Convince me to buy Leopard
October 16, 2007 3:23 PM   Subscribe

Why should I buy Leopard?

For the most part I'm more than happy with my MacBook Pro's current setup (10.4.1) Should I buy Leopard? Yes, yes, we all know about the Vista-esque graphical changes, but how many of the touted 300 features will actually improve functionality? An example would be a replacement of Preview (ugh,) which they seem to have with the new Quick Look, but I'm not entirely convinced.

So please, Hivemind, give me examples (bonus for documentation that I can read about and drool over!) of improved functionality, something nerds like me are happy to hear about rather than new iChat images and Mail stationary (woopie! /sarcasm)
posted by InsanePenguin to Computers & Internet (30 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
I'm in the same boat as you... no compelling reason to upgrade yet.

FYI, Preview is updated, with smoother scrolling and PDF annotations and authoring functions. Safari 3.0 is cool. Boot Camp is great for Half-Life 2. That's about it for me.

The real reason to upgrade will be (hopefully) the cool applications that are Leopard-only. But even the application I'm writing (slowly) will be Tiger-capable.
posted by infinitewindow at 3:32 PM on October 16, 2007

Yeah, the "300 new features" thing is just a load of marketing BS. I'm sure there will be some cool new stuff, but come on -- six of the "features" are new screen savers. Give me a break.

The Apple Blog tried to address the Leopard question just this morning. They think you should buy it, but I think they made a pretty poor case -- the new Finder is neat, but certainly not upgrade-worthy in and of itself, and they seem to just cherry-pick a bunch of other random-ass features (random ass-features?).

I'm most excited to see what developers do with Core Animation, and how big of an improvement the 64-bit applications are. Also, I guess the Tiger Boot Camp beta will expire and I'll want Leopard eventually just so I can keep using my Windows partition. Even so, I'll definitely be waiting for a while to upgrade this time around.
posted by danb at 3:36 PM on October 16, 2007

Best answer: had a pretty good thread going on why were there readers going to upgrade. Check the comments on that post to see what their readers said.

Being an Apple Campus Rep I have to upgrade, but I'm pretty excited about it anyway. Finder is finally getting some improvements and preview is also getting a much needed update. The big update for me is gunna be Time Machine though. Built in backup is great, especially when you are a poor college kid who doesn't want to shell out any money for stuff like SuperDuper (which by the way is super-duper, even in its' trial version).

If you are unsure though, I'd say wait it out for a few days or weeks and see what everyone who will be waiting in line for it (ex: me) says about it.
posted by zacharyseibert at 3:38 PM on October 16, 2007

Heck, I'm still using Panther quite happily. Unless you're rich and don't care, you'll find lots of people who don't succumb to consumption on demand.
posted by loiseau at 3:47 PM on October 16, 2007

10.4.1? Why haven't you updated 10.4?
posted by caitlinb at 3:51 PM on October 16, 2007

I'm betting he means 10.4.10.
posted by Mo Nickels at 3:53 PM on October 16, 2007

As someone using still using 10.3 (Panther) I can't say much, but I was looking forward to Leopard for a lot of the little changes it does such as Folder Sharing, Better Previews, Path Bar (as an option), Back to my Mac, improvements in iCal, simple PDF manipulation in Preview, Safari 3.0, which lets you resize any text area on a web page, like the incredibly small ones on Metafilter, virtual desktops and of course, Boot Camp. Nothing earthshattering per se, but it seems like many small improvements to make things better.

