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Upgraded to Leopard

I've upgraded to Leopard. Here are my thoughts on the process, a few of the new features that have struck me already, and the general minutae.

My Process
I did an "Archive and Install." I figured what little "extra" crap (like USB Overdrive, which I've re-installed) outside of my User folder I could re-install. It worked pretty well and, after verifying that everything I wanted had been ported over, I deleted the old system folder before it could be backed up by Time Machine.

psync
I was able to re-install psync pretty easily. This remains my backup method of choice. Nightly, psync creates a clone of my main hard drive on another of my internal hard drives. It's fully bootable and this process has saved my bacon a few times. I can boot with minimal downtime, too, by simply making the backup drive the boot drive.

Time Machine
My Mac Pro has four internal 500 GB drives in it. One is the main drive (Peter), another is the backup (Roger). I also have "Thumper"1 and an external drive (Playboy). A few months ago I installed the fourth internal drive (Mimzy) for Time Machine2.

The first thing I did was exclude Roger and Thumper from being backed up. One of the drives is a backup, after all. I excluded my downloads folder because, well, I don't need every change in that folder available to me.

The first backup was horribly, horribly slow. It took forever and the disk was grinding away the whole time. Subsequent backups were often similarly large: multiple gigabytes of data. My computer would grind to a halt every time it began.

Then I added my downloads folder to the exclusions list and things seem to be working a little better now. The only cause for concern I have now is that some applications, like Cyndicate, Entourage, and a few others store their data in a single database, the size of which can often hit several hundred megabytes. They store these databases in ~/Library/Application Support (Cyndicate) or ~/Library/Preferences/ (Entourage - though I could put it in ~/Documents too if I wanted).

I haven't had to use Time Machine yet, but now that the initial batches of "backups" are done, it seems to be okay, sucking up only a little speed. I do wonder, though, given Aperture's known issue3 if similar issues also affect apps like Entourage and Cyndicate. We'll have to test our app to see.

MySQL
I had to re-install MySQL. I used the 10.4 package, and the startup item appears to work. I used this article, which deals mostly with setting up PHP in Leopard, to edit my "my.cnf" file so that PHP could find mysql.sock.

Terminal AppleScript
My Terminal AppleScripts no longer work. The transparency option doesn't seem to be available. Does anyone else have any ideas how to set the background color transparency via AppleScript?

I do like the the new "Settings," which include "Homebrew" and "Ocean" and others. Perhaps the best "new solution" is to simply AppleScript the changing of the given Terminal window's settings rather than changing the colors directly. Still, I'm a bit puzzled as to why the transparency portion of the AppleScript "color" no longer seems to work.

Dock
Despite having a 23" Cinema display, I'm a "dock on the bottom" kind of guy. It's small enough that it really stays out of the way, and I've found that having it in the middle is where I like it. I avoid long trips all the way across the screen, and I like to reserve the right-hand and left-hand sides of my screen for Adium and my desktop icons.

I did note that you can use defaults write com.apple.dock no-glass -boolean YES to make even the bottom dock look more like the side docks, but I think the glassy look is fine. I don't love it, but I don't hate it either. Maybe some day I'll "unglass" it but for now, it's fine. Perhaps that's really because I keep it so small.

Window Styles
I find the background windows just a tiny bit too washed out. I agree with others who have said that the new window styles make the "brushed metal" look pretty dumb. I don't care for the stoplight buttons, though - they appear to be a bit too "sunk in" to me. I like the new Panic-inspired selection in toolbars.

iChat
I still won't use it. Adium offers more connectivity and shows a combined buddy list - two things iChat can't seem to do. I rarely video chat, Adium usually works for file transfers (lately), and about the only feature I may some day want to try in iChat is screen sharing. For that, I'll launch iChat, but those times will be few and far between.

Spaces
I never really got into using Exposé. I know it impressed the pants off some people, but aside from the occasional "hide everything so i can see my desktop and drag a file," I never used it. I didn't use it to switch between windows or apps: cmd-tab and cmd-tilde (~), the dock, LaunchBar, or simply clicking available pieces of windows have always worked for me, and faster than clicking a button on my mouse and sorting through a mess to find the window I need.

Spaces, however, has already been put to good use. I've always been a "hider" of applications. I'd often switch to an application and "hide all others" or option-click when switching to another app to hide the existing app.

