Apple pushes devs to deliver 64-bit support with new Snow Leopard beta

Posted:
in macOS edited January 2014
As expected, Apple on Wednesday evening provided its vast developer community with a new pre-release distribution of Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard and asked that they focus attention on 64-bit compatibility in their third party kernel extensions.



The seed, true to predictions earlier in the day, is indeed build 10A314, which arrived in tandem with an identically labeled build of Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard Server.



According to people familiar with the matter, Apple is "strongly encouraging" developers to get busy developing and testing 64-bit support in their kernel extensions (typically low level hardware drivers) for the new build.



While relatively few third party developers create kernel-level software, the new operating system won't work in 64-bit if users lack 64-bit versions of the kernel extensions (kexts) they need.



Developers can deliver both 32 and 64-bit kexts that will enable Snow Leopard to automatically boot as a 64-bit kernel on 64-bit hardware, including all Macs that use a Core 2 Duo or Xeon CPU, while also working properly in 32-bit on earlier Macs using Core Solo or Core Duo CPUs.



Microsoft faced similar driver transition issues when it tried to move Windows XP users to Windows Vista, which used a new driver architecture. Windows users have also faced some transition problems in moving from the 32-bit versions of Windows XP and Vista to the 64-bit versions of those operating systems.



Apple's need to get kernel developers up to speed on 64-bit support is somewhat less problematic because Mac OS X runs on a much smaller subset of hardware than Windows does, and Apple develops or manages most of the kernel-level driver software that most Mac users need to use the new 64-bit kernel.



Users who have specialized hardware and want to run Snow Leopard in 64-bit will need to make sure their vendors supply them with 64-bit versions of those drivers by the time the new operating system ships; it is expected to be released sometime this summer.



Other software faces less urgency in moving to 64-bit, as the Snow Leopard 64-bit kernel has no problem running 32-bit software outside of the kernel; it just can't run 32-bit kernel drivers. Other 64-bit processes similarly can't run 32-bit plugins or extensions, so developers of "pref pane" modules that get installed in System Preferences will need to release 64-bit versions of those items to allow users to run the 64-bit version of System Preferences.



The Cupertino-based Mac maker is also reportedly equipping developers with a new 64-bit transition guide to make the process as smooth as possible.



Other change arriving alongside the new build are an updated version of Xcode and the ability to install Snow Leopard on MacBook Airs wirelessly via Remote Install, those familiar with the matter say.



As was mentioned earlier, it appears Apple will hold any cosmetic changes to Snow Leopard's interface from the public until its annual developers conference in June.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 127
    hmurchisonhmurchison Posts: 12,132member
    64-bit or bust

  • Reply 2 of 127
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 31,341member
    These requirements will separate the women from the girls in the programming world.
  • Reply 3 of 127
    ivladivlad Posts: 739member
    Nice, Apple must be so busy with all this new programming. Two new Operating Systems at once. Just amazing.
  • Reply 4 of 127
    Do printer drivers need to be 64-bit? Seeing the OS X always promotes the number of printers it supports out of the box, it'll be interesting to see the effort needed to move them all over to 64-bit.
  • Reply 5 of 127
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 31,341member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by ltcommander.data View Post


    Do printer drivers need to be 64-bit? Seeing the OS X always promotes the number of printers it supports out of the box, it'll be interesting to see the effort needed to move them all over to 64-bit.



    Drivers are supposed to be 64 bit. This is one of the problems MS had with the initial Vista release. So few drivers were ready. Apple does much of he work here, so we'll see if that helps the situation.
  • Reply 6 of 127
    gregalexandergregalexander Posts: 1,382member
    It'd be nice to have an app to tell us how much of our system is ready for 64bit. Look at our computer, printers, system prefs, etc ... Apple did that before for one of the transitions didn't it?



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by iVlad View Post


    Nice, Apple must be so busy with all this new programming. Two new Operating Systems at once. Just amazing.



    I presume that they cross over quite extensively. But they'll focus more on iPhone OS 3.0 being released June/July after which they'll give more attention to the Snow Leopard release. I wonder if the old trusty AppleTV is going to see an upgrade beyond 10.4.7 (or a totally new box).
  • Reply 7 of 127
    hmurchisonhmurchison Posts: 12,132member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by GregAlexander View Post


    I presume that they cross over quite extensively. But they'll focus more on iPhone OS 3.0 being released June/July after which they'll give more attention to the Snow Leopard release. I wonder if the old trusty AppleTV is going to see an upgrade beyond 10.4.7 (or a totally new box).



