November 1, 2007

Upgrade to the New Cat

Four days after all the fanboys picked up Leopard and a free t-shirt from their local Apple stores, I went humbly to the local “Mac Store” to get the update. Not wanting to be a guinea pig for Apple, I made sure to do my research on what is and isn’t 100% in the new OS. The big news was in regards to Adobe’s CS3 suite. The problems, however, didn’t include Fireworks, Flash Illustrator or Photoshop (the only part of the suite I find useful in day-to-day work)… so no problems there. The Adobe apps do show some signs of visual effect issues when using Spaces, but it doesn’t impair the work experience much.

I expect updates will be coming for the suite very soon. Panic’s excellent FTP app Transmit was also said to have some issues with Leopard, but quick updates to the app have fixed anything that might come up (thanks Panic). Adium and Missing Sync for Blackberry were also said to have some minor issues, but I haven’t had any problems with either. I have good backups, so I wasn’t too worried about anything less than hard drive failure.

Installation was fairly quick using the Archive & Install option, which is is highly recommended by numerous other bloggers. It took about an two hours total though the installer never said more than “1 hour 40 minutes remaining”. It kinda hung for a while (freaked me out actually) in the last 5 seconds when it was transferring my application data. Those 5 seconds lasted for about 20 minutes but eventually finished up just fine. I guess noone can really ever say exactly how long something will *really* take. As long as it gets done, I’m fine with it. One think I didn’t know, however, was that the Archive & Install doesn’t maintain any of your MySQL or PHP or Apache settings. Leopard comes with Apache 2 and PHP 5.2.4, but no MySQL. Setting it all up was simple enough, with a quick download from and a quick edit to my http.conf file, but PHP power-users will want a more robust PHP setup than what Apple offers by default. Keep an eye on Marc Liyanage’s site for an updated PHP installer that works with the folder structure changes in Leopard. Glad I have good backups though, I wasn’t expecting my development environment to disappear with the OS upgrade.

In Tiger, I was using SuperDuper! to backup my root drive to an external FireWire (daily) and USB 2 (weekly) drive. I had it set to start first thin in the morning, but if I slept in (which is happening more now that it’s so dark and wintery in the morning) the cron wouldn’t run on time as I keep my box shut down at night. With Time Machine, it’ll do backups while I’m working… all in the background. I don’t even have to think about the daily backups anymore. When SuperDuper! is Leopard ready, which they’ve said should be soon, I’ll get that weekly backup running again. I think it’ll be a good setup for my needs. If you’re interested, here’s a diagram of my setup. iChat is better, I don’t need Chax for tabs and such anymore. However, the silliness with the background replacement and other effects are only somewhat usable. Here’s how it works in my office, which isn’t super bright and the wall behind me is covered with books and artwork.

I don’t really have many buddies that are Mac users, so things like iChat, screen sharing, etc, aren’t important. However, it’d be neat to try it out one day. Overall, Leopard feels snappier. It might not actually be quicker but it feels that way. The upgrade went smoother than any other OS upgrade I’ve ever done, including Windows and Ubuntu. It’s clean, crisp and much more consistent with itself than with previous versions. And yay!, the old 10.0 stripes are finally gone! I’ll see if I can write up a review with screenshots for some of the things that aren’t already blogged to death (like the Glass Dock, for example). What’s your experience with it so far?

Update Nov 15th, 2007: Seems Time Machine is dog slow when using a USB drive as the destination. I’m having difficulties with my LaCie FireWire drive that are unresolved, so couldn’t try that (other sources say FireWire is faster for TM). So, I stuck another 500GB drive into my Mac Pro and have Time Machine running 100% internally… and now, it’s fast. Hardly noticeable when it’s doing its thing. So the new backup setup is as follows: Time Machine to the internal drive, weekly backups to the USB drive via Carbon Copy Cloner (until SuperDuper! is Leopard ready). Think I’ve got my bases covered. On that note, does anyone out there know of a good backup solution for Windows Vista?


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