Leopard isn't the new Vista (Firehose on PCmag)

Oliver Rist 'reviewed' Mac OS X Leopard and his article was slashdotted.


I'm writing this on my second MacBook Pro, in our house we also have MacBook white (My fiancee's), an iPod Shuffle, an Airport Extreme base station and an Airport Express with Airtunes. Although I wouldn't agree with you, it wouldn't surprise me if you took me for a JAFAF (Just Another Fucking Apple Fanboy). However I make an effort to keep a realistic view on Apple's products and if I felt that an open source operating system could enhance my workflow as much (or nearly as much) as Mac OS X, I would switch, but currently there isn't. I work on FLOSS all day every day -- that's my job, as a web and drupal developer and consultant.


Oliver is clearly having a bitch in this article, and no doubt intentionally to aggravate JAFAFs and motivate discussion responses and click-throughs on the ads. Hence I won't give him or PC mag the pleasure of a long detailed approach, but merely attempt sieve out the parts inspired by T.O.M., and add my own $0.2; a realistic count of my Leopard experience to date.

"Apple turned a stable OS into a crash-happy glitz fest"

This is clearly a premenstrual hyperbole, proven by;

"A month of using Leopard with the same software I had under Tiger and the OS has dumped six times."

Back in the day when I ran pretend operating systems like those from that scummy vendor in a place near Seattle. The crappy thing crashed at least daily. That would be 'crash-happy'. Not you're slightly-more-than-weekly.

I guesstimate that Leopard has crashed or frozen about 8 to 12 times in the last 5 weeks since I installed it on October 26. Given the weight of use and the limits I take Leopard to, I consider this edging on acceptable, definitely not enough to go back to Tiger. Most of these times I got apple's designer-screen-of-death .

However, all of the applications I used on Tiger, also work on Leopard, and almost all without a glitch. (I don't count Apple's Safari 2, as this has clearly been disabled in Leopard at the call of management at apple and I'm confident that there's no technical reason why it couldn't run on Leopard.)

I repeat; All the applications I used on Tiger work on Leopard.

Komodo IDE had a few issues initially, but Komodo's update has smoothed that out. Parallels on Leopard needs some serious love. I believe it's the cause of at least half of the crashes. I think Skype, or the combination of skype with a bluetooth headset or bluetooth stereo headphones is another combination causing crashes and freezes.

I'd like to emphasize how impressive this is. Take a look at my dock;
my dock, showing the applications I use regularly

I use all but two of these applications daily;

  1. Finder
  2. Yummy FTP
  3. iTerm
  4. MAMP
  5. Komodo IDE
  6. TextMate
  7. Stickies
  8. TaskCoach
  9. Netscape Navigator
  10. Firefox 2
  11. Firefox 3 beta 1
  12. Adum
  13. Xmeeting
  14. Skype
  15. iTunes
  16. Activity Monitor
  17. NetNewsWire
  18. Parallels

There are probably about another 10 to 20 applications I use weekly, and another 10 or 20 that I run less frequently or ran just once on Leopard. There are also several applications running in the top bar;
Applications running in the system bar

  1. Synergy
  2. Google Notifier
  3. WeatherDock
  4. SpiritedAway (highly recommended for almost anyone, automatically hides unused windows)
  5. SMART Reporter
  6. JetClock

I can't emphasize enough just how impressed I am that all these applications just work in Leopard. I won't pretend that I know much about the history of OSes, but I know of know of no other major commercial OS upgrade that didn't require upgrading most or all of the applications.

It's also worth pointing out at this point that I am a fairly heavy geek power user of computers, and expect to occasionally find edge cases and buggy combinations that cause such errors. My fiancee is not a geek nor power user, but does spend hours a day on her MacBook white, which is also running Leopard since about 4 weeks ago. She uses about 4/8 different applications daily/weekly. AFAIK she has never seen apple's designer-screen-of-death. Tiger did freeze a few times in the last year, and I think Leopard once.

I think it's also worth pointing out that although tiger is super-stable (probably the most stable commercial desktop OS available) it wasn't always so stable. I switched to Mac when Tiger was at about 10.4.5. At that point Tiger crashed on me, IIRC, about every one to three weeks. However the later versions of tiger never crashed. uptime usually got up to 3 to 5 weeks before needing reboot for a system update.

If you think about software lifecycles and have ever been a part of one, you'll understand that this all makes sense!

Vista Similarity 1: Wait for a Service Pack—Perpetually

Even our own reviewer, who loves Leopard, says not to upgrade until 10.5.1. And now that Apple has coughed that up, he'll probably say to wait for 10.5.2.

