Apple has historically used Samba, an open-source implementation of the SMB file sharing protocol, to share files with Windows machines. First included in OS X 10.2, Samba also enabled Macs to both join and host Windows-compatible directory servers, increasing the then-fledgling OS’s viability in a business setting. However, the Samba team recently began licensing the software under the GPL3 license, which prohibits its inclusion in retail products, and rather than lose these key interoperability features, Apple chose to develop its own in-house implementation for Lion. What does that mean for you, the user?

Well, for starters, Lion’s new SMB implementation is SMB 2.0 only - this is a Microsoft-developed improvement of the specification that was introduced in Windows Vista and continued in Windows 7. This has one major ramifications for Lion users, and I suspect it will only impact a fraction of a fraction of them: Lion computers can no longer be joined to NT Domain Controller directories. These directories are quite old at this point - their successor, Active Directory, came with Windows Server 2000 in 1999, and has become much more robust with each Windows Server release since - but if, for some reason, you or your business uses new or newish Macs on an ancient domain, Lion’s going to break things for you (Lion does, however, remain compatible with Active Directory).

You never want to see an OS lose features, but I can’t say I blame Apple much for making this call, and it’s not a secret that Apple has historically been much less interested in backward compatibility than Microsoft. For people who absolutely need for OS X to have this functionality, Samba is definitely still around, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see someone begin maintaining an OS X-friendly fork of the software. Just know Lion won’t do it out of the box anymore.

SMB’s main use in OS X is for file sharing with Windows users, though, and I can say that file sharing with users of both Windows XP and Windows 7 (and, by extension, Windows Vista, for what it’s worth) works just fine once you set it up in System Preferences. I was able to copy files to and from a basic share I made without issue.

Anecdotally, I can also say that connecting to and browsing through an SMB share with many files and folders feels faster than Snow Leopard does on the same system connected to the same share. In Snow Leopard, I’d often have to wait for folders with a lot of data in them to populate - in Lion, things are more or less instantaneous. SMB2 was optimized to improve speed over high-latency connections, and I’m sure that accounts for at least some of the increased snappiness.

Farewell, Core Duo: 64-bit in Lion Performance: Similar to Snow Leopard
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  • steven75 - Friday, July 22, 2011 - link

    "The fact is Windows/Office is really only expensive if you are building your own computers and installing your own OS"

    You seem to be implying that Office comes free with a pre-built computer when it in fact doesn't ever.
    Reply
  • anactoraaron - Sunday, July 24, 2011 - link

    wrong. I know I shouldn't feed the trolls but when office 2010 came out my local office depot (and likely every office depot) had at least one pc with the full version of office 2010 on it. It was some kind of promotion they ran for about 2 weeks. Reply
  • tipoo - Wednesday, July 20, 2011 - link

    Apart from the new animations in Safari, is performance improved any? Any word of it getting GPU acceleration? Reply
  • name99 - Thursday, July 21, 2011 - link

    My experience was that it ran the IE Paintball demo 25% faster, and the end result showed no visual artifacts. So, an improvement on 5.0, but still nothing like the HW acceleration performance of IE.

    On the other hand, I've yet to encounter a site (apart from the IE demos) where this actually matters...
    Reply
  • name99 - Thursday, July 21, 2011 - link

    Oh, it also, if you care, has elementary support for MathML. To be honest, however, the support is REALLY limited. The typography looks like crap, and anything even slightly fancy looks even worse --- eg long bars over symbols, large surds, etc. Reply
  • tipoo - Friday, July 22, 2011 - link

    Thanks. Yeah, its GPU acceleration doesn't seem as expansive still as other browsers, judging by canned benchmarks I've run it through. IE9 and FF5 are still far ahead in GPU acceleration, Chrome and Opera are getting there, Safari 5.1 is still last. Reply
  • EnzoFX - Wednesday, July 20, 2011 - link

    I think it's pretty unfair to compare Windows full-screening to Lion's. Full screening in Windows is not a feature at all IMO, it is the equivalent of dragging the window size out to the size of the screen. You do not gain any functionality whatsoever (usually just a lot of empty space, which was never in Apple's radar before). This kind of full-screen functionality has been present in OS X long before Lion, though it was often more manual, having to drag the window size out.

    But as you say, Apple has added functionality and it's become it's own separate feature. I think the comparison is pointless.
    Reply
  • SmCaudata - Wednesday, July 20, 2011 - link

    True full-screen in Windows only happens with games, certain video players, and select other apps. I personally so no use for full-screen for most computer applications.

    Also, the comparison is valid because even in those areas where Windows does use full-screen, the other display still works. I can have a full-screen movie on one monitor while I do whatever I want on the other.

    I really fail to see how Apple's implementation has "added functionality" that didn't exist in other OSes before. The article talks about using gestures instead of minimization... isn't that what Alt+Tab and Win+tab already did?

    There are certain things that Apple does do well. Their dock was something that MS obviously took inspiration from for W7. This implementation of full-screen seemed pretty limited IMO.
    Reply
  • name99 - Thursday, July 21, 2011 - link

    I suspect that the multi-screen hiccups with full-screen are purely temporary.
    We have seen problems like this before --- for example when multi-user GUI support (the rotating cube thing, to allow new users to log in to a mac) was first added, it didn't take long to discover that various iLife apps didn't behave properly. (I forget the details, but I think both iTunes and iPhoto wouldn't launch for the new user.)

    It's one of the drawbacks of Apple being so secretive, even internally, that you get these sorts of crossed signals. But the issues usually get fixed, and if they are very visible, they usually get fixed soon.

    I'd say, right now, the appropriate response is to assume this is a screwup, not go into conspiracy theory mode about how this is a plot by Apple to eventually remove multi-screen support.
    Reply
  • Uritziel - Friday, July 22, 2011 - link

    LOL. As if a company spearheading Thunderbolt would aim to remove multi-screen support. Reply

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