Mac OS X Leopard

AKA Mac OS 10.5

I finally bit the bullet and upgraded my production system to Apple’s latest OS. Other than a it being a long process (full backup of the current hard drive and then the upgrade of the OS plus running all subsequent updates to be current at 10.5.1), it was a smooth upgrade. Here are my first impressions:

The Good: Apple has done an exceptional job “under the hood”. With my main 3 or 4 applications running I am seeing my CPU at about 96% idle. That coupled with general improvements throughout has made all the time I put into the update worth it.

Some Specifics

Mail.app, Apple’s included mail client, has updated to be even more integrated with their Address Book (aptly named “Address Book”) and Calendar (called iCal) so that it recognizes data within the email you receive (sch as addresses, email addresses and dates) and allows you to capture that information appropriately. I can grab an address than someone sends me and add it to their address book card, or create a new address book card if they don’t already exist in my list. I can also add dates to my calendar from information in email. I’m using this feature daily. It certainly helps a busy consultant keep on top of th barrage of information that comes my way everyday.

WebDAV finally works as it has been touted. I can open a WebDAV volume from my desktop and manipulate files & folders as if they were right there. This is huge for all the website development I do.

The Finder has undergone a complete overhaul. It has taken on a more iTunes styled look, but I think Quick Look is certainly a key feature. I can page through just about any document on my system without ever launching an application. What a time saver when I just need to look up data from a Word document or Excel sheet. No more waiting for Office load.

The Bad: My biggest complaint is that my default printer, which is attached to my Airport wireless router via ethernet, was not picked up via Bonjour like it was in 10.4.x.  I won’t blame the fact that the driver installer dropped a bunch of files with bad permissions on my system, that is simply Hewlett-Packard’s deal, but Apple has taken a giant step backwards in their printing engine. I think it’s related to Bonjour (their zero-config process), since I also notice that the printer’s configuration web interface is sometimes recognized and other times not in the “Bonjour” item in Safari (Apple’s web browser).

The Ugly: Okay, whose bright idea was it to have a translucent menubar with no option for making it fully (or at least more) opaque?? It’s very distracting and a bit hard on my eyes. I finally had to resort to a solid colored desktop background to make the menubar usable. I’ve heard many complain about the new 3-d Dock, but since I keep my Dock on the left side of the screen rather than the bottom it auto-reverts to a 2-d Dock, though more high-tech looking than previous iterations.

So, after 3 days of daily use, I will say that I am mostly pleased with the update. There is still some digging and exploring to do, but I find the under-the-hood enhancements to be well worth the price (in both money & time) for the update. I still need to play with Time Machine (a built-in backup utility) and Spaces (a UNIX style desktop manager).