OS X Leopard: First Impressions

By Mike on 7:31 pm

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Ok, so Leopard arrived today as expected. Opened it up, popped in the DVD, and installed the new OS. The upgrade is pretty strait forward. No need to reformat. It does take quite a while though. At least a couple of hours on my laptop. Mine is a 12'' 1.33ghz iBook G4 that was bought in 2005. I don't consider it old but the new MacBooks have far surpassed it.
Once it's installed, it then goes to work indexing your files for spotlight. It does this in the background but using a lot of system resources to do this, so it's best just to wait until it's finished.

One of the first things I noticed was how much of a memory hog Leopard is. Once again, eye candy is to blame. I originally had 768mb of ram inside my laptop but I found it was getting eaten up quickly. I swapped it for a 512mb chip in my parent's laptop. They can live with 256mb less memory for now since it's just a surfing/email box. Leopard runs far better on 1gb. 512mb is the minimum but you really do need more than that. I found a 512mb DDR-3200 SODIMM chip form TigerDirect for $35 so upgrading is no issue.
Another issue is a mysterious 6gb HDD space loss between Tiger and Leopard. I had about 15gb on my HDD before install and after I only had 8.5gb. I'm a little perplexed at where so much space went. Leopard does need at least 9gb of free space compared to Tiger's 4gb, but I'm not sure what the extra space is needed for. It may be worth upgrading to a bigger HDD. Mine is only 40gb, which is small these days. My particular model uses a 4200rpm drive, which are no longer sold. The issue for me of course would be finding a faster drive with the same low power consumption so as not to sacrifice battery life, which is a major factor for me. Apple also does not make it easy to upgrade the drive. It requires a complex process of taking the whole thing apart. Since I need my laptop, it's one of the few devices I don't want to tinker with.

Improvements to Leopard? Well, it does look nice. One of the biggest improvements is the document preview feature known as Quick Look, which allows you to see a thumbnail of the document or photo without opening it. Stacks is also handy. Added to the dock, stacks allows quick access to files in frequently used folders. Another thing is Spaces. If you're familiar with Linux, you'll be familiar with spaces. It allows for multiple desktops, up to four.
Time Machine is also an interesting feature. It's a backup program for your Mac. It does backups to a separate disk, and allows you to view previous versions of your Mac. I kept this turned off since I use a laptop and I use my portable HDD for other things. More things included are Front Row, which is prepackaged with OS X now.
Boot Camp is also now prepackaged with OS X. This is the final version, not the beta that was available on the website. For those who don't know, Boot Camp allows Intel based Macs to run Windows XP or Vista. This allows you to run Windows and Mac software on a single system. Since my Mac is PowerPC based, I can't use this feature.
As for the rest of the programs, Apple has provided updated versions of everything. Mail now includes a RSS and note taking feature. A new program called Photo Booth allows for some basic image editing in a fun snapshot, mall photo booth style format.

Leopard is an interesting update to OS X, though it does not feature as much exciting new stuff as Tiger did when it first came out. If you're still using Tiger, there's no rush to go out and get Leopard. That said, it's a solid OS. Of course today is Friday. The real test will be going back to work on Monday and putting through it's paces.

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