Mac OS X Lion Can Run in Chrome OS-Like Browser Only Mode


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+Frank B.

Mac OS X Lion Can Run in Chrome OS-Like Browser Only Mode

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While all the focus has been the many new features found in iOS 5 Beta, Apple also released a new developer beta of Mac OS X Lion last week.

Many of Mac OS X Lion's features have been known for months, but Apple has snuck in at least one interesting new feature called "Restart to Safari". According to a tipster, on the user lock screen, you are given the option to "Restart to Safari" rather than logging in. This allows you to boot the computer into just the web browser and nothing else. This browser only mode allows unauthorized users to simply browse the web through Safari rather than having access to any personal files or other applications on the machine. Of course with Lion's new auto-save and application restore feature, returning users will find themselves back at the same place they were before the restart. This browser-only mode is reminiscent of Google's lightweight Chrome OS which is designed to offer the user a web-only based operating system.

Apple's motivations for offering such a browser-only mode differs from Google's. Google is partnering with manufacturers in order to build Chrome OS only laptops that offer cheap browser-only machines. Apple's not likely to be going that route with Mac OS X Lion but is instead offering a nice sandboxed mode so Lion can easily act as a secure and anonymous web kiosk.

Source: Mac Rumors

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Quillz

I really like this feature, because sometimes others in my household want to use my computer just to browse the web and print a few things, and I don't like them being on my main account (nor do I want to make a guest account.) This will be a useful feature to me and many others.

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sundayx

+1

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HawkMan

I really like this feature, because sometimes others in my household want to use my computer just to browse the web and print a few things, and I don't like them being on my main account (nor do I want to make a guest account.) This will be a useful feature to me and many others.

Honestly, I wouldn't want to restart my computer just to let someone browse, seems a bit excessive. Then I'll justinsall another browser they can use, or I'll add a guest account and use fast user switchign wich seems about a million times more elegant.

Then again, Would you really want to do this, sure they say you only have access tot he browser and surfing the internet.... But what happened last time Apple did a similar guest function...

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instant.human

Think: Public Libraries, Schools, Internet Caf?s, Hotels, Hostels...... Pretty neat feature. Not something for the average user but I sure see some usecases.

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Elliott
But what happened last time Apple did a similar guest function...

Guest user functionality is still in OS X.

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Petvas

I really like this feature, because sometimes others in my household want to use my computer just to browse the web and print a few things, and I don't like them being on my main account (nor do I want to make a guest account.) This will be a useful feature to me and many others.

I agree. I have the same situation where I want to give others access to my Mac, so now it will be much easier.

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Leonick

Honestly, I wouldn't want to restart my computer just to let someone browse, seems a bit excessive. Then I'll justinsall another browser they can use, or I'll add a guest account and use fast user switchign wich seems about a million times more elegant.

Then again, Would you really want to do this, sure they say you only have access tot he browser and surfing the internet.... But what happened last time Apple did a similar guest function...

Yea, I think I'd use the a guest account instead too, faster, not that a Mac is has a slow reboot time (like windows which is a 3-4 minutes for me, a minute to the login screen and 2-3 minutes after logging in) , specially not with Lion saving the state of all your apps like it does.

In either case they can't just log out/reboot and be on my account because that ones is password protected. I sure wouldn't just let them use an alternate browser though.

Think: Public Libraries, Schools, Internet Caf?s, Hotels, Hostels...... Pretty neat feature. Not something for the average user but I sure see some usecases.

Decent idea, but it'll hardly be used for it, there are several ways to set up a computer with windows with an account unable to do anything but surf the web, setting up a kiosk with just a browser ins too complicated either and more importantly, a lot cheaper than a Mac.

While I personally have no hard time seeing the value of a Mac and it being worth ever buck it costs, I doubt someone would say it was worth it just to put it in the hotel lobby in browser only mode :p

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Richard C.

Surely this opens yet another door for web related security issues, and nor do i like the idea of people being able to restart my mac without being logged in

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Elliott

Surely this opens yet another door for web related security issues

How? Safari 5.1 is already sandboxed, and this is on a separate partition.

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instant.human
Decent idea, but it'll hardly be used for it, there are several ways to set up a computer with windows with an account unable to do anything but surf the web, setting up a kiosk with just a browser ins too complicated either and more importantly, a lot cheaper than a Mac.

While I personally have no hard time seeing the value of a Mac and it being worth ever buck it costs, I doubt someone would say it was worth it just to put it in the hotel lobby in browser only mode :p

Well, I have to disagree there, entirely depends on the Library or Hotel/Hostel. My University Library (the History Of Arts-Department, that it) only uses Mac Minis to access the Internet and the internal search system.

And many Hostels I've been to have set up iMacs in the Lobby. Not all of them but many. ;)

But you sure are right. ;) Still, this does have it's usecases. And if not... well... just don't use it.

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Richard C.

Question is, can it be turned off?

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giga

Question is, can it be turned off?

Yes, you have to disable find my mac.

t4D1y.png

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PyX

Do we have access to local WiFi network printers with this?

I could log in quickly in the morning to print my Powerpoint/PDF presentations for University classes. Right now it takes 1min30 to log into OS X and 1 minute for my printer to warm up. Then I can print like a raging monster though.

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HawkMan

How? Safari 5.1 is already sandboxed, and this is on a separate partition.

So that's why Safari has never been the attack vector for successful attacks at the hacker/security conventions.... oh wait ;) Sandboxed doesn't == secure.

