back to article Lone config file in Mac OS X SIGNALS DEATH OF THE DVD

An avid Mac OS X 10.8 rummager reckons Apple may give the boot to optical drives - a suggestion based merely on the contents of a configuration file. The fanboi found the .plist file in the latest version of OS X, Mountain Lion. The document refers to future iMac and Mac Pro machines and includes options for booting, say, …

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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Stop

    Dupe

    Thanks Chris but this very same thing was already pointed out last week, right here in an El Reg article:

    http://www.reghardware.com/2012/08/10/apple_files_reference_mac_pro_imac_updates/

    In comments, it was also already said that the same plist file also lists other models WITH optical drives, so the whole speculation is based on, well, nothing. Two articles about nothing is maybe a bit too much, even for El Reg standards.

    1. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

      Re: Dupe

      "it was also already said that the same plist file also lists other models WITH optical drives"

      I'm not sure how that makes a difference; the point is some file has listed USB booting so OBVIOUSLY Apple is going to ditch optical drives. I think the cynicism is clear.

      (As for the HardReg dupe, Chris's angle is on the storage side rather than possible new expensive laptops.)

      C.

      1. No, I will not fix your computer
        FAIL

        Re: Dupe

        The only OBVIOUS* thing is that Apple is dropping booting from internal optical drives for some models, probably the ones that don't come with optical drives, this doesn't exclude USB optical drives.

        It could of course be more to do with their strategy of not selling the latest versions of OSX on optical disk rather than not having optical drives at all (I don't belive Lion is/will be available to purchase on DVD).

        Perhaps ElReg has jumped to the wrong conclusion, or at least not considered all the facts?

        *p.s. why must you shout? either your point is valid, in which case it will speak for itself, or it's not and you're adding weight it doesn't have, and of course, it makes you sound like a petulant child, perhaps use less invasive tags which adds empasis and looks a little more professional?

        1. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

          Re: Re: Dupe

          "it makes you sound like a petulant child"

          Well, guilty as charged.

          C.

          1. Daf L
            Facepalm

            Re: Dupe

            Yes, obviously you should have used italics and finished it off with a cheeky ;-)

            ...otherwise it isn't quite so obvious, obviously.

  2. Lord Voldemortgage

    Useful and cheap

    I still find DVD drives good for chucking a lot of stuff on when you need something easy and inexpensive.

    I suppose I could use budget flash drives each time but they aren't as handy to have stacked up by the dozen on one's desk.

    So for me a DVD drive is still going to matter and I would rather not have to plug in an external one.

    I can see how it would make for sleeker machines but I am not too keen to strip out useful parts in the cause of slimlining.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Useful and cheap

      @Lord Voldemortgage: "I still find DVD drives good for chucking a lot of stuff on when you need something easy and inexpensive."

      I formerly used my DVD drive that way too. But over the years, the huge volume of data I work with has made the capacity of a DVD seem minuscule. The only practical option has been flash drives and/or external hard drives. I realise this won't be the case for everyone (yet) but I think my experience reflects a growing trend.

      And those who don't create a lot with computers (think people who would be happy with an iPad), the cloud is a realistic option for backing up and sharing documents. Copying to an optical drive is often beyond their capacity to learn or implement.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Given the broadband speeds in my area...

        ...the cloud is pretty much unusable for me, and large software downloads, e.g. OSX, take all night. So dropping DVD support is irritating. I also sometimes watch old DVDs on my iMac.

        As an aside, I bought the last OSX upgrade on USB stick, only to find that it wanted to download a further 1.5G of patches post upgrade. You can imagine the curses. Nice one Apple.

  3. Andrew Baines Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    Uhm?

    Like booting Windows from a USB stick? Why should this mean they're dumping anything?

    1. Annihilator
      Paris Hilton

      Re: Uhm?

      It's also the case that (net connection aside) the only way to even purchase Lion or Mountain Lion is on a USB key...

    2. ArmanX
      Joke

      Re: Uhm?

