The ability to log in as root (versus using 'su' in the terminal) still exists in 10.1, but the mechanism is better hidden than it was in previous OS X releases. In my opinion, that's a Good Thing, as you should probably be logging in as root only if you really really know what you're doing. But enough of the lecture on the dangers of root...
To login to OS X 10.1 as root, first login as your normal Admin user. In the Login pane, click the Login Window tab, and then check the box that reads 'Show "Other User" in list for network users'. Logout after saving the change. When the login box reappears, you'll see "Other User" as an option. Click it, and you can enter "root" as the username followed by the root password.
In over a year of OS X usage, I have not yet had to login to the system as root to accomplish any tasks. But if you do need to (and there are some valid reasons), this is how it works in 10.1.
The window server has a cool feature in OS X 10.1 that isn't enabled by default (though it will be in an upcoming update, as I understand it): window buffer compression.
A little background. Under OS X, the contents of each window are saved in a buffer, so that they can be updated instantly, and also so that the cool transparency effects in Aqua are possible. This is a good thing, to have a fully buffered window manager -- however, it uses a lot of memory.
In 32 bit mode ("Millions" in System Preferences), a window that is 800 pixels wide by 600 pixels high uses up 1.9mb of RAM. When you consider that there are usually over 100 windows open when you're using OS X (not all windows are visible), you start to realize that this can start to add up in terms of RAM usage.
The more windows you open, the more RAM they use up, the more that virtual memory will have to page in and out while you use your applications to do work. This can cause slow-downs as the disk grinds to do the virtual memory paging.
So what Apple did was they implemented a compression mechanism into the window server. When a window's contents haven't changed for a given period of time, the window server compresses them, so they take up less memory. Since it uses a compression method that doesn't require the buffer to be fully decompressed to do compositing (dragging a window around, updating the screen, etc.), you won't notice a slowdown with this compression turned on.
In fact, because less memory is being used up by the window buffers, more RAM will be available for your applications, with will mean less virtual memory paging, and may in fact result in speeding up your machine. Additionally, since less data needs to be read (it is compressed, after all!), things like updating windows may be faster as well.
If you are a power user who has lots of windows open, you might consider giving this hack a shot. I'm using it, and getting compression ratios of about 8.5:1 (in other words, my window buffers are using 8x less RAM than they normally would).
Read the rest of the article for the details on implementing window compression.
Andrew Welch / el Presidente / Ambrosia Software, Inc.
I've discovered that X programs are prone to misbehavior when you make them try to operate on aliases.
The most painful example was when I tried replacing Exploder 5.1's bookmarks.html file with an alias to the one I used under 9... Exploder thought the file didn't exist, and wrote out its default bookmarks.html, which overwrote the original file! Luckily, I had a semi-backup and was able to rebuild from it.
Also, the Dock simply doesn't understand the concept of having an alias to a folder in the dock - after installing 'Classic Menu', I tried to replace the pseudo-apple items folder I had in the Dock with a link to Classic Menu's folder, and the Dock wouldn't do the click-and-hold thing that it does with an actual folder. It's fine with a folder full of aliases, and does the right thing there, but not when the folder itself is an alias.
So... while aliases are a traditional tool for managing different programs that need the same info, be very sure to back up any data you try to alias before testing, as it seems that X's support of them is not quite as transparant as 9's was.
Recently, Open Door Networks published a widely-reported security alert concerning Apple's implementation of WebDAV access to the iDisk in 10.1. The essence of the security hole is that your password is sent in cleartext, where it could be interecepted by anyone sniffing the network.
While I agree this is a fairly major security issue, I had other problems with iDisk in 10.1 -- speed, or the lack thereof. It seemed that, at least on my connection, webDAV access crawled. The disk would mount quickly, but copying even a modest 400K file could take minutes at times. This used to take five or ten seconds.
It turns out that the solution is posted on the advisory page at Open Door Networks. Simply use Appleshare to connect instead of WebDAV. Under the Go Finder menu, select "Connect to Server" and enter afp://idisk.mac.com. You'll get a username and password box, after which you can mount your iDisk like any other Appleshare volume.
This isn't a perfect solution -- it takes me longer to connect via Appleshare (the Finder gets the spinning rainbow disk until the connection is made), and the 15-minute time restriction comes into play again. However, it's worth it in exchage for greater security and the speed increase I get when actually transferring files.
Read the rest of the article if you'd like to know how to make Appleshare access to your iDisk just as easy as WebDAV access.
Some users have noted that access to the preference panels from both the menu bar (under the Display menubar icon) and the Apple menu (Dock -> Dock Preferences) is broken in 10.1. Instead of opening the specific preference panel, they actually do nothing. The same thing may occur in other programs that open system preference panels.
It appears this is caused by the actual preference panels losing their association with the System Preferences application. Although I haven't seen a cause listed anywhere, the cure is relatively easy. Thanks to some anonymous poster on one of the various OS X boards, here's what you need to do to repair them:
In the Finder, navigate to the /System/Library/PreferencePanes folder on your OS X hard drive.
Select any one of the panes and do File -> Show Info (command-I). Then pick the "Open with application" drop down item. If you're having this problem, it will probably read "Not Applicable" as the application to use. This is what we'll fix.
