Friday, November 09, 2007

Leopard - as bad as Vista but the hype is ten times worse :(

As you might know from this post, during the last weeks one of the most pleasant surprises that I have had was the new Ubuntu 7.10 Gutsy Gibbon - finally a Linux that works really well on my X300! And since that set me in the mood for experimenting more exotic operating systems, I have decided to also take a look at the "latest and greatest" from Apple - OSX 10.5 Leopard.

The 'test bench' was an iBook G4 with 1 GB RAM - a computer almost 2 years newer than my Dell X300 yet in so many ways inferior (with the only excuse it was about half of the price compared at the moment when both were new) - and since that iBook G4 1.33 GHz still is probably the second or third fastest ever 12'' model from Apple (after the 12'' Powerbook 1.5GHz, which is only MARGINALLY faster) the results of my tests are a perfect description of THE BEST performance you should expect from Leopard on a PowerPC notebook from Apple!

Since you have probably seen by now the title of the post I will not delay the main result any longer - on the older non-Intel notebooks Leopard is SLOW and unimpressive - just like Vista on older machines :)

Booting to the point where everything stops freaking the HDD is almost twice slower than with Tiger (and in the same range as the PPC version of Ubuntu - more details on that towards the end of this post) and I HATE WITH EXTREME PASSION the new dock (and to a lesser extent the transparent menu) - fortunately " defaults write no-glass -boolean YES ; killall Dock" will make it usable again :)

As long as you are not starting a lot of programs the performance is again OK - but starting a program that now has the same code 4 times (from which only one is usable on your machine) was definitely not the best way to make things faster; and again the new Spotlight seems intrusive, and on top of that FSEvents are written to disk even if Time Machine is NOT activated so no surprise that everything feels SLOOOW !

So the very first piece of advice on upgrading your PowerPC machine to Leopard is just that - DON'T !!! Just put those money towards buying a new Intel machine - since yet again Apple has certainly screwed its customers.

If you MUST upgrade just be certain that you first make a backup copy of all your Tiger system - if you do that wisely on a FireWire HDD you can boot it from there (and even restore it back when you become bored with Leopard). And since we are talking about external HDD drives - get a HUGE one - you will soon need it with Time Machine :)

Almost everything that was hyped in Leopard was a huge disappointment - Spaces is a rather pathetic virtual desktop manager (you don't even get a different wallpaper / icons on each desktop - something that I had in the virtual desktop manager that I use in Windows since around 2000; and also is totally lame the way how the order of windows and the active/focus window is NOT remembered on each desktop).

Time Machine is also nothing less than the 'Apple marketing distortion field' in action - not only was a rather similar feature present since Windows Server 2003 and in the consumer market with Vista about one year ahead of Leopard - but the Windows version is also more convenient - since it does NOT require a separate HDD (just like with the two buttons mouse the MacMorons seem to want to carry a lot of extra luggage with their notebooks - recently I have seen one almost crying when he discovered how helpless he was without his external mouse; and now I guess people will also start carrying extern HDDs to get Time Machine working ???). Also in Vista people can have the better Time Machine (ok, it's called unsexy - Volume Shadow Copy) OVER NETWORK - so again - when was the last time when the MacMorons really had anything valid to say ??? The only good thing about Time Machine will be that the 'marketing pressure' might make Microsoft move some of the better features from the Server on normal machines but other than that ... And two other ways in which Time Machine is PATHETIC - the user interface is AWFULLY SMALL (since 'oh so shiny-looking' was far more important than actual usability - it always is with MacIdiots) and I also see in the near future a lot of morons discovering that they don't get ANY recovery for changes that take place when the backup HDD is not plugged-in (which should be kind of obvious even for the typical Mac user) but also even with that HDD plugged-in you don't get the versions between backups (which is 1 hour at best)!!!

So yes, Apple missed a HUGE opportunity here - the actual way for the perfect Time Machine would be something that I will call (and try to trademark :)) ) 'The Versioning Machine' - Apple could have done something like that by moving entirely to ZFS but that was not the case so I guess that now Linux has the very first chance to do something like that ... and it might be possible that even the always-slow Microsoft might get ahead even more in that matter ...

So to sum all Leopard stuff on older PowerPC systems - 'nothing exciting' - and you know that is the case when the only new feature that I REALLY liked was the official Apple support for generating a right-click when tapping with two fingers :)

And since I had the external FireWire HDD handy I also decided to test the status of the latest PowerPC Linux - I have tested Ubuntu 7.10 and Fedora 8 but making those work from the external HDD was quite a struggle - Fedora 8 is still not starting at this point but helped in starting Ubuntu (which has a strange problem in yabootconfig) - Ubuntu is almost usable but the Broadcom-based WiFi is still a problem and power-management is far from perfect - but the 3D effects are better than in OSX :) With Ubuntu you should also keep in mind that F12 is a trackpad right-click, F11 middle-click and FN+Delete is the actual Del key. The preliminary verdict is that overall I kind of like Ubuntu on the iBook (uBook :) ) - but generally you can not expect a lot of support for an architecture that Apple pretty much buried so the future of that is far from bright ... (and a final mini-prediction - in 2 years all support for PowerPC 32 from Apple will be gone - meaning NO OS support, maybe the same in 3-4 years for the 64 bit version).


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