      Mac decides to allow something that PCs could do for 15+ years! "They never give us something for free, and we figure losing the DVD drive is the least painful," says mournful fanboi.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Gimp

    Big Deal

    Apple to get rid of optical drives? So what?

    Apple drives are notorious for failing anyway (both drives in my Mac Pro no longer burn). You can buy an external for a few quid and if it goes pop there's no big deal if you need to replace it.

    Also external Blu-Rays work just dandy. And Apple isn't ever going to build Blu-Ray drives into their machines. If they thought they were worth having Apple would have included them way before anyone else. Doesn't make Apple right but that's the way they work.

    I'm not convinced the DVD will go the way of the floppy though. Retailers have too much interest in trying to push physical media.

    Me? I quite like DVD and Blu_Ray for viewing. But for data I fear their days are numbered.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Big Deal

      "I'm not convinced the DVD will go the way of the floppy though. Retailers have too much interest in trying to push physical media."

      DVD will, although some other physical media may or may not replace it.

      If you watch a lot of the major software houses they are moving away from retailer supply to online shops with downloading, this is beneficial for them, as they get the full chunk of the wedge, rather than having to give a slice to the retailer.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Big Deal

      "Apple drives are notorious for failing anyway (both drives in my Mac Pro no longer burn). You can buy an external for a few quid and if it goes pop there's no big deal if you need to replace it."

      Why single out Apple for selling computers with DVD drives that fail? Of course Apple doesn't make their own optical drives--they use the same drives as any PC manufacturer. Typically the DVD drive is the first thing to fail in my PCs too.

      I also welcome the idea of iMacs with no internal DVD drive. It's easy enough to buy an external drive for $30 which can be shared between all your computers, and when it breaks, no problem.

      1. Annihilator
        Boffin

        Re: Big Deal

        "Why single out Apple for selling computers with DVD drives that fail? Of course Apple doesn't make their own optical drives--they use the same drives as any PC manufacturer. Typically the DVD drive is the first thing to fail in my PCs too."

        True, the main reason being is the stress they can be subjected to. IIRC optical drives can spin at up to 10,000 RPM, more than a consumer hard disk and without the guarantee of a balanced disc that's rigidly bolted to the axle. Plus the laser is guided on a screw that can wear over time and the "laser" itself is nothing more than a cheap diode behind a piece of moulded plastic.

        There's some days I'm amazed they work at all!

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Big Deal

          I have a tower duplicator with 7 Pioneer drives in it. By my reckoning each drive has burnt approx 500-600 discs each over 4 years. I'm only now starting to see the occasional glitch. They are just off the shelf drives but have proved exceptional.

          The Apple drives both managed no more than 30 burns each. Go figure.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Big Deal

            If you're only using the drives for duplication then I assume you only put new discs in the drives. I wouldn't be surprised if a lot of the wear and tear and malfunctions of DVD drives are due to unbalanced discs as a previous poster mentioned.

      2. JeffyPooh Silver badge
        Pint

        Re: Big Deal

        "...the DVD drive is the first thing to fail in my PCs..."

        << My optical drives have NEVER failed. What are *you* doing wrong? >>

        ^ Absolutely joking. The << above >> is a typical mindless reply and I thought I'd toss it out there just to mock the nitwits that make such posts. Cheers.

      3. bazza Silver badge

        Re: Big Deal

        "Why single out Apple for selling computers with DVD drives that fail? Of course Apple doesn't make their own optical drives--they use the same drives as any PC manufacturer. Typically the DVD drive is the first thing to fail in my PCs too."

        It is worth singling out Apple on this. They make machines that are hard to repair, charge a very high price, give the stingiest warranty possible (sometimes worse than local laws demand, e.g. in Italy) and you end up with something that doesn't have a correspondingly higher build quality. Poor value for money.

        At least a PC and most PC laptops it is quite straightforward, cheap and effective to repair them when something goes wrong.

        Beyond that I don't care whether a Mac has an optical drive or not - I'd never buy one these days.

