
And I don't see what the problem is. Okay, so they'd have to let you replace the bash binary. That doesn't give you any abilities you don't already have.
I made him a small Linux partition after clearing up enough space, and now everything runs so much faster that he refuses to boot back into Windows.
That shouldn’t make much of a difference, we only accept it as an excuse because it’s been the norm for so long.
Sleep and hibernate: Works on every Lenovo I've used.
Battery: My most recent laptop gets around 8-9 hours with a new battery on a normal workload, and when it drops to 3 hours, I buy a new battery.
Even my old trusty XPS 13 started not to go to sleep 1 out of 10 times. There must have been a serious regression in the kernel, but no one seems to care.
For this reason alone, I started to seriously consider giving up Linux on the desktop.
When a GRUB update destroyed my dual-boot setup and made my system completely unrecoverable, I ditched Linux and never looked back. Using OpenOffice or LibreOffice was also more akin to self-punishment usually seen in medieval monks.
As a student, all these problems were okay, but nowadays I don't have the time to constantly fight against my own OS to finally figure out that I have to adjust my fan speed rotation coefficient to make the third party WiFi driver work.
If the feature used to work reliably in older kernels, you could try and bisect the issue. There's a bit of work involved, but it's quite doable.
Not true. My Thinkpad E485 from late 2018 has either a Broadcom or a Qualcomm chip, but definitely not Intel. It works like a charm though. The bigger issue is the Realtek Ethernet NIC which has an annoying driver bug where it does not detect the carrier except when the cable is already inserted at boot time. Never buy Realtek if you can avoid it.
But if you're a regular laptop user the bigger issue is trackpad feel, if you're used to Apple devices or the new Windows drivers for trackpads, it's not acceptable. You're better off switching the way you work to using a window manager and shortcuts, like most hardcore linux users do at some point.
Overall, the quality doesn't compare to my 2013 macbook air, but it does have some newer features which're nice.
For wifi, anything with intel wifi will work fine. Atheros and Killer generally work fine as well. Basically, just stay away from Broadcomm and Realtek.
For battery, ymmv. the 2 most recent laptops I've used with linux (a dell xps 13 and a system76 darter pro) get decent battery life (8-10 on the dell, 5-8 on the system76). On the dell, the battery life wasn't much different than windows 10 on the same machine.
For sleep, this usually works fine, but can be broken on certain hardware. On the dell laptop sleep worked, but there was an annoying issue where sometimes upon resume the cpu would get stuck at the lowest frequency.
On the system76, I initially had an issue with a 10-20 second delay resuming from sleep but that was fixed with a firmware update. Presently, sleep/resume works without issue 100% of the time for me on that machine
Even if it does install and seem to work well at first, a non-supported device can break the OS install any time due to some driver / firmware change etc., and you'd have no one to blame but yourself — no promise was ever made by Dell or Linux that this particular device+OS would work.
It's just not what you should do in a business / work setting. We use supported devices — for Ubuntu, for RHEL, for ZFS, for pfSense, for VMware or Xen or HyperV, etc. — because we need someone to call when things don't work, and we need to be sure they just won't fail or break 99.99% of the time. Short of that, you're on your own, and it's no revelation that Windows works on all laptops but Linux simply doesn't — it works "most of the time", "with some caveats quite often". Blame manufacturers who don't write drivers for Linux (looking at you, Qualcomm, Nvidia...), blame OEMs who select those parts for their machines, but don't blame Linux itself — you get it for free with more than 4,000 drivers included last I checked.
It is still not on par with Windows (I kept it just in case). I get around 8-9 hours of battery life on Windows while on Linux it is more like 6-7 hours. But it is mostly due to the fact that Chrome/Chromium and Firefox don't support hardware acceleration on Linux and I watch quite a lot of youtube videos. There is a Chromium that uses the video acceleration API (VAAPI) but it comes from the user arch repository, there is now also a snap package (I haven't yet fully tried them).
I’d like it to work like macOS. It seems like that’s possible but it requires a swapfile to save state to. As far as I can tell that means enabling virtual memory which is a no no on SSD.
Just that and I wish Bluetooth remembered the on/off state it was left in after reboot.
> Just that and I wish Bluetooth remembered the on/off state it was left in after reboot.
That's just a Qualcomm problem. The BT is completely broken. Fixed in the latest kernel for me.
I'm fine with having a swapfile but I don't want it used for anything other than Suspend-to-disk. i.e. I don't want the SSD being hit with multiple writes caused by VM.
