Sunday, October 04, 2009

Snow Leopard

Well, I upgraded to Snow Leopard recently (10.6.1). Normally I wait a while with new operating system versions until they've had a chance to patch them (e.g. version X.Y.3). I waited quite a while before installing Leopard as it was such a big upgrade. Snow Leopard is supposed to be a "tweak", with the biggest changes at low level, where everything has gone 64 bit.

The biggest problems here will be with hardware drivers breaking (as I found out with my Toneport UX2). Still, compared to Vista 64 this doesn't seem to be much of a problem. Microsoft is notorious for releasing beta quality software and then patching it after users have tested it. Apple seem to be a bit better at releasing, but then they control the whole hardware and platform more strictly, so they have less margin for error.

Snow Leopard does seem more responsive, not that Leopard was slow. Apps seem to start faster, and the Finder is instantaneous. This is a breath of fresh air after using Window's sluggish Explorer (on XP). It's pretty poor that it can take a couple of seconds to refresh, even on a high spec machine.

Snow Leopard no longer supports PowerPC so my old G5 will have to stay on Leopard, and will probably be appearing on ebay. I believe applications are also compressed, which allows them to load faster. It's faster to decompress something into memory from disc, as the bottleneck is your slow hard drive (especially on a 5400 RPM laptop drive). My laptop does seem more zippy, and I got a massive chunk of hard drive space back, ~10GBs?!! I have XCode and a load of other stuff that would benefit.

Not really noticed any visual changes, but it does seem strangely more pleasing to the eye. Upgrade cost is relatively cheap and Apple have been smart not to charge a lot for something which doesn't give a lot of end user features, but a lot of work will have gone into all the optimisations it provides. Worth upgrading for the extra responsiveness.

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