Leopard debriefing

Well, that’s it. Leopard’s now been installed.

Of course, I had to be bitten at least on one machine by the now-famous blue screen problem. I don’t even remember when or why I had APE installed, but I went on trying the archive-and-install option before even reading about the bug on the web, and everything worked fine.

It would be foolish to try to come up with a complete review of Leopard, as John Siracusa’s is now online and cover everything you could think of and more. Since this is my own space I still can list my own, biased, personal, subjective items of note:

  • Contrary to my prior assumptions, Time Machine is a HUGE DEAL. It takes a stressful, error-prone, boring administrative task and turns it into an easy, fun and open process. The system now basically takes care of backups for you in a totally unobstrusive way. Yes, the graphical interface looks foolish, but that’s the genius of it – how else would you actually *want* to delve into file archiving? And since the backups are just plain file hierarchies, you are still free to roam and wander inside your backup anyway you want, Finder and Terminal welcome. It rightly deserves the top spot among new features.
  • Quick Look seems less important, but only after a couple of times using it you quickly realize how super-fast file viewing can be important in day-to-day use.
  •  Spotlight has become so fast it’s scary. The wanted results appear faster than it takes to find the right keys to hit. The full Spotlight results window now opens in the finder, where you can apply nested boolean filters – file search doesn’t get much better than this.
  • Lots of things that made you go “ugh” in Tiger now sport a much more pleasant design – the Network or Sharing preference panes come to mind, but iCal is a good example too (no more editing in the drawer! No more drawer! Yay!).
  • I don’t really have strong feeling towards the new look of the Dock. I actually find the Downloads stack to be pretty useful, coupled with the fan view. It makes it easier to open just-downloaded files, instead of having to open windows and move them around.
  • The new finder is still inconsistent but I find it slightly easier to navigate.
  • Two great improvements for nerds (i.e. like me): virtual desktops and multi-tab terminal.
  • Even if you don’t think these user features are worth it, the list of under-the-hood changes is very impressive and comforting: DTrace, Metadata everywhere, ACL, garbage-collection in Objective-C, Core Animation, 64 bit, dynamically-allocated virtual memory (no more 6GB file on disk), file system notifications… These together create a very powerful architecture, which will allow the development of optimized, stable and feature-rich applications.
  • You can now use your Google Talk account in iChat. While perhaps not ground-breaking in itself, system-wide status integration means you can see which Gtalk contacts are online in Apple Mail or Addressbook. Mix that with the new IMAP access for Gmail, and you can forget the web interface altogether (if that’s what you want).
  • No crash yet 🙂
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