On the Mac it will suspend to RAM but also dump to an image file at the same time. If the mac runs out of power it will later restore from the image once power is restored.
That's possible on Linux using hybrid-sleep and suspend-then-hibernate but they require a swapfile.
I haven't yet found a way to have a swapfile without allowing that swapfile to be used for virtual memory too. I worry that virtual RAM will eat my SSD.
I guess it may be more the thought that it will kill the SSD than the reality but it’s still something I’d prefer to avoid if there’s a solution.
Has macOS solved this issue differently? Do they save RAM state to some non-SSD non-volatile memory, or do they just not care and dump it to SSD anyway?
If it was only used for suspend that would be fine because it would only be written to when you suspend the laptop, which in the grand scheme of things is pretty rare compared to writes caused by virtual memory swapping.
WiFi works. Sleep is "meh" compared to the Macbook, but that's on me for not having a swap partition.
Happy with my switch so far, and it's been 1y3mo
"Battery" is not one thing, so can't answer. Does idle draw count as an issue? Do services you can switch on/off count as a battery issue? In comparison, does MacOS indexer out iCloud sync going crazy count as a battery issue?
Do you have a reference for this? This seems like pretty big news.
> the Windows and Azure platforms are being combined, operating under Jason Zander
I also like my arch Linux as well.
Even my MacOS rund stable enough that I don't have any issues with that.
But if you don't keep your Debian up to date the chance that you can't longer upgrade it is high. After 1-2 years.
10.6 was my last favourite release. Lion (10.7) removed expose (no way to put it back in) replaced it with the terrible Mission Control (removed having multiple rows of desktops. Now you just had one long row. Expose no longer split out all windows so you could see them; it grouped like windows together without the ability to turn the feature off)
I've personally been using Linux at all the jobs I've held since 2012. I use it at work and at home, with my Windows machine being exclusively used for games and photo editing (I have some workflows with Darktable, but I still really prefer Lightroom).
Linux is a great development platform and tiling window managers (i3/swap, xmonad, awesome, etc.) really make it shine if you're willing to put in the effort to learn them. I'm lucky I've been at four different companies that either allowed or encourages developers who wanted to run Linux exclusively. These days I ask about it in job interviews and don't continue down paths where a Mac is the only option.
That said... I agree. Between this, the abysmal keyboard failure rate, and some of the user-hostile choices they've made, I've switched to a Razer laptop.
Windows 10 Pro lets you avoid most of the jank, by the way. But, I'm only on it as an eventual migration path to something running XFCE (my favorite wm due to its out of box usability).
Besides, licensing problems would persist no matter how much more effort Apple is willing to put into macs.
Why/When MacOS transitioned to zsh?
Why; because bash became GPLv3 at some point in history and MacOS couldn’t update their version of bash. (The last GPLv2 version).
When; was catalina (just released)
https://i.imgur.com/qbUy5aH.png (from an ancient WWDC slide mocking the Windows approach.)
They may have overdone it in a few cases, and not done anything where it's really needed (like a unified list of all third-party startup items, such as Google’s sneaky Keystone malware, or seeing all outgoing data and connection attempts like Little Snitch shows), but as other commenters have mentioned, it lets me catch various apps overreaching into my computer for things they just don't need to function, and I definitely appreciate that.
Another thing I wish they would do is provide an infallible way to verify system password request dialogs. Not long ago DropBox used to show you a fake dialog that then stole your administrator password. There should be a list inside System Preferences where you can go and see all the authentic password request dialogs that are currently being shown.
In short, they should move away from nagging to better monitoring and reporting.
Wow. What the hell? Can you provide any sources to read about this more?
Dropbox imitated a system dialog box in order to get your password to give itself system level permissions without asking you.
I am speechless on the behaviour from DropBox.
I wonder why I have never heard of this and I do not remember any major security scandal regarding DropBox stealing your admin passwords, but maybe that information just went around me for some reason.. :)
EDIT: I wonder how this was implemented, I imagine that any app, can recreate a pixel perfect dialog imitating system dialog asking for password and steal your sensitive information, though how can app add itself to accessibility list programatically? I am not knowledgable of MacOS API and somehow I think apps should be prevented to be able to do this on their own. Was it a MacOS security bug? What else DropBox did "under the hood" with admin password that we do not know of yet?
Check the HN discussion from back in the day
The text could have been more specific what they need root rights for and how necessary the root rights are for continued usage, but they did not fake the dialog.
