Config file in Apple’s OS X Mountain Lion 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,” Chris Mellor reports for The Register.

“The fanboi found the .plist file in the latest version of OS X, Mountain Lion,” Mellor reports. “The document refers to future iMac and Mac Pro machines and includes options for booting, say, Microsoft Windows from a USB stick – presumably because a DVD drive may be absent.”

Mellor reports, “The config file is part of Boot Camp, which is used to start up Intel-powered machines with non-OS X operating systems. The file lists Mac models with EFI firmware capable of booting an operating system from USB storage.”

MacDailyNews Take: Oh, but The Register’s “voice” does grate so with the tedious “fanbois,” etc. By now, we imagine The Reg as a giant asshole that uncontrollably excretes tired vituperatives ad infinitum. BTW: Chris, you forgot to insert “Hello Kitty” in this one somewhere.


  1. Years ago Steve declared: “Nobody needs a DVD.” I sure he was frustrated that didn’t make it go away the next day. But, alas, that day has finally come. Fine with me to do away with crappy looking results from compressing stuff, especially iMovie stuff, onto yesterday’s technology but some people still need a DVD drive so Steve’s legacy sends some more of us high end users over to the devil.

    1. The optical drive has been the one and only component that broke down or caused trouble in most of the Macs I’ve had (most notably the dust sucking iMac lampshade model, but also others).

      1. … to burn a DVD maybe? You know, with video to share with family or friends where streaming is not an option. Or maybe to play such DVDs that one might get from others such as homemade movies of your kids sports team or such that don’t want to purchase a Vimeo account for HD and deal with the hassle of telling people how to access it. Or degrade the quality and put it on YouTube where it then rejects it because you put the team video to some music.

        1. Based on the remark about YouTube rejecting a video with unlicensed music, I will guess that you haven’t tried to upload a video to YouTube in a while. You may be surprised at the changes there (now you actually CAN upload video with unlicensed music; Google will just try and sell that soundtrack to the visitors by clearly identifying it below the video and linking to the ‘Google Play’ for purchase).

          Also, the 10-minute (and subsequent 15-minute) limits are gone. You are free to upload the entire 3-hour baseball game if you wish. You still do have the file size limit, so that 3-hour game won’t look great on a 2GB file. Still, for vast majority of people, YouTube provides the most convenient solution for sharing — better than spending hours burning multiple DVDs and handing them out physically.

      2. How about for the tons of legacy optical disks? I went to install bootcamp on my retina macbook pro, and the loops I had to jump through took the better part of an evening. I finally had to follow web tips to partition and format a usb thumb drive as bootable ntfs and copy windows on to it to get it to work..all other processes failed. Why could not my external usb dvd have just worked?

  2. Ok fanboys. This means nothing. And, if you must use Windows (for whatever reason) Windows 7 is the one to use. It’s not OS X, but it’s not half bad. We won’t talk about the next iteration beyond saying that MSFT seems to have traded whatever mojo it had regained with Win 7 for some magic ballmer beans.

  3. MDN Take: EXCELLENT! Bwahahaha!

    I don’t comprehend the point of this Register rant. We know optical drives are gradually being off-loaded from MacBooks. But NOTHING indicates that Macs won’t continue to be bootable off DVDs. Apple conveniently puts a bootable disk image into the installer for both Lion and Mountain Lion. Of course Apple supports USB Flash drive (‘stick’) booting, be it OS X or Windoze. So wtf is the point here exactly? I think the guy is merely sun stroked from watching outdoor Olympics for two weeks. Or possibly he’s just a BIRK! (0_o)

      1. It’s an inside joke for Brits only. My friend Graham uses the term constantly. According to, ahem:

        It’s a derivative of the cockney rhyming slang Birkley Hunt – I.e. c**t.

        No misogyny intended. I’m a fanatic of slang, idioms and the invention of new words. Using the word ‘birk’ is entirely in keeping with the writing style of The Register.

        Urban Dictionary: Birk

        Your vocabulary has now been expanded.

