Herewith notes on the Leopard experience. It’s been reviewed to death but here are a couple of things I haven’t seen noted elsewhere; perhaps helpful to people wondering whether to jump. [Update: A couple of pleasant surprises, plus I’m assembling the bugs I observe here.]

Ssh-agent Just Works · Wow, I originally had my ssh setup more or less unchanged since 2003, but no longer. As of now, just type ssh whoever@wherever, and the first time, if you’ve got the keys in place, it pops up and asks you for your passphrase and whether or not you’d like that in the Keychain. After that, no more passwords.

Bug List · Most of these have been reported; mostly here as Google fodder so other people will perhaps not feel so alone.

  1. If you have it set to ask for password on wake-from-sleep, sometimes the password dialog comes up without focus, or mysteriously loses focus halfway through your password.

  2. Several people have observed that with my early-vintage Airport Extreme WiFi station, when the computer wakes from sleep it often doesn’t find the network. Turning your Airport quickly off and on usually fixes that.

  3. Spaces and NetBeans interact toxically. This could be a bug in Spaces or Java or Swing or NetBeans.

  4. My Griffin Powermate stopped working. I can still control individual apps, but the global volume control is hosed.

The Leopard Dock

Look & Feel · Lots of people have gripes and they seem well-founded, but it works pretty well for me. I’ve always been a dock-on-the-side guy, and don’t keep folders there, and always have a dark screen background. So for me the new see-through Dock comes out looking pretty nice. The dark background also works well with the translucent menu-bar.

In general, I like the cool grey window dressing and the folder glyphs and the new bits and pieces of trim all over the place.

Time Machine · Yeah, seems like it should be great, assuming it works, but are those space-opera graphics ever dorky.

[Update:] Here’s how I’m using it; this is just a report, not a suggestion, because it’s early days yet. I work here and there around the house, and on the road, but when I’m not traveling I have a regular ordinary desk I sit behind. That disk now has the current 500G LaCie drive sitting permanently on it behind where the laptop goes, so I can’t see it. I’ve added the drive to the USB hub so it gets plugged in by default in the morning. I’m a little worried that these outboard drives aren’t built to run all day every day, so I turn it on in the morning, and then off a couple of hours later when Time Machine has had a chance to do its thing.

Spaces · I’ve only been using this for a day, but so far it works great. I have all my communication apps on the main space. Then I have Lightroom in the next one over, full-screen, no menus or anything, and NetBeans in the next. Both Lightroom and NetBeans make excellent use of the real estate, and both are the kind of thing where it’s a big advantage to have all the communication stuff hidden away where it can’t disrupt the flow.

There’s a bug, though: I can’t select in the Spaces preference pane to tie it to a particular space. Flipping over there and starting it seems to have about the same effect, so no biggie.

Expander · Used to be, when I clicked on a .zip or .tgz or whatever, this klunky “Unstuffer” application would wake up, unpack, then ask me if I wanted to update it. Now there’s this little dinky yellow thing pops up just for a moment, enough faster that I’ve never actually got around to looking at it closely.

A few years back, if you’d told me that I’d be using a GUI to unpack tarballs, I would have laughed at you.

FileVault · I dunno. It’s always seemed like a high-risk thing, and it wastes disk space, and it slows certain things down. I should probably turn it back on.

But it occurs to me, that pretty well all the really confidential stuff is in ~/Library/Mail; I’m wondering if there’s a good way to use hdiutil or some such to encrypt just that.

Safer · I now get a confirm dialogue when I hit “Empty Trash”. This will make me pause for a moment and think, and I just know it’ll save me grief somewhere down the road.

Spotlight · It’s fixed! For years, I haven’t been able to search the full text of my mail messages. Now I can. This is good.


Comment feed for ongoing:Comments feed

From: Graham Parks (Dec 06 2007, at 17:14)

You know you can also drag windows between spaces?


From: John (Dec 06 2007, at 17:49)

The empty trash confirmation dialog has always existed in Mac OS X, and has always been on by default. Perhaps you turned it off in the distant past and forgot about it. (The setting is in the Finder's preferences.)


From: Wendy (Dec 06 2007, at 17:53)

The confirm dialogue when emptying the Trash is a preference.

In the Finder, go to the Finder menu and select Preferences (or use the keyboard shortcut command-comma). Click on the Advanced section. Select or deselect "Show warning before emptying the Trash".

