How Does an Apple Macintosh Work?

Discussion in 'General Mac Discussion' started by KBFinFan, Oct 12, 2003.

  1. macrumors 6502

    May 30, 2003
    Connecticut, USA
    Hey, as a new member to the Apple community I really have just begun to wonder how exactly how an Apple computer varies from a PC?

    What is different in the PowerPC architecture?

    The RISC format?

    How does it work without a registry?

    And so on.....

    If someone could link me to a informative resource or a recommended book I would appreciate it.

  2. macrumors 6502


    Feb 12, 2002
    Milwaukee, WI
  3. macrumors G5

    Sun Baked

    May 19, 2002
  4. thread starter macrumors 6502

    May 30, 2003
    Connecticut, USA
    I haven't wondered too much because it has 'just worked'..

    Now I'm just getting curious...
  5. macrumors 6502a

    Aug 22, 2003
    ROFL, the registry is one of the stupidest things to come out of MS.

    OS X uses .plist files to store settings for programs, each program has its own file, so you never need to worry about one program corrupting everything, or things getting screwed up.
  6. macrumors 68020


    Jul 6, 2003
    Los Angeles
    Re: How Does an Apple Macintosh Work?

    I can't resist this one. Without the registry it works about a thousand times better!
  7. macrumors 68040


    Dec 29, 2001
    not to be rude or anything but I seriously can't stand these threads. no offence to you KBfinfan . Its like people think macs are aliens and run off candy filled buckets or something. There computers, simple eh?
  8. macrumors 65816


    Sep 30, 2003
    Why can't you stand this thread? The guy is not trashing macs, and he's not looking at them as if they were gossamer. He's simply asking how they work...and he wants to know if there is a book.

    oh...and its "they're computers" unless that was some sort of weird slang.
  9. macrumors 6502

    Jun 22, 2003
    Not to be hokey or anything, but "It just works" is the best response. I was used to PC's when I switched to Mac, and I still can't figure out why things "just work." For example, I wanted to change some file names in iTunes. I opened up the folder (I have since found better ways to achieve the end result), changed the name, and that was it. I didn't need to re-add the file to my playlist or anything, it just worked. There are 1,001 other things that OS X just does, no questions asked. I suggest you play around with OS X and experience it firsthand.
  10. Administrator

    Doctor Q

    Staff Member

    Sep 19, 2002
    I'm not convinced that plist files and/or NetInfo-type services have some inherent design advantage over the Windows Registry, or even over old-style Windows INI files, for that matter. What I see is that, in practice, the implementation of the Windows Registry results in corruption problems more often than what I see in plist files, but I'm talking about the design principles involved, not the implementations. Most application programs have details, such as records of their installation, licenses, preferences, etc., to be stored somewhere. Some are user specific; some are system-wide. Some settings apply across applications. And the operating system itself has user-preference settings, system-wide settings, and information about applications.

    Should it be stored in a centralized system-managed database? Should it be stored in each application's private area? Should it be stored in a central directory as a set of application-specific files? There are tradeoffs of efficiency involved, but the choice shouldn't really matter to users or even to application writers. As long as the rules and conventions are clear, things will work properly when code is correct. When the inevitable bugs cause the wrong information to be stored, no matter where it is, problems will result.

    Perhaps experience has shown us that use of a central repository makes it more likely for one buggy application to harm another's stored information. If so, Windows will continue to suffer, but Mac OS X hasn't completely avoided this problem either.
  11. arn
    macrumors god


    Staff Member

    Apr 9, 2001
    Re: How Does an Apple Macintosh Work?

    The answer to this question depends from what perspective you are asking from. Programmer? User Interface? Filesystem? etc....

    And, by the responses, you can see the question is a bit too broad to answer easily.

  12. macrumors 6502a


    May 28, 2002
    Bay Area, CA
    But that's exactly the point. Of course everything when written perfectly will work perfectly. That's obvious. :rolleyes: It's just that when you deal with problems that will happen sometimes, different systems will respond to the problems differently.

    So when you have a central repository for settings, when problems occur, it's inevitable that, because of how it was designed, settings across all applications will be affected. In contrast, when you have settings for each program stored in different files, the most an error can do is affect that one file, which will affect the settings just for that program. (I have no idea if Windows does actually store settings for programs in a central database or not -- I'm just going off of what's been said in this thread.)

    So, yes, there is an inherent design advantage in having settings stored in different files. It has nothing to do with when everything works perfectly -- it has to do with when something goes wrong.
  13. macrumors regular

    Apr 6, 2003
    Aye, when it comes to the registry, one of the things I like the most with the Mac is how easy it is to move programs around, without worrying about breaking them. (Due to references in the M$ registry being fixed.)

