Tag Archives: Tiger

Running Leopard

So I’ve just about got everything going in Leopard having done the upgrade. The only significant application that isn’t working is iMovie – but then that didn’t work under Tiger either. (Having had a trawl around the net it seems I’m not alone in having problems with it on a G5 either… The main tip seems to be to run it on an Intel based Mac, but it’s still not perfect…)

As with the upgrade to Tiger the OS upgraded without too many problems. I opted for the archive and install method this time around, which shifts the existing system directory out of the way, installs the new operating system and then pulls in all the settings and configuration, leaving everything else intact. This is regarded as a somewhat more reliable way to upgrade than using the straight upgrade as there is less chance of problems caused by leftovers from the old system as it is a completely new install. The third option is the erase and install that I used with Tiger which does a totally new install, and then pulls all your settings across from a backup as if it were a new machine.

As with any upgrade, it was then a process of working through all my core applications to work out whether I could get everything done.

There were a couple of minor casualties – one being Menu Meters, a little tool I had running to keep track of what the machine was doing. However I found a worthy replacement in iStat Menus that does much the same, but adds details of fan speeds and the current temperature inside the machine to the mix.

Amongst the applications that gave me grief during the update, my process for keeping the e-mail I receive in an average day (see this posting for details of what I do) came to a crashing halt. I started the new Apple Mail, and was greeted with a message stating that both MailActOn and MailTags had been disabled. Both applications have beta versions that are Leopard compatible, however that was only half the story. Along with the two applications I use Smart Folders extensively to group e-mails by subject and type, and to be frank they were being less than smart immediately after the update. Fixing that though was just a question of patience – sit back and wait for a few hours whilst the machine rebuilt the spotlight indexes.

Perhaps the application (aside from iMovie) that gave me most hassle was ClamXAV, my virus checker – as it would just keep crashing. Eventually I tracked the problem down not to an issue with Leopard, but with one of the new features of the latest version that made use of spotlight – disabling that and effectively reverting to the same configuration I had before solved the problem. Aside from that, the only annoyance is that Leopard insists on loading X11 whenever ClamXAV starts up.

The last application so far that has been a problem has been Google Earth which locked up every time I tried to start it. This I nailed down to a problem with my MyPlaces.kml file – once I removed that everything worked fine, and I built up what I needed from the copy of the file on my PC version of the application.

Sorting out Google Earth also turned up another change – the way networking is set up in Leopard which has changed a bit from Tiger. This also brings me on to my biggest recommendation, grab yourself a copy of the excellent Mac OS X Leopard The Missing Manual by David Pogue. It was an excellent reference during the upgrade process, and was indispensable in quickly getting the PC/Mac networking working again. Granted I could probably have worked it around after a while fiddling, but the book has a step by step walkthrough, including pointing out the obscure settings that you might otherwise miss.

Mac OS X Leopard The Missing Manual also has a great appendix going through the upgrade process (including how to use an iPod to do it if you’ve broken your DVD drive), and as always is punctuated by David Pogue’s great writing style and sense of humour.

For example he describes the Leopard first boot title sequence as:

“… one of the most visually stunning post-installation OS startup movies in historyâ€?

I’d perhaps not go that far, the encoding on YouTube gives you the general idea – but lacks the impact of the full screen HD version you get on the Mac – gives you the general idea though.

So was it worth the effort? I’ll have to give it a few days of usage, however so far there hasn’t been any absolute show stopping problems that mean I’ve had to resort to the backup as there were when I upgraded to Tiger. True there are some applications that aren’t quite there yet, but equally there are now starting to be some Leopard only applications, so now seemed like the time to move. There are some slightly annoying look and feel changes that I guess I’ll get used to – but some real nice new eye candy too – if you’ve got Leopard and a load of pictures in iPhoto, check out the fantastic mosaic mode on the screen saver. Next thing to look at I think will be getting Time Machine going…

How to Get Flamed by Mac Zealots

Mary Jo Foley couldn’t have done any better at igniting a flame war if she tried with this posting titled “Leopard Looks Like… Vista“. Number 4 is just plain wrong, and is probably worth explaining to any worried Mac owners out there. Unlike the PC’s, Mac’s have had 64-bit processors for a number of years with the G5 and G4 processors – so Leopard isn’t cutting out owners of those Mac’s. It is also worth bearing in mind that Tiger is partially 64-bit already – Apple has taken a phased approach with a single version – none of this 32-bit/64-bit version incompatibility confusion that people encounter on Windows. The current version of the OS, Tiger is 64-bit in parts anyway (check out this Apple explanation for more detail) – Leopard is merely the next phase in the process. The 64-bit business is purely for the techies, as a Mac end user it has no bearing.