    That's how I see it playing out as well. SL will move along at a steady pace and once the team gets the iPhone SDK done and WWDC hits it's fast break time on Snow Leopard.



    I'm still holding out for an Apple TV upgrade this year.
  • Reply 8 of 127
    With all the arguments in favor of dropping PPC support with Snow Leopard (disregarding the fact that the G5's were/are 64bit and dual processor equipped), why bother with the 32bit version at all? Seems like a lot of effort just to support some old Mac minis. Why not just do a clean break with the past and go 64bit only? Seems odd to support one kind of legacy hardware and not some others. Or is Snow Leopard more marketing based than technology based?
  • Reply 9 of 127
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 31,341member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by scottkitts View Post


    With all the arguments in favor of dropping PPC support with Snow Leopard (disregarding the fact that the G5's were/are 64bit and dual processor equipped), why bother with the 32bit version at all? Seems like a lot of effort just to support some old Mac minis. Why not just do a clean break with the past and go 64bit only? Seems odd to support one kind of legacy hardware and not some others. Or is Snow Leopard more marketing based than technology based?



    I believe that Apple would have a problem dropping any Intel support right now. While Jobs said, in the introduction to the new coming Intel platform, "We are done with "Power". That's a paraphrase, of course. but the idea was that they were finished with it.



    People who rushed to buy the new Yonah 32 bit systems were led to believe that support for them would be around for a while. Perhaps in 10.7 they can drop that. I don't see how they could do that now.



    I'm still not sure, in the absence of anything from Apple, that we might not see a cut down PPC only version of 10.6 for the G5's, and possibly even for the last fastest dual cpu G4's.
  • Reply 10 of 127
    hmurchisonhmurchison Posts: 12,132member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by scottkitts View Post


    With all the arguments in favor of dropping PPC support with Snow Leopard (disregarding the fact that the G5's were/are 64bit and dual processor equipped), why bother with the 32bit version at all? Seems like a lot of effort just to support some old Mac minis. Why not just do a clean break with the past and go 64bit only? Seems odd to support one kind of legacy hardware and not some others. Or is Snow Leopard more marketing based than technology based?



    I think the push will be to do 64-bit even if you feel like your app in no way benefits from it. I think if Apple attempted to ship 64-bit binary support only they'd run into problems with the inevitable developers that won't or can't move their codebase to 64-bit and consumers would scream.





    I have a Yonah system but just today my 2Ghz Merom chip came so I'll be on Yonah for a couple more weeks at the most.
  • Reply 11 of 127
    solipsismsolipsism Posts: 25,726member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by scottkitts View Post


    With all the arguments in favor of dropping PPC support with Snow Leopard (disregarding the fact that the G5's were/are 64bit and dual processor equipped), why bother with the 32bit version at all? Seems like a lot of effort just to support some old Mac minis. Why not just do a clean break with the past and go 64bit only? Seems odd to support one kind of legacy hardware and not some others. Or is Snow Leopard more marketing based than technology based?



    There seems to be a few reasons.



    1) Compiling for PPC and x86 seems to be a lot more work than updating some drivers which will need to be updated anyway to move to 64-bit.



    2) While there are PPC machines in use that are all much older (in computing terms) than the last of the 32-bit HW Macs.



    3) If you do need a driver that is only 32-bit, unlike with Windows, you'll be able to still use it by running the entire system in 32-bit. This is more than just the CPU.
  • Reply 12 of 127
    waluegwalueg Posts: 12member
    If I see "Cupertino based Mac maker" one more time, I think I'll scream! It's Apple! Using that other name is clumsy and adds nothing to the conversation. I know they say to use stuff like that in Journalism 101, but that's for dealing with entities that are unfamiliar to the general reading audience.
  • Reply 13 of 127
    mshockmshock Posts: 21member
    I have a feeling the iPhone 3.0 software will be a more unified look, and SL will also resemble that. Bye Bye Aqua... say hello to the iPhone's see through black scroll bars. Or at least that will be an option. If they put the pause on cosmetics, then I bet there will be only simple alterations like that.