It’s so hard to correct wrong information from the past. Even though discussion stemming from that article has shown that it was the system dialog, all people remember is the misinformation (albeit possibly inadvertent misinformation)
You are requesting trusted path (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trusted_path) for windows the ctrl-alt-delete sequence is apparently used to implement their trusted path, so it should have been designed to foreground its own active windows, minimize non trusted windows, or similar.
I do agree that better monitoring and reporting would be better, but these nags are for basic folder access and notifications. I do find it strange however that macOS now requires permission for an app to send notifications, whereas it is no longer required to provisionally send notifications to a user on iOS (until they turn them off).
Which..is a little harder to access now:
The idea that Apple doesn't care about the Mac because it's trying to explicitly improve our privacy and security is … weird.
I've seen similar things with apps that request access to Dropbox or Google Drive just not being scoped granularly enough, so they just ask for access to your entire account to control a single file or folder. Which leads to a shitty situation, either you give up functionality like being able to declaratively override settings and sync them between machines, or you compromise your security and allow access. There's no way the PM for the product actually cares about granular permission scoping, so of course nobody actually implements in a safer way where you don't have to make this choice.
I haven't looked closely at the new MacOS permissions and how granular they can be, but I'm kind of curious how this will turn out. I suspect the average person will just get used to clicking allow on everything, so developers won't actually care about only asking for what they need, and not much will actually improve about security. But I hope to be proven wrong.
You're probably right that it's not nefarious in this app's case, but rather just developer ignorance. But even so, this is the right path to nudge developers towards better security practices.
Also, the permissions are contextual. I didn't see this dialog until I launched the app. Similarly, the first time an app wants to show a notification, the system prompts you to allow / deny it. I'm sure Apple can polish this more over time. But I will take this over the "nearly full-system access by default" paradigms that dominate desktop OS's.
A nice benefit of storing them in Documents is that it syncs to icloud automatically even on the free tier, so you can share it between all your computers.
It's often not straight forward and often getting in some system settings somewhere. Android has this problem.
To me, it seems that if the Documents permission dialogue in fact caught the app doing anything bad, it should remove all trust for the app and the developer. It's all or nothing, really.
Nor do I entrust it with all my network traffic. As to whether it warrants completely removing the app or not, it's up to the user to decide, isn't it?
Similarly, for the apps requesting access to various things, if I were Apple, I'd wait a bit and then present the user a list with the apps requesting access, explaining why it's happening, etc.
So two simple screens with clear explanations and helpful advice, versus a million baffling popups.
All 150+ apps (I don’t know how many are installed by default, but I have 277 on my system), many of which the user won’t even know he has installed? (I just found out I have an “Adobe Air Uninstaller” and two “Abobe Air Application Uninstaller”s, something called “Computer.app”, and 11 different Java 8 updates, for example)
And no, I don’t think such a dialog would be useful because users could delete applications they “don’t use” from there. The average user simply doesn’t know which applications he doesn’t use. I certainly don’t.
I think they could do a bit better, but I don’t think this problem has an easy answer. For example, they could exclude all Apple apps from these questions, but I suspect that would (rightfully) give us “Apple gives its own applications preferential treatment” complaints.
This Mac notion of "if your software/hardware wasn't purchased this week, it's unsupported" is not a good look.
If they didn't, people would complain that they had to click all these checkboxes, and then missed one.
Or the window wouldn't have room for applications to explain why they needed that access.
Or they would, and users would maybe read the first one, but skip others.
There is no "better experience" which doesn't sacrifice the point of the prompts.
Apple has moved privacy to the forefront for a much longer time. Apple was the first to roll out end-to-end encryption of messages to hundreds of millions of people (iMessage 2011), the first to roll out end-to-end encrypted (video) calls to hundreds of millions of people (Facetime, 2010). They introduced the secure enclave, which was quickly used throughout the OS with iPhone 5s in 2013.
Whatever reasons they have (and despite their failings), they have been pushing privacy for almost 10 years now.
If you bombard users with dialogues for every little thing, all you will do is train them to habitually click yes. Now you have lowered security, because users will ignore the more serious warnings too. And you've wasted everyone's time in the process.
This was exactly why UAC dialogues were largely a failure. And to think that UAC appears only once per app...
You should only ever expect the user to have access to the desktop and, even then, the only apps that would ever prompt for access to the desktop are those that aren't updated for High Sierra and above. On the latest versions of macOS, the Desktop folder is shared by iCloud. This is definitely not an instance where security has been lowered nor is this the standard behavior of the new OS.
