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NEW(S) MEDIA With UNIX inside, Apple's new OS may be hard to beat "OS X appears to be the real deal. ... [It] could be a real breakout in the workstation and small server market".

A few days with an Apple Titanium PowerBook running OS X leads you to a couple of inescapable conclusions:

* With OS X, Apple may have finally gotten around to releasing the Ultimate Operating System it promised everyone a decade ago.

* You can use a Titanium PowerBook as a laptop only if your closet is full of asbestos pants.

A quick update for those of you who may have missed a few episodes: Several months ago (see NewsInc., July 2, 2001) in this very space ran a column saying that it might be time to reconsider Macs for two reasons. First, OS X is the Mac interface on top of UNIX, so it might be enterprise-capable.

And second, Microsoft is back in the saddle again, and has decided to celebrate its latest court victory by including sniffer software in its new operating system that inventories your hardware and software, shuts itself off if doesn't like what it finds, and generally turns your machine into a little Redmond-controlled outpost.

Other than that, it's perfectly all right.

Before we get to OS X, let's consider the PowerBook quickly. It's one of those machines whose success will be judged largely by how you define your expectations. If what you need is a portable machine that handles video, this is the best thing on the market. Indeed, the first thing you'll notice about the Titanium is its odd shape, for a notebook. It's a lot wider than typical notebooks.

Opening it reveals why. The Titanium PowerBook sports a letterbox screen -- that is, a screen with the extra-wide aspect ratio of a movie theater screen, rather than more squarish aspect ratios of computer monitors and television sets. Given the ultra slim DVD drive built into the front of the machine, this is the box to buy if you want your own personal portable theater.

(There is one caveat to all this joy, however: Apple, being Apple, somehow shipped OS X without the DVD drivers. The machine comes set up to dual boot into OS X and OS 9; to use the DVD drive, you have to reboot into OS 9 even if you are primarily using OS X. Don't worry, though: Apple is shipping a point upgrade to OS X with the DVD drivers Real Soon Now(TM).)

The screen and drive make the PowerBook fun, but they are not the end of its video capabilities. The PowerBook also comes with built in FireWire ports -- the standard connection for video equipment such as mini digital video cameras -- and video editing software. You can fit a Titanium PowerBook and a mini DV camera into a computer bag and have an airline-legal carry-on that packs more video power than a high-end studio had five years ago.

That's the good news.

Here's the bad: If you think this sounds like the perfect road warrior machine -- if you immediately thought of watching The Bad News Bears on that beautiful screen at 38,000 feet -- think again.

First, no matter how small and sleek this thing looks in the ads, it is huge. The only way you're propping it up in a plane to watch a movie is if you're sitting in first class.

Second, forget about putting this thing on your lap. It gets hot. Really hot.

Not, "I say, that's a bit warm there, old man," hot. We're talking bad words and sucking on any finger foolish enough to come in contact with the bottom of the case.

Enough about the hardware, though. The real news is the software, or more specifically, the operating system.

Here's the news in a nutshell: Under the covers, OS X is a pretty clean implementation of Berkeley Standard Distribution UNIX, which is very good news indeed. It runs the Apache web server in native mode, and with about a week of tweaking and recompiling, one of our Belo Interactive ninja coders was able to get our entire VelocIT Content Operating System running on it.

(A personal note to every Apple aficionado who swooned at the idea of a Mac OS that requires the recompiling of applications: This is a good thing. No, really. You're just going to have to trust me. No, really.)

Anyway, OS X appears to be the real deal. What with the 'Softies goose-stepping Windows XP into software fascism, the inability of the Linux community to launch a breakthrough desktop and the appearance of multiprocessor PowerMacs, OS X could be a real breakout in the workstation and small server market. Even the usual software availability questions that haunt a new OS should not apply here, given the ease with which it appears UNIX applications can be recompiled to run on OS X.

(Another note to my Mac friends: No, really, recompiling is considered to be the equivalent of rebuilding your desktop here in UNIX land. No, I'm not kidding.

(Actually, my face always looks like this. Trust me.)

-- Christopher J. Feola; e-mail:
COPYRIGHT 2001 The Cole Group
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2001 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Comment:NEW(S) MEDIA With UNIX inside, Apple's new OS may be hard to beat "OS X appears to be the real deal. ... [It] could be a real breakout in the workstation and small server market".
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Sep 10, 2001
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