Apple Software Updates: Count to Two

by Derrick Story

Here at O'Reilly we have lots of new Mac OS X users. We've leveled the playing field by allowing employees to choose from a menu of hardware options when their time for an upgrade arrives. I won't give you any specific numbers, but let's say that Mac hardware is very popular around here right now.

Since most of these folks had WinTel configurations prior, we've established a NewMacs internal mailing list where we discuss software and hardware issues. One of the most consistent questions that has surfaced is, "Should I apply this new thing that just appeared in Software Update?"

Our answer is, "Count to two." Two days that is. Then we'll either flash the green light or recommend that you don't update at this time.

I was reminded of this strategy this morning when I read that the current AirPort Management Tools update has been temporarily pulled back by Apple. Based on the comments I've read, I'm glad I didn't rush to apply it as soon as it was released. Since I have a PowerBook, I can't afford to lose any signal strength bars :)

Personally, I don't think this is a fiasco. Overall, I think Apple has a good QC process for their software. Yes, they miss things, and I wish they wouldn't. And I have typos in my articles sometimes too, no matter how many times I read them.

That's why I recommend counting to two with new updates. Let the guys who have a little more time on their hands than I do perform the final real world test.

I think Software Update is quite handy. I keep it in manual mode so I'm not tempted to update until I've made a conscious decision after research. And if I even think about whining about any of these update issues, I then go to my IBM ThinkPad and attempt to apply a few dozen patches.


2004-04-20 15:26:40
Interesting Option for Bleeding Edge Types
I've just exchanged some mail with Dave Nanian, who is part of the ShirtPocket software group. They've come up with an interesting product called SuperDuper that I think some of our readers might be interested in investigating.

SuperDuper is best for those who have partitioned drives. Essentially, it makes it easy-to-create a working sandbox on your partition. When you want to apply new updates, test software compatibility, etc; boot from the sandbox drive and test to your heart's content.

If things go wrong, no problem. Go back and boot from your original drive and no harm done. You simply then use SuperDuper to wipe clean the sandbox and rewrite your safe data to it. It's ready for another day.

Not everyone has the luxury of waiting to see if updates are stable or not (read: sysadmins). This software might be helpful for these folks.

2004-04-21 02:38:52
AirPort Admin tools
Some recently published Knowledge Base articles state :

AirPort Management Utility 1.0 may be found on the software CD included with the AirPort Extreme Base Station (PoE/UL 2043).

So it is probable that they were never intended to be available for download online in the first place... This is speculation on my part, of course.

I know someone who had a chance to download the Admin utility when it was still available and, so far, he hasn't experienced any issues with his AirPort network -- of course, this is only his personal experience.

Thanks for a very interesting blog !


2004-04-23 08:08:22
Airport Management

I have had no trouble with the management tools. I installed them before the Airport 3.4 Update so maybe that has something to do with it.