I'm just miffed that there doesn't seem to be a way to update to 10.5 if you buy 10.4 now (just the software, not hardware), which was my master plan all along.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:54 PM on October 16, 2007

Response by poster: Yeah, I meant 10.4.10, sorry for the confusion. I tend to leave off the zeroes, bad habit for a nerd.
posted by InsanePenguin at 3:58 PM on October 16, 2007

I'm just miffed that there doesn't seem to be a way to update to 10.5 if you buy 10.4 now

Why would you buy 10.4 if you want to upgrade to 10.5? It's a paid upgrade, not a free update.
posted by kirkaracha at 4:01 PM on October 16, 2007

I'll be getting it right away, but I suspect most of the advantages of Leopard are in the realm of letting developers do more than they could before. In a year, we're going to see a LOT of apps with innovative features that are Leopard only, i'd wager.
posted by John Kenneth Fisher at 4:06 PM on October 16, 2007

I would hold off from installing it right away - I sometimes hear rumbling from the Mac software community that some apps may experience problems under the new Leopard until they're updated.
posted by puddpunk at 4:19 PM on October 16, 2007

Why would you buy 10.4 if you want to upgrade to 10.5?

For the computer that can't run 10.5.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:36 PM on October 16, 2007

From what I can see, the biggest improvement in Leopard is the seamless 64-bit support.

This is a lot harder than it sounds. In all the other 64-bit operating systems (including Windows and Linux), you have sort of a bipartite computer... 64-bit apps call 64-bit libraries and talk with other 64-bit apps, and 32-bit apps talk to and call only other 32-bit apps. So you end up with this very weird setup with dual libraries, and when you install software for some programs, it won't work with others. For instance, in Windows, 32-bit ActiveX controls will not run in 64-bit Internet Explorer. On Linux, to use the Acrobat plugin, you have to run a 32-bit version of your web browser. Like that.

I've read that Apple has developed this very neat method of automatically using the same libraries and same communication protocols between 64- and 32-bit apps, so you don't have to think about or even have a clue that they're different. You just run them, and they just work. Programs tie into each other seamlessly, no matter what bit length they're written for. This is a very difficult problem, which apparently they've solved extremely well. They've also updated everything in the OS to be fully 64-bit, meaning that you'll be able to put crazy amounts of memory in any Mac and have it just be used, with very little effort.

The thing is, this isn't very visible yet. This was a huge amount of work, but it's plumbing, and you can't see it. They did it better than anyone else has, but "things not being inconvenient" is a hard thing to put on marketing materials. :) Between that and the iPhone development, they haven't had as many developer hours to put into glitzy features, and it shows.

There's also a LOT of stuff for developers. You can kind of think of this as a 'plumbing' release; they're fixing up the foundations to allow better construction on top, but basement work is almost never sexy.

So, should you actually buy it? The 64-bit transition is a big deal for some people, but for most users.... meh. It won't matter much until next year, when we really start hitting the 4gb limit hard; most folks this year are still at 2gb, and most of the current Macs can't go past 3. There wouldn't seem to be much of a rush to upgrade. If they'd gotten full read/write ZFS, I'd have told you to switch, but as is.... eh, you can wait awhile. By next year, there will be new apps that will require Leopard to work, so you might reconsider then.

From my perspective, I plan to buy it right away, precisely because I appreciate the nonsexy plumbing work. I tend not to want my OSes to have flashy features, but I like it very much when they spend that much effort on making sure things don't break. So I definitely plan to reward them with my dollars.

Oh, I just thought of one more thing: the Bootcamp beta expires at the end of the year, so if you still want to be able to create Bootcamp partitions, you'll have to upgrade after December 31. You can keep booting your existing partitions, but you won't be able to make new ones or get driver updates unless you buy Leopard.
posted by Malor at 4:38 PM on October 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


In relation to SuperDuper! :

Carbon Copy Cloner is just as good, and fully functional as downloaded. The programmer asks for donations, but does not cripple the software, as is the case with the SuperDuper! demo.

Without the ability to update an existing backup (rather than make a whole new one from scratch) the SuperDuper! demo isn't too useful.
posted by sindark at 4:44 PM on October 16, 2007

I bought my MacBook Pro on Oct 2, so I'm getting the $9.95 upgrade mailed to me. As for what I personally find compelling:

BootCamp final
FTFF (Fix The Fucking Finder)
Core Image and Core Video (or apps that use them, rather)
Scripting bridge looks sorta interesting

Totally worth the 10 bucks!