With Spaces, I don't have to do that. I can use Space 1 as my primary workspace. Space 2 contains Cyndicate and MarsEdit (Blogging and Blog Reading). I have used spaces 3 and 4 for various things as well: Space 4 for Time Machine's progress bar or HandBrake, Space 3 for Speed Download's progress on my copy of Leopard via ADC - that sort of thing.

I can reasonably keep track of what I've put into four spaces, but I can't imagine using more than four because it's got to be tough to keep track of six or more spaces in your head. Not to mention that if you truly have six completely separate things going on at once, you'd probably best be served by analyzing whether your work patterns are truly optimal.

Cover Flow/QuickLook
I've used it minimally. I don't like Cover Flow in iTunes much, and I doubt I'll use it in the Finder. QuickLook is nice - very cool.

Finder
The sidebar is okay. I wish I could collapse it back to the icon-only view that I had in 10.4, but whatever… I'll deal with the 100 pixels I've lost because of it.

I like that the view settings seem to be completely independent now with no "All Windows" option. However, I did quickly disable the "icon preview" that seemed to enable itself in quite a few places. No thanks - I'll use QuickLook if I ned to.

I love the new renaming feature that only selects the filename. It's one of those features that, the instant you notice it, you forget the way it used to be because the new way makes so much more sense.

In preparation for Leopard, I had created a "Downloads" folder inside of my home folder. Leopard didn't like that. I'd try to click it in the Finder sidebar and get an odd message about how the volume wasn't mounted. I deleted the custom icon on it, drug it from the "PLACES" section, and then put it back. It works fine now, even though the actual folder has never moved.

Stacks
Simply put, I wish I could disable them. If I have a folder in the dock I don't want it to look like a document, and I sure as heck would like to be able to navigate the hierarchy as I could in 10.4. I strongly dislike stacks, and that's being nice.

New Folder Icons
Blech. I'm not the type of person who likes to install hacks and crap to change the way my OS looks, but these folder icons are just hideous.

Firewall
What the heck happened here? The old way of using the firewall made sense to me: it'd allow services that I'd turned on (like file sharing). I could add applications like BusySync and allow them through, and in general keep a tight reign on things. Not only did Leopard do away with those options, but the default option is "Let everything (and anybody) in!"

Safari
Finally, when you reload, it scrolls to the proper position on the page!

Overall Impressions
I like it so far. :-)

Footnotes

  1. Thumper contains my Windows XP installations, rips of some of my DVDs, etc.
  2. I've always used a "theme" for my drives - which gets tougher the more you add - and the latest one is bunnies/rabbits. I'm particularly happy with "Mimzy" since it's my "Time Machine" drive.
  3. Why isn't iPhoto similarly affected?

10 Responses to "Upgraded to Leopard"

  1. You can adjust the background transparency for Terminal.app in Preferences > Settings > Window and click the Color chip in the Background section to get the Color Picker and adjust the opacity there. Also, if you hate iChat, you'll be pleased to know that you can run Screen Sharing independently, either by launching the app or from the finder by doing a "Connect to Server..." and using something like "vnc://somemachine.local" or "vnc://192.168.1.37" etc.

  2. Damon Jones said on October 31, 2007:

    You can adjust the background transparency for Terminal.app in Preferences > Settings > Window and click the Color chip in the Background section to get the Color Picker and adjust the opacity there.

    Yes, I know, but I'm asking if anyone knows how to set the background color transparency via AppleScript. As the linked-to post says, I have a few hooked up to keyboard shortcuts via FastScripts.

    Damon Jones said on October 31, 2007:

    Also, if you hate iChat, you'll be pleased to know that you can run Screen Sharing independently, either by launching the app

    Yes, there's an app in /System/Library/CoreServices. I've even put an alias to it in /Applications so LaunchBar can find it. I just saw this tip on MacOSXHints.com.

  3. I agree on the Dock. I got used to it pretty quickly. I've been running Leopard seeds on my laptop since March or so, and when the mirrored dock came along it only took a week or so before I stopped even noticing it. I'd switch back and forth between tiger on my desktop and leopard on the laptop and not notice it was any different. I don't understand why people are so upset.

