Running Snow Leopard (Mac OS X 10.6): a First Run Quick Review (updated)

snow leopard review, logo, 10.6

Update 3-2-09: iStat Menus 2.0 is now available. Download.

Update 3-1-09: Cyberduck has a beta working with SN.

Update 8-28-09: SHIPPED. Here is ZDNet Update on the 64-bit kernel questions and CNet’s review with video overview.

Update 8-27-09: SHIPPING TOMORROW: Gizmodo has a nice benchmarking review on Snow Leopard. YES IT IS FASTER.

Update 8-24-09: ZDNet Reports Snow Leopard will ship this Friday, August 28th, ahead of schedule. See report.

Update 8-23-09: Okay so the shut down, start up and sleep times are amazingly different and BETTER. For the most part the machine drops off to sleep in about 5 seconds where it used to think about it a bit longer before. (Don’t get me started about Windows suspend timing. Yuk!) And here’s a funny one. It seems that Snow Leopard isn’t running the 64-bit kernel out of the gate. You actually have to start-up with the “6” and “4” keys held down. (WTF?) I know this is a developer license, but that seems odd. Something about troubleshooting and some apps that might not be ready for the full 64. So I’ve been doing the “64 finger salute” and noticed no real difference. Again, no crashes, and not amazing new features all add up to be… 100% good. Just not overwhelmingly GREAT. So now I’m looking for the killer app or something that’s gonna give me the jazz I was imagining from Snow Leopard. It just works.

Update 8-18-09: Other than the few apps that quit working after installing Snow Leopard I haven’t run into any problems. At the same time, I haven’t really noticed anything. So if you are waiting to see exciting new features, I kinda was, you’re gonna be in for a bit of a bummer. Nothin to it, but also, nothin to it.

What in the world possessed me to install snow leopard today I don’t know. I was working on a complicated WordPress migration project for a client and something just called to me. It’s kind of like a collision course: work to do and a Sunday afternoon with time to burn. And in spite of my own knowledge that things would break and time would be lost, I still pushed the install button. After a full time-machine backup I must add. But once you’re committed there’s no turning back.

45 minutes later it’s all done. Seems pretty much the same. And if you look at Apple’s page about the new version of OS X you will see that it’s all about performance. So that’s the reasoning for me. I want to be the first, or at least after the golden master is available, to get top-speed performance. [grin]

So here’s what happened.

Several of my favorite apps and widgets broke right off the bat. Nothing major, but one of them set me back another hour.

First off my favorite widget that adds amazing statistical data to the menu bar, iStat Menus, has not been updated for Snow Leopard yet.

istat menus, snow leopard review

So nothing really important. But I miss my real-time display of the temperature of my Core 2 Duo chip and the speed of my fans. Real geek stuff. I can do without. But did change the preference in the iStat application to check for updates on a daily basis.  Update 8-31-09: Here is the beta of iStat Menus.

The second app that failed was Cyberduck. Now this one is critical path for the work I do on the web. It is free FTP client for the mac. So when I was needing to make some root changes to the files controlling my blog this afternoon, post upgrade, I clicked and clicked on Cyberduck but it failed to launch. Somehow the ducky knew he was not ready to run with the Leopards.

cyberduck, snow leopard review

And in searching for a replacement app, I didn’t really want to pay for something else. So I downloaded an old friend Fetch. Now a commercial app, but with a 15 day trial. [wOOt!] I was in.

fetch, snow leopard review

But then the snag. All my preferences and settings and … ug … passwords for the sites I manage. Well, it didn’t take that long, but I was sooooo set with Cyberduck that I kicked myself for about 15 minutes as I reconfigured for Fetch. And then I had to rewire the editing preferences for my code changes to go my favorite uber-editer TextWrangler.

text wrangler, snow leopard review

So what TW from BareBones does so well is what is known as round-trip editing.

From within Cyberduck Fetch I can double click on a file, in this case a troublesome .htaccess settings file, and it transfers to my temp code folder and opens in TextWrangler. When I “save to server” it saves the file back up to the remote server and overwrites the original.

And the last issue I encountered was my bluetooth keyboard lost it’s way until I used the bluetooth preferences and reset the connection.

And that was pretty much the fix, thus far, that I’ve had to work through in my 5 hours or so running Snow Leopard.

And I am not noticing too many differences. I know there are a ton of them, but they are mostly under the covers. Here are a couple screenies of two things.

dock behavior, snow leopard review
The dock's click-hold preferences have more options


new screenshot format, snow leopard review
Screenshots have unique names based on date and time

So that will keep things a bit more organized. I shoot a lot of screenshots during the course of a week. Now I can drop them into my “screenies” folder and they won’t overwrite “image 01.png” and so on.

Seriously, that’s all I’ve noticed thus far.

better, easier, faster, snow leopard review

Oh, wait, there was one more thing. Once the install was ready to go, it started overwriting my current 10.5 install without any major reboots. There’s a blurb about the new install process:

more reliable, snow leopard review

And this…

smaller footprint, snow leopard review

So Snow Leopard is actually giving you back 6 gigs of space. Having just upgraded my HD to a 500 gig 7200 rpm seagate I wasn’t too concerned about that, but… Here’s to an upgrade that is smaller and faster and more reliable. And a lot cheaper than WIN7. But gosh, I sure hope WIN7 is better than Vista, cause we could really use a healthy tech sector right now to help us mosey on out of this recession.

I’m about to test one of the touted features right now, but I’ll have to let you know about it tomorrow.

faster shutdowns, snow leopard review
Faster to shutdown and wake up.

Shutting down now.

Updated the next morning: Okay so it does shut down much faster! And I’d say the reboot is quicker, but not noticeably so. But sleep and wake-up are much better.


Gizmodo has a nice snow leopard benchmarking review:  Snow Leopard Review: Lightened and Enlightened

See also: iStat Menus Beta, up and running in Snow Leopard.

This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. I agree that snow shutdown more quickly.. but I haven't seen any difference in time to mount/unmount.. and files copy… I honestly had to go come here read your review so I can spot what have been changed lol..

  2. Snow Leopard in full 64 bit mode is much snappier in my perception. You have to hold down the 6 and 4 keys on reboot.

  3. Snow Leopard in full 64 bit mode is much snappier in my perception. You have to hold down the 6 and 4 keys on reboot.

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