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Panther 7B59 Inches OS Closer to Final Candidate

The final candidate phase of Mac OS X 10.3 Panther is now just days away, sources tell AppleInsider. On Friday Apple seeded its developers with build 7B59 on the next-generation operating system.

Only a handful of file system errors appear to be preventing the O.S. from completion.
These known issues pertain to USF reformatting glitches and installs to external FireWire drives, which may 'hang for hours.' Prior to seeding, Apple also noticed glitches in their Xcode package that prevented them from providing the developer tools with the build.


Panther's Help Viewer

Aside from the ongoing file system work in the latest build, Apple has finally merged Panther's help documentation into the system 'Help' menus and the Apple Help Viewer. Traditionally, this is one of the last steps the company takes when prompting a piece of software for release.

The main Mac OS X 10.3 Help Viewer window contains a section titled "What's New in Pather?" Of particular interest are some notes on Windows Interoperability. Users of Panther will be able to browse SMB servers from the Finder or store their home directory on an SMB server, sources said. Panther also adds built-in Active Directory and Microsoft Kerberos authentication support.

All e-mail attachments sent from Panther's Mail application will be compressed using the GNU Zip standard, allowing for further Windows compatibility. The system will also boast Microsoft Exchange support and allow Mac and PC user's to share printers over a local network. Meanwhile, L2TP over IPSec and PPTP will provide users with secure connections to Windows VPN servers.

On the UNIX front, Panther will provide command-line and Python API support for Apple's Quartz graphic engine, allowing development of extensive PDF workflows. A new Activity Monitor application will deliver a more comprehensive picture of a system via a unified view of CPU activity, system memory, disk activity and capacity, and network statistics, sources said. Panther also sports iPv6 integration, Kerberos authentication and improvements to the UNIX Network File System.


Panther's Activity Monitor

While the latest builds of Panther contain mainly bug fixes and system tweaks, Apple continues to toy with a couple of interface enhancements. As of this most recent build, Apple has added two new desktop backdrops to the system entitled 'Aqua Blue' and 'Graphite Blue.' The backdrops that currently sport the same name under Jaguar have had 'Classic' appended to their names in Panther.

Finally, the computer maker continues to perfect their first run Mac OS X setup assistant. The assistant, once again, has been altered to a full-screen view. The initial animated background is now reminiscent of the new 'Aqua Blue' default backdrop and no-longer appears at the top and bottom of the assistant once the first form is displayed.
A sleek aluminum Panther 'X' logo (shown above) slides into place after the assistant's welcome script completes.