Nine things we learned from the Epic v. Apple trial – The Verge

It’s particularly notable since some people are worried that macOS is inching toward the iOS model, making it a little more difficult to install unauthorized software with each new version. If you were already anxious about the Mac ecosystem closing off entirely, Federighi’s testimony gave you plenty more to worry about.

Source: Nine things we learned from the Epic v. Apple trial – The Verge

Indeed. Federighi says he’s worried about malware on macOS. I think that’s scaremongering. (Now watch me get a virus.) But, for all-around safety, I’ve come to the tenuous conclusion that requiring everything to be signed is acceptable. However, if Apple finally closes the last door, and begins to require that everything you install on a Mac to come through the App Store, we’re going to have a problem. As a Rails developer, I’m very worried about the trend of making macOS more and more like iOS, but I don’t seriously think they can ever do this, completely, and I’ll step through why.

A large part of the reason that Apple sells Macs is for development. Obviously, developers must make up a very small percentage of Mac users, being dwarfed by media creators, but the inescapable reality is that Apple themselves require a Mac to write software for their most-profitable products: the iPhone and iPad. So, even by Apple’s own rules, a generally-open development environment needs to exist to continue to support their mobile ecosystem.

Very closely related to this is that a lot of developers (like me) prefer the platform for developing web apps, which, again, is a type of development that helps Apple’s efforts. I mean, they don’t want people going off and creating Windows-native applications, right? So keeping the operating system of Macs in such a state as to make it productive for web development is — at least tangentially — also in their own best interests. However, this sort of focus almost requires the use of either Homebrew or MacPorts, which I have a hard time believing could be delivered through the App Store.

So, following the logic, and while I understand that it might be really attractive to Apple leadership to lock down macOS as tightly as iOS, I don’t see a path for getting there. At least, not in a way that won’t alienate the entire demographic of developers. Obviously, if they get really serious about it, they could lock the system down for iOS app development, but I think this would leave web development blowing in the breeze. If that were to happen, my only consolation is that Linux is just as nice for doing Rails development as macOS. It’s not as great for just about everything else, but it is a first-class platform to develop web applications on. So, moving back to Linux on the desktop is a viable fallback position for me, and the really great thing about that is that no one can take that away from me.

‘Wormable’ Flaw Leads July Microsoft Patches

Microsoft today released updates to plug a whopping 123 security holes in Windows and related software, including fixes for a critical, “wormable” flaw in Windows Server versions that Microsoft says is likely to be exploited soon. While this particular weakness mainly affects enterprises, July’s care package from Redmond has a little something for everyone. So…

Source: ‘Wormable’ Flaw Leads July Microsoft Patches

Every time I read a lede like this, I’m struck with the stark difference between Windows and macOS in terms of security posture. Apple releases patches for their operating system once every couple of months, and they contain a dozen or so patches. Microsoft releases hundreds of fixes every month. Sometimes multiple times a month. HUNDREDS! Every month!

Apples fixes are primarily about local privilege escalation. Microsoft? It seems like every patch note is for a “random interweb haxxor can pwn you”-type of problem. I’m sure I’m being overly generous with Apple, and completely unfair to Microsoft, but the difference in the general nature of the two kinds of problems is also starkly different.

The Microsoft fanboys will say that it’s because Windows is still the majority of the desktop market, but Microsoft has lost a lot of ground lately. macOS is around 15% of the market, making it a perfectly viable hacking target. So that can’t be the reason. I say it comes back to Windows having a DOS heritage, and macOS having a BSD heritage. The foundational assumptions these two systems were built on could not possibly be more different, and the ramifications of those differences are still present 30 years later. One is holding up very well. The other… isn’t.

I bring all of this up because the prevailing wisdom in Fortune 500 companies is that we 1) must run Windows, and 2) load it up with all sorts of first- and third-party software to A) “secure” the system, B) guarantee the integrity of the build, and C) lock it down as tightly as the internal staff can understand and manage. All of this approach is a holdover legacy from the 90’s, where we didn’t have much choice. What were we going to do? Run Linux? As much of a Linux zealot as I was — and continue to be — even I know that’s not workable. Now, it’s become a house of cards, with alternating layers of vulnerability mitigation and policy enforcement.

But macOS has matured. Almost all commercial software runs on it now. (The only things I know of that don’t are high-end CAD/FEA systems, but even AutoCAD does now.) And Apple has grown into a behemoth of a company, in terms of support capability. A truly staggering amount of money is being wasted in the Windows-ecosystem-based approach. It’s time for corporate America to stop — really stop — and think about the situation with a fresh set of assumptions. Do we really need to continue as we have for the past 25 years?

