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Gone in OS X Lion: Rosetta, Java Runtime, Flash, Samba, Front Row

26 April 2011 39,449 views 53 Comments

So, far the Fairer Platform has expended a fair number of bits talking about what’s new in Apple’s upcoming Mac operating system rewrite. However, a number of features not only won’t be updated, they’re being dropped entirely.

In Can my Mac run OS X Lion?, we mentioned that you need a Mac with an Intel Core 2 Duo or better processor (i.e. 64-bit). Macs not supported include Core Solo and Core Duo, not to mention every single PowerPC based model ever made.

Thereupon, Apple’s concluding the transition from PPC to Intel with the release of Lion — Rosetta, Apple’s PowerPC software compatibility layer which originally shipped with OS X 10.5 Leopard, is being dropped. Universal binaries should by all rights be Lion compatible, though I haven’t found a direct statement to that effect from Apple.

The loss of Rosetta could cost some users a fair bit of coin, i.e. Office 2004 and older Photoshop installations that can’t be transferred to new hardware. Thereupon, a vocal few will likely bitterly lament its passing.


The next two features won’t ship with OS X Lion — Adobe Flash and the Java Runtime Environment (JRE). That doesn’t mean you won’t be able to use them anymore.

That is, Apple stopped shipping Flash as part of the default OS installation with the Late 2010 MacBook Air and Early 2011 MacBook Pro. Users wanting to use Flash have had to download it themselves.

So far, this has been a non-issue and, with the increasing use of HTML5 delivered video, Flash’s relevance will continue to wane.

Similarly, Apple will stop shipping Java as part of OS X with the advent Lion. Users will still be able to download and use it, but it won’t be part of the default operating system install — a nonevent followed by a non-issue.

Death by GPL3 (and time)

Server Message Block functionality has been a part of OS X since Jaguar (10.2) days and allows Macs to share files, servers, network accounts, etc. with their Windows cousins.

Well, Samba is the open source software Apple used to implement those features. However, Samba developers have moved it to the GPL3 license, which makes it just about impossible to use commercially — killing off tens of millions of Mac users doesn’t seem a very effective way to advance the “open source” cause.

However, Apple is developing SMB functionality of its own and that’s expected to arrive in Lion.

Last and perhaps least of all the features getting pared back or outright killed is Front Row, Apple’s soon to be erstwhile media center software for the Mac. This app appeared on the first iSight-equipped iMac G5s back in 2005 and, for the unfamiliar, provides an alternative interface for displaying photos, movies, downloaded TV episodes and listening to music.

Front Row hasn’t been significantly updated since 2008. Thereupon, it wouldn’t surprise me if more than a few of you had never heard of let alone used Front Row.

Running OS X Lion and found stuff missing? Sound off in the comments below…

See also:
Can my Mac run OS X Lion
New in OS X Lion: QuickTime 10.1
New in OS X Lion: TextEdit
New in OS X Lion: About This Mac
New in OS X Lion: Preview 5.5
New in OS X Lion: Mail 5
Mac OS X Lion icons are bigguns


  • DAG said:

    I use Front Row- daily. I have an EyeTV equipped MacPro with a 24″LED Cinema that I use in my bedroom as a TV. All my EyeTV recordings export to iTunes and ripped copies of my DVDs are also resident on my internal storage not to mention purchased iTunes content.

  • Jo said:

    Front Row is very popular on Mac minis deployed as entertainment hubs.

  • Fat_Tony said:

    Any idea what the state of affairs with Exchange support is?

  • Adam said:

    I’m betting that Apple will be selling some variation of Apple TV as an app on the Mac App Store after Lion is released. Not a version that will be able to play Apple TV apps once they are released, but one that looks like Apple TV and allows you to rent and purchase content on the Mac using a remote just like the previous version Apple TV. Apple TV needs to become a platform that is on every or most Macs then all of a sudden the install base changes.

  • cashxx said:

    I’m angry over the disappearance of Front Row. I have a Mac Mini hooked up to my entertainment center and use Front Row constantly. AppleTV isn’t flexible enough and other video front ends like Plex, Boxee, and others are too buggy for me.

