Apple bridges chasm between Mac and Unix
Not long ago, people were forced to decide between two competing technologies -- the toaster and the oven. One day, a young radical inventor with young radical tastebuds stepped forward with an idea that would change the course of culinary and technological history: the English muffin pizza. In order to make the daring new dish, the two appliances merged, thus creating the first toaster oven, the supermachine that could turn a muffin golden brown and melt cheese.
Apple brought this toaster oven sensibility to the computer world with its release of the Macintosh Application Environment (MAE). The latest, MAE version 3.0, joins the two worlds of Unix and Macintosh. Rather than viewing them as different and opposing platforms, the Macintosh Application Environment recognizes them as different yet complimentary. The MAE functions as a virtual Macintosh on a Unix machine, enabling the user to mix and match the functions of each.
Undoubtedly, the two systems are mutually beneficial. While Unix supports high-end computational applications, it is limited in its offerings of business applications such as e-mail, word processing, and spreadsheets. Using MAE 3.0, the only Macintosh emulator produced by Apple Computer, Unix users can get the best of both worlds -- the ease and practicality of Macintosh plus the power and reliability of Unix -- on one machine.
Within an X Window system window, MAE functions as a Macintosh 7.5.3 system. All fonts, functions, and applications work as they would on a Macintosh system. The MAE user, however, has the advantage of being able to exchange text and graphics between the MAE X Window and other X windows. The user can manage Unix files and file systems by using the Macintosh Finder, as well as access Unix system services. MAE offers NFS and AFS support, as well as NFS automounts.
Version 3.0 offers more features and operates 20 percent faster on most applications than its version 2.0 predecessor. Apple reports that MAE 3.0 shows faster emulator performance and greater graphics capabilities than before. Phillip Chen, systems administrator for Airtouch, says that many of his more advanced users use the MAE 3.0 for applications including FilemakerPro and Microsoft Word. As compared to the MAE 2.0, Chen notices that 3.0 runs and responds much faster.
The MAE functions exactly like Macintosh 7.5.3 and contains an improved file finding ability, an AppleGuide for quick built-in reference of functions, and AppleScript, which allows users to make shortcuts similar to those they make in Unix shell programs. The MAE offers full TCP/IP connectivity and support of Internet applications with the newly improved MacTCP. Additionally, the Macintosh PC Exchange broadens the user's ability to manipulate files in DOS and Windows.
A new feature of version 3.0 is its support for multiple independent volumes (MIVs) -- used to define Unix file systems or directories as independent volumes, appearing on the desktop as standalone disk drives. Strong security for shared files, top-notch license management software, and all around greater applications compatibility combine for overall flexibility in the MAE.
"Since it supports MIVs, it's very easy for me to install software on my own directory. It's very easy to manage licensing -- that's a big plus," Chen says.
The MAE runs on Unix platforms from Sun and Hewlett-Packard and will be available this month. List pricing for MAE 3.0 is $599. An upgrade from version 2.0 to 3.0 costs $199.
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