Yes! That's what applications do, they read and write files. Most other software is, more likely than not, either a game or a web page.
Does every app need to access my desktop specifically? No. But if we're trying to protect "normal users", I don't think most of them have the wherewithal to think through "what exact locations does and doesn't app X need to access?"
I'm by no means against Sandboxing, by the way. I think it's great that if you want to buy and use sandboxed apps—and are willing to accept more limited functionality as an occasional consequence—the Mac App Store provides that option for you. However, there needs to also be an alternate path, by which I can say "this is an application I trust, please let it do its job."
There should, of course, be several different permission levels—Parallels needs its own kernel extension, most applications don't. Permission prompts are an important part of enforcing that. And that's precisely why prompts need to be use sparingly—if you bombard the user with too many of messages, they'll ignore all of them.
The alleged problem is not even solved by a permission dialog. I should answer OK to the fact that it needs to access all of my Documents, forever, and that's supposed to be more secure? Why not just ask me for permission to my whole drive so it can scan for documents everywhere? Apps will just start asking for more and more permissions like they do on iOS, which is annoying.
macOS is slowly but surely being turned into iOS. It's software for the lowest common denominator - the average idiot - which I'm not, at least when it comes to technology.
Thankfully, my workstations are all Linux but I still have to deal with both macOS and Windows on a daily basis. But at least on Windows, the permissions annoyances can be avoided by simply not using UWP apps from their app store. I hope there's a way to turn this off on macOS but knowing Apple I doubt there will be because clearly they're on a mission to wipe macOS off the table. Perhaps that would be a good thing though. More people will move to Linux.
But this is not how it works. Word from the App Store is sandboxed. If you open a document in Word, this is done using the native file opening dialog. This is a separate, privileged process. The file is symlinked into Word's sandbox as a result. This means that Word has access to that file from that point onwards. So, it can show a welcome screen with documents that you have previously opened (which is what applications typically do, very few applications will show all documents).
This is how things have worked ever since Apple required sandboxing for App Store apps. The problem is non-App Store apps that are not sandboxed. They have unfettered access to every file. I guess these extra permissions are to provide a certain level of protection against such apps, which is good.
Word is a well-known application. I installed it. I trust it and the corporation that wrote it.
There are many well-known incidents of trusted applications being compromised and backdoored. E.g.:
To make things worse, the hash was updated in Homebrew cask. So even if you used a package manager, you would have installed a compromised application. Trusting applications may have been ok in the age of shrink-wrapped software. But now that applications are distributed over the web, allowing unfettered access is insanity.
More people will move to Linux.
The Linux ecosystem is also moving towards immutable base systems (Fedora Silverblue, NixOS) and restricted, sandboxed applications (Flatpak). Sure, it will always be possible to install a 70ies UNIX-style distribution. But the world is moving to sandboxing and putting up more restrictions, because the computing world became more hostile.
macOS is slowly but surely being turned into iOS.
This is getting tired and old. People said the same thing ten years ago and yet here we are, macOS is still an OS for 'general purpose computing'. I think Apple is finding a nice balance between securing the average user through sandboxing and SIP, while keeping giving the knobs to disable protections to advanced users. I say this as someone who currently uses Linux 95% of the time, but I wish Linux was as far as macOS with application sandboxing and system integrity protection.
Well, the "slow" part can be slower than ten years. It might just still not be there, but compared to how macOS was 10 years ago, it does have more iOS-like restrictions nowadays even if it isn't full-on iOS.
Yes, that is how it works. Sandboxed apps can absolutely request access to an entire folder. See here:
> An app-scoped bookmark provides your sandboxed app with persistent access to a user-specified file or folder.
But all of that isn't really relevant to what I was saying. You're bringing up technical details about how sandboxed apps work. I'm saying that sandboxes suck and I don't want them, particularly from Apple who will just use security as an excuse to take away more of my freedoms.
> I guess these extra permissions are to provide a certain level of protection against such apps, which is good.
I would rather not trade my freedom and liberty for even more annoying and absolutely useless security measures. You see the top comment on this thread now right? It's about how useless these dialogs are and how Apple has actually argued against them in the past.
> There are many well-known incidents of trusted applications being compromised and backdoored.
So? Don't update right away if your OS manufacturer can't be bothered to run a properly curated package management system that vets packages before anyone installs them.
> But now that applications are distributed over the web, allowing unfettered access is insanity.
