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Snow Leopard: The Washington Post Review

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Jason Snell of Macworld wrote a review of Snow Leopard. The review got passed to PC World where the editors are still working on a translation. In the meantime the review made it all the way to the venerable WaPo. So it doesn't originate there. But it got your attention.

Snow Leopard's an update unlike any in recent memory, writes Snell. It 'boosts speeds, reclaims disk space, tweaks dozens of features, and lays the groundwork for a new generation of computers that feature 64-bit multicore processors, ultrapowerful graphics processors, and massive amounts of memory.'

These features, combined with the low upgrade price of $29, make Snow Leopard the biggest no-brainer of an upgrade since Mac OS X 10.1.'

No faeces, Mr Holmes. 10.1 along with 10.2 'Jag-wire' on 24 August 2002.

Honour System

But in contrast to Microsoft who as their OEMs offer a bewildering array of different versions, all requiring the user enter a serial number meant to thwart piracy (seriously: who the F would want to steal Windows) Apple continue to rely on the 'honour system'. Meaning you can in theory use the $29 disc to upgrade from anything.

But guess what? Apple's honour system works - because Apple have nice customers.

Smart Install

Ever heard about - or worse: experienced first hand - that incredible Microsoft announcement 'your computer will reboot a number of times'? Apple have always had better installs but Snow Leopard's raises the bar again.

'The Snow Leopard installation process is somewhat different from previous OS X installers. Rather than requiring an immediate restart, a lot of it takes place as soon as you double-click the installer.'

'Now you set up all your installation settings and walk away; the rest of the process (including a reboot) can take place without your direct intervention.'

The install also downloads additional drivers as it needs them - your system isn't cluttered with a lot of junk you never see and never use.

64-Bit

'Almost every app in Snow Leopard is now 64-bit-capable; that means old apps that relied on Carbon frameworks had to be rewritten using Cocoa', writes Snell. And this because Carbon has finally been relegated to the dusty volumes of history. Finally.

Running System Preferences also makes it obvious which is the preferred subsystem.

'If you're using Apple's stock preference panes only, everything will work just fine. But if you click on a third-party preference pane that hasn't yet been upgraded to a 64-bit version, System Preferences will tell you that it has to quit and reopen itself in 32-bit mode in order to open that preference pane.'

Snell thinks this is frustrating over time but unfortunately due to the architecture of apps such as these there's no alternative - third party are just going to have to update their modules (something they could have done long ago for that matter).

Safari 4 also runs in 64-bit mode, something Snell's noticed speeds up JavaScript math routines. Better still: plugins now run in their own address space, meaning troubles they encounter can't corrupt the Safari process itself.

Snell does report however he's had several unrelated crashes with the browser.

Anti-Stupidity™

Snell links through to another Macworld article by Dan Moren on the 'trojan alerts' (Anti-Stupidity™ feature) in Snow Leopard. Moren might be a former Maccie because he seems to have forgot how absolute Unix paths always begin with a forward slash. But the key file in this scenario is the following - it's a property list.

/System/Library/Core Services/CoreTypes.bundle/Contents/Resources/XProtect.plist

Moren points out there are only two suspects listed in the file now - which is worth a chuckle: it means there are only two known trojan attacks for the platform (and both employ script kiddie manipulation of PKG bundes).

[Again - more for Windows lusers: trojans aren't an indication of system weakness and can't do real damage. That's only on Windows.]

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