  5. jason 7

    I only use DVDs...

    ...for backing up folks data when I recover it from a knackered HDD.

    As long as its 20GB or less then they supply me a HDD.

  6. pctechxp

    Or

    It could just mean any USB device so that could include a USB optical drive.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    People missed floppy drives at first, then realised they didn't need them. Well, except for installing drivers for awkward RAID controllers.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Indeed. I remember people moaning and it was ironically an era where I was having to spend time zipping files up across multiple floppies. 1.44mb wasn't enough!

      We soon had cheap recordable CD's and PC BIOS's that would boot from CD.

      But I don't think DVD is quite the same. Floppy became obsolete because of capacity. Optical currently is cheap and has enough capacity. But flash is dropping by the day to the point where rather than use a dual layer DVD I'll use a stick instead (dual layer take forever to burn).

      1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

        Flash is NOT a backup technology. Not by today's reliability, that is.

    2. JEDIDIAH
      Linux

      Nonsense.

      People were pining for a replacement to floppy drives for a good long while while any number of non-standardized wannabe's try to displace them. They all turned out to be worse than "obsolete tech" in some way or another, sometimes horribly so.

      Older tech will disappear when people no longer find them useful and they are replaced by something else. This happens on it's own and has nothing to do with Apple's attempts to force the issue.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Optical drive is still useful for me...

    ...for burning CDs from iTunes to play in the car. I only recently acquired a car that was CD capable: cassettes before that.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Optical drive is still useful for me...

      My CD drive in the car eventually gave up the ghost, plus all the home burn CD's eventually died in the car temperatures. I went for a cheap £5 SD/USB to FM transmitter that makes use of the cigarette lighter socket.

    2. P. Lee Silver badge

      Re: Optical drive is still useful for me...

      How about ripping CD's to itunes? Does anyone remember that that's how Apple got going again? Got any DVDs? You wouldn't be able to watch them on your Mac.

      There might be some justification for it on an ultraportable, but on an imac? I don't think so. Having said that, there's no ethernet on a macbook.

      The FDD/USB switch provided something better - Apple now seem intent on making things worse. I'm not setting up multiple WAPs around my house so I can stream mpg2 files over wireless, I just want a cable. If apple had brought in lightpeak with a network switch and made long optical cables cheap enough to use, I'd say they are driving something useful, but their current direction seems like a madness I don't want to join in with.

      Until blockbuster rents on USB keys and music doesn't come on CD, I'll keep my optical drive thanks.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Optical drive is still useful for me...

        Apple isn't taking away your ability to buy a $30 external DVD player and plug it in via USB, which is my preferred solution anyway since DVD drives always break anyway and I already have an external player for my laptop.

  9. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

    Never liked Bluray

    Maybe that's a general thing with optics, but it takes them a looong time to get ready for work. Spinning up, reading index tracks (and with Bluray more happens, although I don't quite know what).

    On the other hand, I think it'll be some time before they have truly gone, if for no other reason that I'd have to find something else as coaster..

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Never liked Bluray

      That's the player booting up. Many units are terrible and I assume it is down to slow processors or bad code.

      There are some newer units that start much faster.

      1. GitMeMyShootinIrons

        Re: Never liked Bluray

        Not to mention the DRM stuff and nasty Java based menus etc.

  10. Wibble
    Windows

    Security air gap

    CD / DVD drives are really useful for moving files across an air-gap network where USB drives are forbidden. They're also easy to shred once done.

    Not that Apple give a damn.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Security air gap

      I think you'll agree that is a niche, if not outdated, scenario. Why would you need an optical drive in every machine just for that?

      How about starting to use encrypted USB sticks, which are safer - no risk of losing the CD before shredding it - and more ecological.

  11. Thomas Wolf

    What does author mean by 'upcoming' MBP not having optical drives...

    The author said there were rumors that an upcoming 6th generation MacBook Pro might not have an optical drive. Am I missing something here? I thought the current MacBook Pro w. Retina display already didn't have an optical drive.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: What does author mean by 'upcoming' MBP not having optical drives...