  • EB said:

    Good thing there are many free and paid alternatives to front row with much added ability. And for all we know, a copy of Front Row for 10.6 will run just fine on Lion. Bottom line is, it has always lagged way way behind what the Apple TV had, and was basically a way for them to work on the ATV code. When the ATV went from Intel to ARM, the ability and need to continually update Front Row as a subset of what was available on the ATV became moot.
    You can use iTunes, you can use XBMC, you can use BOXEE….
    or better yet, you can spend $100 on a new Apple TV and stream all the content from your Mac/iPod/iPad/iPhone, and even jailbreak it to add the abovementioned apps to it (XBMC, etc).

    All in all, I’d rather they spend their effort on the OS, and allow those who want to tinker with Mac Minis as Media Centers (that was me until the ATV 2 came out) to do their tinkering with home brew components, like we all did anyway. Anyone I know who uses a Mac Min as a media center certainly does not use Front Row as their sole software component for media on it.

    Simplicity is king. I want my living room to be smooth and effortless. That is why I ended up spending the $100 on an ATV 2, and yes, for the geek side I JBd it and installed XBMC and other fun toys on it….

  • EMRK said:

    With strong media center alternatives like XBMC and PLEX, Apple see little incentive to continue the development of Frontrow. Fellow mac user might take a look at these alternatives.

  • elgarak said:

    I’m a bit angry if Front Row is really completely scrapped. While there may be alternatives, Front Row had always the advantage of being simple, relatively robust and elegant. Alternatives often have more features, but also require more configuration and are, more often than not, less elegant. Which is why a lot of people still use it when they hook up a Mac Mini as an entertainment machine.

    That said, I don’t think it should be part of the OS release. A stand-alone, maybe free, app from the App store is where Front Row should be.

  • Derrick Dodson said:

    Also BIG fan of front row, I have it integrated with DVDpedia and have all of my movie files nicely cataloged and sorted using this software.

    My 3 yr old can work front row and for that I will not be upgrading that mini. For my uses that machine runs fine and will stay with the current OS..

  • Brian Floe said:

    Loosing Front Row is a catastrophe !!

  • rauckr said:

    I am not happy to see Front Row dropped. I like it. I don’t want to buy an alternative app.

  • Paul Williamson said:

    No Front Row - no Lion

  • Walt French said:

    “The loss of Rosetta could cost some users a fair bit of coin.”

    Apple moved entirely to Intel boxes in 2006, so PPC software is probably 5+ years old. No reason to update it if it works fine, but then, why update the OS, either?

    I think there will be very few users who lose more than the occasional game. Anybody still running major apps on software that hasn’t been upgraded in 5 years has a very unusual set of needs; most of us make extensive use of inter-app communications and new paradigms that didn’t exist when Macs were PPC.

  • GS said:

    “The loss of Rosetta could cost some users a fair bit of coin, i.e. Office 2004…”

    Why will Office 2004 not run? It doesn’t run under Rosetta does it?

  • Grant said:

    Walt French,

    Some people could lose more. Think of the people who have files in any number of applications written for the old OSes. MacDraw files. Ancient Word files (including book manuscripts, Ph.D. theses, and whatnot). Programs written with CodeWarrior. Etc.

    The old OSes can serve as a “live” backup for these people. Moving on in the manner that Apple is will be fine for the majority of more casual users. Users with old material that still has relevance still have an argument that maintaining a old live system is more effective than moving all their material to new formats and software.

  • Steve said:


    I still use PPC versions of Office because I want Visual Basic Macros in Excel.

    A question…

    I was under the impression that all I had to look for was PowerPC apps.

    Will I also lose all 32 bit Universal apps?

    What about 64 bit Universal apps?

    What about 32 bit Intel apps? (or are all of these OS apps, like AddPrinter and Address Book)?

  • the rocr (author) said:

    Good questions — thanks.