The difference is clear. 10.5.1 is available about a month after the release of 10.5.0. It has been one year since the release of Vista and there has been no SP, nor note-worthy improvement.

Also noteworthy, early system updates in the first weeks after of Leopard's release dramatically improved stability. I estimate half of the crashes and freezes I have experienced were in the first 10 days after switching.

As far as I'm concerned, they both suck.

Wow! It must have been a really heavy period.

Vista Similarity 2: Needless Graphics Glitz

Then there's the new look. Vista comes out and... [abbreviated] ...and Vista's Aero gets nuked as just another example of Microsoft being in bed with hardware vendors, forcing all of us to run out and upgrade hardware—video cards, in this case.

There are several long paragraphs like this dedicated to bitching about Vista. This one doesn't even mention Apple or OS X. I'm beginning to wonder which OS is being reviewed here.

Poof, here's Leopard, and the first thing the Apple folks want to show me is window transparency. Now all of a sudden that's the coolest thing ever and an obvious example of cutting-edge OS evolution. I had to check to make sure my ears were working when I heard that one.

What? There's nothing new about window transparency in Leopard -- is there? I haven't noticed, seen or heard of anything new. Window transparency was available in OS X predates Leopard.

Vista Similarity 3: Pointless User Interface "Fixes"

I think Oliver was feeling much saner when he wrote this section. I agree with most of his points.

A stupid cornflower-blue fuzzball is no replacement for Tiger's clear, dark arrow that let me know what apps I had open.

This one I agree with. The black arrow was much clearer. Although I'm now used to the blue dot and don't find it a problem.

And what's with that curving Stacker thing off of docked folders

It does make the file names and folders hard to read. I use the grid layout instead.

I'm forgetting about the new folder icons with the barely visible and nonintuitive subject tattoos on them

This one bugs me too.

Vista Similarity 4: Nuked Networking

I don't do enough networking to comment here except for this;

it sees Windows shares for a little while and then in a fit of pique decides to drop them again

This was an issue in Tiger. I don't know about Leopard. I suspect we thank M$ very un-open standards for that.

Vista Similarity 5: Bundled Apps as New Features That Suck

This drives me nuts. With Vista, it was SideShow. Not Sidebar, which... [abbreviated] ...mini PC, and there's a Dell notebook around now that has it, but on both it was essentially a non-feature.

Another long paragraph ranting about other stuff. Nothing to see there, move along.

Try putting a new Apple user in front of this app and see what happens.

Put your money where your mouth is and do some user testing. I'm sure the glossy ads surrounding your article will generate enough income for it. I'd love to see how the user responds and interacts. I'm not being sarcastic.

you can't set up Time Machine from within Time Machine

What's the use-case that this would solve? Remember here that your a power user. Time machine (like most Apple products) wasn't designed primarily for power users.

And if you want to kick off a manual backup, you've got to know to right-click on the Time Machine icon in the dock.

That's my only complaint about Time Machine. But now you've given my a solution, it's not so big a complaint! It would be nice (and make sense) if you could kick off a manual backup from Time Machine's settings in System Preferences.

In fact, Vista's backup kicks Time Machine's butt in three rather important ways: First, you can do an image-based bare-metal restore with the MS version—provided you've paid for the privilege by buying a more expensive version of Vista. (See, being able to do a bare-metal restore makes losing all that drive space that you eat by taking a full-system snapshot worthwhile.) Time Machine needs a working version of Leopard to talk to, so why am I backing up all that system stuff?

Judging by my brief analysis of my backup drive's files there's nothing stopping power users like you and I restoring a Mac onto a new hard drive from the backup. I don't know of any UI that does this. Apple could include this as an option in the OS installer -- In fact maybe they already have. The question is, why should they? Leopard's instabilities aren't so severe to warrant doing a full system restore. I think you spent too long with cheap toy operating systems that frequently require re-installation.

With this type of backup, a previously backed-up file that's been recently changed has only the new changes saved and the rest of the file referenced. Time Machine doesn't do that at the file level.

I agree that would be nice. On the flip-side, hard drive space is pretty cheap these days. And it would make sense to not backup VMs and let them back themselves up, or use Parallels 'snapshots' feature.

So why doesn't Time Machine do block-level backups? ... Maybe Apple couldn't spare the programmers working on the hugely important Star Wars core animation splash-screen project. Can't skimp on that, can we?

Get your pants back on and put the dummy back in your mouth. Seriously, do you expect your readers to take you seriously with that? You sound like Stewie on Family Guy.

I'm writing this on Leopard.