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Wednesday, August 17, 2005, 07:40 am PT (10:40 am ET)

Latest Mac OS X Security Update breaks 64-bit application support (Updated)

The most recent Mac OS X security update from Apple Computer includes a glitch that prevents users from running 64-bit applications on the company's new Tiger operating system, AppleInsider has confirmed.

After being applied to versions of Mac OS X Tiger, Apple's recently released Security Update 005-007 has been reported to break 64-bit application support. The update offered nearly three dozen fixes for several security exploits, including Apple's Safari web browser, Bluetooth, networking tools, Mac OS X Server components such as Apache 2 and MySQL, and many more.

Wolfram Research, makers of the popular Mathematica software, began informing its customers of the issue in an email on Tuesday. The company said the security update disables its flagship Mathematica software: "Due to an error on the part of Apple, this update prevents any 64-bit-native application from running. In particular, this means that Mathematica 5.2 will not run on any G5 system if it has installed this Security Update."

Apple's Tiger operating system, released earlier this year, was the first version of the Mac operating system to support 64-bit computing, which enables 64-bit applications to address massive amounts of memory, while retaining compatibility with existing 32-bit applications.

Although they're currently limited to background and terminal-based utilities, Apple says 64-bit applications can address up to four billion times as much memory as 32-bit applications; however, in practical terms, memory is often limited by both hardware configuration and support.

Wolfram said it discovered the issue with 64-bit applications after Mathematica users were unable to perform simple math operations following the application of the Apple security update. The company said it had confirmed the issue internally as well as with Apple, which was unable to offer a workaround for the problem.

According to Wolfram, Apple is currently investigating the problem and plans to offer a revised update to correct the issue in the near future.

"If you have been affected, then Mathematica 5.2 will generate a MathLink error when you try to do any computation with it. (If you run MathKernel directly from the command line, it will crash at startup.) Apple has informed us that there is no workaround for this problem," Wolfram said in the email to customers.

"Apple is investigating the problem at high priority, and intends to distribute a new Security Update in the very near future. This update will correct the problem and allow Mathematica to run successfully."

Wolfram told customers that Apple had assured it the company had stopped automatic distribution of Security Update 2005-007 by Tuesday evening, but as of Wednesday morning the software remained available via Apple's web site and Mac OS X Software Update mechanism.

Update: Apple on Wednesday evening corrected the aforementioned glitch with the release of Security Update 2005-007 v1.1, which replaces Security Update 2005-007 v1.0 for Tiger systems Mac OS X v10.4.2. Apple advocates that users who have already installed v1.0 on Tiger systems should install v1.1.

"Security Update 2005-007 v1.1 provides a combined 32- and 64-bit version of LibSystem to replace the 32-bit version that was delivered in v1.0. No other changes have been made in version 1.1", the company said.