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PyX

So that's why Safari has never been the attack vector for successful attacks at the hacker/security conventions.... oh wait ;) Sandboxed doesn't == secure.

It doesn?t equal "secure" in the absolute way (nothing does anyway), but it definitely equals to "more secure".

Basically it blocks applications from certain specific functions that could potentially affect the OS.

Spam?

No. He?s just saying that he likes it in the shortest way possible.

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Elliott

So that's why Safari has never been the attack vector for successful attacks at the hacker/security conventions.... oh wait ;) Sandboxed doesn't == secure.

Safari 5 was the one that was compromised, and that's not sandboxed. Safari 5.1 on Lion is sandboxed.

Do some research before you start spouting off.

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.Neo

So that's why Safari has never been the attack vector for successful attacks at the hacker/security conventions.... oh wait ;)

Sandbox mode is new in Safari 5.1... The tets you're referring to have been performed with older versions.

Edit: Ellioitt beat me to it.

Decent idea, but it'll hardly be used for it, there are several ways to set up a computer with windows with an account unable to do anything but surf the web, setting up a kiosk with just a browser ins too complicated either and more importantly, a lot cheaper than a Mac.

While I personally have no hard time seeing the value of a Mac and it being worth ever buck it costs, I doubt someone would say it was worth it just to put it in the hotel lobby in browser only mode :p

You'd be suprised how many hotels, stores, schools, libraries etc. deployed iMacs simply because it has a very small footprint and doesn't look like ass compared to most computer hardware.

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HawkMan

So far sandboxing hasn't stopped attacks on ANY browser.

And I'm no great fan of linux, but libraries, schools and such buying Mac Mini's to use as internet boxing becoes they don't look like crap. besides that being a very subjective argument. They could have bought an Acer Revo for a fraction of the cost with an Atom CPU and linux installed. use the VESA attachments to stick it to the back of the monitor, and you would NEVER have to see it, even if it doesn't look that bad. and you have a internet box that does the exact same thign as the many times as expensive Mac Mini.

It's a neat option but the fact you have to reboot into it makes it ridiculous.

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.Neo

So far sandboxing hasn't stopped attacks on ANY browser.

I don't think anyone here claims it will suddenly offer 100% protection, but it is an effective additional security layer. Not entirely sure why you dispute this. Not too long ago Chrome was found the hardest to hack because of sandboxing.

And I'm no great fan of linux, but libraries, schools and such buying Mac Mini's to use as internet boxing becoes they don't look like crap. besides that being a very subjective argument. They could have bought an Acer Revo for a fraction of the cost with an Atom CPU and linux installed. use the VESA attachments to stick it to the back of the monitor, and you would NEVER have to see it, even if it doesn't look that bad. and you have a internet box that does the exact same thign as the many times as expensive Mac Mini.

Doesn't matter how you spin it fact is you see a lot of iMacs these days in public places around here. We've ran a background item on the subject and been in contact with 115 small and large businesses asking why they choose Mac: Aesthetics, small footprint, portability, less maintenance and fewer cables were amongst most the popular reasons. Many businesses looked into what you said as well: VSA mounting, hiding the computer itself from view in a stand or behind a wall etc. can turn out to be both more expensive and less flexible.

It's a neat option but the fact you have to reboot into it makes it ridiculous.

What you don't seem to get is that this feature is part of the iCloud feature Find My Mac. A thief stealing your Mac can use the internet and thus give up his/her location without being able to access personal files, so in that light it makes perfect sense. This isn't meant as a Chrome OS or Guest Account replacement. The feature isn't even visible without setting up the iCloud beta.

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PyX

What you don't seem to get is that this feature is part of the iCloud feature Find My Mac.

What does this have to do with anything?

May it be part of Find My Mac or not, it doesn't change the fact that it shouldn't require a reboot. The option on the login screen could be an additional account icon that when you click on it, it doesn't prompt you with a password and it only opens a clean install of Safari and nothing else.

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HawkMan

Honestly if my library or school where spending my tax money on buying one computer when they could have bought 3+ for the same job. Then I would definitely start raising some questions that the people in charge of those places would find hard to answer.

Aesthetics doesn't factor in, VESA mounting a Revo not even close to approaching the same price as a Mini, and a Mini would need the exact same amount of cables, except the cables would be more visible since it wouldn't be VESA mounted. Your arguments would be valid if we where arguing Vesa mounted REVO vs iMac, except, the Revo would then, monitor included, be even cheaper compared to the Mac.

The whole stolen Mac argument doesn't really count for anything though, why would a thief boot up into this so he can browse the Internet while the owner/police can still trace him. Most thieves aren't as stupid as that guy in the news, most will wipe the damn thing, and with physical access if they want yoru data, and you don't have encryption, it's theirs.

What does this have to do with anything?

May it be part of Find My Mac or not, it doesn't change the fact that it shouldn't require a reboot. The option on the login screen could be an additional account icon that when you click on it, it doesn't prompt you with a password and it only opens a clean install of Safari and nothing else.

You can probably do this in OSX to, but the sensible option would be to make a new guest/browser account, with full restrictions on what they can do, then edit it so they start up with iexplorer.exe as shell, or any other browser. heck there are even shells made specifically for this purpose.

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PyX

Honestly if my library or school where spending my tax money on buying one computer when they could have bought 3+ for the same job. Then I would definitely start raising some questions that the people in charge of those places would find hard to answer.

They're saving so much in maintenance, customer support and installation costs that you don't really need to worry about how they spend your money.

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Boz

Nice to see Apple continuing to "borrow" features from Google. So original.

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