Note: this document has been significantly changed since it was first published on July 10, 2011. The original document is here.
OS X Lion for Providers
OS X Lion, formally announced on June 6, 2011, is the seventh significant update to Mac OS X, Apple's UNIX-based desktop operating system. It became available exclusively from the Mac App Store on July 20, 2011, bypassing traditional distribution channels.
Information Systems & Computing (ISC) supports OS X Lion for its clients, including off-campus students. ISC recommends OS X Lion only for Apple systems with Intel Core 2 Duo or newer processors (this excludes Core Duo and Core Solo Macs) that have at least 2.0 GB of RAM. Note that 2.0 GB of RAM is the minimum required amount; ISC recommends 4.0 GB for a substantially improved experience. The full installation of OS X Lion uses approximately 4.5 GB of disk space for the download and installation depending on the type of Macintosh and choices made during the installation.
OS X Lion is available as an upgrade from Mac OS 10.6 for $29 from the Mac App Store. There is no direct upgrade path from Mac OS 10.5 to OS X Lion, so users upgrading from Mac OS 10.5 must first purchase Mac OS 10.6 Snow Leopard ($29) from the Computer Connection and then upgrade to Lion from the Mac App Store after updating to 10.6.8 or above. It is expected that the Computer Connection will continue to stock Snow Leopard, but for how long is unknown. Apple also released Lion on a USB thumb drive in August for $69, but this method of delivery is only available from the Apple Store.
Apple's use of Mac App Store as the primary distribution channel for OS X Lion significantly changes and complicates how providers upgrade Mac OS computers at the University. The Mac App Store was released with the Mac OS 10.6.6 update and is only available on Macintoshes with at least that version of Snow Leopard. Apple has announced alternative purchasing paths for Education and Business customers, but this applicable only to AELP customers, which the University currently is not. Additionally, the current scarcity of physical media will complicate the OS re-installation process for providers, requiring creation of an operating system install disk from the Lion download. The release of Lion on a thumb drive has alleviated many of these concerns, but it comes at more than twice the cost of the version available in the Mac App Store.
There are a number of known issues with OS X Lion, several of which are especially relevant to Penn's Macintosh users:
Provider note: a Provider Notes article on University-Centric OS X Lion Compatibility is an alphabetical list of Mac OS applications in use at the University and their compatibility status with OS X Lion.
Changes in OS X Lion
OS X Lion is a major release with over 250 new features, including a number of significant changes from previous iterations. Below are some changes that may be of interest to the Penn community:
1) Whole Disk Encryption via FileVault 2
As of OS X Lion, FileVault has been changed significantly enough to warrant a new version number. FileVault 2 now provides whole disk encryption using XTS-AES128 (previously, FileVault only encrypted a user's home folder). This makes it a potential alternative to PGP Whole Disk Encryption for compliance with the University's Computer Security Policy for Portable Computing Devices with Confidential Data. ISC will issue further guidance on this when it has fully reviewed the Lion implementation of FileVault.
2) Full-Screen Apps
OS X Lion includes support for full-screen use of applications. This makes significant use of multitouch gesturing and is a desktop replication of the iOS user experience.
3) System-wide integration of multitouch gestures
Building on the overwhelming success of the touch-based iOS interface, and given that almost three-quarters of Macintoshes sold are notebooks, Apple has significantly expanded the integration of multitouch gestures into the operating system. These gestures are available to any Macintosh with an integrated trackpad, a Magic Trackpad, or a Magic Mouse. Gestures such as tapping and pinching are available in all applications and gestures allow moving between applications and navigating through the OS.
A new feature called Resume allows applications to be restarted from the previous Quit point with windows, positions, menus, and other user-manipulated elements as they were at the time of quitting. This significantly improves the experience of power users who are particular about their program environments.
5) System-wide Auto-save
There is a system-wide auto-save feature that stores versioned copies of files as they change. The interface to retrieve previous versions is similar to that used in Time Machine. This should prove to be a very popular and useful feature that alleviates the severity of overwriting documents, one of the more common problems faced by users.
A new file-sharing tool called AirDrop allows users to share files directly between OS X Lion computers over a WiFi network. The availability of AirDrop raises security concerns as it provides a new vector of near-local attack.
7) Launchpad and Mission Control
Exposť and Spaces have been replaced by a unified application called Mission Control that significantly refines the functionality of the original programs, while a new application-launching interface called Launchpad has been introduced. The Launchpad UI draws significantly on the iOS app interface, and both Launchpad and Mission Control are accessed with multitouch gestures.
Other features of note to LSPs:
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