Click on the icon next to Not Applicable and select "Other...". When the file dialog comes up, change "Recommended Applications" to "All Applications". Scroll down and select System Preferences and hit the "Add" button.
You will get a warning box stating "You don't have privileges to change the application for this document only." It goes on to explain that if you make this change, it will affect all documents with the "prefPane" extension. This is exactly what we want to do, so hit "Continue".
That should do it; your preference panels should now be usable from the menubar and Apple menu. I have not experienced this glitch, but the fix has been tested and verified by a number of people already.
In the thread The inseperable duo on the Macworld forums, aRichboy noticed some odd behavior in Cocoa apps. Namely, he was unable to edit certain character sets in some text input boxes. These character sets are known as ligatures.
So what's a ligature? Ligatures are two or more letters that run together in typesetting. Some common ligatures include ff, fl, ffi, tt, and ae. Apple has this to say about ligatures in its Cocoa developer docs:
"Text and Font Support: When you add the necessary objects to your user interface in Interface Builder, your application automatically gains many capabilities related to text editing:menu selection of font families, sizes, and styles and textual attributes such as alignment, kerning and ligatures;..."
What this means in every day use is that you may find yourself occasionally unable to edit a character you've just typed in. In testing last night, it appears to only affect the "fi" and "fl" ligatures. To see this 'feature' in action, open mail.app and start a new email. Type an email address like "firstname.lastname@example.org" in the "To" field. Wait a second or so with the cursor at the end of this string, then hit the back arrow (not the delete key!). The cursor will jump over the "fl" pair, not allowing you to insert anything between them.
This behavior is only exhibited with proportional fonts; monospace fonts in the body of a plain-text email, for example, are not affected.
Not really a bug, but a feature that might surprise you if you're not aware of it. Thanks to aRichboy for pointing it out.
Ever since I upgraded my Powerbook to 10.1, I've been experiencing a hang on boot-up when the OS indicates "Starting Directory Services". This delay has been as long as five minutes or more.
I wasn't getting this on my G4 tower, so I knew that it wasn't necessarily a 10.1 thing, but something that 10.1 brought out. I looked through my message logs (/var/log/message.log) and saw that lookupd was attempting to contact a lot of other machines and failing (lookupd is a software agent that acts as a network information broker).
I also remembered that I had been fooling around with lookupd, trying to set up an ad filter for web browsing and had added a directory called "locations" in my Netinfo database as part of that. I removed the directory using Netinfo Manager and now my Powerbook boots and shuts down quicker than it ever did, even in OS 9.
[Editor's note: This specific tip may not affect a lot of users, but the general tip is to make sure you check the log files to see what's happening to your machine, wether it's a startup stall or any other abnormal behavior.]
One of the nicer features in OS X 10.1 has hardly been mentioned anywhere. I'd completely overlooked it myself, and it took a nice tip from Luis R. to enlighten me. With the release of 10.1, Mac users can now use their machines without a mouse. I'd noticed the Universal Access panel, which enables things like Sticky Keys and Mouse Keys, but it seemed like a real pain to use the numeric keypad to move the mouse pointer to the menubar whenever you wanted it.
Luis pointed me to the Keyboard prefernces pane and the Full Keyboard Access tab. Check the box that says "Turn on full keyboard access" and choose between control and function keys, letters, or custom-defined letters.
Once enabled, you can access the menu bar and dock solely with the keyboard. Use the arrow keys after activating the menu bar or dock to navigate, and use ENTER to select items. Use the up arrow in the dock to display and select the pop-up menus.
Full keyboard access works great in Cocoa and Carbon applications, but not at all in Classic (as you might expect).
If you haven't visited Apple's AppleScript for OS X pages yet, you're missing some good stuff. For example, there's a page of toolbar scripts that can make a number of scripts accessible in the Finder.
But the real gem is the Script Menu menubar widget. As you can see in the screenshot, this menubar widget gives you system-wide access to the scripts stored in /Library/Scripts. In addition, you can easily add other scripts to the collection simply by dropping them into your user's Library/Scripts folder.
Even if you're not an AppleScript fanatic, this widget is worth a look. For example, try "Info Scripts -> Font Sampler" for a cool demo of AppleScript's power.
Thanks to this thread on the ArsTechnica boards, one of my nagging criticisms of OS X can now be addressed. If, like me, you prefer a mouse that moves at warp speed, you can hack the speed in both 10.0.4 and 10.1.
Using a terminal, edit the .GlobalPreferences.plist file in your ~/Library/Preferences directory. If you're using Pico, for example, type:
Once the editor opens, use control-W to search for "scaling". You'll see a couple lines that look like:
Note that I've used square brackets instead of angle brackets, due to parsing issues with HTML. Change the number in the "[real]" line to a higher value. 1.7 is the maximum you get through the control panel; I'm using 3.2 now and like it on my 1600x1200 screen. Values over 10 may not work; I tried "15" and it became "1.5". Save your changes (control-O in Pico) and then quit the editor (control-X).
I'd actually tried this months ago, but the mouse didn't seem to change speeds at all. As the thread points out, the key to making it take effect is to simply (argh!) logout and login again. You should now have a turbocharged mouse. Note that if you use the Mouse preferences panel and change the speed slider at all, you'll (obviously) lose your hand-edited value and have to repeat this process to speed up your mouse.