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Apple rides the wave with Mavericks

Tom Henderson | May 20, 2014
We haven't visited Apple OS X since Snow Leopard, and while there have been incremental changes, there is nothing radically different in OS X 10.9 Mavericks.

Apple stands largely alone in its implementation.  

For those organizations concerned about deploying deep OS use policies, Mavericks does impose application sandbox restrictions on apps managed through the Mac Store. Although not mandated for users, as they can obtain apps from other sources, the sandboxing imposes constraints that have both limitations but also continuity among prior versions of apps built with sandbox-compatibility in mind.

The sandboxing technique spawns an instance with its own user-account subdirectory, hidden from the user. The app instance lives in an isolated shell that looks a lot like how Sun/Oracle built its containers. Application isolation between Mavericks and iOS 7 have similarities, and Apple encourages developers to use the technique to prevent user-space from troubling kernel/machine space.

Delivering an analog of Microsoft's Group Policy Management is elusive, although there are Mobile Device Management distribution, PIN requirements, and packages available for OS X and iOS devices/clients. These don't work well for Android (4.2 tested) or Windows (Phone 7, Windows 7-8.1 tested). Apple only, we found. Worked very nicely with our iPads and Macs. If it doesn't have the logo, go fish.

Apple, through the use of Server, permits a backup of various client versions through the versioning-sensitive Time Machine app. We tested this local network (it can be run over VPNs, but circuit speeds might slow down client backups dramatically) NAS-like storage and it worked without drama.

Upgrades

As Apple controls its hardware platforms, which increase in variance from model to model, and so does the job of regression testing model compatibility with new OS versions. Although Mavericks is said to run on the same hardware as OS X Mountain Lion, its OS X predecessor version, its installation routine seems to have rendered a solid number of stunning reported wipeouts, although we did not experience this ourselves, in our admittedly small upgrade regimen. Empirical testing becomes difficult with so many Apple model variations.

We found it strange, however, that Mavericks would attempt its 5GB installation payload routine without checking the sanity state of the existing file system. We believe that this alone may account for a large percentage of reported installation failures. Mavericks is now in its second patch release, and this maturity may also help administrators and users avoid upgrade catastrophes.

Apps

There are many consumer-focused features, such as the breakout of iBooks from iTunes. IBooks plays books more like movies than its Kindle and Kindle-like competition. Although Apple's catalog is said to be smaller than Amazon's, adding especially PDF books was simple. We could buy many of them, too.

Our experience with iTunes was good, although the UI is all about selling more product in a consumer sense, rather than being poised towards business/organizational media. Imported music may not have the automatic CD/album artwork applied to icons, as only the music purchased from Apple had automatic artwork applied to an album icon.

 

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