    The window look is not my favorite (I would have preferred colors more similar to Tiger) but it's ok. I love the way textured windows no longer look much different from non-textured windows. brushed metal was getting really old.

    the close/minimize/zoom widgets changed in the last few seeds... they used to use the old Tiger bitmaps, but recently switched to something more similar to the vector art which they use when the scaling factor is not 1.0. (In some seeds it was a bit of a jarring switch when the scaling factor changed.. it's pretty consistent now) I've gotten used to it. You will too, pretty quickly. Apple messes with them in just about every major release of Mac OS X anyway. (try running the old Windows Media Player if you want a good laugh)

    I have no idea what the new firewall settings are supposed to mean. It makes no sense to me. In the seeds I assumed it was a placeholder while they developed the real UI. (Several other preference panes went through major changes and had non-functional placeholders in some seeds.) I guess I was wrong. Yuck. They need to fix this.

    I like the stacks, but they need some work. Mouse tracking for them was broken in some seeds, but it's better now. I'd like to see a way to have multiple "pages" of icons for big grid views, and maybe a way to get into subdirectories. And besides "Fan" and Grid" they really, really need a "Menu" option for getting Puma-Tiger behavior. I like the new behavior for some directories (such as downloads, where it's useful to be able to drag icons out of the downloads folder and into where I want to store them permanently.. you can't do that with a menu) but I'd like to have a way to have menus for some directories.

    Oh, and stacks should have some sort of distinctive icon. Maybe a half-open folder with the contents spilling out? Just showing the contents is bad.

    Overall I really like Leopard. Go read the AppKit and Foundation release notes. Lots of good stuff there. ImageKit is useful. And Core Animation is just plain fun. :-)

    Most of the broken things should be pretty easy to fix. X11 has a long list of problems, but I imagine it'll be fixed soon. SSH's new Keychain integration has a few minor flaws as well, but it too should be fixed.

    And unlike 10.4.0, it's pretty stable.

  4. Good review, Erik. I enjoy hearing other technical people's opinions on Leopard, because everyone seems to come up with new and interesting insights.

    By far, my favorite two new features on Leopard are Spaces and Spotlight Launching. I have used virtual desktop tools since I was a little kid running Linux, and I actually have six spaces configured (as I have for about 4 years now using third-party tools). Its not hard to keep track of in your head at all, once you get used to it. My spaces are as follows:

    1. Chatting: iChat and Colloquoy.
    2. News: NetNewsWire (I like Cyndicate, but it doesn't sync with my iPhone).
    3. Browsing: OmniWeb
    4. Coding: TextMate and a large tabbed terminal.
    5. Testing: Safari and Firefox with Firebug for web apps, another terminal, etc.
    6. Email: Mail

    Spaces still has lots of warts though... its too hard to move things between Spaces, the stickiness options are not granular enough, and there are some bizarre choices with Spaces interaction with the Dock (minimize a window, change spaces, and unminimize, and it moves you back to the old space instead of bringing the window into the active space, lots of other things too).

    Stacks would be far less irritating if there was an option to turn them off, so I could have a folder in the dock and have it behave like a folder.

    Anyway, good little review!

  5. Jonathan LaCour said on November 1, 2007:

    Stacks would be far less irritating if there was an option to turn them off

    Ha ha ha ha. Uh, yes, it would be, I agree! :-D :-D

  6. Hi Erik,

    Totally agree with you about the firewall. What have  done to it?

    I'm a tech-savvy guy and I loved the old firewall GUI. Like you say, it's easy to see at a glance what is and isn't allowed. This new GUI is a joke to say the least, I still don't understand if it's on or off!

    And Skype won't work either. Grrrrrr.

  7. Could you please explain how you re-installed psync in Leopard?

    CPAN command does not work. Make does not work....

    Thanks for any help.

  8. germ said on November 28, 2007:

    CPAN command does not work. Make does not work....

    Did you install the developer tools? Because everything just worked for me… but you need the developer tools.

  9. Ah, yes. I now followed the exact steps from one of the replies to your "psync on Intel Macs" post, and all is well.

    Thanks.

  10. Hi,

    I don't suppose you found a way to change the terminal opacity from apple script - I've seen reference to a way by using a settings set with opacity and then amending it, but does not seem to work for me.

    http://discussions.apple.com/thread.jspa?messageID=5861691

    Thanks for all the tips anyway.

    Chris


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