    With a new kernel, I wish there was some news about ZFS and its integration with the 64-bit kernel. It works on 32-bit very well, and with a new Finder, I would presume work would be underway to integrate ZFS with the rest of the system. I hope it is an option on the client, at least. Full migration can happen in 10.7 as long as I have better data integrity and compression now. My guess on what's holding up ZFS news... integration with Filevault and Time Machine. Combined with an NDA no one wants to break.
  • Reply 14 of 127
    gmcalpingmcalpin Posts: 266member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by walueg View Post


    If I see "Cupertino based Mac maker" one more time, I think I'll scream! It's Apple! Using that other name is clumsy and adds nothing to the conversation. I know they say to use stuff like that in Journalism 101, but that's for dealing with entities that are unfamiliar to the general reading audience.



    It's also because when you're talking about Apple's upcoming Apple products at an Apple news website, you don't end up having the word "Apple" every other word. Apple.



    Trust me, Apple as a survivor Apple of Writing 101 Appleclasses (if not Apple Journalism 101 Apple classes), Apple synonyms Apple are Apple a Apple Apple good Apple thing.
  • Reply 15 of 127
    mcarlingmcarling Posts: 1,106member
    I just want Resolution Independence.
  • Reply 16 of 127
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by solipsism View Post


    3) If you do need a driver that is only 32-bit, unlike with Windows, you'll be able to still use it by running the entire system in 32-bit. This is more than just the CPU.



    Do you mean it'll be flexible enough that you can reboot the OS and kernel in 32-bit or 64-bit mode for the same installation with just a restart? That would be amazing although I would guess keeping things coherent would be really difficult.



    While it would be nice, I'm not optimistic for switching between 32-bit and 64-bit to be so easy. I'm guessing Apple is providing 32-bit Snow Leopard so that people who have devices or drivers that aren't 64-bit ready or may never be 64-bit ready even if their Mac has 64-bit compliant hardware can still use Snow Leopard in 32-bit mode. As an added benefit, original 32-bit Core Duos will be supported too. Making Snow Leopard 64-bit only would definitely slow adoption of Snow Leopard, which isn't what Apple wants. Snow Leopard will probably default to installing 32-bit to avoid problems, but there will be a 64-bit kernel option as well.
  • Reply 17 of 127
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 31,341member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by ltcommander.data View Post


    Do you mean it'll be flexible enough that you can reboot the OS and kernel in 32-bit or 64-bit mode for the same installation with just a restart? That would be amazing although I would guess keeping things coherent would be really difficult.



    While it would be nice, I'm not optimistic for switching between 32-bit and 64-bit to be so easy. I'm guessing Apple is providing 32-bit Snow Leopard so that people who have devices or drivers that aren't 64-bit ready or may never be 64-bit ready even if their Mac has 64-bit compliant hardware can still use Snow Leopard in 32-bit mode. As an added benefit, original 32-bit Core Duos will be supported too. Making Snow Leopard 64-bit only would definitely slow adoption of Snow Leopard, which isn't what Apple wants. Snow Leopard will probably default to installing 32-bit to avoid problems, but there will be a 64-bit kernel option as well.



    The entire concept is clumsy at best. I doubt people will want to do it.
  • Reply 18 of 127
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by mcarling View Post


    I just want Resolution Independence.



    That makes 2 of us. I'm eager to see if there's any change in regards to this in this build cause so far things are NOT looking good.



    Adi
  • Reply 19 of 127
    solipsismsolipsism Posts: 25,726member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by ltcommander.data View Post


    Do you mean it'll be flexible enough that you can reboot the OS and kernel in 32-bit or 64-bit mode for the same installation with just a restart? That would be amazing although I would guess keeping things coherent would be really difficult.



    Actually, that is what it means. Right now, only the XServe will boot into the 64-bit kernel by default because very few drivers are needed for it. Most other 64-bit machines are capable of using the 64-bit kernel of SL but use the 32-bit kernel by default, for now. To switch between kernels at startup you simply boot the Mac while holding down the '3' and '2' keys or '6' and '4' keys, for 32-bit and 64-bit, respectively.
  • Reply 20 of 127
    uniuni Posts: 12member
    You need the $500 Developer package to get access to the seeds, right?
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