RealTime IT News

Apple Opens Up Panther's Toolbox

SAN FRANCISCO -- While Apple Computer is best known for its flashy consumer designs, the company is tweaking its image a tad to include features suited for networks and server rooms.

The Cupertino, Calif.-based computer maker's latest operating system will be no exception. Apple Monday released the developer's edition of Mac OS X version 10.3 -- code-named Panther. In tangent with the desktop edition, Apple released Panther Server, a UNIX-based server operating system.

Built on top of the Jaguar code, the server-class OS adds in Automatic Setup for multiple servers; Open Directory 2 for hosting an LDAP directory and Kerberos authentication services; Samba 3 for providing login and home directory support for Windows clients; and the JBoss application server for running J2EE applications.

The Automatic Setup feature, for example, lets system administrators setup any number of servers from configuration settings stored on a directory server, external FireWire device, USB storage device or an iPod.

Panther Server also includes a brand new mail server based on the open source Postfix SMTP and Cyrus IMAP and POP servers. In addition, a new virtual private network (VPN) DEFINE:VPN> server built into the server OS supports Mac OS X, Windows or UNIX clients using PPTP and L2TP tunneling protocols. The operating system also includes an updated release of the Apache Web server along with Apache Tomcat and Apache Axis for creating Web services .

Apple said it expects to deliver Panther Server by the end of the year. A mere $499 will get you a 10-client edition. An unlimited-client edition retails for $999.

Much is also being made about Apple's partnership with IBM to make its next-generation PowerPC G5 processor. The PowerPC 970 is a 64-bit chip that also provides native support for traditional 32-bit applications.

That backwards compatibility will help on the development side, where Apple boasts 300,000 developers towards its goal of as many as 10 million developers by year's end. In that stead, the company took the wraps off of its Xcode platform based on the latest GCC 3.3 complier.

CEO Steve Jobs said the application is designed to reduce overall turnaround times with features like Fix and Continue, Zero Link and Distributed Build, but conceded that the tool runs about 10 slower than the popular CodeWarrior platform.

"We're going to keep on going with this one until we get it right. We like to be really number one, really,"

The company said there is a migration path for CodeWarrior developers to directly import CodeWarrior project files into Xcode.

Still, Apple says the Fix and Continue feature lets developers make live code changes to a running application and see their effect immediately without the need to restart the application. Zero Link removes the linking stage for all development builds. The company also boasts project build times are minimized through a Rendezvous-enabled Distributed Build feature, which lets developers compile apps using multiple systems.

Xcode was distributed to the developers at Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference here. The worldwide release is slated for September 15 in English and Japanese.

For multiple users, Apple said it took a page from Microsoft's Windows XP platform and included Fast User Switching in its Panther builds. The feature lets users share a single Mac and switch between accounts without having to quit running applications and completely logout of the system.

In addition, Panther includes FileVault, a new feature that secures the contents of a home directory with 128-bit AES encryption. The OS also includes an IPSec-based VPN for Microsoft and Cisco networks, support for ActiveDirectory and SMB-based home directories on Windows servers and enhanced Windows integration within the Finder that enables printing to shared printers.

Apple also officially moved its Safari Web browser from the beta stage into a full 1.0 release. After 5 million downloads, Jobs called the browser a success and said the company would begin offering a software development kit so code writers could port native applications using either a Carbon or Cocoa API.

The company also announced a new studio-grade codec for filmmakers developed in conjunction with Job's other company, Pixar. Based on Wavelet specs, the codec offers 48 bits per second of pixel source data that the company says is free from visual artifacts.

Apple also included a new Font Book application that is a system-level font management tool with double-click font preview, one-click installation and advanced searching for activating and deactivating fonts. The company also worked with Adobe Systems on the improved Macintosh version of its PDF reader Preview. The application has super-fast text searching that builds an instant index of search results in a PDF, text selection and copying, URL support and support for the PDF 1.4 format.