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Dul Boot

It's cool. But right now it's also a necessity.

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Dual boot is cool if you have (at least) two operating systems you like to run. Hold down option when you boot, get a cool screen, choose the OS you want, click the arrow. Whoosh.

But it's also necessary under certain circumstances. Such as with Apple's recently released OS X Leopard. Which, 'tis sad to say, is just not ready for prime time.

It may still make it to prime time: 10.0 and 10.1 weren't ready by a long shot but by August 2002 things got going. History might be repeating itself.

But right now Leopard is just out of control. The basic engine seems fine - it's just the 'interior decorating' on top that isn't finished. By a long shot.

And there are of course a number of networking issues as well.

Simple things screw up. There are still remnants left on screen. Safari still munges its menu bar. Mail still can't decide if it's editing plain text or rich text - and it has to be reminded continually. It can't remember the colours for the indentations either.

The AppKit services code is royally screwed. Safari lets services modify read-only pages, Mail still grabs services data from the WRONG PASTEBOARD (after two and one half years) and so forth.

Mail's composition window does not allow resizing in persistent storage. It's always going to come up and take half the screen. Possibly this was done to accommodate people using their boxes as 'digital hubs' and sending a lot of megabyte image attachments. But it should allow resizing. It doesn't.

Leopard scatters more trivial 'sextended' attributes all over the place than there are flies on a compost heap. Do we really need an XA that says 'MACINTOSH;0' for every blithering text file? And clearly tools are needed to clear this cruft out.

The FF was not Fd. More: it still doesn't have an 'advanced' button. Admins are relegated to the bleating command line to do their work. Which is ridiculous. Spatiality seems to have finally died the dishonourable death it deserves but sorry: for Cover Flow™ does not translate into the long missing 'advanced' button. How about going to /bin and trying some cover flowing there? Lot of good that will do you.

350 KB icons? Who's on drugs? There are formats and means to save vector graphics files - images which by definition expand to any size you want. And OS X as NeXTSTEP is based on vector graphics. So why in the name of all that is not yet lobotomised have 512x512 pixel icon images? OK it's for Cover Flow™, right? Oh heaven help us.

Leopard brings the 'source list' outline view style as an official part of the frameworks for the first time. Unfortunately the algorithm used is cheap and shoddy. It assumes a static height to the text from the baseline no matter the line spacing. That's just bad.

The flippies have changed colour from a sensible black to a confused gray which 'sort of' shows up OK on Leopard with Leopard's flawed gradient bar but otherwise just disappears. Witness both Xcode 3 and IB3 which do not yet use this gradient full out: their flippies simply don't show up. Period.

People are starting to suspect the unthinkable about Apple - namely that they may in fact have separate source trees for PPC and Intel. For years now people have noticed the dumbest flaws in high level code and especially in PPC rendering that never show up on Intel. And there are other flaws exclusive to the PPC that have to do with data model code as well. Something doesn't seem right.

Users can't be expected to upgrade to Leopard. Not yet. No way. It's very much still a beta. Third party have to continue to support Tiger. Tiger is also an easier system to use as it doesn't have a promille of the snags and annoyances of its successor. People somewhat enthusiastically try Leopard out - and then wake up from the dream and realise they have to get back to work. And they know there's no way they can support Leopard yet. No way.

There's actually very little for existing titles that can be of benefit in Leopard. The preponderance of titles will work just as well or better if they're still built for Tiger. The Leopard compiler is somewhat better but those are small margins.

The complexity of OS X continues its spiral curve upwards. The 10.2.8 SDK has 6350 items in 52521613 bytes and 131672 blocks - about 65 MB on disk; the 10.3.9 SDK has 8330 items in 174149500 bytes and 377704 blocks - about 190 MB on disk; the 10.4u SDK has 9588 items in 310406888 bytes and 649544 blocks - about 340 MB on disk; things come down in size somewhat with the 10.5 SDK with 9786 items in 183833859 bytes and 400000 blocks - about 200 MB. But the trend is pretty clear.

The Leopard SDK is still three times the size of Jaguar's.

Apple have in many ways released not an upgrade to an existing operating system but an entirely new operating system. There are so many things different under the bonnet both for developer, admin, and user but there are also too many things that simply don't work yet.

Will the point upgrades solve these issues? 10.5.1 was supposed/'rumoured' to fix the 'massive data loss' bug. It didn't. And that was unlikely as well. As the bug was but a symptom and not the disease itself. To cure that disease requires a lot more. It requires a sea change.

And code signing: where is this leading? A customer wrote to us tonight and reported he'd drilled into /Applications and with two swift and deft moves recovered over 400 MB of disk free space that was sucked up by pure junk. Almost 50 MB of this was .DS_Store. And this was a Leopard system where Arno's idiot code was supposedly finally fixed. And sure he must have done a lot of poking around with the unfixed FF. But 50 MB? And .DS_Store you can always get rid of - so far - but other files you can't. Start taking the junk out of shitty apps and reclaiming your own HDD and these apps can break. 'Code signing' so far has a sole effect: it glues shite to your hard drives whether you like it or not, SUCKA.

It's code signing for the iPhone where despite heavy criticism and questioning Apple seem intent on letting every blasted app run as root; code signing represents a bit of a band-aid over a serious wound: it's better than nothing but realistically the more traditional solutions offer both better all around safety and better user friendliness. Porting it to OS X where everything does not run as root is so far something the jury is still out on (but royally pissed off at).

All told people are left in a funny place. So many things with Leopard look dazzling but the system is simply not finished. A lot of people were shocked to learn a beta they'd been testing - and found a lot to be alarmed at - was going to the GM release. Here it is. It's in time for the holiday season. Will it swamp in stores to the hoped for detriment of the borg? Maybe. Maybe potential customers will start seeing through the hype and finally notice the seams aren't that good and not sewn in so prettily either.

Should they still invest in Apple computer hardware? Uh - what's the alternative?

But don't get your hopes up too high. OS X started peeking out the door in the year 2000; it wasn't until two and one half years later it could be called complete and acceptable.

But that was 10.2. If you pay another $129 for each 'X' 'upgrade' it could be a long (and expensive) wait.

Buy Tiger and make sure you don't lose your copy.

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