All posts tagged ‘os x’

File Under: servers, Web Services

New Arq 3 Taps Amazon Glacier for Backup Nirvana

Arq 3 makes it easy to navigate Amazon’s Glacier file storage service. Original Image: Christine Zenino/Flickr

Amazon’s Glacier file storage service costs less than a penny per gigabyte per month. It’s hard to think of a cheaper, better way to create and store an offsite backup of your files.

Of course backups are only useful if you actually create them on a regular basis. Unfortunately, getting your files into Glacier’s dirt-cheap storage requires either a manual effort on your part or some scripting-fu to automate your own system.

Back when Glacier first launched we speculated that it would be a perfect fit for a backup utility like the OS X backup app Arq. Now Arq 3 has been released and among its new features is built-in support for Amazon Glacier. Arq 3 is $29 per computer, upgrading from v2 is $15.

Arq creator Stefan Reitshamer sent over a preview of Arq 3 a while back and, having used it for the better part of a week now, I can attest that it, combined with Glacier, does indeed make for a near-perfect low-cost off-site backup solution.

Using Arq 3 with Glacier is simple. Just sign up for an Amazon Web services account and create a set of access keys. Then fire up Arq, enter your keys and select which files you want to back up. Choose Glacier for the storage type and then make any customizations you’d like (for example, excluding folders and files you don’t want backed up).

That’s all there is to it; close Arq and it will back up your files in the background. By default Arq 3 is set to make Glacier backups every day at 12 a.m., but you can change that in the preferences.

Should disaster strike and you need to get your files out of Glacier (or S3), just fire up Arq, select the files you need and click “restore.” Arq will give you an estimate of your costs and you can adjust the download speed — the slower the download the cheaper it is to pull files out of Glacier. There’s also an open source command line client available on GitHub in the event that the Arq app is no longer around when you need to get your files back.

Estimating costs with Arq’s Glacier restore screen. Image: Screenshot/Webmonkey

Existing Arq users should note that Amazon currently doesn’t offer an API for moving from S3 to Glacier (though the company says one is in the works). That means if you want to switch any current S3 backups to Glacier you’ll need to first remove the folder from Arq and then re-add it to trigger the storage type dialog.

In order to get the most out of Arq 3 and Glacier it helps to understand how Glacier works. Unlike Amazon S3, which is designed for cheap but accessible file storage, Glacier is, as the name implies, playing the long, slow game. Glacier is intended for long-term storage that’s not accessed frequently. If you need to grab your files on a regular basis Glacier will likely end up costing you more than S3, but for secondary (or tertiary) backups of large files like images, videos or databases Glacier works wonderfully.

My backup scenario works like this: For local backups I have two external drives. One is nearly always connected and makes a Time Machine backup every night. Once a week I clone my entire drive off to the second external drive. For offsite backups I use rsync and cron to backup key documents to my own server (most are also stored in Dropbox, which is not really a backup service, but can, in a pinch, be used like one).

But my server was running out of space. Photo and video libraries are only getting bigger and most web hosting services tend to get very expensive once you pass the 100GB mark. That’s where Arq and Glacier come in. It took a while, but I now have all 120GB of my photos backed up to Glacier, which will cost me $1.20/month.

The only catch to using Glacier is that getting the data back out can take some time. There are also some additional charges for pulling down your data, but as noted above, Arq will give you an estimate of your costs and you can adjust the download speed to make things cheaper. The slow speeds aren’t ideal when you actually need your data, but these are secondary, worst-case scenario backups anyway. If my laptop drive dies, I can just copy the clone or Time Machine backup drive to get my files back. The Glacier backup is only there if my house burns down or floods or something else destroys my local backups. While it would, according to Arq’s estimate, cost about $60 and take over four days to get my data out of Glacier, that would likely seem like a bargain when I’d have otherwise lost everything.

File Under: Software & Tools

Rumor: Apple’s Finder App to get Cocoa Rewrite for Snow Leopard

Flickr_snow_leopard_mannequinApple’s OS X operating system ships with two primary application building frameworks — Carbon and Cocoa. Carbon was designed to make it easier to older, legacy apps running on OS X, while Cocoa is the newer, and according to Apple, better framework.

Apple has long encouraged developers to transition their Carbon apps to Cocoa, but the company has it’s own Carbon-based holdout — OS X’s Finder app.

However, according to AppleInsider, that may be changing with the upcoming release of Snow Leopard. AppleInsider’s sources, which the site calls “people familiar with matter,” claim that Finder will see a Cocoa rewrite for the release of OS X 10.6, Snow Leopard.

While Apple hasn’t given many official details about Snow Leopard, one thing it has said is that the next generation of OS X will be fully 64-bit capable. At the same time the company has delayed a 64-bit capable version of Carbon, which means if you’re building a 64-bit app, you need to be using Cocoa.

That’s why Adobe was unable to release a 64-bit version of Photoshop CS4 for Mac — the app is built in Carbon and it’s tough to build a 64-bit app when the framework you’re using doesn’t support it.

But Adobe isn’t the only company with apps written in Carbon, and it would seem awkward (or just plain untrue) for Apple to claim it had a 64-bit system when one of its own major apps didn’t fit the bill.

So while it’s just a rumor, the all 64-bit claim lends at least one practical reason why the rumors of a Cocoa-based Finder for Snow Leopard may well be true.

So far Apple has not announced a release date for Snow Leopard, though Macworld 2009, happening Jan 5-9 seems like a good bet, if not for the actual release, at least for a healthy dose of new details.