  4. I can’t exactly give up on optical drives yet because I have almost a thousand DVDs holding all my downloaded movies in .avi, .mkv., .mpg, .divx, etc. I’m certainly not going to back them all out to a large hard drive because I don’t really trust one 3TB hard drive for safe storage although I may be paranoid. I’ll already need at least two of them. I’m working on an alternative to DVDs and I guess I’ll be buying some NAS with RAID and keep my fingers crossed. DVD is my main media to archive downloaded files. I don’t care if Apple removes optical drives from its newer computers, but I’ll still keep my older computers or buy an external DVD drive, if necessary

    If Apple wants to discard DVD drives, that’s all fine and dandy, but the media will not die overnight. I guess Apple doesn’t want anyone making CDs or DVDs for their own use. I wonder what’s prompting Apple to shy away from optical drives. Does Apple not like that form of media or it just doesn’t fit in with their computer hardware designs? I’m not complaining. I’m just a bit puzzled.

  5. The fundamental problem with DVD-R (or DVD+R) discs is their limited shelf life. In the early days of DVD-R, I was one of the enthusiastic early adopters (when a blank disc could be had for just over $5 each!). This was some 12 years ago. None of those discs are playable anymore, and many more that I had burned since then are also being refused by my new iMac. Based on my own limited experience (and this is with decent brands, such as Verbatim, Maxell, Sony), recordable discs can reliably work for about 8 – 10 years before you start experiencing problems with them.

    Because of that, four years ago, I have moved away from optical and towards the standard magnetic hard disc (in redundant configurations). The likelihood of two drives failing at the same time is significantly lower than of my apartment burning down, or New York City being hit by a catastrophic earthquake (all of which could presumably permanently destroy my digital archives…). In other words, practically non-existent.

    Optical media has served its purpose during its life span. Time has come for it to walk into the sunset.

    1. I like your idea but you should have a 3rd offsite option for critical data. Either an encrypted cloud based solution, or periodically back it up onto some type of media and put it in a fire safe or safe deposit box.

    2. Predrag, I don’t know what you are talking about on limited shelf life. I have discs from 8 years ago that work just dandy. Some of them easily I use on a monthly basis. Aside from scratches, dirt, and melting I don’t see how “magnetic” media, prone to easy erasure and frequent wear, would be better. I’ll stick with the optical and redundant backups to DAT. (which DO have a limited shelf life, just like my HD).

      1. You have been quite fortunate with those 8-year old discs, as they are rapidly reaching their end of life. Recordable optical media uses organic dye that deteriorates over time. Standard tests have determined that the highest quality media, stored in ideal conditions (25C, <50% humidity) can push that lifespan to about 15-20 years, but under average conditions and with average media, this rarely exceeds 10 years (which I have been able to confirm with my own experience).

        The biggest problem with this is that I would now have to manually copy over 100 DVDs, one by one, before they end up failing, in order to extend their life by another 8 – 10 years. Having these on a hard drive (that is used only for archival purposes, and therefore, doesn't spin nearly as much and as often as when working in a computer as a system disk) makes it much more reliable, especially when it is on a redundant array. Not to mention that access is significantly faster than with optical media.

        1. There are ‘best practices’ for storing writable disc media. There is also a ‘best dye technology’ to use when buying disc media. I’ve had excellent luck with Taiyo Yuden derived disc media, including Verbatim. Its dye is the most stable over time. But that means storing your discs in the dark at a temperature safely between standard room temperature and 0º C. Heat and sun speed the dye aging process and kill the data. I keep my discs in my living area within an light tight storage box.

          As for CD-WR and DVD-WR: A total joke. I only use it for very temporary storage.

          There are plenty of other factors that contribute to disc media aging and corruption. These grand old sites continues to be great places to learn about optical media:

          1. My fave place to buy optical disc media:


            But note that they sell all brands of media, including the worst crap on the planet, i.e. Memorex ad nauseam. What’s nice is the price and they have regular deal offers as well. I’ve found their dealership to be entirely reliable and worthy of recommendation. (No, I don’t work there!)