    Thereupon, I can’t find an ironclad statement that universal apps are supported under Lion, though this definition of the concept on wikipedia says they should be:


    “Apple, however, continues to require native compatibility with both PPC and Intel in order to grant 3rd party software publishers permission to use Apple’s trademarks related to Universal binaries … At the same time, Apple does not specify whether or not such 3rd party software publishers must (or should) bundle separate builds for both the 32-bit and 64-bit variants of either architecture.”

    That said, I struck my fairly ambiguous statement regarding 64-bit/Lion/universal compatibility and simplified it to reflect the above.

    So, 32 and 64 bit intel, yes. And that appears to include 32 and 64 bit universal, as well.

    I suspect Apple will have more to say on this come WWDC.

  • Chris said:

    I don’t use Front Row much, mainly because its crap. But if they actually updated it and made it decent, I’d be definitely using it.

  • One thing that will suck... said:

    VISE-based installers frequently require Rosetta. There are going to be a bunch of third party drivers that will have to be updated.

    I’m all in favor of VISE installers going away (or getting improved), but there’s guaranteed to be some interoperability loss for products whose manufacturers lag behind, or don’t update at all…

  • Elo Laugesen said:

    does anyone know about Epson Large format print drivers like for the Pro3800

    will they work…

  • veebee said:

    Of course Rosetta will go. Why? Old apps don’t appear in the App Store and generate no revenue for Apple. Doesn’t anyone see any conflict of interest here? Probably not. Many can’t see it in the government either.

    Ya, it is easy to justify the dropping of Rosetta and a few other things but hardware gets more powerful and storage gets cheaper and larger as we move on. Rosetta is trivial. Apple just values revenue more than customer service. I’ll get Lion via hardware but not before 10.7.5 or later.

  • Brian said:

    Besides, if they keep legacy laying around forever, then they eventually become Microsoft. And that would not be good.

  • Dave52 said:


    Keeping legacy software going a la Microsoft would indeed be a bad idea. Look at how long MS had to support XP (although they brought some of that on themselves).

  • Cassandra – Friday Review: The Weekend Arrives said:

    [...] updates on what Lion will have, or what it will not have. Fairer Platform tell us that Rosetta, Adobe Flash and Java Runtime Environment (get your own I suppose) are all to [...]

  • Tim said:

    I’m still running a 7-y.o. PPC Mac because I can’t afford an upgrade. My wife and I both feel the age keenly, as you have to keep at least your browsers up-to-date to experience the web, and both the browsers and in-page apps seem slower and slower as time goes on.

    When I am able to scrape together the cash to upgrade hardware, there’s not going to be anything extra to upgrade software. That’s just a fact of life; we’re in a recession. (Apple using high-priced miniaturized components for their “low end” computers isn’t making me happy, either.)

    Losing Rosetta is going to HURT. If I can’t run Office 2004, I’ll be switching to something Open Source. Walt F said something about most everyone using “new paradigms”…I call BS. If Word 5 still ran on my Mac, I’d be using that. I find Office 2007 and newer to be confusing, and the new paradigms to be a step back.

  • scandinørd said:

    To me it seems like Lion is moving in the wrong direction with its focus on bringing “back to the mac” features from iOS. Program launcher in addition to the dock seems overkill and reminds me of the not very useful AtEase from the 90s. And why not make Rosetta and FrontRow an option in the installer even if they are not included by default? We are many that use Rosetta and FrontRow on a daily basis in Snow Leopard. I fear the “back to the mac” idea is a way for Apple to dumb down the MacOS to iOS level incrementally and at the same time make the system less open and more locked in with the AppStore to add another cashcow for Apple. I was an early adopter of Snow Leopard wich actually increased the speed of my computer, but I don’t feel any need to get Lion when it takes away some features I like and doesn’t really seem to add anything usefull.

  • New in OS X Lion: Dictionary | FairerPlatform said:

    [...] See also: Can my Mac run Lion?, New in Lion: Safari 5.1, Gone in Lion: Rosetta, Java, Samba… [...]

  • Gone in OS X Lion: iSync, Exposé in the Dock | FairerPlatform said:

    [...] isn’t the Fairer Platform’s first time to missing OS X Lion feature rodeo. Thereupon, the trimmings in Apple’s next-generation operating system are significant — [...]

