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Posted on October 4, 2009 at 11:05 am

One month with Snow Leopard: the first aftermath

It’s been a month today since I installed Snow Leopard on my MacBook Pro 15″ unibody (late 2008) with 4 GB of RAM.
Final judgement?
It simply works, and slightly better indeed!

A few features I loved and checked with ‘real life’ test drive (on a unibody MacBook too, thx Alex!):

Installation process

Installation process is truly pain-free and foolproof: no fear, no complex settings, no need to be OS X-skilled! Just put in the Snow Leopard DVD, double click and wait!

Installation time

Installation time: it took less than 30 minutes on the MBP and a little more on the MB.
I guess the worst part of it goes with the slowness of DVD read cycles.

Don’t touch my settings!

All settings were preserved, no data loss, no settings loss!
I found each and every icon, Finder settings, Safari cookies, documents and application history…
Just as I switched off Leopard and switched it on again: apparently no sign of 10.6 intervention!

Blazingly-fast boot time

Boot time: my MBP now takes 45″ (yes, that’s 45 seconds!) from ‘pressing the ON button’ up to ‘full operating computer’ with a desktop that’s (still, my fault) cluttered with icons! With Leopard, as far as I can recall it took at least 1’40″…
On the MacBook it takes a little more, going near to one minute to get a fully working Mac.
Try that on a Win-based PC 😉

(Disk) Space: the final frontier

Before installing Snow Leopard on my MBP, I managed to get 17 GB of free space (out of the 250 GB size of the internal HD). After installing Snow Leopard, free disk space jumped to 25 GB!
It’s the first time ever in my (computer) life I ever see an operating system upgrade that frees (that much) space!

Browser wars

I confess… I’m a hungry Firefox user with tons of FF windows and tabs always taking up more CPU % than what’s available 😉 and I’m used to Safari just as a second-choice browser (work with a lot of FF plug-ins, BTW).
Now that Safari is the only (AFAIK) 64-bit browser available on my Mac, I see that the same amount of opened web sites on both browsers gives Safari a clear edge over FF!
CPU % and memory usage is a lot more efficient!
I guess here’s where Grand Central Dispatch (GCD) gets nasty and makes the difference.

Anyway, Xmas wishlist: please, bring me Firefox 64-bit!

Airport status menu

At last, the Airport status menu gives the only information a Mac-road-warrior needs: Wi-Fi signal strength before attempting to hook a wireless network, besides the usual “lock” sign stating a closed/password-based wi-fi hotspot.

Which applications dislike Snow Leopard?

Until now, only Chromium (a not-so-official Mac porting of the Google Chrome browser) refused to launch and closes immediately.
I’ve been checking this useful list (http://snowleopard.wikidot.com/) against 10.6-incompatible software and found just a few notable missing titles.

Hardware support

All the previously supported hardware still work with Snow Leopard.
Even my phone carrier HDSPA USB key from an obscure Taiwan company with almost indie drivers (rated for 10.5.x only) and vanishing support has been working from day one.

Suggestions

Any operating system upgrade should be done with a little planning, even on a Mac.
I love SuperDuper ease of operation and power: it allows you to almost replicate a fully working system on multiple drives.
If you need a proof of this, check Ken Rockwell’s blog and his “Free New Computer” post where Ken explains how he managed a disk upgrade on a Mac Quad G5 (not Intel!).

Conclusions

Go for it!
For less than US $ 30 you can get yourself not only the very latest operating system, usually a tech-geek desire, but a really useful and powerful way to revive your system, so go and grab a copy of Snow Leopard.
We’re not expecting miracles from Snow Leopard making older Intel-based Macs fly like an 8-Core Mac Pro, but at least you’ll get someting that fully exploits your existing hardware, makes a better use of available space and… eventually frees you from staring at a boot screen.

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