A Weekend Date With X, Part IV - Time to Meet the Family


After our last exciting installment, where we were introduced to some old and new friends in the Applications folder, we thought it was time to introduce Mac OS X to the rest of our family. This family consists of applications that we have come to know and love under previous versions of Mac OS. Will Mac OS X get along with them, offer new options, or will there be a fight?

First, the Surfers

The most important member of our family is our Web browser. We personally like Internet Explorer, and fortunately, Preview Version 5.1 is bundled with Mac OS X. Just import your old Favorites.html file, and youill be surfing in no time. Our "Uncle" Bryan suggested we use an alias to your Classic Favorites.html file in order to have the same bookmarks no matter what OS you were in. IE seems to be able to handle almost any normal page we can throw at it. Pages which require Java or plugins didnit fare so well. But remember that this is preview release. For those that want to check out an alternative browser, OmniWeb is a good bet.

Next, the Writers

Next on our list of important family members is e-mail. Although Mac OS X has what appears to be a full featured e-mail client (just choose Mail from the dock) we are a dedicated Eudora fan, so went in search of a Mac OS X version. Thanks to the good folks at VersionTracker, who have a special Mac OS X section, we were able to locate and download Eudora 5.1b9 for Mac OS X. Kudos to the Eudora team for making sure that this version will seamlessly work with existing (Mac OS 9.1) Eudora data. Joy!

Then, the Talkers

We use instant messaging for both personal and business reasons, so were hoping that we could continue to use our existing messaging systems under Mac OS X. We mainly stick to AIM and ICQ, so were intrigued by the Fire client (subject of a recent Mondayis Mac Gadget) which, at the time of our initial exposure, supported AIM, ICQ and Yahoo! Messenger. Now, unfortunately, Epicware has had to remove support for AIM from the excellent application because of a fracas with AOL.

As of this writing, beta Mac OS X clients for both AIM and ICQ are available, and we were successfully able to import our old settings to these clients. Fire now supports ICQ, Yahoo, IRC, MSN and Jabber IM, so is still worth a look.

Finally, the Movers

Mac users almost always want to share their files. The old reliable AppleTalk networking (formerly accessed via the Chooser) is, of course, still available with Mac OS X. You can both share files (via the Sharing item in System Preferences) and access files (via the Connect to Server.. option from the Finder) using AppleTalk. But in the interest of open standards, you may want to explore sharing and accessing files via FTP. No problem.

Since Mac OS X has a UNIX foundation, you can get down and dirty, and run a command-line FTP client via the Terminal command. Of course "FTP" is the most popular, but Mac OS X also includes "ncftp" which is a much nicer implementation. If you decide to go the graphical route, there is a Mac OS X beta of the venerable Fetch.

As for sharing, you can share files via the Sharing System Preferences. There are a few choices. For basic users, click Start under the File Sharing section. This will allow others to access data in your Public folder. For more advanced file sharing, you can again get to the UNIX roots of Mac OS X, and share files via FTP. Just be careful that you donit share your files with the world.

Older Family Members

Since Mac OS X was just released, many vendors are still working on Mac OS X versions of their software. Some applications are "Carbonized," which means that they can run under both Mac OS 9.1 and Mac OS X, and can take advantage of many Mac OS X features. But many applications have yet to be Carbonized, and are designed to run only under Mac OS 9.1.

Never fear, Mac OS X supports a feature called Classic. This is where a "virtual" Mac OS 9.1 environment is created within Mac OS X. Be warned that it can take a few minutes to load the Classic environment. You may want to get it over with and have Classic start each time you start Mac OS X. You can set this up in your Classic Preferences in the System Preferences (accessed from the Dock). Once Classic is started, any future Classic program can use it, without having to load it again. In this Mac OS 9.1 environment, you can run almost any Mac OS 9.1 program, and it will look and feel like the original.

The immediate drawback of old Mac OS 9.1 application is that they donit use the spiffy new Mac OS X graphical system, aka Aqua. Also, programs that need direct hardware or network access will probably act up. And if a Classic application crashes, it will probably take down the whole Mac OS 9.1 environment. But Mac OS X will keep going and going...

Under Classic, we were able to successfully use several older family members, including GoLive, Office 2001, SimpleText and Notes R5. Having a Mac OS 9.1 look and feel while under Mac OS X is strange at first, but youill get used to it.


There was only one important family member (important to us, at least) which we simply couldnit get to work, and that was a HotSync with our Palm VII. We were disappointed to see that there were no Mac OS X drivers available. Palmis latest status seems to be "Palm is hard at work on a "carbonized" Mac OS X versions of Palm Desktop and HotSync Manager software for release later this year." Like they didnit know this was going to happen.

Sure, we could perform a HotSync by booting into Mac OS 9.1, but a bug with Conflict Catcher forces us to input our serial number each time we switch between native Mac OS 9.1 and Classic. How annoying. The C&G folks maintain that this is a Mac OS X bug. Oh well...

Give Me Support

On the other end of the support spectrum, our friends at Hewlett-Packard (HP) have an entire section dedicated to Mac OS X support for their products. Heck, they had printer drivers available a few days after Mac OS X was officially shipped. One could take the aforementioned behavior and extend it to a companyis commitment to the Mac, and specifically Mac OS X. It is still early, but if the major players donit have something ready by MACWORLD NY 2001, one should start to question their commitment to the platform.

Next, weill reflect on the outcome of our "date" and suggest some areas for future investigation...