      That's only the 15" MacBook Pro. The 13" and 17" models are also MacBook Pros and still have optical drives.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Devil

      Re: What does author mean by 'upcoming' MBP not having optical drives...

      Speaking of the new Macbook Retinas (on which I am typing this) I needed to burn a DVD. So I got my little external Samsung burner and its two headed USB lead (it needs two ports to suck enough power).

      Due to some ingenious design the 2 USB ports on the Mac are on opposite sides of the laptop which isn't close enough for the cable. So, no burning on the Samsung drive then!

      I can't work out if this is just another escalation in the Apple v Samsung war or if it's just bad luck. :-)

      1. Magani
        Happy

        @Mr C Hill - Re: What does author mean by 'upcoming' MBP not having optical drives...

        Try a USB extension lead to get to the far side for the second plug. From memory there's even a diagram of this setup on the Quick Start guide.

        1. JEDIDIAH
          Linux

          Re: @Mr C Hill - What does author mean by 'upcoming' MBP not having optical drives...

          Sounds a bit Pythonesque.

          Of course the problem with USB DVD drives is that they take more power and require a second USB port and if your hardware doesn't put 2 USB ports together then you are kind of boned. You end up needing an extension cord just to power up your DVD drive.

          The setup quickly becomes more bothersome and less portable.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: What does author mean by 'upcoming' MBP not having optical drives...

        Have you tried burning a DVD with just one of the USB connectors plugged in? This works a treat with my 11" MacBook Air. I would be very surprised if it doesn't work with your larger MacBook.

  12. Greg J Preece

    Hmmm, nothing to do with Apple having iTunes and the App Store around, eh? Come on, this is 2 + 2 stuff. Of course they're going to ditch optical media. Given the chance, they'd ditch the USB ports too. Then the only way to get anything on or off the machine is through their overpriced service.

    I like my DVDs and BDs over online gear for this very simple reason: they're mine. Mine mine mine mine mine, and you can't have them.

    1. dharmaseal
      Happy

      In Words

      Yes, you've said what I was trying to write and then I gave up. 'They' are angling and to what end?

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not so

    Was posted on Macrumors that after investigation the file has been in bootcamp since 2011. So nothing new...

  14. Cameron Colley

    Just use an external one.

    I recently built a new PC and decided not to go for an internal optical drive. This was because it would take up an ESATA connection I may well want for a hard drive and because, in my experience, optical drives seem to become hit-and-miss after a few years anyway and require replacement. So, I bought an external DVD drive for watching DVD video* and I use USB drives for everything else I would have used an optical drive for.

    The only time I could see myself wanting a laptop with an optical drive would be on holiday to use as a DVD player but in that case I'd be carrying DVDs anyhow so a small external drive is no hardship.

    I am certainly no fan of Apple but I think this is a smart move. Not necessarily because I think optical media are going to disappear in the next couple of years but because I think they are used less often, and you can usually plan for it, and external optical drives are two a penny. It allows Apple to make a sleeker machine (or put more in) and the user to replace their optical drive easier when it fails (since it'll have to be external).

    *(In fact, if the movie and TV studios would get their collective Ass's into gear I wouldn't need an optical drive at all)

    1. Greg J Preece

      Re: Just use an external one.

      I recently built a new PC and decided not to go for an internal optical drive. This was because it would take up an ESATA connection I may well want for a hard drive

      Must...not....nitpick...

      1. JEDIDIAH
        Linux

        Re: Just use an external one.

        eSATA? It's the same connection on the motherboard.

  15. tempemeaty

    The hipster's of tech, never mind your data backups...

    Do they think Hard Drives and USB sticks are now reliable enough to replace optical storage?

    I've known people to lose hard drives then while transferring to the replacement lose the back up drive too before the transfer was complete. I've also had friends say if not for the CD/DVD back ups on some things they'd have lost everything. Yeah, even in 2012.