I've been using desktop software for 30 years and for 25 of them, I've been downloading it from the Internet. My simple security measure are to verify sources, turn off automatic updates, don't update right away and read the news. Haven't had a problem yet.
> The Linux ecosystem is also moving towards immutable base systems (Fedora Silverblue, NixOS) and restricted, sandboxed applications (Flatpak).
Some Linux distributions are moving towards that. Anyway, I'm fine with immutable base systems. I'm even fine with sandboxed apps, as long as the permissions request infrastructure isn't annoying as it is in iOS and now macOS. And, as long as I can still install non-sandboxed apps without any further useless annoyance.
> This is getting tired and old.
No it's not. It's getting one tick closer with every release and if you want, we can certainly detail each time that macOS has changed to become more like an iPhone. Some part of you must realize that this is exactly what Apple would love to do as quickly as possible but they won't risk alienating users just yet. Do you really not see how Apple has been moving towards a less general purpose computer?
I mean, I wouldn't even call macOS "general purpose" to begin with because you can only really install it on Apple hardware. Right from the very start with Apple, their OS has always been more like "Apple purpose" - software that you can only use for Apples purposes.
> macOS is still an OS for 'general purpose computing'.
Yes, for now. Just a little bit less with each release.
> I wish Linux was as far as macOS with application sandboxing and system integrity protection.
No thanks. The world needs less security theater, more actual security and more freedom to use our own bodies and properties as we wish.
The permission is needed only when the application wants to go around the normal way of opening files.
Do you really think any application on your computer should be allowed to read and write them because "that's what applications do"? 90% of the 'applications' on my computer I didn't even install myself, like uninstallers, updaters, helper applications, background services, whatever. These have no business looking at files in my Desktop folder. And particularly not if its on iCloud and shared with other devices like my phone.
The biggest protection here is that the folder is shared via iCloud in most instances. Asking for explicit permission is really the only way to do that safely.
I would like to know if an application:
- Is scanning the contents of my documents or desktop outside of files I specifically selected or it previously created
- Is monitoring data going on the clipboard
- Wants permission to make alert sounds or play other audio even if my sound is silenced/muted
- Wants to listen to my microphone
- Wants to monitor sound being output by other applications, such as VOIP
- Is monitoring for keystrokes even when it is not in the foreground.
> If you bombard users with dialogues for every little thing, all you will do is train them to habitually click yes. Now you have lowered security, because users will ignore the more serious warnings too. And you've wasted everyone's time in the process.
If the new permissions were about security, they would all be denied and applications would have to figure out how to cope. They are about user privacy.
As I see it, those are the same things within this context. The effect is the same. Users are just going to click yes. They aren't going to think through "what other files are on my desktop right now?"
You mean the place where your mom stores her confidential banking statements ?
> It would be like asking permission to access my clipboard,
You mean the place where you often copy paste passwords ?
> or read my keyboard.
You mean the place where you type your sensitive infos ?
At some point, the only way to be truly secure is to switch off the computer—that's why voting should be done on paper ballots! Once a computer is switched on and connected, everything is a tradeoff between usability and security. Personally, I have work to get done.
At what point is Apple the only one able to make useful software? And by the way, while Apple is pretty good at user privacy, they are by no means at the top of my list, particularly after the whole Siri debacle.
If the application asks for permission to access my contacts only after I select an option to share information with others, for instance, I can feel more confident about granting that permission.
Asking for all permissions up front is the permissions model that Google just abandoned.
The point was to make you aware of what permissions the applications you use require access to.
And to get explicit permission from the user.
Hardly. Apple could have used the OSX installer to scan two or three common locations for applications and do a bit of static analysis. Apple could have put the permissions notifications in the notification center with an annoying nag screen every hour or two for the first ~30 days turning into an immediate prompt after that (or after all detected programs have been processed).
It will just know that the program will open a file of some kind, not the location of said file.
Indeed, almost as bad as popping up countless dialogs per application.
So what's the point then? To inflict more pain?
It shows it at the point of access request. If 2 programs request access 5 minutes apart, how would you show that in a single window?
Do you suspend the first program and wait until another application makes an access request? What happens if another doesn't make a request in a given time period? Will the user wonder why the first application has stopped doing anything useful for 5 minutes?
Honestly, how would you show this in a single window?
Individual popups don't completely solve this, but it makes more obvious that a specific application is requesting a large amount of permissions. They're a bit more digestible to the crowd that won't bother to read an alert longer than one line.
I doubt any regular user is going to see anywhere near this amount of warnings.