[Photo credit]

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File Under: operating systems

OS X Update Packed With Bug Fixes and Improvements

leopardbox.jpgApple has pushed out an update for Mac OS X Leopard, bring the operating system to version 10.5.5 with some 136 MB worth of updates and bug fixes.

Among the notable issues that the update addresses are some MacBook Air video glitches and remote disc sharing problems. The latest version of Leopard also adds a welcome new backup feature — Time Machine will now handle your iPhone data.

Other improvements include faster Spotlight indexing, improved iPhone sync reliability with iCal and Address Book, numerous bug fixes for and quite a bit more. Unlike some Mac updates, Apple has provided rather extensive notes on everything addressed in the update.

Those struggling with the much-criticized MobileMe sync service will be happy to note that Apple claims 10.5.5 will improve “Back to My Mac” reliability.

OS X 10.5.5 includes all the latest Apple Security Updates.

I upgraded my Macbook latest night without any hiccups and so far, while there’s no obvious difference from the previous version, at least things are still running smoothly.

You can upgrade to OS X 10.5.5 by firing up Software Update or by downloading the update directly from Apple.

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File Under: operating systems

Hackintosh: Get OS X Running on the Ultraportable MSI Wind

OsxwindThe Macbook Air is pretty cool, but if you’re looking for a true subnotebook like the EeePC or MSI Wind, the Air comes up wanting — it’s thin and light, but it’s still big and expensive in comparison to true subnotebooks.

So you want your truly small notebook, but you want OS X running on it? Hackers have already figured out how to run OS X on the EeePC, and now hardware hacker Paul O’Brien has released a video and instructions on how to get OS X running on the MSI Wind (Advent 4211).

No it isn’t perfect, there’s no wifi, hibernation mode doesn’t work and it’s not for the feint of heart, but with a few modified kernel extension files you too can get OS X running on your Wind.

Of course you’ll be violating Apple’s EULA. Violating an EULA isn’t necessarily illegal, but if it bothers you then this hack isn’t for you. You’ll also need to download the kernel extensions via some questionable torrents, be careful and make sure you verify the hashes before you get started.

Until Apple realizes the thin isn’t small, and that the price of a small laptop also ought to be small, hacking OS X to work on machines like the Wind or EeePC is probably the Mac fans best bet for a true ultra portable OS X experience.

Here’s O’Brien’s video which walks you through the process of getting OS X up and running on the Wind.

[via The Register]

File Under: Programming

Apple’s ‘SproutCore’ Tools May Help Web Apps Grow Up

SproutcoreReady for the web to start looking like Mac desktop apps? Whether it’s all part of Steve Jobs’ world domination plans or not, news is leaking out about a new JavaScript framework that enables developers to create very Mac OS X-esque web apps.

SproutCore, as the JavaScript library is known, has been around for a while. It was originally developed by Charles Jolley who was working on an e-mail manager app named Mailroom. Apple hired Jolley to work on the company’s .Mac interface and in the process embraced SproutCore.

Indeed SproutCore appears to power the coming Mobile Me site, one of Apple’s big announcements at the company’s recent WWDC event. Mobile Me is essentially a redesigned and reworked .Mac service, which ties in with iPhones and, perhaps most importantly, is aimed at a cross-platform audience.

The cross-platform MobileMe features a very slick interface and lays the groundwork for Apple to invade the web app space.

But what’s interesting about Apple’s web plans is that they remain entirely free of proprietary technologies like Adobe Flash or Microsoft’s would-be Flash-killer Silverlight. Frequent Apple partner Google has taken a similar approach, building very sophisticated webapps like Google Maps using entirely open tools.

By eschewing plugins like Flash, both Apple and Google are driving the web toward more open technologies.

But building those tools — like Google Maps or MobileMe — using Javascript is no easy process, which is where SproutCore comes in. Although details are thin and come from developers willing to violate their NDAs, Roughly Drafted has an excellent overview of how and why Apple has embraced SproutCore.

SproutCore not only makes it easy to build real applications for the web using menus, toolbars, drag and drop support, and foreign language localization, but it also provides a full Model View Controller application stack like Rails (and Cocoa), with bindings, key value observing, and view controls. It also exposes the latent features of JavaScript, including late binding, closures, and lambda functions. Developers will also appreciate tools for code documentation generation, fixtures, and unit testing.

If all that sounds too good to be true, well, you’re in league with the skeptics over at Ajaxian. Many commenters on that post argue that jQuery and other JavaScript libraries are already serving their needs — there’s no need for SproutCore.

But that seems to also be part of what Apple wants to do — turn Cocoa/Objective-C programmers in to web app creators. SproutCore offers a set of features that are much closer to Cocoa, Ruby or Python than anything JavaScript developers are likely accustomed to.

While SproutCore’s promise may seem a bit overhyped, keep in mind that it’s also very early on and most details are only in the hands of Mac developers.

For instance, one key component to SproutCore’s potential is in the upcoming Safari 4, which will include the ability to save individual webpages as applications as well as an updated JavaScript interpreter.

That, coupled with SproutCore, gives Apple a very nice in-road to the operating-system-as-a-platform and, as an added bonus for Apple, makes it dead simple to get Apple-style webapps running on your Windows desktop.

With social networks and online office suites fast becoming the primary “apps” for many users, Apple seems to recognize that the future seems less about what operating system you use than which on/offline apps you can access.

But Adobe has plans for that space as well and recently launched an update to AIR, which enables desktop Flash apps.

If Apple wants to make sure that the future of webapps is in open technologies it needs to counter AIR and that’s exactly what SproutCore appears designed to do.

[via CNet]

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