Mmmm... Tiger-licious.

Tuesday, 2005-05-03; 13:07:00

Tiger! Tiger! Tiger!

So I've been running Tiger since Friday. I like it. A lot. I think it's a bigger step up, and not necessarily in the flashy Apple-website-worthy features. There are so many tiny, little improvements that it makes Tiger so much more worth it.

First off, I'd just like to note a few little things about my setup. I'm still running on my now two-and-a-half years old 17" iMac G4 (it turns three in August or September). I also did a clean install: originally when I got my iMac, I formatted it to have three partitions. The first was R2D2, which is 10 GiB in size, and was intended for the Mac OS X system. The second was C3P0, 2.5 GiB, intended for an installation of Mac OS 9 or a slim installation of Mac OS X. The last was around 62 GiB, HAL 9000, intended for applications, documents, music, etc -- basically everything else. (My hard drive is 80 GB, which is about 76 GiB. Don't ask me where the other 1.5 GiB went.)

I usually do this when I get a new comp. The reason is because partitions make it so that you can have multiple installations of Mac OS X on one computer (something you can't do with only one partition). It also makes disk repair much easier, because if one partition is damaged, you can use another to repair the damaged one.

Anyway... I quickly realized that this wasn't the optimal solution, because your home folder always resides on the same partition as your system, so you have to store a lot of stuff on the other partitions. I'm a horrendous neat-freak on my computer, so I like almost everything encapsulated in my home folder (except for applications and games). Therefore, when I upgraded to Panther, I did an erase install on HAL 9000, and let R2D2 house an older version of Mac OS X (for development purposes) and C3P0 house Mac OS 9 or a slim Mac OS X as usual.

On Friday, I decided I wanted to upgrade, but I didn't want to lose my old installation in case something went wrong. So I decided to go back to my original setup: Tiger is now back on R2D2, and Panther is still on HAL 9000. (I'll probably keep Panther around for development purposes, and MAYBE Jaguar on C3P0, but I'm certainly not going to be worrying about developing for Mac OS X 10.1 anymore.)

The way I got around the limitations of this setup is to go into NetInfo Manager and to specify the home folder location. So now Tiger automatically looks to HAL 9000 for the home folder. (This also has the benefit that my preferences are now preserved across operating systems. Woo!)

To sum up, here's what my config looked like from Jaguar to Tiger. The hard drive highlighted in red is the startup drive:

My partition setup under Jaguar
setup under Jaguar

My partition setup under Panther
setup under Panther

My partition setup under Tiger
setup under Tiger

The reason I bring this up is because using NetInfo to relocate my home folder might bring with it some minor glitches. I'm not sure if it does or not, but I thought I'd just let you know.

If you do upgrade to Tiger (and I suggest you do), I'd recommend doing an Archive and Install. The only problem with that is it won't leave your previous system intact, something that was unacceptable in my case.

Anyway, here are my observations:

-- Spotlight is great, and despite the simple user interface, you can actually do more specific searches by entering something like "Tiger kind:PDF". (Hee hee: "No, Spotlight isn't totally psychic about the files your colleagues will send someday. Rather, use next month, week and year for finding upcoming calendar appointments.)
-- It's so cool that Spotlight will find your e-mail messages for you without having to open up Mail.
-- You can add arbitrary tags to any file for Spotlight to use simply by writing in the "Spotlight Comments" section of the Get Info window. (This actually just seems to be the same Comments field, only with a name change.)
-- Spotlight is pretty fast. I say "pretty" because I was hoping to use it as a sort of launcher: type Command-Space, "Calculator", Command-Enter to open the Calculator. Unfortunately, you usually have to wait a second or two. Still, this might take some things off my Dock.
-- The Dock seems to store location information based on file path, rather than finding the actual file you dragged to the Dock. For example, all the Apple applications that I had in the Dock now point to the new applications for Tiger. (This is because the path for Safari, for example, is "/Applications/" no matter whether I'm in Tiger or Panther.) In this case, this was really neat because I didn't need to repopulate my Dock with the new Apple applications.
-- The Finder now updates any changes on the file system immediately. Before it usually waited for you to click on the folder before refreshing it.
-- The Finder doesn't choke when previewing movies for which it doesn't have a codec. It does choke for a few seconds, though, when initially starting to display it.
-- Startup is LOADS faster on Tiger than even on Panther. Definitely a noticeable change: my iMac now boots up and logs in in under a minute. Before it took about a minute and a half.
-- A graphing calculator, Grapher, is now included by default in Mac OS X. Score!
-- Mail 2.0 seems much faster to me, especially when trying to retrieve messages.
-- iDisk access is still glacially slow for some reason.
-- Dashboard's cool: having a calculator and other widgets at the flick of a mouse or the click of a key is much nicer than having to wait for the Calculator app to start up.
-- QuickTime's fullscreen feature is really nice: it has transparent controls that fade in when you move your mouse, and fade out when your mouse has been idle for a few seconds. Too bad you still need QT Pro 7 in order to be able to use full screen. (Well, actually, this isn't strictly true, because you can use an AppleScript to activate fullscreen even if you don't have QT Pro, which is neat I guess.)
-- My iMac won't support 3 or 4-way video chatting. It won't even support initiating a 10-way audio conference. I can, however, participate in a 10-way conference and initiate/participate in a 1-way video chat. I still have yet to try out the 10-way audio chat. (Any takers? :) )
-- My iMac also doesn't support Core Image or Core Video. No sweet ripple effect in Dashboard for me. :(
-- The printer queue applications (the ones that pop up when you print something) now store logs of what you've printed. Cool!
-- The Dock now has "Remove from Dock" and "Open at login" menu items.
-- The menubar doesn't look flat anymore. It has a shinier, more gum-droppy look. The small gray bar that makes it look shiny is the most noticeable, and I thought I had something dirtying up my screen at first. Take a close look:

Tiger menu bar

-- screenshots now default to PNG format rather than PDF
-- iDisk transfers now correctly report how much has been transferred. Before, it used to "copy" the file in a matter of seconds, and then take a few minutes to "close the file" (when it was actually copying the file during that time).
-- Lots of other numerous changes too small to list here.


-- Mail plays the "new mail" sound twice when you get new mail.
-- The Finder doesn't automatically update the sorting in column view mode after renaming a file. It's not a big deal: you just have to navigate to a different folder for a sec, and then navigate back.
-- Stupid iTunes. After upgrading, I can't connect to the iTMS. I tried reinstalling iTunes, but still no dice. Hopefully iTunes 4.8 or Mac OS X 10.4.1 will fix the problem.

Glitches that went away after the first restart:

-- The Finder wouldn't let me put the Applications folder from both R2D2 and HAL 9000 in the sidebar.
-- The Dock wouldn't let me put my home folder from HAL 9000 in the Dock when the un-used home folder from R2D2 was already in the Dock.
-- Spotlight searches were glacially slow. (No, this wasn't related to the initial indexing of my hard drives.)Spotlight also kept trying to re-index C3P0 multiple times.

(I believe these final glitches are related to my setup.)

Needless to say, I think Tiger rocks. Good for $129, especially since I'm a developer. :)

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