Leopard

03.11.2007 14:25

Two days ago, Apple users at Zemanta got a shiny box with the new version of Mac OS X inside. Since I was still running OS X 10.3 on my PowerBook I made a backup and upgraded without hesitation.

Shiny Leopard box

On the first glance Leopard looked much too shiny for my taste. The second look revealed just how much of a resource hog it is. My 60 GB disk is now 30% occupied just with the operating system itself (upgrade took approximately 11 GB of additional disk space). 768 MB of RAM seems to be just enough to keep the system ticking.

The default system also looks much to shiny for my taste. One of the first things I did is to turn the dock back to it's previous, non-3D non-shiny look (so much for not having to use command line on a Mac). Fortunately I was somehow spared the transparent menu bar (it seems that is much harder to disable). Perhaps it's the old hardware I'm using. On the other hand I still get blurred background behind menus. It's really a minimal visual change, but I'm sure they did that only to show that a Mac can do that just as easily as Vista.

Since I never used 10.4 this is also the first time I've seen Spotlight and Dashboard. The first one is great - starting applications for example. Not so much for finding documents in my experience because I always get a ton of search results from various C and Python source files I have on the disk (the same problem I had with Beagle on Linux). For the dashboard on the other hand I can't see any good use. I currently only have iStat Pro there. I still use sticky notes and calculator as standalone applications.

For some new features I have the feeling that they are there just so that Apple's marketing department could say that they added more than 300 new features. Quick look is one such example - isn't it easier to double click a file and open it than Control-clicking it and selecting Quick look (which takes about as long to load up as Preview anyway)? Or that flip-through-the-album mode that finder has now. Just more shiny things with no useful value.

Spaces is nice. I missed virtual desktops on Macs. It still has bugs though. If I have for example terminal windows on two desktops and switch to Terminal from some other application with Ctrl-Tab the system will take me to some random desktop with a terminal on it. Ctrl-` will also just cycle between windows on the current desktop, not all desktops.

Regarding application compatibility: Leopard's X11 is terribly broken. I installed Tiger's X11 but problems remain. Gimp isn't working for example and OpenOffice sometimes gives me "Command timed out" error and sometimes crashes after I type in a couple of words. Also Vi for OS X works worse on Leopard (for example Ctrl-6 shortcut stopped working). MacVim works perfectly (and has a nicer icon). Other things appear to be working, although Jure says that upgrade broke his MacPorts and MySql installations.

A big surprise was that the ssh client they ship with Leopard now pops-up a graphical window asking for a password / passphrase (probably through ssh-agent). I'm not sure I like this - command line utilities should stay in the command line.

SSH pop-up

A couple of new features also strongly reminded me of Vista. For example the new Mac OS X is constantly asking me to allow or cancel some actions. I don't know how Apple can make fun of the Microsoft in their commercials about this when they aren't any better. For example, in the first day of using Leopard I had to allow application to run for the first time, application downloaded from the Internet to run, application to access the Internet and application to accept connections from the Internet ...

Both Jure and I also noticed a strange side-effect of the upgrade: we both seem to be making more typing mistakes than before. I'm guessing that Leopard has some new system of filtering keystrokes and that it no longer registers very short key presses or something. Also I have the feeling that the keyboard repeat rate is lower that before. I have no benchmarks to prove it though.

Posted by Tomaž | Categories: Life

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