    If Apple is looking to discontinue optical drives on their products, it seems to me they're a bit cavalier about their customer's personal data storage and backup. Either that or they're trying to hard to be the techno-hipster about how their technology looks at the expense of your data storage.

    1. mrh2

      Re: The hipster's of tech, never mind your data backups...

      >> If Apple is looking to discontinue optical drives on their products, it seems to me they're a bit cavalier about their customer's personal data storage and backup.

      Surely the responsibility for the customer's personal data storage and backup rests with the customer?

      Anyone needing a DVD drive can buy one for about 10quid online, Apple's computers will work with any USB drive, you don't have to buy their overpriced shiny one!

      1. JEDIDIAH
        Linux

        Re: The hipster's of tech, never mind your data backups...

        > Surely the responsibility for the customer's personal data storage and backup rests with the customer?

        These aren't "geeks".

        Throwing n00bs in the deep end of the pool and making them fend for themselves? That's like Gentoo territory.

        Once again: Apple is the computing equivalent of BMW until they do something that is obviously un-BMW like then suddenly they're a Hyundai again.

    2. DJ Smiley
      FAIL

      Re: The hipster's of tech, never mind your data backups...

      You think home burnt optical storage is reliable...

      1. tempemeaty

        Re: The hipster's of tech, never mind your data backups...

        And hard drives never fail?

        1. JEDIDIAH
          Linux

          Re: The hipster's of tech, never mind your data backups...

          Regardless. You never trust just one piece of backup media.

          That's why media that's cheap enough to be disposable has an advantage. You make 5 or 10 copies and mitigate the potential for a media failure. This is the problem of expecting n00bs to fend for themselves like "geeks". Not only are they not familiar with the "tech" they also aren't familiar with the policies, management, and best practices associated with the "tech".

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      The hipsters, and also we normal people,..

      ...use OSX Time Machine software to multiple NAS servers. I'd bet the average OSX user is better backed up than the average Windows user. Does anyone really use DVDs now for backup?

      1. Pascal Monett Silver badge
        Thumb Down

        Re: "multiple NAS servers"

        Yeah, I'm sure everyone has that at home.

  16. The New Turtle

    "Software, film and music distribution on CDs and DVDs is waning in favour of downloading across the Internet"

    Not yet outside of America. Maybe 5 years for blighty and a bit more for a lot of Europe, but certainly not yet.

  17. Benny

    Yep, I rarely use CD's anymore.

    I replaced my optical drives with SSDs on both my machines, bought an external £80 blue-ray writer from Maplins. Works a treat,

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Just bought a low power PC...

    ...and the only option for a CD/DVD/Blu-Ray would be an external USB or E-Sata unit. I put Linux on it by USB stick.

    For day to day stuff, I just don't need an optical drive any more.

  19. trev101
    Alert

    No quite yet

    I only use CD drive for creating music CD's from my playlist, however more and more cars are now going usb or iphone way so my CD/DVD RW will disappear from my computer soon. However I disagree with blu-ray.

    I use it extensively for content authoring. Let's face it TV's need a blu-ray player & we are not going to be downloading 25GB or 50GB anytime soon. I see a future for blu-ray well into next 10 years.

  20. Rich 30
    Thumb Down

    PCs and Laptops?

    I can understand why you'd ditch them on laptops. For the most part, most of the time, i dont use an optical drive. I could do without it on my laptop and gain the advantage of a thinner, smaller, lighter laptop. Then have a separate USB optical drive for those infrequent moments when i need one.

    However, i'm not sure there's the same benefit for a desktop PC. Rarely do i think my desktop PC would be much better if it was a little bit thinner. To me i cant see the benefit of losing the optical drive from an iMac, to save a few mm, but then have a USB one in a drawer, or permanently attached.

  21. Tank boy
    Linux

    Call me Old School

    I'd prefer to have more, not less in my computer gear. I'd rather have it and not need it, than need it and not have it.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Call me Old School

      I normally feel the same way, but mine only gets used for limited entertainment. Netflix and its equivalences don't have all movies I watch, so this is where the drive comes in handy, but than again, I own a DVD player.

