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Update: Apple releases first Leopard update

Also fixes flaws that made researchers call the firewall 'a mess'

November 15, 2007 12:00 PM ET

Computerworld - Apple Inc. today issued the first update for Leopard, its three-week-old operating system. The update fixes a wide range of out-the-gate bugs and patches three security-related design flaws in the revamped firewall.

The update to Mac OS X 10.5.1 includes changes to a host of Leopard features, including some that have given early adopters fits, such as a gaffe that cripples some software, including Skype, when the firewall is set to the most flexible option. It also tackles problems formatting drives before they can be used with Time Machine, the integrated backup and restore software.

Other non-security fixes address a file copy bug that deleted data if the destination drive suddenly went offline during the job, boost the reliability of iCal in delivering alarms via e-mail, improve Mail's synchronizing with .Mac, makes Windows shared folders both read- and write-enabled when connected via SMB, and resolves an issue with saved passwords on wireless networks.

Some reported Leopard troubles, however, did not make the list, including a fix for an intermittent keyboard failure on some MacBook Pro notebooks.

Apple also released the first security patches for Leopard as part of 10.5.1, quashing what the company classified as vulnerabilities but were more akin to design flaws.

Leopard's firewall, Apple acknowledged, misleads users with the label "Block all incoming connections" of one option. As several researchers had pointed out earlier this month, setting the firewall to the "Block all..." option did nothing of the kind, and left the Mac visible to port scanners. "This update addresses the issue by more accurately describing the option as 'Allow only essential services,' and by limiting the processes permitted to receive incoming connections under this setting to a small fixed set of system services," said Apple.

Two other corrections to the firewall make sure that any application marked not to accept incoming data actually complies, and immediately applies changes to the firewall's settings.

Mac OS X 10.5.1 can be downloaded from the Apple Web site or retrieved using Leopard's built-in Software Update feature. The update is approximately 40MB in size, while the stand-alone installer version weighs in at 110MB.

Read more about Security in Computerworld's Security Topic Center.

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