The Predictable Windows V MacOS X Comparison Article?

Every so often, editors of PC and Mac magazines seem to feel the need to do a comparison article, where they compare Windows XP with MacOS X. To some extent this tends to be a fairly pointless exercise, and entirely predictable – the PC magazines always put Windows on top, the Mac magazines always ensure that MacOS X wins.

The article in the July 2006 issue of PC Pro is no exception. The cover splashes with ‘Vista vs Apple – The essential guide to choosing your next operating system’, before spending ten pages going through all the aspects of the two systems proving that Windows is the best choice, indeed they put Vista ahead in every category.

However some interesting observations about the comparison. Firstly, the playing field is not exactly level as they compare Windows Vista – the next generation Windows that is still in beta – with the current generation of MacOS X. Now to be a fair comparison, either they need to compare Vista with Leopard, the version of MacOS X that is expected to come out about the same time as Vista, or compare current Windows XP with Tiger. They also are slightly odd over iLife. They heavily down-mark the Mac for not including iLife – which is true if you are buying a boxed copy of Tiger for an existing Mac – however all new Macs include iLife for free. If you are a PC owner, the only way you’re going to get MacOS X, is to buy a Mac. Indeed the article even concedes later on that a lot of PC owners will need to buy a new PC to run Vista anyway.

What is more interesting though is some of the comments in the text. Firstly, they highlight at one point in the article that, as with most magazines, the whole article has been written and put together on a Mac. In the conclusion, despite the scores at the bottom, there is a fairly startling admission for a PC magazine, that there is little to separate the next generation Windows from the current MacOS X, and more than that that 80% of users will find that Tiger meets all of their needs. The article even dares to suggest that with the current prices of Macs, and the industry standard software that is available on the platform that a Mac would make a good choice for a business machine, and it is largely down to the fact that Windows is the de-facto standard that most business purchasers would go for a Windows machine. Indeed even the editor seems to be falling for the Mac somewhat by highlighting that they have yet to find a PC manufacturer who can compete with the Mac Mini. Strange times indeed…

Chance to Compare

So after a week with both, how does the startup with a new PC to a new Mac compare?

In actual fact it’s a slightly unfair comparison, as I’m effectively starting from scratch with the PC, as I’ve chosen to install XP 64 onto it, rather than the XP Home setup that it was delivered with. This brings with it a whole load of added complications as many manufacturers are operating a wait and see tactic with 64 bit, and effectively won’t properly support 64-bit processors until Windows Vista is finally realeased. Having said that, I have only come across one bit of hardware that I totally couldn’t get to install, and that was the serial to USB cable I use to hook up the GPS. Officially, the graphics card doesn’t work, however I found a technique online that allows you to load a more suitable driver, as ATi do support 64 bit, just not the mobility versions just yet. (Curiously, they do have mobility drivers for the new Windows Vista beta…)

Anyway, the most annoying problem at the moment with the new PC is nothing to do with the software at all, it seems there may be a loose connection somewhere. Last night I could consistently get the screen to blank out by lifting the front of the machine. This developed into there being no screen backlight at all. At this point I got the screwdrivers out ready to open the bottom of the machine, however the screws being rather tight I couldn’t shift them, put the battery back in and flipped it back over, booted up, and no more problem – very strange.

As to the new Mac, that was up and running within hours, and is absolutely fine. To some extent it shows you what an advantage Apple have by controlling their hardware, out of the box you’re getting a machine that takes advantage of it’s 64-bit processor, and no problems with any applications. Compare this with the XP-64 experience where you’re struggling to find drivers and software that works.

A friend at work half-jokingly said when I got the PC “so I see you’re getting a proper computer now”. If getting a proper computer means endless fiddling with drivers, maybe I have. However for a reliable day-to-day machine the Mac is definitely out in front. Microsoft are miles behind in terms of operating system. When Vista finally appears it is only going to be matching Tiger for features, and by that time Tiger’s successor will be out, and on Intel as well.

Back to Panther

After going to bed generally positive over the upgrade to Tiger last night, I’ve encountered several problems with the install, that mean that I am now going back to my backed up Panther installation so we have a usable computer again.

When I booted up this morning, and opened e-mail, all the e-mail downloaded, but for some inexplicable reason, a couple of the messages were duplicated. I assumed there was something up with my configuration of the e-mail server so took a look, and discovered that nothing had been added to either the system.log or mail.log files since 8pm yesterday night. I tried to track down what was causing the lack of logs, but to no avail, so decided to try reinstalling the operating system files.