  • Niclas said:

    Losing JRE is not a nonissue.


    You can’t download JRE for Mac. I’m running Lion Developer Preview right now and I can’t even use CyberDuck or Photoshop.

  • Aaron Shepard said:

    You’re missing the boat about Microsoft Office. By last report, Office 2011 STILL includes PPC code. Microsoft has not yet finished rewriting it.

    Will Apple release an OS that doesn’t run Office? An interesting question.

  • Barry Woodward said:

    We’ve just shelled out on a 17″ MacBook Pro (to replace a 1.67GHz G4 PowerBook that the logic and video boards died on after 7 years) and a 27″ iMac to ‘replace’ an even older 800MHz Quicksilver G4 in my studio (which I still have/use).

    Having assumed that this would mean I couldn’t use any of my existing software (Office X and Adobe CS1) I was incredibly pleased to realise that actually I could with Rosetta. It just doesn’t make sense to continually fork out hundreds of ££ on upgrades when basically they are only incremental differences. It’s only after about 7 - 10 years that if the programme still exists you can get the new version and go wow! Great if you can afford it but I can’t afford to get the latest CS or even Office (basically because I did succumb to Logic Studio ! :)

    So, having seen the video of Lion, it looks great - BUT THERE IS NO POINT in paying £21 for the privilege of mortgaging myself for an extra £1200+ to get Office 2011 & CS5.5 etc. Same principle applies to upgrading hardware generally. Apple are obviously (and understandably) trying to push users into a computer / iPhone / iPad household. Next on the list is an iPad I admit (mainly for my disabled daughter to use) but actually there are more Android users and I’m one of them until they get anywhere close with the iOS

    And another thing - I paid £30 for two remotes with these new computers. Would they be redundant already if I let the Lion loose ????

    Barry Woodward
    Dining Room Music & Media (London)

  • the rocr (author) said:

    I think you could get those apps for a lot less than £1,200. Also, do you really need Photoshop? I’d bet that Acorn or Pixelmator could do the job.

  • Barry Woodward said:

    I guess not really - although I love the way that all the CS apps ‘integrate’. But do I really need them?

    For a couple of weeks there, having spent thousands, I felt like I’d at last got up to date! I found Contactizer Pro which almost replaces the functionality and usability of Now Contact & Up To Date (4.53 NOT 5 or X which were pants) and gives Address Book and iCal the extras they should have. But that relies on MobileMe just to talk to those apps on my computer!

    And also there I was thinking, great! I can save on my current hosting by moving my sites over to iWeb/MobileMe! That’s going too with the advent of iCloud

    Looks like we’ve got a year window to see how it all pans out. I think there is a chance that many people will resent being pushed into a cloud based society (the Big Brother watching implications are huge) or just won’t share Jobs’ (and Google’s) vision of file-free computing.

    It all looks interesting on a personal (photos & music) level. But computers are for more than just that. I’m not so sure I wanna be in with the iCrowd just yet

  • Aquaria said:

    I’d rather have Rosetta than this stupid iPad-lite whistle and bell nonsense, any day. Strip that nonsense out, and give me back Rosetta. I have several things that are PPC based that I don’t want to lose, tons and tons of files that will have to be updated and cleaned up, file by f#@king file, to work in new programs-if they’ll open at all. That is a major hassle-If I’d wanted to waste my time converting all of them, I would have done it a long time ago.

    I still have my old sunflower Mac. I guess I’ll get it out of mothballs and fire it up for that old stuff. It had to stop updating with Tiger, but all those old programs will still run on it.

  • brian said:

    I think that it is funny that people will compaling about Mac lion not supporting older problems you have. Then, you complain that Microsoft is making it where XP is still supported. The one thing that Microsoft does that MAC is not doing is making it where blind people can still use their products. We use Java with our software and they just told us we are not important to them. Well, they had the right idea when they first came out, but now, they are all “point and click.” It is just a small problem with what apple is doing if you have sight. If you don’t, it’s just turning into a paper weight.

