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New patent may ramp mobility for OS X users

updated 05:40 pm EDT, Tue July 17, 2007

Patent: more OS X mobility

A new patent reveals a plan to free Mac users from their hardware, requiring only a portable storage device to bring one's entire personal setup on-the-go. Apple has been granted a new patent for making user accounts on Mac OS X systems portable, which would allow users to tote the entire contents of their home directories -- including their personal settings, applications, and documents -- with them on a portable storage device such as an iPod, iPhone, or an external hard drive. Changes made on the foreign Mac would sync with the original desktop, effectively enabling Mac users to use their own accounts on any compatible Mac OS X system.




by MacNN Staff

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Comments

  1. e:leaf

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    can't I

    do that already. Or am I misunderstanding something? I have a clone of my MBP on a FW drive, and I can tote that FW drive to any Mac and use it as my own.

    What is the difference here?

  1. PookJP

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    Re: can't i?

    Because normal people don't know what you're talking about.

    For instance, there's nothing about Time Machine you can't already do, but normal people don't know that and can't be bothered to learn the existing interfaces, pick up the existing jargon, or download the existing software.

  1. Flying Meat

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    if i understand it

    You will only use your home folder on the external device. The OS will be smart enough to poll existing external devices, if an unknown user logs in.

    If they could just answer a few more questions though, like what about missing applications, or what about user privilege on the "guest host" system? If I'm an admin on my machine at home, will I be able to totally hose the guest host by logging in and making unrecoverable changes to the OS there? I imagine you can enable or disable local guest accounts on your machine, but...

    Also: I know it's pretty poiler plate these days, but that last paragraph is a hoot! When does a modification fall outside the scope of the invention? ;)

  1. Xiaopangzi

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    Nothing new

    It sounds pretty much like what I've been doing for years. I bought a 60-GB iPod a couple of years ago to use as my startup disk at home and at work, having the full system and applications on it. Alternatively, I've had only my home directory on my iPod and set that up in NetInfo Manager.app (actually the UNIX commands equivalent to that app's functionality) to make sure the computers didn't try to use the local physical hard disk for the home directory. As someone mentioned above, though, you have to have the same apps and system extensions on both computers.

  1. PookJP

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    Re: nothing new

    ... and once again, you lost 99% of the computing population when you said, "set that up in NetInfo Manager.app (actually the UNIX commands equivalent to that app's functionality)." I don't even know what the heck you're talking about, and I certainly know my way around a Mac!

    The whole point of Apple's making stuff like this is to make it so that normal people can do what geeks have been doing for years.

  1. RKDinOKC

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    re: nothin new

    you can do this without the space needed to make it a startup disk. Create a user and then edit the Netinfo home folder location of that user to make it a folder on an external hard drive. Then as long as the hard drive is mounted when you login Bobs your Uncle. You must create the user with the same user ID on each host computer for permissions to work properly. And if you attempt to login without the drive mounted a shadow user folder with the drives name will be created in the Volumes folder that must be deleted before the external home folder path will be recognized again.

    If you have multiple users on a computer you have the option on app install to install the app for the current user or all users. If you pick the current user it installs the app in the Applications folder in your User folder. Moving an App to that folder would make the app portable with your home folder.

    One of the builds of Tiger had this feature and called it Home on iPod. At the time the iPod drives could not handle the constant access activity of a home folder and would burn up the drive so it never made it.

    I was working on a shareware program that would manage netinfo for the external home user on a host computer and insure login attempts without the mounted drive would not create the shadow in Volumes. I quit working on it about a year ago when Apple applied for this patent.

  1. Glitch

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    PortableHomeDirectories2

    I'd have thought this related more to the new features of leopard server (see http://www.apple.com/server/macosx/leopard/more.html - look for Portable Home Directories 2)

    I can't get my head around the wording to know if "multi-user computer system" means tied to open directory or not.

    either way, it's an awesome feature.

  1. JeffHarris

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    Home on iPod

    This sounds like the Home on iPod feature that's been batted around since 10.2.

    My questions would revolve around moving applications around with me that I'd be unlikely to find loaded on just any old Mac.

    AND what about fonts that I've purchased and use for different clients/projects, etc.? How would that work?

    The idea of putting it all on an iPod sounds appealing, but slow drive speed would be a real issue for me. But, with the current size and speed of 2 1/2" laptop hard drives, like the 200GB x 7200 rpm Hitachi drive I stuck in my new MacBook Pro, one could really setup quite a usable work environment on a small pocketable FireWire drive, especially using FireWire 800.

  1. RKDinOKC

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    Fonts

    There is this folder in the users home folder called Library. In it is a Fonts folder just like the Applications folder stores apss it stores fonts for each user.

  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    Re: fonts

    Yes, but if you install everything in your Library folder, then no one else on the machine can access those items.

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