As for the general quality of Catalina, there seems to be a deluge of amateur-hour flaws that affect real workflows for real users.
This looks like a pretty good alternative:
Instead of the OS displaying an annoying prompt when the application tries to use a privilege, the application embeds an OS-drawn access control gadget inside its UI, such that the user interacting with the UI grants the privilege.
https://developer.apple.com/library/archive/documentation/Se... (search for "Powerbox")
Why not make the user know what applications do: which files, ports, devices it has to access, and what data it emits, to begin with?
You could say this is fine but it does demonstrate that something bad probably happened because we’re they presented the immediate option for existing apps they would have made a different choice.
Right now I have iOS 13 and it’s been great to see how many apps want but 1000% have no need for Bluetooth access — it’s nice to not have to comb through settings and revoke them manually.
If you click deny, BEHOLD, the application is denied that permission.
Users were already "owned" before Catalina, so waiting 5 minutes to avoid spamming 100 popups isn't a major risk.
Users will tend to feel overwhelmed and just click through modals when they are presented in this way. Displaying stacks of modals is an anti-pattern.
The right thing to do would have been to create a migration UX that allows quick review and audit of application permissions, presented in a table, sorted by applications that are requesting the most permissions. With a clear explanation of what’s happening and why a review is now needed. That would be a step forward in user privacy and informed consent.
Anyone defending such an abomination of UX should have their software designing license revoked.
> create a migration UX
Might not be possible if the previous MacOS isn't full-on tracking what folders a program is accessing, and it still would likely encourage allowing all permissions if the user has more than 30 different programs accessing enough folders.
The article is a pathological example anyway, because I got zero prompts even on my work machine.
And Vista was a good step forward also back then, but people can't be bothered to take care of their data.
This is why security work is such a slog, you're dealing with motivated, well funded attackers that only need to succeed once, while the people controlling the key to the castle are mostly nincompoops.
Personally, if I encountered this mess, I’d be shamed, inspired to meditate a bit on my own personal computing hygiene.
Or do you show multiple dialog prompts (like in the screenshot) because there is no way of knowing what disparate applications will access at any given time?
My experience of corporate IT (having been a subject of someone else's policies) was to have my machine locked down to the maximum because someone somewhere once ran a random EXE they'd been emailed or downloaded and it contained ransomware and encrypted everything it could access (network servers too). As irritating as it was, what would you do to stop that happening again? It was a developer that ran that...
This includes "professional" users who saw Edge or IE as "the Internet" and would get "IT" to add an ODBC entry for a database server, despite having worked there for 10 years. Most of my colleagues didn't know the difference between a database server and a terminal server. And this included management.
What would you do instead then??
Clearly you've never seen a "user". Dummy is tame, I would have described them differently.
It's mildly annoying, but the alternative would be to let you continue using the old version pegged to an older deployment target, and let you figure out all the incompatibilities at once when you decide you want release your app to the app store. IMO this would be much more annoying than just getting a coffee once while you wait for the upgrade.
For example, Xcode 11, which has 10.15 SDK target, can be installed on Mojave. This has been the case for years, the new Xcode can run on the n-1 OS release. So why reinstall it, after the system is updated?
Dang it, I never filed for one.
Hey Clippy, where do I get one of those...
> Hi I'm Clippy! It looks like you're trying to make a joke. Do you need some assistance?
Clippy would like permission to invade your screen after you summoned him.
Otherwise, free market baby.
So there is no database of applications that need access to read/write Documents or Pictures.
So a UI like you are suggesting is not technically possible to create.
Take all the windows/notifications from OP's screenshot, map each of them to a row in a table, group by application. Show all this info in 1 modal, call it Migration Assistant.
Seriously? THIS. BENEFITS. NO. ONE.
The only thing I can figure is that, somehow, Mac has required applications to display something to the user to get their permission to make some substantial system-level changes. But the application is, I guess?, allowed to fill in the message dialog. I can't believe that wording came from Apple; I assume it was Microsoft, who I do trust as much as anyone, so I'll approve it, but this leaves a lingering question:
Either Apple actually did write that, or they allow applications published by "whoever" to fill in "whatever" messaging they want to get the user to click Yes. It's absolutely unacceptable behavior.
I'd say I'm done with Apple, but there isn't a personal computing platform who gets this right. Every Apple employee reading this article should be ashamed. Every Microsoft employee should be ashamed. Everyone just Needs To Do Better.