      All my games are downloaded, my backups are external or separate internal HDDs or USBs, I normally use Grooveshark or Pandora for music so losing it or in my mind replacing it with USB is a better option. I've been booting all my linux distros from usb and installing this way also. Tis faster anyway, so sadly, I can't jump on the smack apple bandwagon.

      I'm sure there a lawsuit regarding rectangles and round corners in there somewhere...Joke!

  22. John Halewood

    The only bonus for optical media

    ...is that the filesystem (ISO9660) is system-independent. With flash, it tends to get formatted with the filesystem of choice on the originating machine (FAT32/exFAT/ext4/HFS etc.), which can be a pain when transferring across platforms. The Apple based peeps I work with who do multimedia stuff, and use several TBs of data for each project they work on, still send the rushes & finished product to the customer on DVD - at least then they know they can view it, and not just on computers either.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The only bonus for optical media

      That's user error. Nearly all Flash drives will come pre-formatted to FAT.

      As an experiment I just put a new Flash drive in this Mac and asked it to format it. The default option is FAT, with EXFAT below that.

      Now if I want the wierdy beardy Apple file system I can have that but I'd have to scroll all the way up to select it.

  23. Duffaboy
    Thumb Up

    Its True

    Just been on a Mountain Lion course last week, and the Apple chap more or less confirmed it.

  24. JeffyPooh Silver badge
    Pint

    Good idea

    As opposed to making a BluRay player app that upscales the movies to Retina display psuedo resolution in order to shift more Apple PCs. Yep, good idea.

    (My PS3 is the best DVD player I've seen. Assumption: Clever Apple coders should be able to do something similar for BluRay.)

  25. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge
    Thumb Up

    CD failures

    Just a critique on CD drive failures (including DVD drives...)... I worked at a surplus and saw many failures.

    "True, the main reason being is the stress they can be subjected to. IIRC optical drives can spin at up to 10,000 RPM"

    Not a problem. I only ever saw one drive that had a spindle failure. I did see one CD that had cracked inside the drive and did a fair bit of damage.

    "Plus the laser is guided on a screw that can wear over time"

    I saw only one or two drives with a seek failure.

    " and the 'laser' itself is nothing more than a cheap diode behind a piece of moulded plastic."

    Yup, cheap optics. I found the LG (and Goldstar before that) drives were the worst. Sonys were also quite bad (despite being a LiteOn mechanism, Sony's firmware made the drives suck -- I "fixed" one or two by flashing LiteOn firmware into them!)

    I think the thing that helps LiteOns is good firmware. If they don't like a CD, most drives handle it by either 1) Locking up, sometimes a drive'll lockup up until you hit eject, sometimes it just trys to read "forever" (i.e. until the computer is turned off). or 2) Trying to read a CD at like 48x for about 2 seconds then giving up (either returning a disk read error, or claiming there's no CD in the drive). In contrast, the LiteOns will try reading at high speed first, but if that doesn't work it'll try reading clear down to 1x before it spits out CD read errors. I found one where the "CD brake" had failed, and instead of spitting out a disk that was still spinning at high speed, it actually just did a huge ~20 second pause when I hit eject so the disk could slowly spin down to a stop.

    I did burn out one of my LiteOns, I burned like 10 DVDs in a row and overheated the burning laser! Next DVD I got "laser calibration error" and not even a mark on the disk 8-). I think my favorite failure was one model that'd read a CD fine in a straight line, but if the CD was thrashed a lot (like when an Ubuntu LiveCD boots...) after about a minute the drive would start mis-seeking... but instead of giving seek errors, or just taking longer to seek, it'd just start returning whatever the laser happened to be pointing at. (Luckily since virtually everything on the Ubuntu CD is checksummed, it'd realize straight away something had gone wrong.) That wasn't just one unit, I had the same thing happen on like 4 or 5 examples of the same model! Ouch!

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