And maybe — just maybe — if we didn’t have to load up the corporate desktop image with layer after layer of software, trying to stem the flow of Windows’ suckage, my work laptop wouldn’t run its fans at full blast all the freaking time…

Windows. And Skyrim. Again.

I’m on vacation. At a beach. I don’t find the beach compelling. So I’m bored. Bored, but with a computer. Unfortunately, for this exercise, the computer is a MacBook Pro. And I want to play Skyrim. I’ve been having just a lovely time playing through it again on a PC I stitched together from parts, but how does one play it on a Mac? Good question.

The first attempt at an answer was to try using Parallels. Again. No bueno. Still no clues on the internet, which just seems wrong. Then again, if it were possible to do this, you’d think Parallels would advertise that fact, along with the other games they say it supports.

The only other realistic avenue was to try using Bootcamp to run Windows on the machine, directly. I’ve resisted this for a long time, because I just didn’t buy a Mac to run Windows games. Philosophy aside, this is surprisingly easy. I even still had the Windows 10 ISO file from when I built the PC, and Bootcamp found it on my hard drive, and offered to use it. I just clicked a couple of times, expanded the partition a bit, and waited. Within 15 or 20 minutes, I was in Windows (and denying all of Microsoft’s telemetry options).

Then begins the process I know pretty well by now:

  • Update Windows
  • Use Edge to install Firefox
  • Use the master key to setup 1Password
  • Get logged into Steam
  • Download and install Steam
  • Install Skyrim
  • Download and install Skyrim Script Extender
  • Get logged into NexusMods.com
  • Download and install Vortex
  • Download the dozen or so mods I like
  • Use Vortex to…

BLUE SCREEN OF DEATH

And this one was like there were 2 interleaved slides forming the BSOD message, and they were jiggling back and forth, stuck down in the lower, left quadrant of the screen, and that was enough for me. It just confirmed that this isn’t something that’s going to be well supported, and I don’t have time for this kind of nonsense any more. I rebooted into macOS, and immediately used Bootcamp to wipe out the Windows partition.

Operating System “Ecology”

Back in my days of playing AD&D, each month, Dragon Magazine would feature an “The Ecology of…” some mythical beast. The article would read like a National Geographic treatment of what the creature eats, what places they inhabited, and so on. (The one that sticks with me was about the beholder, which is a uniquely characteristic example.) I still think about the word, “ecology,” a lot, because it neatly captures the immediate surroundings of a particular thing. I suppose talking about the “ecology” of an operating system is taking things a bit too far, but hear me out.

As I type this, I’m cloning a spinning-media hard drive to a solid-state hard drive. It’s already 33% done, so I’m going to have to hurry. To do this, I searched for “clone hdd to ssd”, and read the results. The first several, including a prominent LifeHacker article, talked about using EaseUS Backup to do the job.

Fine. I download software, and install it, and try to use it. Along the way, I’m prompted five times to upgrade to the paid version. Each time, I sidestep the upsell, because LifeHacker has assured me that the free edition is all I need. When I finally get to the actual button that does the thing, I see that this is no longer true.

Fine. Times change, and they felt the need to start charging for this. I get it. I don’t begrudge them. If all else fails, I’ll find a way to do this with Linux, because it’s always possible to do things like this with Linux, and do it for free, if you’re willing to learn the flags of some arcane commands.

But I take another look at the search results, and there’s another possibility: Macrium Reflect. Ah! That’s right. I did this for another computer over a year ago, and that’s what I used, I now recall.

Fine. I download this new program. I have to sign up with an email address to get the downloader. Fine. I register. I get my email. I download the downloader. I run the downloader. I enter my email. I get the downloader running. It downloads the program, installs it, and I’m copying the drive right now. The UI is very efficient, and there’s no annoying upsell come-ons. But I’ve had to click about 25 times to get to the point of doing the thing.

People who’ve never actually lived in macOS, and think that Windows is just great (thank you very much) never see it from our side. In the ecology of Macs, if you want some software, it’s usually quite clear that what you want is either free or paid, and installing consists of downloading a file, opening it, and dragging an icon. That’s it. The difference in the two operating system “ecologies,” in terms of friction and user-hostility, is pretty stark. Window users who have never tried Mac: you have no idea how much nicer life can be.

Aaand the clone is done. Let’s see how much faster Civ V starts up now…