What is Better? I don't know, off-hand. It's not easy, but I'd imagine why that's why these companies are paid billions of dollars. For starters: If I install around your centralized certificate signing authority to install something, I Trust That Application. It doesn't need to alert me every time it makes a change. And if I install it through your store, then I also trust it, because you trust it. So why do I get so many damn "Approve This Change" notifications? I should get ZERO after the install.
I get that most users aren't as savvy as me, but that's why you're making it so hard to bypass that central certificate signing authority, and I'm fine with that. It's the lingering notifications that make zero sense. Fix your shit, Apple, because I haven't encountered anyone that's ecstatic with anything you've released in the past 18 months.
They haven't quite descended to Microsoft levels of "We're restarting your computer now kthxbye", but it's a grim, user hostile path they're on, at least with notifications.
I don't know what's with microsoft and apple. When I'm in the middle of using my computer is not the time to close everything and lock the machine down for 30+ minutes for an update. I'm going to say no every single time.
Man, I miss Snow Leopard. I think that was peak OS X for me.
You mean like how Facebook trusted the Cambridge Analytica apps which then went on to steal huge amounts of data.
Or how about all of the legitimate apps which include metrics libraries which have then gone on to steal huge amounts of data.
You simply can't trust the original signing process these days.
Computing is strikingly similar. You're vulnerable when you use any service where any level of personal information or even code execution is passed to a third party. You're vulnerable even when you buy a VM from DigitalOcean, or when you edit a document on Google Drive, or when you install some binary from a company. But that's alright; to be vulnerable is to be human, and there are tons of very tangible benefits to allowing yourself to be vulnerable.
There are alternatives. You can live like RMS and be so scared of vulnerability that you lock yourself in a self-imposed computing exile. I don't trust the code; I need to see it. I don't trust the authors; I need to be able to make changes. I don't trust my contributors; they need to open-source what they make. I don't trust service providers; I need to host my own servers. That's a very sad outlook on life.
Facebook fucked up. In fact, they've fucked up so much that they aren't deserving of my trust anymore. Everyone is allowed to have different opinions about who they trust, but Apple, Google, Microsoft, and many other companies have not fucked up to the same degree, and are still deserving of my trust. I don't love Google especially, and tend to think that they're headed down the same path, but they still do a lot right. Maybe I'll be burned someday. But that's alright.
So users almost always click "allow". What's the point of the dialog then?
Really, the dialog should be explicit about what's needed and why it's needed and what click "allow" does (i.e., always allow this action, for this purpose? Or always allow any root-level action from this app? Or something else?)
Only then will users actually be able to make a decision beyond "do I trust Microsoft and do I want to do this thing I just asked Word to do?"
This breaks in 10.15. Do you have a work around?
I’d rather give additive permissions to applications, since I’ve seen evidence time and again that security is one of the lowest priorities for most development shops.
It’s annoying the first time after upgrading (I haven’t done it yet), but it is infrequent after that.
Except for the Safari 13 download authorization prompt for every domain. That is a little more annoying to me.
Maybe it’s just me, but I feel a certain sense of comfort in seeing explicit privacy dialogues that make sense, coupled with a deep feeling of control when I press that “Deny” button.
This sounded interesting when I first heard about it, long before Vista came out. Now when I see it I wonder what they were trying to do. A file system is a database, with a well understood user API. So what were they going to add? Tagging? Application level views of the system? None of t hat seems like something that would require anything more than an extension that handled additional metadata.
Yes, a terrible API which works poorly for most home use cases.
You probably have music on your computer. In your hierarchical filesystem, do you organize it by Genre/Artist/Album or Artist/Album? Do music videos live in the same Artist directory or in a separate "video" folder?
Chances are you don't know/care because you're using an app like iTunes that builds a custom database on top of the filesystem. And something like Photos that reinvents a totally different custom database. And more database reinventions for email, ebooks, games, karaoke files, voice memos, calendar appointments, etc... all proprietary file formats without published APIs.
Data doesn't want to be organized in a single static hierarchy.
The only thing that comes to mind is ACL tracking and it getting a bit complex from different access types, but I can think of a few options to work with that already.
Given that a beta WinFS eventually was made available as a separate download years after even it's beta was slated to be released, I suspect they did what I outlined above - eventually. Otherwise, I'm not sure why a bolt on component to the system would require so long and miss deadlines like it did.
Data has no feelings.
In the case of file system, it makes perfect sense to be stored in a single static hierarchy because that perfectly reflects the concept of a paper file in a filing cabinet, in a little binder.
