A commentary concerning the
new Macintosh operating system.
By Ted Bade
After a week of rushing home to see if my copy of Mac
OS X arrived, I was dismayed to find that UPS (yeah, I
went with the cheap shipping option), NEEDED a signature
to give me my box, so the following day I located the UPS
office and got my box... finally.
Overall I like Mac OS
X. The Interface is elegant, visually
interesting without being distracting. For the most part,
sharp rectangular windows are replaced with soft rounded
ones. The Aqua color scheme is almost relaxing. This new
OS responds well, seems peppy enough on my G4/450, and
has been crash free. I've see a couple applications quit,
but this has not affected the OS at all.
The things I don't like so can be categorized into
three items: bugs, my lack of familiarity, and Apple's
people not following Apple standard interface guidelines.
This OS feels a lot like the standard Mac OS, yet
isdifferent enough to make one notice. It is an odd
The installation was a
breeze. The installer makes some useful
suggestions about collecting necessary network and other
information, then walks you through the setup. After the
second reboot, you are using Mac OS X. For me, the
scariest part was when I noticed my mouse wouldn't work.
After a bit of troubleshooting I discovered that it was
my USB hub, not the mouse that Mac OS X had a problem
with. So now I am forced to use the Keyboard hub, which
isn't a problem at the moment, since none of my USB
peripherals have drivers for Mac OS X.
Operation of OS X is
smooth. It feels smooth and definitely looks
Everything from the warm medium blue colors (which I
wouldn't call "Aqua"), to the way the application windows
move, all are smooth. However, some of the "eye-candy"
stuff borders on flamboyant. I didn't care for the
"wiggling" graphics in the Dock or the "Genie" effect.
Okay, it is cool the first time you see it, but after
that it has little value. As I watch these effects, I
wonder, (much as I do when that annoying animated
Microsoft paperclip pops up in Office), how much of my
processor's abilities are being "wasted" on these silly
things. But these things may sell an operating system and
I doubt if efficiency will ever win over good looks!
The words in various windows looks fuzzy or blurry. I
think this is because of the font you are forced to use
The tops and some parts of the insides of letters are
either severely faded or distorted. I believe they are
trying to achieve font smoothing, but the effect just
Getting used to a enforced
multi-user computer at home is going to take some getting
used to. For instance, one must provide a
password to install software, even if logged in as the
owner of the computer. I realize the importance of
protecting a multi-user system. However, provisions must
be made for the single user computer. I have heard there
is a way to log in as the "root" user (the person on a
UNIX system with permission to do everything), but doing
this may leave the computer open to security
Navigating with the new
Finder is different, but not terribly bad.
There seems to be a lot of dissatisfaction with the new
Finder and how it responds. Granted it doesn't work like
a Classic Mac OS does, but it isn't terrible. Once we all
get used to it, it will become second nature. The biggest
problem I am facing with this test is having both classic
drive organization and Mac OS X organization. Since rules
are different it is easy to confuse things.
The installed package includes a number of
applications to play with. Along with the QuickTime
player there is an MP3/CD player, calculator, web browser
(Internet Explorer with a whole new plethora of bugs), a
built in e-mail program, a mostly useless clock program,
Sherlock for searching, and more.
If you are familiar with standard UNIX, you'll find
some text based applications for working in the system.
Other applications are included and every day I find more
applications ready to run on Mac OS X. For instance,
MacMame, a program which allows you to play old arcade
video games, has recently been carbonized.
Running classic applications
is good, although there are a few odd
Classic applications don't (and cannot) show in the
Application menu included with Mac OS X. To launch one
you need to navigate to wherever you have stored it. When
you d-click to run the classic application, it will start
up the Classic Window, which boots Mac OS 9. If Classic
is already running, the application simply launches. A
major gotcha here is if an application in the foreground
calls up a classic application, the computer seems to
freeze while Mac OS 9 boots. If you don't realize this is
happening, you might think the computer locked up.
Normally when Mac OS 9 boots, a window appears indicating
this. The window can be expanded to let you watch the
normal start up graphics screen.
You then use the application just like you would in
Mac OS 9. When you have a classic application in the
fore-ground, the Mac OS menu bar changes to the Classic
bar with the multicolored Apple and the clock, and any
menu bar additions your Mac OS 9 has. You can easily move
from there to Mac OS X applications by clicking on the
desktop or using the Dock. As I write this, I am using
NisusWriter in the classic window. I can jump to a Native
X application or use my DragStrip to launch another
Major things I don't like
about Mac OS X include, no Menu bar clock, the
potential security problems when connected to the
Internet, and having to enter a password for certain
actions after I have already logged in with that
Things I like
include the smooth interface, lack of OS
crashes, not having to play with application memory
sizes, and multitasking.
It is really cool to be playing an MP3, launch the
browser and load a graphically intense page and not hear
the music skip a beat! I feel very confident running
application in this OS. I don't hesitate to run any
number of them at the same time.
I am still looking for great places to read and or
hear about Mac OS X, Feel free to e-mail me. So far my
favorite sites have been the Mac
News Network site. They have a special section for
Mac OS X including some excellent forums. Also the people
offer some good information and links. Finally, the
people at Version
tracker offer a section on Mac OS X applications. A
great place to visit if you are looking for new or
recently released applications.
I intended to keep this a first look and short. The
next article in this series will be after I am a bit more
experienced with it and hopefully Apple has provided an
update or two.
In the mean time, if you have a favorite Mac OS X
information site let me know. I will inspect them and
list the best of them in future articles. And Don't
forget to check our Daily list of
news links for Mac OS X news.
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