  14. macrumors 65816


    Oct 6, 2003
    I would say that a central repository such as the Windows registry is an insecure and unreliable solution. Basically you have to give a program quite a bit of control over your system settings, including shared resources. Programs have to be allowed to do just about whatever they please since their intended purpose and scope is unknown. Allowing any program access to your system files is a bad idea. Who knows where it's been?:) The OSX way of handling preferences isn't perfect, but it's better. At least each program tends to keep it's mess in it's own area.
  15. Guest


    Feb 17, 2003
    Hitchin, Herts, UK
    Re: How Does an Apple Macintosh Work?

    Hardware wise PCs and Macs use similar components. The harddrives and memory and at a broad overview logic board components do much the smae thing.
    The processor itself is quite different relying on a different ideology for the way it works. The machine code is different - it doesn't run x86 code. Even the way numbers are stored is different (they are reversed in memory to the way an x86 stores it's numbers). The CPU still performs much the same tasks though.
    The registry is a windows only data structure - it isn't an essential part of the way x86 processors work. Linux on PCs doesn't use one. Linux and other Unix's use lots of flat text files for each application to store information. Mac OS X is a bit of a hybrid. It uses text files like Linux for the BSD Unix core and uses XML text files for application data. There is also NetInfo which I believe came from openstep which seems to be losing favor. Basically Mac OS X uses all three but generally shields you from it.

    The big differences for me in a mac are

    1) Design and Quality
    2) Thought put into hardware / software use
    3) Great OS
  16. thread starter macrumors 6502

    May 30, 2003
    Connecticut, USA
    Thanks oldschool.. I appreciate the support.

    My question wasn't "Hey! Mac's don't have a registry?! Then how in the world do they work, because the registry is obviously the best way to do things."

    I just threw the registry idea out there to give an example of somewhere where PCs and Macs differ that was obvious to me. Yes, I am new to Macs, but I am not a Mac basher nor a PC lover.

    I appreciate the links Sun Baked- they gave me some of the information I was looking for.

    I do love how OS X 'just works,' and I can't wait to see how Jaguar 'just works better.'

    One particular thing that was interesting to me on the Mac is how there, with most things at least, is no 'install'. Just drag it into the Applications folder and Voila! That is what 'just works,' truly means...

    Thanks again everyone
  17. macrumors 6502

    May 27, 2003
    Tampa FL
    obligitory answer

    How does it work... Pixie Dust
  18. thread starter macrumors 6502

    May 30, 2003
    Connecticut, USA
    Re: obligitory answer

    :D That's the answer I was looking for all along!
  19. macrumors 6502

    Jan 13, 2003
  20. macrumors 65816


    Oct 9, 2002
    Sydney, Australia
    hey guys, give him a week or two then the reality distortion field will take effect and he wont care any more.
  21. macrumors 68020


    Aug 5, 2003
  22. macrumors 68040


    Apr 24, 2003
    Ones and zeros man, it's all ones and zeros. :p
  23. macrumors G3

    Jul 23, 2002
    Sol III - Terra
    Re: How Does an Apple Macintosh Work?

    Just fine, thank you.
  24. acj
    macrumors 6502

    Feb 3, 2003
    OSX just works.

    I think a lot of people forget that if someone went from OS 7.5.2 to XP today, they would say, "wow, it just works!" Meaning works with printers, usb and firewire drives, card readers, networking, etc, without drivers or user input.

    I mention this because a lot of my friends are much more anti-PC than I am, because the last PC they really used had an 8 year old OS, like windows 95.
  25. macrumors 603


    Jun 19, 2003
    Chicago, IL
    Worst idea EVER!

    Actually I've heard a computer science professor actually say its one of the stupidest things ever developed in the computer industry. I frequent and can't believe the utter stupidity of some windows users. People actually defend the registry. Obviously these are people who have never had to dig through the registry when a uninstall process goes bad on an app. Example. I was upgrading a user in our office from Acrobat 4 to 6. The uninstall process blew up when I went to uninstall the app. Consequently I ended up crawling up the butt of windows to remove about 30 registry entries. Even then it left the uninstaller icon for Acrobat 4 in the add/remove application utility. You click on it, it says the application is already removed. Nice. I have more horror stories about the Windows registry then you could possibly imagine. Suffice it to say: Whoever at MS thought up the idea of the registry deserves to be shot for treason against the computer industry. It was a bad idea when they implemented it then. It’s a bad idea now. And history will most likely judge it to be the worst idea in the history of computer science.

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