Even a relational database system that lets you query tables for data based on set ordering has a single method of storing the data on disk - that's a clustered index. You can't get away from having that, despite being able to support additional nonclustered indexes. In that case, the table and its rows really is organised in a static hierarchy too.
As it stands, NTFS has plenty of features that lets you attach a secondary data stream to a file anyway, and all manner of metadata. The Windows Internals book on NTFS is very informative on this.
These features don't exist on APFS though, as it's not as good despite being brand new, it seems!
Disagree wholeheartedly. It definitely has "hints" of Vista band-aid rips in the same way that shit like La Croix has "hints" of flavor but Vista was one of the worst OS releases I ever had the pleasure of being part of, only behind Windows ME. It took Vista a really long time to be a stable, fully-usable OS and, while I'm glad for the steps they took with it, their execution was terrible.
On top of that, this is completely due to the user.
What? All the user did was install Catalina and leave it alone for a few hours. How is this all "due to the user"?
- Plex Media Server
- Keyboard Maestro
- Parallels Access
- Bartender 3
- Arq Agent
If you have dozens of apps asking for permission, then you need to have a better system of displaying those requests than one off popups/notifications.
This is not on the user. Don't victim blame. This is what any other person upgrading would see, maybe not to the same extent but I'm not sure it'd be that far off.
This would not be common for the vast majority of users and it's only caused by someone explicitly ignoring warnings and notices. It may be a little more common for power users but the average user may get 1 or 2 of those prompts and nothing more. The OP is only in the situation they're in because they either upgraded the OS without updating the individual apps or they purposely ignored a prior prompt to give access.
I literally took the screenshot that was posted and enumerated every application asking for permissions. If it happened to them, it'll happen to many, many users. Especially if those apps are updating outside of MAS.
Only every outdated application asking for permissions. The author of that post already explained why he was getting so many of those prompts. He admitted that it probably wasn't reflective of what the typical install will look like specifically because he was purposely using older versions of software.
When it comes to having a quality laptop and OS to get work done, I would at least be happy with stagnation if the stagnation point occurred around the era of the best MBPs -- late model MBPr 15s, ~2012 to 2015-2016. I'm typing this one one right now. It's a little long in the tooth, but I'm horrified to update to a newer one and have to get the whole bottom panel replaced, yet again.
I'm hoping to defer this decision by a year or two, but I'm sure I'll have to bite the bullet eventually, and every year, I hope that it's not going to be worse, so that it'll at least be good enough. Sadly, it looks like that hope may yet be naive.
Memory compression in Mavericks was also something I feel is great. Although I never dealt with it directly as a programmer, only a user.
The problem Apple has is that the early-2015 Macbook Pro Retina's really hit the balance point with the physical form factor. Enough heft to feel solid without too much weight. Enough battery life to do real work. A solid set of ports: HDMI. Magsafe. USB 3.0 ports. A keyboard that doesn't break due to random micron-sized dust particles.
So, a LOT of people want a 2015 Macbook Pro but with ONLY the tweaks to bring it forward to 2019 technically (memory, CPU, display, change to the two Thunderbolt 2 connectors to USB-C Thunderbolt 3) while leaving it in 2015 physically.
The marketplace has become much more competitive as innovation has pretty much stalled.
I'm thinking of moving back to Mac OS after being on Windows for the last six years.
On the software side: slowness but more importantly a general decrease of opinionated cohesion, and an increase in odd UX decisions. Facetime calls to my iPhone trigger alerts on all of my devices, even if I'd prefer it to just be my phone (I rarely use Facetime on my machine). Beyond that, there are too many useless popups that interrupt me in what I'm doing that I have to X out of that I end up with a screen that looks like the topic post -- hence the pejorative "10.15 Vista" which is how a lot of folks about Windows Vista when it was released after the relatively sleek and polished UX of Windows 2000 and XP.
2. Open the Preferences menu.
3. De-select the "Calls from iPhone" checkbox.
Despite that, I love the Touch Bar. I do tons of video and audio editing and it's super-convenient for me. It seems like HN just has a higher noise ratio against the TB because it's mostly programmers and a high percentage of them are tied to a physical escape key. As a front-end dev myself who uses VS Code, I feel like that audience is just going to keep shrinking while the percent of people that will find benefits to the TB will probably grow.
Citation needed. I would venture to say that more people use it than you think.
Forcing it on all 15 in. MBPs and maxed-out 13 in. models was the biggest FU to Mac users and an insanely user-hostile decision. But they’ve been really good at pulling those lately, so I’m not getting my hopes up.