At the beginning of the month I got my work laptop, one of the early 2008 MacBook Pro’s. It came wit h 10.5.2 preinstalled, so I took the opportunity to upgrade to Leopard. It’s been an interesting experience sitting on the sidelines watching everyone else explore the new features, but I don’t regret it. I had a few hiccups moving things over, mostly related to installing Python packages. But I had fewer migration problems than I expected, especially given how customized a setup I am running.
Spotlight is actually fast now. It’s not absolutely lightning fast, but it is now fast enough to be usable, at least for me. This might also be partially related to the 7200RPM disk in the new laptop, but either way, I am happy, because this is the thing I wanted the most from Leopard.. Well, except for the fact that mds still sometimes shows up as the top CPU consumer on the machine.
Mail.app improved a lot. There was a bug in the reply all command that made moderating Apache mailing lists a pain. Gone. Account setup, and more importantly, self-signed certificate support is hugely improved. No more trips to Keychain Access to make things work. If only it could remember the position of multiple viewer windows across restarts.
I used one of the virtual desktop managers on my Powerbook and then stopped, so I didn’t expect much out of Spaces. It turns out that spaces is actually pretty good. It works with multiple displays and plays well with Expose. I’m using it all the time I just wish there were shortcuts to go to a particular Space.
Against my better judgment, I’m using Time Machine for primary backups at the moment. This is due to an unfortunate fragmentation of external Firewire disks. After JavaOne I need to spend some time rearranging stuff on various hard drives, so that I can put a SuperDuper! backup into the rotation again. I don’t yet have complete faith in Time Machine’s reliability. Just yesterday, I successfully used Time Machine to save my bacon, and then later in the day, a Time Machine backup just failed with an error. Running Disk Utility over the backup disk didn’t find any problems, and after a reboot, backups seemed to work again. Doesn’t exactly inspire confidence, though. I also tried to use a USB disk that is attached an Airport Extreme, and Time Machine could never finish its initial backup. I like to work with a large display, so wireless Time Machine is not a huge deal to me, but it really ought to work. It’s likely to be several more point releases of 10.5 before I really feel like I can rely on Time Machine.
Quicklook is useful when I remember to use it. I’m getting tons of PDF slideshows in e-mail, and Quicklook is good for those. I really wish there was a Quicklook plugin that work on OpenOffice documents.
The next one is dumb but true. I really like having pictures for my desktop backgrounds. The translucent menu bar isn’t a factor in this. Apple provided a nice set of pictures for the backgrounds, and I have it set to rotate the background fairly often. All I need to do now is find some time to pull some of my own pictures into the rotation. The new animations for the picture folder screensaver is also cool – it drops the new pictures on top of the older ones, so that over time your screen looks like a pile of photographs.
On the infrastructure front, things seem a mixed bag. Things are snappy, but the machine also has 4GB of RAM in it. I have yet to see a kernel panic, but it seems less stable than 10.4. I’ve had a bunch of little problems: the issue with the Time Machine disk, loss of sounds after using Front Row to play a DVD, a bug that makes it impossible for file moves to work correctly in PathFinder, and syslog running amokfor no good reason. I had to turn off Growl because it was causing NetNewsWire refreshes to clog up. At the moment, anytime the machine makes a noise, the screen flashes (and yes, I did check the preferences for Universal Access). I’ve also been having a problem with my Firewire 800 disks just disappearing, sometimes during operations. Turning off one of the drives seems to be helping the problem, but that’s 500GB of storage that is offline. It makes me wish (again) that ZFS was going to be in 10.5.3, but alas, it will not. In any event, 10.5.3 will certainly be welcome. All these little problems are really starting to annoy me.