  6. When it comes to changes…Apple clearly does not care about what the customers want…remember the second version of Firewire? No changes to copy and paste since OS7 etc. Its simple arrogance. Sony used to have it too..remember the expensive BetaMax…based on Sony’s results…what is hot later is NOT.

    1. “clearly Apple does not care about what customers want”

      What a load of rubbish. Apple is a design company and they try to come up with things that they like that they think people will buy. Do they get everything right? No. Do they make mistakes sometimes? Yes.

      That said, Apple’s perceived Arrogance is just a form of design confidence. They think they have great ideas and make great designs and people will buy them. They don’t always hit the mark, but they have built the largest publicly traded company on earth on their designs purchased by end users (not in bulk by sadistic and clueless IT professionals to foist on their napless employees).

      What exactly do you find that is so much better? Let’s hear it.

      1. I’m in total agreement with @twimoon1. Apple is unique in its consistent care about the customer. VERY few companies match Apple’s customer care, here in our age of ‘Screw Thy Customer’ as the Spirit of the Age in biznizz. Thus biznizz FAILS and Apple thrives.

        But Apple is never perfect. Their neglect to update Java this past February through March is a shining example of Apple at their worst. You can’t beat 600,000 Macs infected with the Java drive-by Flashback malware this spring.

        Apple just happen to get it right FAR more often than anyone else, and that attitude toward quality is consistent and deliberate.

        Meanwhile, as someone who works with the creative field, I can tell you that there is no more abused word than ‘arrogance’. It is used as a club for bashing people out of the most dire ignorance imaginable. If you are inclined to use the word, you can bet that there’s more to the story to learn and much better adjectives at your disposal.

    2. I’m not sure I’m getting your argument regarding “second version of Firewire” (I will assume you’re talking about Firewire 800). As far as I recall, there was absolutely no issue with it — it worked as specified and about the only possible issue a few people were bitching about was a different plug that required a new $5 cable.

      As for optical media, Apple obviously cares about, and listens to, the silent majority of their customers, who actually NEVER use their optical drive. Why bother installing the only piece of hardware with moving mechanical components into an otherwise end-to-end solid-state device if almost nobody will use it? (Notice how I said almost; the few that will need optical can always get a $40 external USB device). The removal of the optical drive from the design simplifies manufacturing process, which saves money, which makes the device cheaper. That means that we, the consumers, will be getting either cheaper iMacs (with relatively same specs), or better iMacs for the same money (when that money goes into more RAM instead of an optical drive that will go unused for the life of the computer).

      1. Well, the history of Apple’s Firewire is spotty and bungled at best.

        Apple invented an incredibly advanced, innovative connection system and SAT ON IT. Then YEARS later, somehow Steve Jobs and Co. pulled it out of mothballs and put it to work, a godsend to the video production profession at the time due to USB 1 and 2 being slow and lame by comparison. Then Apple released the 800 version, another godsend. But Apple SAT ON the 1600, 3200 and 6400 versions. They were never implemented into released hardware. Huh?

        Then again, Intel bungled their Light Peak connection technology, which remains hyped up vaporware to this day. Thankfully Apple stepped up and helped Intel create the wired compromise we know as ‘Thunderbolt’, which effectively replaced and mostly improved upon Firewire.

    1. Yeah, bringing along an external optical drive is going to be the future. I’m actually considering buying a Blu-ray external drive at this point, thanks to the cost of media having dropped to mere-mortal levels. Also thanks to the fact that there are effective Sony DRM-infection removal tools to allow full Blu-ray burning capabilities that don’t involve Sony user-surveillance and draconian kill-bit perpetration. It’s the absurd and nasty stuff that inspired Steve Jobs to call Blu-ray ‘A Bag Of Hurt’.

      (Gotta hate Sony for being so confoundedly abusive to customers as well as plain old greedy. It’s no coincidence that Blu-ray has been a relative flop and that the era after the release of Blu-ray has been Sony’s period of drastic decline and fall). 😯

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