(I'm a no warning kind of gal myself. I like to live dangerously...)


From: paul beard (Dec 06 2007, at 18:42)

I have always been able to search file contents, but I almost never use Spotlight: I just use <code>mdfind</code>. Still not a Leopard user, as my hardware can't handle it [snif]

As for FileVault, I wouldn't. I have had Apple employees warn against it. Is there an email client that can store your email encrypted, even if it's sent in the clear? I'd rather have the files themselves encrypted than a filesystem/virtual disk.


From: Charles Oliver Nutter (Dec 06 2007, at 20:01)

The biggest downer for me about Leopard is the fact that they didn't see fit to fix Mail's totally worthless message threading. Note to Apple: Grouping by subject is *not* threading. Threading is hierarchically nesting replies according to the message they reference. That's how you maintain context in a conversation. That's how you watch threads fork and cleanly ignore the less relevant half. A flat list does not threading make. No Mail for me. And the sad thing is, while Thunderbird gets threading right, it's still clunky, slow, and terribly network-lapse-intolerant. Can't someone, SOMEONE please write an email client that doesn't suck in new and exciting ways?


From: Emanuel (Dec 06 2007, at 22:49)

I appreciate the increase in speed on my Leopard too and I have an iBook G4 :)

for me the best improvement is the better memory management: it actually free the virtual memory when it's necessary...

as for the Filevault wondering: did you try knox? (

I have FileVault enabled, but I'm planning to set it off...


From: Drew (Dec 07 2007, at 06:46)

I noticed my test filevault account no longer knew where ~/Library was and instead showed a disk image with the account name at ~/username. The image itself was mounted so I made a symbolic link from /Volumes/UserName/Library to Users/UserName/Library.

It occurs to me that you could create an encrypted folder for your mail mount it and symlink it to ~/Library/Mail.

At that point for good measure you should replace your mail icon in the dock with an applescript that checks to make sure you've mounted your disk image before launching mail.


From: Joel (Dec 08 2007, at 06:26)

So I've heard, from someone who maintains a lot of Apple laptops, that of the dozens of corrupted filevaults he's seen all were on large home directories (i.e. tens of gigs). Simple solution for many people (sort of the inverse of Drew's suggestion) - symlink Music and/or Movies to /Users/Shared.

Now the encrypted home directory is much smaller and (fingers crossed...) won't get corrupted. Downside is that you lose that nice property that all your stuff is under ~.


From: peter (Dec 09 2007, at 04:27)

re. Time Machine, I'll let you all know right now that it doesn't.

Leopard has been bumpy for me, as I have a Blackberry Pearl, and the kext written by Missing Sync to handle it has a habit of causing kernel panics on Leopard every 5 times. I mention this because one of these times, conveniently 8 hours before a deadline in my compilers course, my system came back unbootable. No problem, I thought, I'll just use time machine - it's got a backup from an hour ago.

4 hours later, I have a booting system. However, some of the files, notably the files that I was depending on having back so I could clean them up and turn them in, the ones I'd been working on all week, were 4 days old.

I was upset.


From: d.w. (Dec 09 2007, at 11:50)

My two favorite Leopard features so far:

1. Time Machine: works perfectly for me: my main axe is a MacBook that goes everywhere with me and my backup volume is a Firewire drive that lives in the office. I've only needed to restore a few isolated files and directories so far, but every time I've needed to the files and revisions of them that I've needed have been there and restorable in 30-120 seconds.

2. Quicklook: super handy, and judging from all third party plugins that are already showing up, pretty accessible to the 3rd party developer.

My favorite feature from a past OS X version that didn't work before but really does work now:

Spotlight. I don't know what kind of unholy stereoids they've been feeding it out back, but subjectively it feels about 5-10x faster than it was in Tiger. Wow.


From: Tony Fisk (Dec 09 2007, at 21:31)

From experience, any 'Are You Sure' feature needs a more interactive response than a pavlovian mouseclick on 'OK' (which is usually the default, of course!)

Requiring the user to type 'xugglybug' or something before proceeding really makes them think twice!


From: Mark (Dec 11 2007, at 10:54)

The Griffin Powermate always had a lag that was really frustrating. Good riddance. For global volume, the Mac keyboard does that. For iTunes, the Mac keyboard does that now. For individual app control, the Keyboards system preferences panes lets you set shortcuts for any app.


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December 06, 2007
· Technology (90 fragments)
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