Product Notes: OS X Mountain Lion

(current information on Mountain Lion can be found here)

OS X Mountain Lion [10.8], formally announced on February 16, 2012, is the eighth significant update to OS X, Apple's UNIX-based desktop operating system. It became available exclusively from the Mac App Store on July 25, 2012, continuing Apple's recent strategy of bypassing traditional distribution channels for operating systems.

ISC Recommendation

Information Systems & Computing (ISC) supports OS X Mountain Lion for its clients, including off-campus students. ISC recommends OS X Mountain Lion only for Macs that have at least 4.0 GB of RAM. The full installation of OS X Mountain Lion uses approximately 4.3 GB of disk space for the download and installation depending on the type of Mac and choices made during the installation.

With every new OS X version, Apple increases the systems requirements. This time, they've cut off the first generation MacBook Air and pre-unibody plastic MacBooks, along with almost all systems from 2007 and before. Precise detail on what hardware is supported for OS X Mountain Lion is located here.

Distribution & Purchasing

OS X Mountain Lion is available as an upgrade from OS X Snow Leopard and OS X Lion for approximately $20 from the Mac App Store. The Mac App Store was released with the OS X 10.6.6 update and is only available on Macs with at least that version of Snow Leopard or Lion. Additionally, the scarcity of physical media complicates the OS re-installation process, requiring manual creation of operating system installation media from the Mountain Lion download.


There are a number of known issues with OS X Mountain Lion, several of which are especially relevant to Penn's Mac users.

Supported Applications

  • The default setting of OS X Mountain Lion's Gatekeeper technology allows for downloading and installing only applications from the Mac App Store and applications that have been signed with a Developer ID. This means that older applications will not install by default. Users can choose to download and install applications from anywhere, but this requires administrative access to the Security & Privacy preference pane. This will impact the distribution of the PennConnect DVD and many other University applications.
  • In OS X Mountain Lion, Apple has changed Software Update so that it uses the Mac App Store. Thus, organizations that prevent access to the Mac App Store via firewall or other means cannot run Software Update on their Mountain Lion systems.
  • As with OS X Lion, Java Runtime Environment (JRE) is not installed by default and must be installed by the user. Without JRE, some applications cannot be run, including Symantec Endpoint Protection (SEP) and Adobe Creative Suite. As SEP is the University-provided antivirus/malware suite, installing Java should be taken into account when deploying and supporting OS X Mountain Lion systems.
  • PGP Whole Disk Encryption is incompatible with OS X Mountain Lion.

Other Applications

Rosetta is neither installed nor available on OS X Mountain Lion. This prevents any program compiled only for PowerPC from running on OS X Mountain Lion.

New Features in OS X Mountain Lion

OS X Mountain Lion is a moderate release with over 200 new features. Many of these features are based on similar or equivalent features from iOS. Below are some changes that may be of interest to the Penn community.

1) Notification Center

A significant feature which made its debut in iOS 5.0, Notification Center informs the user about new events: a new email, software update, calendar item, app message, etc. Notifications consistently appear in the same location and disappear to free desktop space. A drawer of all current notifications can be brought back at any time with a gesture.

2) Full iCloud Integration

OS X Mountain Lion is heavily integrated with iCloud, so mail, calendar items, reminders, photos, music and other data can be kept up to date. When a change is made on the Mac, that change can be sent to iOS devices such as an iPad or iPhone. An Apple ID is required to use iCloud.

3) Dictation

The Dictation feature that made its debut with the third generation iPad is now available in OS X Mountain Lion. The built-in microphone on a Mac can convert speech to text. Dictation gets "smarter" the more it is used, learning voice characteristics and also recognizing names from contact lists.

4) Messages

Messages, which replaces iChat, can now send messages to anyone on an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch running iOS 5 or above. Messages appear on the Mac and any compatible Apple device. Messages for OS X Mountain Lion shares most of the features of the iOS 5 Messages app, but retains the ability to connect to the University's Jabber service.

5) Reminders

Reminders allows the user to create lists of events with due dates, and receive alerts near the event times. Since Reminders is integrated with iCloud, a location-based reminder can be set on a Mac, and received as a reminder later from a mobile iOS device, such as an iPhone or iPad, when arriving at the destination.

6) Sharing

Sharing of photos, videos, and other data with services such as Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, and Vimeo is simplified in Mail, Messages, AirDrop, and Safari.

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Date Posted: February 16, 2012 Tags: Technical Info, Provider Resource, OS X

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