Dancing with the Leopard

OK, 10.5 (aka Leopard) is officially out of the box. It runs pretty well, by and large. There are a few quirks here and there, but I guess it’s bound to happen given the context.

Everyone keeps marveling at how fast it goes, compared to its predecessor. And it’s true, more or less. As usual, 10.x is faster than 10.(x-1)… That’s what you expect of a new release, right?

However, there are still a number of annoying bugs that pestered my installation. Maybe it’s because I’m “old school” with all my powerpc machines… After all, Apple still sells hardware, and it makes sense to target their latest computers rather than the 2+ years old ones.

But 10.5.0 is still immature : installing it on my G5/dual 2.5/4GB of RAM took 3h (the migration process, aka “1 minute remaining” took 2h…), airport is shaky to say the least, and some of my favorite applications that I thought were using fairly standard APIs are broken one way or another. Oh and since I have TimeMachine and Spotlight on (and QuickLook can’t be turned off), the disks were under a heavy strain during the first 12h of uptime, thus reducing the overall speed by a good fraction.

I hear “but that’s to be expected with a .0 release!” a lot… Part of me agrees, and part of me rebels against the notion that .0 are just public betas (with a price tag). What’s the use of having a beta program for developers if the bugs we talk about aren’t fixed?

While economic pressure is the most important factor, it gets harder and harder to think about it as just one factor among others. I know several developers who didn’t even bother to report bugs they found in the beta, because they wouldn’t get fixed before a huge number of people ran into them. A huge number of paying customers, should I say.

10.4.x has been a stable and mature system. It still is. True, there are a number of impressive new features available in 10.5 (see Siracusa’s article for an in-depth review), but they are features I can live without, most of the time. I think QuickLook is the feature that will drag me across… Previewing documents without opening applications? wow!

Would I give up stability and comfort for graphical prowess and immature new features, though? Not yet. But that’s only because I spent a lot of time finding out the “new way” old APIs worked (d’ya hear me NSSaveOperation?) and am currently a bit cranky.

For the next major release, I would really like Apple to set-up a beta “community” where we could discuss secret things. Kind of like the WWDC, but for longer than a week… That way, we might not spend hours and hours trying to work out what works, should work or won’t work. Maybe we could even have some advance warning about what’s the GM like, instead of having it after everyone else…

10.5.0 is out. And it’s good. 10.4.x is mature. And that’s even better.


Leave a Reply