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8 out of 7 people are bad at math

I Leoparded last weekend (i.e., upgraded my iMac and MBP to Leopard). A few things I have noticed:

  • I found a bug in OS X’s Mail client regarding plain text and rich text composing (short version: I have “plain text” set as my preferred format, but still Mail composes some mails in rich text). I filed a bug about this with Apple and they closed it as a dup and something that they’re supposedly already working on.
  • Spaces is “ok” (vs. great). I wouldn’t say that it’s much better than Virtue Desktops. It gets many of the same things “wrong” as Virtue; if you switch to a different application (via cmd-tab), even one that has an open window on the current Space, you may still get switched to a different Space. I once got Spaces to “lose” all the windows on space 6 (i.e., the windows were supposedly there, but Spaces wouldn’t display them anymore — the windows in Spaces 1-5 were fine. I could even make new windows in Space 6 with no problems), but I haven’t been able to repeat it, so I haven’t filed a bug with Apple.
  • Quick Look is great, especially for e-mail attachments. It doesn’t always do a perfect job; I’ve seen it fail to show any details on some files (e.g., even powerpoint files that it should know how to display) and I’ve seen it skip some details that are in other files (e.g., not render some of the text on a powerpoint slide). But I guess that’s ok — it’s a quick look, not a detailed examination, after all…
  • I’ve caused Leopard to lock up a few times (requiring a soft or hard reboot); I’m not entirely sure what I did to make that happen; I was just using the machine normally.
  • Twice when I’ve rebooted, Leopard has associated the wrong application for opening Powerpoint files. I had to reset it to the right application (and then make all similar files open the same way). I don’t know why it seemed to “forget” how to open the right application.
  • Open MPI’s build system can make Leopard’s ld throw a bus error. Awesome. Technically, our assembly isn’t exactly correct, but it’s the minimum that will compile on all the linkers that we care about. Making ld on OS X throw a bus error is new, though.
  • tcsh still sometimes aborts for no apparent reason (it did in Tiger, too). It has something to do with typing ctrl-C on a command line. It is very difficult to reproduce this error; I’ve not found a consistent formula to make it die (i.e., just typing ctrl-C doesn’t make it happen). It doesn’t dump a corefile in /cores, either, so there’s little additional clues as to what happened.
  • X11 support is weird, as noted in Brian’s blog.
  • Open MPI is included in Leopard as universal binaries for 4 architectures. Woof!
  • I’m not much of a designer kind of guy so I won’t comment much on the aesthetic changes Apple made, but I will say that the light blue dot on the dock indicating that an application is running is kinda hard to see sometimes.
  • The printing subsystem is a bit nicer than Tiger’s, but it no longer automatically finds the CUPS/IPP-advertised printer on my home LAN; I had to configure it manually. Tiger’s printing subsystem would always automatically find the printer.
  • The network subsystem is also a bit nicer than it was in Tiger.
  • DTrace looks pretty cool, but it has some differences compared to Solaris’ DTrace (making portable integration into Open MPI a bit more difficult).
  • I haven’t been able to make iChat AV work (audio/video/or vnc — regular chatting works fine), so I can’t comment on it. But I wasn’t able to make it work in Tiger, either — I’m guessing that there’s something weird in my network/ISP setup that is not letting the connections go through (need to setup weird port forwarding or something). I haven’t yet spent enough time with it to figure it out. Shrug.
  • Spotlight seems slightly faster. I’m guessing that it’s still bogged down by the few hundred thousand e-mails I have in Mail.
  • I love Mail’s new “export a folder” feature. It allowed me to archive off a bunch of really old mail to some permanent storage on a different server. Removing about 200k mails from Mail seemed to speed it up a bit (yes, I could have done this before by going into $HOME/Library/Mail, but I didn’t really think about it until I found the feature in Leopard Mail and thought “hey, this seems like a good idea!”).
  • Safari’s text search is waaaay better than the old one; I love how they visually pop the search items out at you when it finds matching text in the web page.
  • I really like the uniform use of the “Downloads” folder (why didn’t they do this before?); both Safari and Adium download things there by default and it makes the resulting files easy to find (without cluttering up my already-busy desktop).

So is it a huge improvement / worth it?

There’s a million small little things that are nice. But probably the main thing that changed my day-to-day usage is Spaces (I’m trying to use that instead of Virtue Desktops) and Quick Look. Aside from 1-2 new quirks in Mail, it seems handle very large mailboxes a bit better — and that’s important to me. I would really like to get iChat VNC working so that I can help with some of my relatives’ Macs when they have problems (this was actually the “killer feature” that had me go out and buy Leopard).


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