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Apple releases Panther update

Apple Computer releases an updated version of the latest iteration of Mac OS X. It addresses issues with printing and encryption, and with using the OS in conjunction with FireWire 800 drives.

Apple Computer released on Monday an updated version of its "Panther" operating system designed to address several early criticisms of the latest iteration of Mac OS X.

The company made version 10.3.1 of Mac OS X available via the Mac's Software Update feature and is expected to make it available on its Web site soon. According to Apple, the new version is designed to address issues with printing and encryption, and with using the OS in conjunction with FireWire 800 drives. Apple had earlier confirmed an incompatibility between Panther and some FireWire hard drives that caused some customers to lose data.

"The 10.3.1 Update delivers enhanced functionality and improved reliability for the following applications, services and technologies: FileVault, printing, WebDav, and FireWire 800 drives," Apple said in its description of the new version. "This update also includes the latest security updates."

Some users had complained that the FileVault encryption feature, which is designed to protect the contents of the home directory, had been causing some data, such as passwords, to be lost. Last week, Apple said in a statement that it was aware of the FileVault issue and was looking into it.

As for the FireWire issue, Apple still recommends that customers who have a FireWire 800 drive that uses the Oxford 922 chipset and version 1.02 of the firmware upgrade their drivers before using Panther.

"Even with the improvements available in this update, Apple recommends you update the firmware on your FireWire drive," Apple said. "Please contact your drive manufacturer for more information."

The company has not offered any recommendations for those using Mac OS X Panther with FireWire 400 drives, although there have been reports of problems on several Mac enthusiast sites.

Panther went on sale last month, boasting an improved finder, better compatibility with Windows networks and a new feature called Expose that makes it easier to manage multiple open windows.