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A Week with Lion

I have used Apple’s latest operating system, Mac OS X 10.7 Lion for about a week so I think now is a good time to report back. I downloaded the new system as soon as it was available and have been using it on my main work computer, a MacBook Pro i7 with 4G of RAM, since then. So how has it gone? …

Overall it has gone very well, although there have been a few problems and compatibility issues. Also some of the new features feel a little bit unfinished so I am looking forward to getting Mac OS X 10.7.1! The new features are genuine improvements – not just meaningless design changes – and I use most of them.

First, let’s get the problems out of the way. I miss Rosetta. There, I admitted it. Strangely it is being able to play older games that I miss most and I can’t think of any situations where I needed any “serious” programs which required Rosetta. It’s typical of Apple to force people to move ahead by dropping support for older technologies and I know why they do it, but it does create a certain amount of inconvenience some times.

I have also had one or two compatibility issues. I do have a very large number of programs installed so the fact that so few gave me any real problems is probably quite impressive. The only real disaster is the Cisco VPN client which did seem to work when I started Lion in 32 bit mode but then caused a kernel panic when I tried to close it. That software has always been poor though so it’s not that surprising.

Another issue which I have found an easy solution for involves what used to be my main web browser, OmniWeb. It crashed shortly after launching under Lion but I thought it was time I moved on so I have now switched to Google Chrome as my main browser. I still use Safari as my development and technical browser. Chrome seems good: its speed and memory use are much better than OmniWeb although there are a few design features I don’t like.

Apple Remote Desktop required a free upgrade to start working again and a few other programs provided automatic updates about the same time. I’m not sure if these programs would have worked without the updates but since I apply updates to my extensive list of installed programs almost every day anyway it required no real extra effort.

I also had to upgrade to Parallels version 6 to run my “other” operating systems: Windows XP, Windows 7, Ubuntu Linux, and Chrome OS. That is also performing a lot better but if that is anything to do with Lion or just the newer version of Parallels is unclear.

Lion has many new features and most of them work really well but I want to mention one feature which isn’t that good. That is Launchpad. The idea of this feature is to provide an easy way to display the applications installed on the computer to make them easier to launch. When activated Launchpad shows the icons of all the applications overlaid on the screen and a single click launches them (sort of like the iPad and iPhone).

The problem is that when you have a lot of applications it’s hard to find the one you want. I cleared the Launchpad database and just added the ones I wanted but after a restart they all came back. And every new app seems to get added to the end of the list. It is possible to re-order the icons but not remove most of them. It’s poorly implemented and I just can’t use it although when I had a subset of useful apps only I did use it. So a small improvement – the ability to delete unwanted icons – would fix this problem.

Those are the only real problems. Apart from the crash with the Cisco VPN I have had no crashes or panics. The general performance seems similar to Snow Leopard but probably no better and memory use also seems similar. I have mainly listed the problems here so in my next blog entry I will report back about the good things I have found.

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