  • Going on a Lion hunt [OS X 10.7 ready apps] | FairerPlatform said:

    [...] Apple taketh away. Thereupon, there are a number of notable technologies and apps that have been excluded in OS X 10.7 with Samba (network file services), Rosetta (PPC software compatibility) and Front Row likely to be [...]

  • Apple tying up Java loose ends | FairerPlatform said:

    [...] Interesting the utter lack of details about this housecleaning Java update from Apple. All the more so considering the OS X Lion doesn’t include Java… [...]

  • todd said:

    @brian - Apple is not abandoning Java, simply removing themselves from the critical path. OS X Lion will now use Oracle/Sun Java builds… just like everybody else.

  • DeeJay said:

    It’s all well and good that HTML5 will take the place of Flash …

    But note the use of the future tense there. “Will” take the place of. Even though little Steve Jobs would rather it not be the case, the cold fact is that there is still a lot of Flash content out on the Web, and a lot of it is not going away any time soon. Moreover, HTML5 is no panacea, and is not evenly supported by browsers or Web sites.

    It might be … someday … but it ain’t there yet, and it won’t be for some time to come.

    Also, I just looked and found you CANNOT download Java for Mac. Sun (now Oracle) does not provide it, and will not provide it.

    It would not have harmed Lion if Apple had kept Flash, Java, and even Rosetta. They just cut those things off because the childish Steve Jobs dislikes them and has thrown tantrums over their existence. That, unfortunately for Apple, is not a valid reason not to have included them.

  • the rocr (author) said:

    I’m running Java 6 for Lion — it is available from Apple. Flash also is available, but don’t forget to get Click2Flash!

    And, who’s throwing tantrums?

  • tantrums said:

    Wow. What a bunch of whiners. No one is forcing you to upgrade. If you don’t like lion or can’t afford to upgrade your legacy apps or need frontrow then don’t give apple your 29.99 and stay on snow leopard which is perfectly stable fully functional os that will be good for the life of your hardware. If your hardware dies and has to be replaced you can always downgrade to snow leopard.

  • scandinørd said:

    Tantrum said: “Wow. What a bunch of whiners. No one is forcing you to upgrade. If you don’t like lion or can’t afford to upgrade your legacy apps or need frontrow then don’t give apple your 29.99 and stay on snow leopard which is perfectly stable fully functional os that will be good for the life of your hardware. If your hardware dies and has to be replaced you can always downgrade to snow leopard.”

    You are perfectly right, we shouldn’t upgrade. But about the whining: People have a right to express their thoughts about the new OS upgrade. A discussion shouldn’t be reserved for the newly born-again Apple fanboys (the “iCrowd”), but also for the long time mac users that thought differently even in the dark ages of the 90s. To me it seems like Apple is trying to sell their Macs to the iPad/iPod/iPhone users and in the process ignoring their long time users. The new Final Cut Pro X is another part of the same trend.

    Apple is giving their old time users the finger with dropping Rosetta and FrontRow. Of course, they want to move on from old PPC code, but they should allow people some time to adjust. Rosetta and FrontRow could have been an optional install in Lion, like Rosetta was in Snow Leopard. Taking away functionality doesn’t really make sense. FrontRow is basically the AppleTV interface, so not including it or updating is probably a way of not making people aware that they don’t really need the Apple TV to view their movies on a TV screen.

    What Apple add are some “new” gestures from the iDevices, an improved and renamed Exposé & Spaces, a Bonjour filesharing for Finder (AirDrop), they reintroduce the old (Mac System 6) MultiFinder “whole screen apps” idea from the late 80s that was dropped in system 7 and downgrade the Finder to greyscale. And they add the old AtEase “app launcher” that wasn’t a sucsess on the Mac in the early 90s. (Allthough it makes sense on the iDevices.) It’s an incremental downgrade from Snow Leopard.

  • Simon said:

    The way people are complaining about the loss of Rosetta (which was overdue in my opinion) makes it sound like Apple is holding a gun to your head and forcing you to upgrade!

