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Monday June 13, 2011 12:58 pm

OS X Lion will allow you to boot right into Safari

Posted by Andru Edwards Categories: Apple, Internet, PC / Laptop, Software

OS X Lion Safari Mode

Borrowing a tiny page from Google's Chrome OS, Apple has snuck a feature into its upcoming OS X Lion release that allows users to reboot their systems into Safari.

Why would you bother doing that? In a word, security. When you elect to restart your system into Safari, you're effectively placing the Web browser into a sandbox. When it boots, your system will give any users with physical access to your machine the ability to surf the Web. But that's it. Users won't be able to access the system's files or applications.

And thanks to Lion's new auto-save and application restoration capabilities, users that slap their systems in Safari-only mode will be able to restore back to their full desktop exactly as they left it. Since Safari mode runs off of a system's recovery partition, you'll still be able to access the Web and research new methods for fixing your system should your primary partition suffer some catastrophic upset.

The comparison to Chrome OS stems from the fact that Google's operating system runs entirely Web-based: The browser is the primary method for interacting with the system. There's no underlying desktop layer to speak of.

While Apple's boot-to-Safari mode is similar in its looks, there's no indication that any advanced features will be bundled into this Safari instance as-is—no using the browser to select a different wireless network to use, for example. The mode makes for a fine Web kiosk, but it's highly doubtful that Apple intends to capitalize on this setup by offering inexpensive, browser-only laptops a la Google's strategy with Chrome OS. Go figure.

As well, it's not clear as to whether users will be given the option to boot into Safari-only mode from the initial powering-on of their systems. In an ideal world, Apple would build a button—be it on the system or the keyboard—or a setting during the booting of a desktop or laptop that allows a user to go directly into the browser and bypass OS X entirely.

However, the ability to lock off one's primary partition and still surf the Web comes as a boon for those nervous about connecting their systems to unsecured wireless networks. As well, for those who want to limit access to their systems (while still retaining limited functionality), but would prefer to not have to go through the trouble of making a secondary or guest account within the OS itself.

This article, written by David Murphy, originally appeared on PCMag.com and is republished on Gear Live with the permission of Ziff Davis, Inc.

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