iThings Considered

Your Mac OS X Questions Answered

Jake Sargent - 2001.03.27

Like thousands of other Mac users, I received my copy of Mac OS X last Saturday. I love it and already wonder how I could have survived without it. As I mentioned in my last column, it is important to recognize Mac OS X's good features, not what's wrong with it.

However, I have encountered a number of annoying bugs and problems since I installed Apple's next generation operating system. We shouldn't criticize these problems for being there, but they need to be addressed and solved if possible.

To find out what kinds of issues other OS X users were having, I headed to the MacFixIt Forums, where I found over eight pages of Mac OS X troubleshooting questions. I realized that saying there are a few problems with OS X is an understatement. I don't have the time or knowledge base to address every single question, but I've done my best to answer some of the most common and troubling ones.

Printing

What printers work with Mac OS X? What if my printer isn't supported?

Apple says that Mac OS X ships with compatibility for most Epson printers. However, as I've found out the hard way, many printers still aren't supported (such as the Epson 900). Below is a list of supported printers:

  • Canon: BJF360, BJF660, BJF870, BJS600, S400, S450, S600, S800
  • Epson: Stylus Color 680, Stylus Color 740, Stylus Color 760, Stylus Color 777, Stylus Color 860, Stylus Color 880, PM-720C, PM-780C, PM-880C, PM-900C, PM-3500C
  • Hewlett-Packard: DeskJet 810, DeskJet 812, DeskJet 830, DeskJet 832, DeskJet 840, DeskJet 880, DeskJet 882, DeskJet 895, DeskJet 930, DeskJet 935, DeskJet 950, DeskJet 960, DeskJet 970, DeskJet 990

Don't fret if your printer is not compatible yet, many other printing drivers are being carbonized. Check out Epson's Mac OS X policy page for more information on its line of printers or Brother's Mac OS X Support Statement.

Privileges

I keep getting a message that I don't have enough privileges to complete an action, what should I do?

Why Apple made it so hard to complete certain OS X actions, such as deleting the default "Applications (Mac OS 9)" and "Documents" folders from you're hard drive, I do not know. There is a workaround, though. To get rid of these annoying messages telling you that you don't have enough privileges to do something, even when you are logged in as the administrator, restart your computer and boot from the Mac OS X CD by holding down the C key during startup. Then go to the Installer menu and select "Change Password." Change the password for the user "Root" (it sounds complicated now, but is fairly straight forward once you are presented with the dialog box). Restart your Mac, and when you reach the log-in screen, type in root as the username, and the password that you had selected in the previous step. Do whatever you need to do which requires you to log in as the root (most powerful) user, and log out before you mess anything up (which is fairly easy to do, since as the user "root," you can do just about anything you please).

Display

My volume and screen resolution keys don't work, what should I do?

Unfortunately, Apple shipped OS X without offering compatibility for certain action keys on the Apple Pro Keyboard and the PowerBook G4 keyboard. There's no way around this bug, but you can download a nifty program called Volume Dockling from On-Core, which lets you change your system volume right from the Dock.

Unexpected Text

A bunch of white text on a black background showed up on my screen, what happened?

You experienced what is referred to as a kernel panic. This happens when the core of an operating system, in this case Mac OS X, gets confused and doesn't know how to handle a certain set of commands. It may be helpful for developers to record this information, but most likely you can just ignore it and move on.

AirPort Administration

How can I administer my AirPort Base Station, Mac OS X doesn't let me do it?

Users have reported a number of problems between Mac OS X and AirPort, but my experience has been positive. However, one glitch between AirPort and Mac OS X is that if you want to administer the AirPort Base Station, you'll have to reboot in Mac OS 9 (that seems to be the answer to a lot of problems).

Conclusion

Sure, Mac OS X is presenting problems to some users, but for those that don't have to work with high-end apps or complicated technologies, it's a great advancement. For those that do have to use things that are currently not compatible with Mac OS X, don't worry - a fix to your problems should be coming shortly. Until then, check out Apple's Tech Info Library for further updates.

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