Think Secret is reporting that Apple’s first Intel-based Mac will be a Mac Mini built as a media center. From the article:
Apple's Mac mini will be reborn as the digital hub centerpiece it was originally conceived to be, Think Secret sources have disclosed. The new Mac mini project, code-named Kaleidoscope, will feature an Intel processor and include both Front Row 2.0 and TiVo-like DVR functionality.
The new Mac will supposedly be launched in January at the Macworld Expo. Steve Jobs is a man of vision, and it would appear that computing (and computer tech in general) is moving in the direction of entertainment - the smaller/prettier/easier, the better. Windows Vista will no longer have a separate Media Center edition, but wil instead have multimedia functions built into every distribution. It makes perfect sense for Apple to want to strike first in the home entertainment arena – I think it could lead to the capturing of a market that hasn’t largely been tapped commercially.
If these reports are true, one must wonder if Apple can become the dominant force in living room computing. Is it possible that “Kaleidoscope” will become as ubiquitous as the iPod?
We've received unconfirmed reports concerning a few interesting new toys under the hood of OSx86 10.4.3, including a vastly improved Rosetta and brand new ATI drivers - each far more complete than in previous builds.
First, the Rosetta emulation platform in 10.4.3 build 8F1111A has been upgraded to feature full G4 support, including Altivec. This not only adds a new layer of compatibility to Rosetta, but also improved speed for Altivec-equipped applications. This upgrade is reportedly available as a small downloadable update to build 8F1111.
Also, new ATI drivers available in 10.4.3 seem to offer much greater support for PC ATI graphics chipsets. Preliminary reports indicate that they may support most of the 9000 line, and parts of the X series, including mobile chipsets. Apparently NVIDIA systems have not been given this treatment. Is this discrepancy simply due to the pace of driver porting at Apple, or will ATI graphics hold a special place in the Mactel world?
On a side note, the weekend brought a newly leaked copy of OSx86 10.4.3 build 8F1111, the most recent seed from Apple. This seed, with its universal binary of iTunes, is a newer version than the build which was recently cracked.
Sources indicate that OSx86 10.4.3 – which, as reported in this space, contains increased hardware restrictions – has now been cracked in the same fashion as 10.4.1. It was initially thought that these restrictions would slow the progress of hackers, but it appears that they've done little to deter those tackling the challenge.
There are many interesting aspects to this news. First, it appears that Apple’s security enhancements between releases simply were not effective. Also, not only has the hacker named Maxxuss been able to hack the kernel to run on non-Apple hardware, he’s also been able to make the OS available to those who don’t have the most cutting edge hardware available.
While Apple has promised to lock their operating system to their hardware once its released, one must wonder what method they will use and if it will be stronger than the current TPM restrictions. While the TPM technology is itself virtually uncrackable, hackers have been able to fool the OS into thinking it doesn’t need the TPM authentication.
Will Apple ever be able to create a truly hack-proof OS? Right now it seems the score is Apple: 2 (leaked) releases, Hackers: 2 releases. With Intel Macs likely on the way in January, it’s game point and Apple’s move.
Stay tuned here for the latest news as it happens.
As has been reported in several news outlets, Apple has filed for a patent which seems to be directly preparing the company for the upcoming Intel switch. Patent 20050246554 was filed by Apple for rights to what they call a "system and method for creating tamper-resistant code."
According to the article:
"Tamper-resistant software is software that is difficult to change, tamper with, and/or attack. Code obfuscation is one technique for achieving tamper-resistant software. Generally, the goal of code obfuscation is to make it difficult for attackers to determine what is happening in a block of code. If attackers use debuggers or emulators to trace instructions, code obfuscation can make the code difficult to understand or change."
Also of note is the ability to select for the Macs to choose from one of the three operating systems: OS X, Linux, or Windows. This would seem to indicate that Apple is committed to earlier statements of supporting (but maybe not encouraging) multiple operating systems.
Will the "tamper resistant code" be a part of Apple's mechanism for locking the OS to Apple hardware?
For those holding out for an Intel Mac, don't spend too much this Christmas - multiple rumor sites report that insiders tell them to expect the first Mac based on Intel chips in January. Apparently, Apple wants to surprise the computing world with the new Macs ahead of schedule. This makes perfect sense, especially since the x86 version of the OS has now reached parity (for the most part) with its PowerPC predecessor.
"Sources say at least one of the two aforementioned Intel Macs appears to be based around Intel's upcoming dual-core 'Yonah' mobile processor, which is expected to top-out at 2.16 GHz in its initial rev. However, further processor specifications remain largely unconfirmed at this time. [...]"
"The analyst went on to say that Apple is likely to ship Intel chips inside consumer-oriented products -- like laptops -- first, because the company tends to include with those computers most of the software consumers initially need and want. "I see mostly benefit if applications like iLife are ready for Intel processors," Wilcox added. High-end applications not yet compiled natively for the first Intel Macs will continue to run seamlessly -- albeit slightly slower -- via Apple's integral Rosetta technology."
Apple has released the final version of Xcode 2.2. This is the second release of Xcode to support Universal Binaries, and the first to lock out 10.4.1 Intel (the leaked/hacked release). Xcode 2.2 makes significant improvements to SEE opcodes and the Accelerate framework, as well as general Intel compatibility improvements.
Many sources have reported that the latest build of Mac OS X 10.4.3 seeded to developers includes an Intel-compiled version of iTunes. Previously, iTunes was the only major non-system application to be PowerPC-only. It is now a Universal Binary but does have some ongoing known issues with it; Apple has cautioned developers of these issues as minor and will be resolved shortly.
The Mozilla Foundation has established a page on their Wiki that has the latest Intel Mac builds for their most popular applications; Firefox, Tunderbird and Camino. They also announced full support for PowerPC and Intel builds, and upheld their comitment to supporting Jaguar and Panther versions on PowerPC via the lipo process; a tool designed to allow different methods of compiling applications.
Lipo holds much potential for specialized Mac development, the lipo process will eventually be used to allow Mac developers to use Intel-released compilers for Intel code, while still using GCC3/GCC4 for PowerPC applications, thus giving each platform the best performance possible while still remaining a Universal Binary.
Of an interesting note, Apple's Photo Booth, included with the new iMac, is the first consumer universal binary released by Apple. While Xcode is a universal binary since version 2.1, it is generally only targeted at developers. iMac owners have been reporting this news since the release of Mac OS X 10.4.3, which includes the ability to check what architectures are supported by an application in most info panels.
I’m happy to announce a new partnership between The OSx86 Project and Twin Mac.
Christopher Price established Twin Mac immediately after word of the Intel transition. His years of experience in OS X programming makes his analysis sharp and well-informed. His site has provided dedicated Mactel coverage with news you won't find anywhere else. To bring his excellent analysis to a wider audience, he will now be providing the news you read here at The OSx86 project.
You shouldn’t notice many changes – you’ll still find all the latest news about OSx86 here. This arrangement will allow The OSx86 Project administrators to focus more on the forum and wiki, helping provide the best Mac discussion anywhere. Period.
You can check out Twin Mac at twinmac.com, or simply stay tuned here for the latest Mactel coverage!
On a totally unrelated note, we will also be unveiling a new forum skin this week and making a few other improvements. We're working hard to maintain this site as your home for Intel Mac news and discussion. If you have suggestions or comments, feel free to let us know!