Mountain Lion: Gatekeeper

The most controversial feature of Mountain Lion has to be Gatekeeper.

Gatekeeper allows Apple and the owner the ability to limit what software can be installed on a given Mac. There a three different levels of security.

  1. First is how it is now: you can install everything and anything in your machine.
  2. Second is that you can install only programs that are on the App Store or programs that have been signed digitally by Apple (more on this later).
  3. Last is that you can only install software from the App Store.

Now, if you are the paranoid type, you’d probably expect that Apple would set #3 as the default setting for Mountain Lion. I’d probably have agreed with you because it would bring OS X in-line with iOS.

However, Apple has not done it that way. Instead, they are using #2 as the default setting and enabling code-signing through their developer program to add security to the platform while still allowing developers to sell their applications outside of the App Store.

That’s good. No, that’s great.

However, it does mean that instead of fielding questions about whether the program they are installing is safe, I will be fielding questions about why they can’t install an application they had on Lion or prior.

I’ll try and consider it a learning experience.

Personally, I think it is the correct balance to strike for security and flexibility. Even better because it was completely unexpected.