Thursday, July 21, 2011

OS X Lion

My Experiences
Today I have upgraded my three primary computers to Apple’s OS X Lion. They are a 27” iMac (Intel i7/2.8Ghz, ATI4850), my 15” MacBook Pro (Intel i7 dual core with Intel 330M) and the 15” MacBook Pro (Core 2 Duo with some video card) I use at work. The upgrades themselves have all gone seamlessly; I have lost no data and had no moments of panic, stress or times where I’ve really wanted to revert to the previous operating system. The operating system upgrade is as simple as enter your details in the App Store (correctly!), wait for it to download and then click a few buttons.
After reboot, the installer would claim it would take 30 minutes. All of my installs did seem to keep their progress bar and estimated time of finish mostly correct. It wasn’t so for one of my work colleagues so I may have good computers (all mine are better spec than the one he was upgrading) or I may just be lucky. He went to lunch, for at least 20 minutes, only to come back to have it say it would still take him 30 minutes for install.
That said, I did not suffer this problem at all.
However, the first computer I upgraded was my laptop. Unfortunately, whilst my laptop’s CPU and memory are perfectly fine, it is let down somewhat by its hard drive. It simply cannot keep up with sustained I/O and what I did not, at first realise, was that the upgrade forces Spotlight to reindex everything at the start. This killed my I/O. On the other hand, I was also spectacularly not nice to it in another way - I fired up my Windows VM which then decided to run a full virus scan. This killed my I/O twice. It doesn’t help that even with only 1024MB of memory for the Windows VM, that laptop seems to swap at least the same amount to disk.
I am not sure it is behaving itself.
That said, once the operating system had installed and finished its I/O intensive work and I had stopped the VM from thrashing the hard drive, I got to test the new operating system. My first impressions were:
  • Why can’t I resize the “Mailbox” panel in Mail to the size I want? So what if I want it too small to be useful!
  • Why does Mail have to reindex the mail boxes again? This hasn’t taken too long for me but for my colleague...well, it’s still going!
  • The scrolling goes the WRONG WAY!
  • I have to download a new XCode; but it was for free, thankfully!
  • At work I have two monitors; the one on the laptop and an external. Why oh why does it maximize the application to my laptop monitor when it was originally on my external? How annoying! How dumb!
  • It looks like iTunes; everything looks like everything!
I toyed with going back to the classic view in Mail but I think I am going to keep the new view. I will probably get used to it and it’s not that bad. I certainly like the new way how it shows threads that fit together. Very cool. However, Mail is still Mail. Do you think it would recover from a misconfigured mail server in an account? No. Never mind that I fixed the broken URL I gave just refused to sensibly connect again.
Fixing Mail always revolves quitting Mail and starting it again.
At the start the “wrong way” scrolling truly annoyed me. I switched it back and forth a number of times but I am starting to get used to it. It does make sense, sort of. It’s no worse and no less sensible than the “standard” mode of scrolling, or the “non-natural” way. Given I now use a Magic Trackpad at home on my main computer, it makes sense. I like it.
As for the ability to use lots of gestures. This is kind of cool. Not amazing, in my humble opinion, but it is cool.
That said, I’m somewhat ho-hum about the Mission Control and Launcher. I’m somewhat ho-hum about the full screen ability of all/most apps. I am writing this in Page in full screen and it is useful to be able to quickly get rid of all of that other clutter but is it that useful? I don’t know. Time will tell.
Would I recommend an OS X Lion upgrade? Probably yes. But it’s not necessary yet. If you want to wait for a few more bugs - I am sure there are some - to be ironed out or just want to keep you $39 or so for a while, there can’t be that much harm.
Happy Roaring!

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