If the Finder is finally able to handle networking gracefully, I'd seriously consider paying $129.
posted by Scoo at 4:46 PM on October 16, 2007

Earyl adopter = beta tester

wait till 10.55
posted by lalochezia at 5:16 PM on October 16, 2007

dammmit early, not earyl
posted by lalochezia at 5:17 PM on October 16, 2007

Scoo: I have tested the infamous "change networks without disconnecting from network volume" issue, and it didn't hang.

The finder window displaying the volume had a little gear in it showing that it had hung, but the rest of the finder was responsive, i could launch apps, etc. After a few seconds, a dialogue around that window popped up saying that the volume was unavailable and prompted to disconnect (this was in old builds too, so they may have gotten more elegant).

Other features that I really like:
Built in screen sharing (I have to help my dad with his machine, i have access to ARD, but I like being able to do it without it).

Time Machine (see previous thread, it is limited to AFP shares and HFS+ formatted disks)

Spaces is slick

PDF's loading in safari 3 don't hang it, i loaded a 2 meg pdf in it in seconds, scrolling was great, and it displayed the pdf properly. Also you have an floating tool bar like quicktime to zoom in / out, open in preview or save to downloads, when you mouse to the bottom of the window.

Terminal is nicely updated, its like iterm, but I prefer trying to use the default applications, since I tend to move from system to system a lot. You can use tabs, set a default window set that includes different profiles for each tab. So I can have a window set that is all tabs set to ssh into different servers i manage, so i can hope on them quickly.

NetInfo is gone.

You can still map your home folder to an external drive or seperate partition (useful if you want to boot different versions of the OS, but keep the same home folder, ie testing). You can change UID and all sorts of other stuff you had to dig into NetInfo Manager for before.

While the GUI and other pretty things are what are attracting (distracting?) people, there are some pretty serious under the hood changes also, that you don't notice right away, but I keep getting suprised (i've also avoided a majority for the sneak peeks, etc. just to see if there were things I would notice on my own).

Also, most of this testing was on an iBook G4 1ghz with 1gb ram. Not a new machine, and just a smidge above the minimum requirements now (G4 867). I wont go as far to say that it felt like a new machine, but it definitely didn't feel slower, and in some cases (PDF and Preview in general) it was preforming significantly better then 10.4.

I've already ordered the family pack so I can upgrade mine and my families machines over Christmas break (I get to beta it for them until then, the joys of being family IT support).
posted by mrzarquon at 5:20 PM on October 16, 2007

I agree with others who say it's what 10.5 will make possible for developers. I know that a number of high-profile indie developers have software waiting in the wings that depend on the libraries in 10.5 (and there was much gnashing of teeth when 10.5 was delayed). So I do expect to see Cool Stuff coming down the pike. Whether that will affect you or not is another question. Time Machine by itself seems pretty compelling.

When 10.4 came out, the thing that prompted me to buy it was a much-improved version of Quicksilver—that was a toy I wanted to play with. It'll probably be the same with 10.5 for me.
posted by adamrice at 5:28 PM on October 16, 2007

I have access to Leopard through the Apple Developer Connection. I won't mention an specific features, but I will say that Leopard improves the overall user experience in about a hundred different little wait. I'm very much looking forward to the release of the golden master so I can move to it full time. Unless you're living paycheck to paycheck, you won't regret the purchase.
posted by alms at 5:47 PM on October 16, 2007

For the computer that can't run 10.5.

posted by kirkaracha at 6:19 PM on October 16, 2007

Spaces. VirtueDesktops is no longer being developed.
posted by purephase at 6:47 PM on October 16, 2007

I bought my Macbook on the 4th, so I only have to pay $10 for Leopard. So, it's kind of a no-brainer for me. But, even so, it has great value.