Having done the reinstall, aside from having accidentally lost all of the e-mail downloaded that morning, everything seemed to work ok, until the Software Update system upgraded to version 10.4.2, at which point I was getting an error whenever fetchmail tried to start. As I noted yesterday it was a bit of fudge, so it’s not surprising that it wasn’t totally robust!

In amongst all of this I still can’t get rid of all of the incompatible Norton. Although I’ve removed all of the applications, somewhere buried deep in the startup are bits of Norton, which are even causing the backup software to be unable to do a backup of the Tiger drive ready to roll back.

Anyway, at this point, ensuring that we have a stable machine for day to day usage is the first priority – the problems with Tiger seem to be related to bits of incompatible code that come across, specifically everything seems to start going screwy when the remains of Norton try to do something. I’ll probably try setting up a clean install of Tiger on another disk partition, and then play about with it on there, whilst leaving the current Panther install as our normal setup. Other options to consider might be to move the mail server off onto a separate box, removing one element of complexity from the upgrade.

Having said that, boy am I glad I took a complete backup of my Panther install before I started. Although it will take a couple of hours to shuffle the data around, at least I have a fully working Mac back up and running.

Tiger Upgrade

So this afternoon, I finally made the jump to MacOS X 10.4 Tiger.

I eventually decided to take the chance to clean up the machine by doing a clean install, rather than any sort of upgrade. It’s not quite as drastic an action as first sounds, as Tiger has a really powerful migration wizard that pulls almost all the settings, files and all my installed applications across and sets them up. It is provided for people who have bought a new Mac – and is very quick considering that in my case it was shifting a large number of applications and matching the installs into Panther. Basically after an hour, 95% of my old setup was up and running on the new machine, without me once having to reach for the original installs – try that on a Windows PC! (Take a look here for more details on the Migration Assistant)

The only problem areas were where I expected, Norton Internet Security (requires an upgrade to work), Missing Sync (again requires an upgrade), and the e-mail setup which I had hacked together under 10.3, and to be honest wasn’t expecting the wizard to be able to cope with.

The e-mail setup has actually taken me several hours to sort out, primarily because Apple have changed the way that fetchmail and postfix are setup. Most of the setup was just a matter of working through Postfix Enabler, which I was able to accomplish pretty quickly. They are now charging $9.99 for the enabler (just over £5), but for the hassle it saves, it is well worth the cost. However fetchmail was another matter, and isn’t configured by the enabler.

As usual there was a multitude of suggestions as to how to enable fetchmail. The first I came across was linked from the Postfix Enabler, however the big clanger in this one is that it installs a fresh copy of fetchmail, when Tiger includes it already. Postfix Enabler makes use of a new Tiger feature, launchd, so I tried to find a solution that would launch fetchmail in a similar manner. Ultimately I used the instructions towards the bottom of the comments on this page. It’s still a slight bit of a fudge, as the last couple of comments state, as it’s using a sleep command to trick launchd slightly. However I imagine that a better solution will appear with time.

As far as I am aware, I’ve not lost any incoming e-mail in the changeover – although apologies in advance if something does go astray. Tomorrow I’ll give the whole setup a bit more of a workout, and hopefully sort out Missing Sync and Norton.

Scoble Goes Off On One

Usually Robert Scobles blog is a pretty good read, however I’m not quite sure what he was on yesterday, but he seemed to throw a massive mud slinging session over a MacDailyNews article about the recent Microsoft announcement that when released Longhorn will be called Windows Vista. The general gist of the article is that many of the features that will be included in Windows Vista, MacOS X has already in Tiger, or are fixing problems introduced in previous versions of Windows. To some extent it’s the kind of post, and on a site that I wouldn’t really have registered had it not been for Scoble’s reaction.

However, it seems I’m not alone. Later on Scoble printed a summary of some of the responses, perhaps the one that best sums up my opinion being the one from John Wulff called “When Cheerleaders Sneer“:

I really enjoy Scoble’s blog, but sometimes he crosses the line from entertaining evangelist to petty mudslinger.

The key point from my point of view is that looking just at the two operating systems, Tiger is already out there and shipping. However some of the earlier announced features of Windows Vista, for example WinFS are being dropped out to ensure a timely release. Indeed there is speculation that the next major release of MacOS X, Leopard will ship by the time Windows Vista finally gets released, so there is really no point in comparing either two future products, or an existing product with a competitors potential product. You can only compare two existing, shipping products.

Really all these school playground style mud slinging sessions don’t get anybody anywhere, and it was somewhat of a surprise to find Scoble having a go.