Bugs & Fixes: OS X 10.5.7's ups and downs

Apple’s just-released Mac OS X 10.5.7 update is the company’s seventh effort to improve on Leopard. As expected, the update includes an assortment of bug fixes.

As has also come to be expected, the accompanying “About the Mac OS X 10.5.7 Update” article is frustratingly vague about the details of the fixes. Most of the listed items simply say “Improves reliability of…” or “Resolves an issue with.” How exactly has the reliability been improved or what precise issue has been resolved? Apple’s not telling.

While it’s good to know that Mac OS X 10.5.7 “improves consistency with Parental Controls and application restrictions,” it would be much more helpful to have some notion as to what consistency failures needed improving.

My personal favorite for deliberate vagueness is that 10.5.7 “addresses a situation that may cause issues when logging into Gmail.” Clear as mud.

What makes this vagueness so frustrating is that it can be almost impossible to determine whether or not a fix relates to a problem you’re having. For example, suppose you are unable to login to Gmail occasionally. After updating to 10.5.7, the bug remains. Does this mean that your login failure is not the issue that 10.5.7 supposedly fixes? Or does it mean that Apple’s claim that the issue has been fixed is incorrect, at least for you? Without more specifics, you have no way of knowing.

I’ve complained about all of this before and will likely do so again. It bears repeating.

One positive note: If you search Apple’s database beyond the main 10.5.7 article, you’ll find a few instances where specifics are provided.

For example, one article states that 10.5.7 fixes a bug, present in 10.5.0 to 10.5.6, where “the mouse pointer may stop responding to movement when the login window appears.”

According to another article, Mac OS X 10.5.7 resolves a conflict with 2009 Mac Pros and Photoshop CS4 involving “distorted graphics in the gray area of the image window if the window is set to a size larger than the document, or while toggling to full-screen mode.” It primarily occurs when opening large .PNG files.

Beyond Apple

Some noteworthy changes in Mac OS X updates don’t get even the briefest mention by Apple. You have to go to other Web sites to find them. Usually, this is because Apple is not eager to publicize the news.

For example, a VMware blog reveals that “the ATI driver in Mac OS X 10.5.7 breaks the 3D acceleration feature in VMware Fusion.” Symptoms include “slow performance, to incorrect rendering, and even crashes.” In other words, 10.5.7 introduces a new bug, as opposed to fixing an existing one. VMware has warned Fusion users away from installing the 10.5.7 update if they have a Mac using an ATI graphics card or chip.

In another example of news that Apple won’t be shouting from the rooftops, 10.5.7 makes it easier to jailbreak an iPhone. With 10.5.6, jailbreaking typically required connecting your iPhone to your Mac via a USB hub, as the jailbreak would fail if you used a USB port on the Mac itself. According the iPhone Dev-Team, as cited in The iPhone Blog, this so-called “DFU-mode bug” has been “fixed” in 10.5.7. The need for a hub is gone.

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