One of the biggest issues in the day to day acceptance and usage of OS X will be the presence of native device drivers. These drivers are required for things like USB to serial adapters, printers, SCSI cards, scanners, video cameras, and other peripherals that operate on USB, SCSI, or firewire.
If native drivers are not available, the only method of using these devices will be to boot back into OS 9.1 -- they will not work in Classic using their 9.1 drivers (based on what I've been told and read, having asked the question in a few places).
To help track native device drivers, I have added a new category ("Drivers") to the links section of the site. There are (obviously) other web sites that track these kinds of things (use VersionTracker and search on "drivers," or go to Mac OS X Apps and look in the drivers section); I'm doing so here only out of personal interest - I want to have one fast and easy way to find all the drivers I will personally need in OS X final!
Since this was a rapidly-changing beta OS until very recently, I would expect that between now and March 24th we will see a number of OS X drivers announced by the major manufacturers. If you see any release announcements, or find a reference to available OS X drivers, feel free to submit a link, using "Drv-" as the lead-in to the name so that they're easily identifiable in the "What's New?" box.
I hope to have compiled a thorough list of available native drivers prior to the official launch date, as this is one of the first things users will be looking to find for their shiny new OS.
Last night, I installed the OS 9.1 update on my OS X box. This means that Classic no longer functions in OS X. However, you can use both if you like, as long as you can install a second OS 9 folder. If you have more than one partition (in particular, an OS X and an OS 9 partition), simply upgrade your "real" 9.04 to 9.1, and leave the OS X version alone at 9.04.
After the upgrade, I found that the Classic Preferences couldn't see my 9.04 folder; it just saw the 9.1 folder, which meant I couldn't use Classic.
I restarted into 9.1, and then used the System Disk utility to select the OS X partition's OS 9.04 folder as the boot drive, then rebooted into 9.04. Once there, I again used the System Disk app to select OS X, and booted into OS X. I was then able to specify the 9.04 folder as the Classic environment in the Classic prefs dialog.
It seems OS X 'remembers' the last OS 9 folder you used, and uses that one as the Classic environment. This can be a bit dangerous if you have two 9.04's on your machine, and you're trying to keep one 'clean' from OS X. I haven't tested it, but it appears that if you simply boot into your 'real' 9.04 and then launch OS X, you'll change the Classic environment to your real OS 9.04. It would appear the safest way to do this would involve running whatever you needed in your real environment, then booting into the OS X 9.04 system, and then booting into OS X.
Hopefully this will all be moot point when OS X 1.0 ships.
He gave a very exciting demo of the new OS X features, including (amongst other things) hierarchical capabilities in the dock, the return of the Apple menu at the left edge of the screen, customizable finder navigation features, and (amazingly cool!) QuickTime movies playing in the dock! Also, it looked very fast in general use (of course, he was probably on the fastest new machine).
In addition, he introduced some very cool new hardware and software. Go to MacCentral's notes live from the keynote for all the details. The most interesting things (to me, anyway) were DVD recording hardware in the new high-end G4's, iDVD, iTunes (for free!), built-in Finder-level CD burning in the new boxes, and (of course) the Titanium PowerBook!
In all, it was a very impressive show. The most relevant OS X items of interest were the price ($129) and the ship date (Saturday, March 24th).
On a related note, anyone interested in buying a slightly used G4/350 AGP? ;-) I'm thinking I really really want one of the new 733mhz machines ... and I wish I had some viable excuse to need a new G4 Titanium PowerBook!
[Editor's note: The following applies to the Public Beta only. The current release version of OS X does not contain SSH; search the site for articles on installing SSH if you'd like to use it. Rumor has it that the first OS X update will again include SSH]
If you access your OS X box remotely, you can do so through an incredibly simple-to-use Telnet server (simply click "Turn on remote Telnet access" on the Sharing System Preference panel). However, this is not the best way to connect to your OS X box - your passwords are transmitted in cleartext (non encrypted), meaning that they could be intercepted by those with malicious intents.
OS X includes a built-in secure remote access package known as SSH (Secure SHell). However, there is no GUI for enabling SSH, which is unfortunate (hopefully this will be changed prior to final release). It is not, however, overly difficult to enable SSH using a terminal session, if you're reasonably comfortable with editing files in the shell.
If you access your machine remotely, and you would like to do so more securely, read the rest of this article for information on how to enable and use SSH.
One of the known bugs with the PB is that when you reboot into OS 9, one or more of your drives may have become invisible. It won't show on the desktop, but Sherlock will find items on it, Disk First Aid will see it, etc. For some reason, the visibility bit on these drives is being turned off (or the invisibility bit is being turned on ;-). OS X ignores the bit, so the drive shows up. OS 9, however, respects the setting and promptly makes the disk(s) invisible.
Alsoft has published a free utility that will restore the visibility of these disks when you boot into OS 9, and has a further description of the problem and its cause. You can read about and download the fix from this page on Alsoft's site.
You'll have to fill out a short form to get the program, but it's free of charge.
While browsing the Mac OS X Forums (currently down for a server swap), I found a reference to a very detailed paper on how you can use BSD (the UNIX system underlying OS X) to stop spam and trojan horse programs from reaching your machine.
The author is Brett Glass, and he's posted the article on his website. It's very interesting reading. Highly recommended if you're remotely curious about this type of stuff; required if you're using the OS X version of sendmail as your mail server!
Under OS9, an often suggested fix for misbehaving applications was to "trash the preferences." While I haven't heard many reports of misbehaving apps under OSX PB, you can still try a similar trick if you are having troubles.
Each user's preferences are stored in the directory /Users/username/Library/Preferences/. Navigate there, and you'll see a bunch of different preference files, all ending in ".plist". If you want to get rid of one, I would recommend taking a "better safe than sorry" approach, since this is beta software. Instead of just deleting the pref file for the application in question, rename it to something like "appname.bad". That way, if for some reason your fix causes more problems than you had previously, you can go backwards.
When you now launch the troublesome application, it will create a new ".plist" file, since it can't find the old one. If everything works as expected, you can now go back and delete the ".bad" file.
As a side note, you can also view the contents of the preference files, since they're stored as plain text.
Browsing a few of the other boards and forums over the last few days, I noticed a few people have figured out how to make their Harmon Kardon Soundsticks function under OS X.
Navigate to /System/Library/Extensions/ and either rename (probably safer!) or remove the file AppleScreamerAudio.kext. You will probably have to be root to have permission to change this file. Here's how I'd do it via a terminal session. Comments are in [brackets], so don't type them!
> su [become root; you'll need to enter root password]
> cd /System/Library/Extensions/ [change to the directory]
> mv AppleScreamerAudio.kext AppleScreamerAudio.bak [rename the file]
> exit [ends root session]
> exit [ends terminal session]
Restart OS X and your Soundsticks should be working! Since you're disabling a portion of the system software, no guarantees on what else might break. However, others have reported success with no side effects.