As a programmer (though only a neophyte Mac hacker), the drop-in feature I'm looking most forward to is a vastly superior memory system (both virtual and real). I read that it was supposed to have vastly superior performance in terms of reduced memory fragmentation and page faults.

I hadn't heard about the unification of the 32-bit/64-bit universe. If they have pulled that off, I'll certainly consider them mighty wizards (or at least I will whomever they bought it from). The dark wall of bit-sex vexes and irritates me on a daily basis on my beloved linux box. Linking dynamic libaries between 64- and 32-bit builds is a sonofabitch.

All of the other features seem to be developer-enabling (how ironic, given their behavior toward would-be iPhone hackers). I'm looking forward to those, given that I'll likely start programming this operating system soon.
posted by Netzapper at 7:05 PM on October 16, 2007

I have a Macbook with 2 gigs of RAM and a 2 ghz core 2 duo, and I probably won't upgrade, because everything works perfectly now, and I'm afraid that the new eye candy will slow things down.

But I used to be a Windows user, so this may just be a force of habit.
posted by 4ster at 7:20 PM on October 16, 2007

It's not one of the "300 new features" that are being marketed, but a feature I've been looking forward to is pervasive resolution independence. That is to say, breaking the assumption that monitors are displaying images at 72 dpi. This should make the interface much more scalable, so that you don't wind up with impossible-to-read menus on your 1920 x 1080 screen. Particularly if that screen happens to be a 42" HDTV that you'd like to connect a Mini to, and use from 10 feet away. What's not clear to me is whether control of system-wide scaling factors is available to the user, or if it's merely something developers can hook into. I'm assuming by now that it's the latter, else Apple would mention it as one of the 300. So, it's probably just more of Malor's plumbing. Bodes well for third-party ten foot interfaces, though.

So, in the world of not-plumbing ... I'm looking forward to Spaces (my 12" powerbook doesn't nearly have the screen real estate I'd like, rather the opposite of the HDTV problem), the remote desktop-sharing functionality of the new iChat, a much more robust iCal, and long-needed improvements to file sharing via the Finder. I'm also a user interface whore, so I'm eager to familiarize myself with the latest and (potentially) greatest from Apple's UI peeps. Doubtless there will be quantum improvements and newly-introduced flaws, but you can't dispute that Apple's design sense, both static and interactive, influences the rest of the market. For me, grokking the new metaphors that they're pushing is reason enough to update.
posted by mumkin at 8:15 PM on October 16, 2007

I'm not upgrading... it seems like a minor update on the surface level, and the below-the-surface changes aren't something I would really take advantage of.. I don't use any of the things they're upgrading, and I don't see any use for the things they're adding. I'm sticking with 10.4.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 9:40 PM on October 16, 2007

I'm not even sure it was worth upgrading to 10.4. And that was on the student discount price.
posted by smackfu at 10:27 PM on October 16, 2007

I think from a user perspective there isn't that much super awesome stuff coming down the pipe line. That said, Developers have been frothing about how great Leopard is for them. A lot of applications are using features that are Leopard only, and as such, you'd need to upgrade if you want to upgrade these applications. Off the top of my head, I know TextMate 2.0 will be Leopard only, as will Delicious Monster 2.0.

If you have a new Intel mac, I suspect it will run faster as well.
posted by chunking express at 7:08 AM on October 17, 2007

In a year, we're going to see a LOT of apps with innovative features that are Leopard only, i'd wager.

You'll see a lot within hours of the release, actually. Remember, developers have been coding for Leopard for months now.
posted by sudama at 9:03 AM on October 17, 2007

Just as a followup: it appears, from other things I've seen, that I am wrong about the 32/64 bit unification. Leopard wraps them all together into one file on disk, but inside the DLLs are actually four separate, distinct things.... 32-bit intel, 64-bit intel, 32-bit ppc, and 64-bit ppc. And it looks like the Mac will have the same kinds of problems that Windows and Linux will with the transition.

My apologies for the incorrect information.
posted by Malor at 8:24 PM on November 5, 2007

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