Apple Silently Starts Sending Out Universal Binaries


Todays release of J2SE 5.0 release 3 from Apple marks the beginning of Apples distribution of Universal Binary packages to regular users. Examining Java in /Applications/Utilities/Java/J2SE 5.0 using Finder’s “Get Info” option shows the app as being compiled for both Intel and PowerPC. Apples release notes do not give any indication of this change. Hat tip to reader Avi Flax who sent this in.

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The public release by Apple of Universal Binaries to regular users is yet another indication that we may see Intel machines sooner than was promised.

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Don Kelley

Ok, for the record, when it says Intel AND PowerPC in the info window, it IS a true universal binary, compiled for both ppc and intel versions of OSX. I’m running OSX for intel and there are universal binary versions of every apple application now, every single one. There is nothing PPC remaining on my tiger install now, even itunes is intel (actually my version is intel ONLY, not trying to scare you though).

Hang in there guys, there will be an intel-based mac before you know it. It’s 99% stable (the last 1% is being ironed out now), very VERY fast, and from what I hear, the hacked versions are spreading like wildfire out there also to teenage kids with compatible motherboards.

Again, I repeat, every new release of mac software by apple is a universal binary, with the exception of some small bug fix releases for existing ppc versions you may already have.

What does that mean? It means a couple of main things:
– when you buy your next mac, it may well be intel based, and if so, the intel compiled apps (or universal binaries with both intel and ppc versions in one) will run somewhat faster than the ppc versions will (which have to run under rosetta, the incredibly fast emulator in tiger-intel, but still not as fast as native compiles)
– if you hang on to your ppc mac long enough it will become a collector’s item


Photobooth is also universal binary, and has been out for a few weeks now, and in 10.4.3 you don’t need to go to get info, if yo use column view it will tell it to you if you single click an app…


If you Get Info on all of the Java preferences in the /Utilites/Java folder you will see that all Java (Java 1.3.1 Plugin Settings and Java 1.4.2 Plugin Settings) is built for Intel and PowerPC. Since all Java comes from Sun, and by default is built to be universal it would be a big assumption that suddenly all Java in Mac OS X has been recompiled for Universal Binaries.

Ben Berry

Maybe its universal so the developers with the intel dev kits can install the java patches along with the rest of us.

Saikou Yuden

Actually, the Java security update for 10.4.x released last month was also universal. Yesterday’s update is the second to include universal binaries.

Super Dave

Other java apps (such as neooffice) are not labelled as being universal, but rather just PowerPC, so I’d say that these are genuinely intel compiled.


Actually, the app in question is probably a Java application bundle (i.e. a double-clickable Java app). As such it is inherently a universal binary- containing only a single copy of the Java bytecode instructions that are identical for any platform you want to run the program on. But not a universal binary in the sense that it contains both PowerPC and Intel binaries…

Avi Flax

Stew, XCode is a developer tool, not intended for mass distribution. As for the benefit, I would agree that there is no immediate benefit for regular users, but I think that the earlier Apple gets used to this new way of doing things, and smooths out their QA, etc, the better for everyone. Oh and BTW the binaries don’t take up a ton of space. Most of the KB in an app is other resources, which aren’t duplicated in a universal binary.


Xcode has been a universal binary for a while already, no big deal. Besides, what’s the benefit other than taking up hard drive space?

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