Saturday, August 29, 2009

Snow Early Leopard Impressions

Apple's "Snow Leopard" has arrived and I installed it late last night on my Mac Pro without, so far, any ill effects. Pursuing through the Apple forums I can see that there are many people having problems and as with any big release of OS X we will see a 10.x.1 version released pretty soon. As for myself I had backed up my system three different ways, just in case, but it turned out to be for nothing.

Given that this is my first major upgrade to the Mac OS I have no overt opinions of the previous methods. It is obvious that Apple wanted the process to be as stream lined as possible. Just about anyone could install this OS as there are virtually no options given to you anyway. While there are ways to do a clean install there is no clear cut, click of a button method as there has been in the past. I decided to give the "over the top" installation a try and was very impressed.

One tip that I have seen in numerous posts is that upgrading Leopard to Snow Leopard from any version less than 10.5.8 has reported more issues than those who do. It may be nothing, but, all in all you should be keeping your system up to date anyway.

Just about every single release of an OS, regardless if it is a point release, a service pack or whatever you will see people raving about how much faster it is. Sometimes that may or may not be the case but with "Snow Leopard" it is noticeably faster. Some of my larger applications that took a few bounces to start pop up almost instantly now.

Program Compatibility

So far any of the applications that I used on my late 2008 Mac Pro have been working just fine. Many popular programs such as Growl have not yet updated for Snow Leopard but so far appear to be working just fine. Those programs Control Panel entries will cause it to restart into 32bit mode before launching, which is mildly annoying.

Possible Issues

I have been reading that in some cases Mac's which are capable of using the 64bit kernel are booting into the 32bit kernel. The easiest way to find out if you're capable is to drop to a prompt and paste in:

ioreg -l -p IODeviceTree | grep firmware-abi

If you are 64bit ready then you will see the following, if not then you are booted into 32big mode:

"firmware-abi" = <"EFI64">

Check out this page on 9to5 Mac for information on if you are 64bit capable and what to do about if you're for some reason booting into 32bit mode: click here.

Personally I do not think it is a terribly big deal, for most people, if you are not using the 64bit kernel.

Overall opinion

All in all "Snow Leopard" does exactly what it was supposed to do, improve and optimize your leopard experience. It was in my opinion a rather bold move to forgo the typical fancy, shiny new (and possibly useless) features that so many of us expect from an upgrade. This does, however, set the bar pretty high for 10.7 which people are going to expect to be a huge upgrade.

So if you are very happy with Leopard, unless you're using a PPC, there is little reason to rush out right away and get it. Yet, at $35cdn there is very little reason NOT to get it either.

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