Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Succinct description of how OS X handles DVD and CD drives -- 10.3.2 had some major changes

MacInTouch Home Page
Mike Mihalik, a veteran Macintosh storage expert at La Cie Ltd., offered more information about DVD technology:

Here are a few clarifications and comments regarding Mike Love's remarks today on DVD support:

1. Mac OS X has a unique way to identify support drives. There is a mechanism called Disc Recording profiles that describe the capabilities of a particular CD or DVD burner. These profiles are the first step in defining what capabilities are provided by a particular drive. These are part of the Disc Burning API.

2. Prior to Mac OS X 10.3.2, only Apple had the capability to update the OS to provide support for new drives. There are various techniques for adding support for new drives within 10.2.x and 10.3.x; one utility to do this is PatchBurn, but this is not supported by Apple.

3. Starting with Mac OS X 10.3.2, Apple provided the capability to install new Disc Recording profiles (DRprofiles), that add support for new drives. These profiles are supplied by some vendors to provide full OS X integration for iLife and DVD SP applications. With the exception of iDVD, support is provided for external and internal drives for iPhoto, iTunes, Finder Disc Burning, and DVD SP 2 or 3.
LaCie provides Disc Recording profiles with each of its drives, and the latest profile can be downloaded from the Optical section of our support website. These DRprofiles are compatible with the System Update process and are signed and approved by Apple.
Other techniques that require patching may NOT survive system updates.
iDVD is hard coded to work only with internal DVD burners. A short search using Google will find the tip to enable burning with external drives, but I'll leave that to others to describe, as it is not supported by Apple or most 3rd party vendors.
DVD SP 1.x had limited burning support, and did not use the Disc Burning API, so it was difficult, if not impossible to add support for new drives; only Apple had the ability to do this.

4. Even with addition of DRprofiles, some applications may still require additional work to support all the capabilities of a particular drive. As a rule, Apple officially supports only DVD-R media, and only recently has added support for +R and +DL media.

5. As for DVD-RAM, this is a particular can of worms, as Apple does not support the latest UDF versions, which is widely used by many set-top DVD recorders. While a drive with DVD-RAM capabilities can surely used with a Mac, lack of full UDF libraries limits the utility of these drives.

So in summary, support for external and internal drives can be a happy experience, provided that products purchased include the appropriate DRprofiles, and the user has Mac OS X 10.3.2 or newer. Users are NOT forced to purchase a new Mac to gain DVD or CD burning capabilities.
LaCie does provide complete solutions for Mac OS X, and the necessary DRprofiles to add support to OS X. Further info is available at: [La Cie Optical Family].

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