    External storage is dirt cheap, if you don’t already have an external hard-drive laying around you could buy a Terrabyte drive for peanuts and install Snow Leopard or Lion on that and keep running it for AS LONG AS YOU WANT.

    This website seems to host a bunch of whingers and I’m almost sad I bothered to read so many of the comments and to reply!

  • JonSiah said:

    Manual method of installing JRE:

  • Matt said:

    The problem for me as an academic researcher is that we use old PPC scientific software that is often irreplaceable. Can we even instal SL on new hardware to keep running these legacy apps? As computers get faster and faster, emulating a PPC layer should become trivial - so why drop it?

    But my major question is: If I buy a new mac for my research lab tomorrow - can I install SL on it? Because if not, a new Mac is USELESS to us for our current software needs - and this is software that we only purchased 1 year ago!

  • David PR Bailin said:

    Loss of Quicken 2007 is a STOPPER. NO to Lion and the new Macbook Air that I want to buy.

  • kevin said:

    Bought the new macbook air(with a remote i later found out is not supported with an infrared reader on the air!) at the brand new apple store in my area. Scheduled a “1on1″ to transfer files from macbook pro 15 running leopard to new air running lion. OOPS not 1, but 2 problems! Cannot transfer directly from leopard to lion and lion is not compatible with filemaker pro 6 even if i could transfer from leopard to lion directly.
    Bummer. Returned everything, air, speck case, bag and the unusable remote the clerk shouldn’t have sold me in the first place. It’s kind of aggravating that apple doesn’t include a conversion(rosetta?) for old filemaker pro databases to lion. Guess I’m stuck with leopard and my 2006 macbook pro. Really wanted a that new mac air too…. oh well. I think apple will lose many sales because of these unconvertible old files and databases to the new lion OS. They lost my 2 grand!

  • jmgschmoe said:

    There are many with whom I could not agree more. I am sorry I did not see these comments before I spent a huge block of time fussing with downloads and restoring back to 10.6.8

    Imagine my horror and consternation when I could not read a large number of Excel files hundreds and hundred of pages of Word Documents. (I am working on several books.) Are you supposed to buy a NEW MS Office? Are you supposed to laboriously transfer megabytes of data to Text edit or “Pages?”

    When I complained that there was no rosetta and I could not print using my Epson 3800 or Designjet z3100, I was told, basically that I “should have known” because it (no Rosetta) was “widely” publicized! I have hundreds and hundreds of pages of Word documents and Excel files. Am I suppose to spend hundreds for new software?

    Strangely, these omissions were not mentioned on the Lion site.

    As an avid Mac Person since 1987 I have to say that I really felt betrayed. I may just go over to the “dark” (MS) side! (just kidding…)

    Suffice it to say I am deeply disappointed. Things are working quite well and if I have to get another machine I hope I will be able to use the migration tool. (I plan to make a long trip and want to use a small laptop to for journaling and photography.)

  • jmgschmoe said:

    PS: They actually gave me my money back!

  • Roman Menyhart said:

    Reconsidering my options after some time I still see no easy-to-use alternative for Front Row on my Mac Mini. Analog output is 24-bit in the Mini and thus lets me play e.g. Society of Sound Albums (24-bit FLAC) in excellent quality. Even with AppleTV sitting next to the TV I’m missing my previous options.

  • Roman Menyhart said:

    Thanks Ron. The point is, rather than installing Lion and subsequently running a hack hoping the next OS update won’t break it, it makes sense to keep the Snow Leopard with its Apple supported Front Row.

    HDMI: Analog in Mac Mini is so good that it’s better to keep audio analog and transfer it over a high quality cable to a good amplifier, rather than mess with digital which is very sensitive as to its processing in different devices. I could turn on AppleTV with home sharing and always use HDMI output from there, but the quality would degrade over what I can get from Decibel playing 24-bit FLACs.

  • the rocr (author) said:

    It’s not really a hack — just installing the files. I concede, however, that digital can be emotional, which is exactly he opposite of what one would expect. C’est la vie électronique…

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