• First Thoughts on Leopard

    Leopard arrived today in the early afternoon… so much for delivering it on Friday night. Not that I would have spent my Friday night installing an operating system, though, so I guess it’s a moot point.

    I just installed Leopard on my Quicksilver tower (933 Mhz G4 processor and 768 MB of RAM). Here are my thoughts so far.

    1) Leopard is definitely one fast cat. I can’t believe that Apple still found a way to make Leopard run on my old hardware faster than Tiger. This is probably the last OS X upgrade my Quicksilver machine will survive, and I feel like I got a whole new lease on life for it yet again (my third OS X upgrade/speed increase combination since I bought the machine 5 years ago). Apps tend to bounce a few times the first time you open them, and then they get super fast for every time you launch them thereafter. Most of my apps now launch in one bounce, which was previously unheard of on this machine. People may say Macs are too expensive, but 5 years on the same machine is a pretty decent ROI – I challenge anybody to find a 5 year old Windows box, install Vista on it, and say it’s faster as a result. I can only imagine how screaming fast Leopard will be on my MacBook Pro.

    2) I like all of the UI changes with one exception: the Stacks on your Dock are not configurable very much at all (you can choose Grid or Arc display – that’s it). The most annoying item is that you are forced to have the icon of the folder Stack in the Dock be the icon of the first item that the folder the Stack is created from contains. I use the icons as visual representations of what’s contained within them as shortcuts, so this is a little annoying. However, in the case of the Downloads folder, seeing the topmost item in the folder actually makes sense. So, I’d like to see Stack icon choice be configurable in System Preferences. The Grid view is more functional than the arc IMO, and works much better than the little pop-up list of files you used to get in Tiger.

    3) I haven’t configured a drive for Time Machine yet so I can’t comment on it, but I’m sure it will be cool. I’ll set one up when I put Leopard on my MacBook Pro.

    4) The new Finder is a huge improvement. I really like the iTunes-style interface and the much smaller/more organized icons on the left toolbar. Quick Look is also pretty nice. Cover Flow in the Finder would be better if they let you have the icons in the top and Column View in the bottom (the bottom half is set up as Detail/Folder View). I only see myself using Cover Flow view to browse documents; it’s a little clunky for applications (although the huge sexy icons look amazing in it for whatever you use it for).

    5) Front Row with the AppleTV interface is a stellar improvement, and I applaud Apple for just putting it in the OS instead of only bundling it with Macs that come with Apple Remotes. It’s also a lot more responsive and attractive in its new form (it makes the original Front Row look like a beta). I can’t wait to get this up on my old PowerBook (which acts as my media center in my living room) and see what it looks like on the 42″ Aquos (and damn, my TV is going for almost $500 less than what I paid for it a year ago…).

    6) Spaces is cool, but I’ll probably only ever use it when prepping for presentations. I can get my workspace set up for a presentation, and then go back to doing whatever I feel like in a separate space and be ready to present at a moment’s notice.

    7) Installation was painless and took a little less than an hour. The installation is a lot bigger than Tiger; I lost about 4 GBs after the install, even after I removed 1 GB of printer drivers I wouldn’t need.

    8) All the Macs in my household network showed up in the Finder without any prompting. I have seen online that this happens with Window shares, too. This is a pretty nice feature and makes it very easy to connect to whatever you want. Finder also shows you a bar at the top of a shared folder to let you know it’s shared when you’re browsing.

    9) All the apps now seem to share a more consistent look and feel for the windows, instead of the mix of brushed metal and Aqua windows before. The OS feels very integrated now as a result.

    10) All of my apps that I have tried so far still work, including HandBrake and Firefox.

    11) The packaging for Leopard is the slickest Apple has produced yet. No surprises here. I’d also like to mention that not only is the all-paper DVD enclosure environmentally friendly, it’s a hell of a lot easier to slide a DVD in to a semi-circular paper sleeve than pushing that stupid plastic button while contorting the DVD out of the slot like every other DVD case I’ve ever used makes me do.

    12) Terminal has tabs now – woot (or sudo…)!

    13) Safari 3 is definitely faster than Safari 2. Thank God they fixed the Find functionality… I could never find the search results on the page before.

    14) I’m adjusting to the new icon set for Leopard. I don’t exactly like it yet, but I get it. I was used to the old pictorial icons from every previous OS X release, but I can see why Apple got rid of them. They now look cutesy and cartoonish compared to the ones in Leopard, and the new ones fit the integrated theme of the window containers. I’m sure I won’t notice the difference after a few weeks.

    For those of you who have also taken the plunge, here’s a forum thread I found on hacking the Leopard GUI that has some interesting mods to the Dock.

    Any other Leopard users out there? Let me know what you think about it.

    Category: Uncategorized | Tags: