back to article Mac OS X Snow Leopard First Look

At my age, I look forward to upgrading my OS about as much I look forward to a trip to the dentist. Why break something that works? Why risk wasting hours hunting down drivers that potentially don't exist, with the possibility that well-loved hardware becomes obsolete? Last time I upgraded the OS, I had to put my scanner on …


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  1. davebarnes

    Good review

    Thanks Andrew.

    Well written and organized.

  2. Robert E A Harvey
    Paris Hilton

    It must be me

    Do we have an Operating system reviewed as 'Hardware'?

    <--Our young friend here knows the difference between hard and soft, I'm sure

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Mac & PC owner

    Having played with both Win 7 & Snow Leopard I am looking forward to both but SL feels like a minor update that should have been free, there is no selling point other than better optimised code that should have been in Leopard originally. Will await the torrent.

  4. Doc Spock

    Screen Zoom

    First up, I loved the bit about the icons - 512x512 icons because you're weird.

    Now, I'm not an "icon porn" person (didn't expect to be saying that today!), but could the large icons be related to the screen zoom accessibility feature. In Leopard, screen zoom just scales a bitmap of the screen, it does not scale the screen components individually (i.e. text and icons). Is this still the case in Snow Leopard, or is the screen zoom a bit more intelligent?

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "At least Microsoft has got one thing right: a compelling upgrade comes up as often as a trip to the dentist should - about every eight years."

    This explains why the English have such bad teeth

  6. Douglas Lowe
    Thumb Down

    Re: Mac & PC owner

    If the optimisations in Snow Leopard aren't worth £25 then surely they're not worth you breaking software copyright laws either?

  7. ThomH


    I think the core stuff has changed more than you think. "Blocks" add closures to both C and Objective-C, and Grand Central provides a really efficient way of scheduling closures. Then there's OpenCL, which unites the power of the CPU and GPU for appropriately-written code, well above and beyond explicitly graphics-related tasks. And both of those are integrated into the core OS, as first-class ways of running code.

    From the consumer viewpoint, Quicktime finally seems to have the 'Pro' features baked in, which is significant, and the shrinking/optimising sounds like it has occurred at every level from the bundled apps downward.

    That's probably all just excuses, however. Me, I'm perfectly willing to pay £25 for a consolidation and optimisation release if it gets the message into Apple's head that they don't need to keep doing stupid tacky little bloaty things like making the dock 3d, making the menubar transparent, etc, just to keep us up with their strategic technology positioning decisions.

  8. Rob 86
    Thumb Up

    Great preview

    In regard to Apps showing as a folder and Downloads showing as a stack, in my experience I'd say this is because when using the applications folder you'd want to see all of them at once, but with downloads it's usually only the last downloaded file, or the last few that you're after. When you click the stack you get the most recent closest to your mouse.

  9. Eddy Ito

    Nagging question

    I have always wondered what the Automator was holding, now I want to know what it intends to do with that bazooka. Do we need to declare a ROTM warning?

  10. Matt 20


    "SL feels like a minor update that should have been free, there is no selling point other than better optimised code that should have been in Leopard originally."

    Well I guess you'll be expecting Win7 for free too then.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Safari running under 32bit

    I believe Safari is currently defaulted to run 32bit so as to avoid complications due to plugins that don't currently come in 64bit flavour, mentioning no names.

    Whether or not you actually want Flash to have access to 64bit address spaces is a question for another day...

  12. proto-robbie

    @ toothsome AC 15:26

    And why in general we don't wire up our beautiful daughters' teeth like alligators eating chainsaws.

  13. Steve Smith 5


    I'm always amused at this site whenever someone mentions downloading something for free all the 'Holier than thou' brigade come out with smart arsed comments about 'freetards'.

    Watch you don't get vertigo on the moral highground you sit on Doug Lowe. It must be great having obviously never broken any laws whatsoever, so that you are able to pass comment on other people with apparent impunity.

    Glass houses and stone throwing etc.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    More Apple Profit

    For $29 you get the $9.95 UPGRADE disc.

    For $169 you get the $129 FULL INSTALL disc.

    This is great for users and Apple's bottom line.

  15. Ian Davies

    "The Rolls-Royce of browsers"


    Is that a joke?

  16. Charlie Clark Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Good review

    It's taken Apple a long time but the more NextStep and the less Classic the better. I assume there is still some carbon code in there but getting rid of it in the Finder and anything that's derived from that should make a whole lot of things snappier and easier to work with.

    The pricing is interesting as it looks more and more like OSes are being commodified. Mac users are mainly hardware customers anyway so probably about 50% of customers will have SnowLeopard within 12 months. It would be a pity about the PowerPC users if there weren't so few of them left. While you're right to point out that could benefit the most from optimisations they've had optimised PowerPC code all the time. A great many users won't benefit significantly from changes since Tiger as long as their applications run. The move to through and through coacoa will cause resentment for some application users who might be considering an application upgrade but resent having to upgrade application + OS. Except if it's Photoshop the price of the OS is going to pale against the price of the upgrade and the benefits of pure coacoa stacks and huge memory addressability might be very compelling.

    Back to commodification: Apple, please bite the bullet and integrate MacPorts into the system.

  17. bex

    re Dentist?

    I should imagine that as I can have 5 fillings for £42 in the uk and in the States you would have to take out a second mortgage there will me more people with bad teeth in the States than the UK

    THe old knocking Brits teeth is just lazy and wrong.

    Back to the review , very informative , I am looking forward to SL maybe it will solve my memory leak problems as well

  18. Mark 62
    Jobs Horns

    Most of the speed boost

    comes from cutting out the old G4-G5 code.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Looks Nice But...

    I'm sure Apple users are happy with Leopard and Snow Leopard but I just can't see how it's any better than Kubuntu Jaunty.

    The Apple hardware is top-notch but if I had a Mac I'd install Kubuntu on it. It seems Mac OS is too much of a compromise - you lose the Windows compatibility but don't enjoy the Linux power in the range of available software.

    Each to their own though.

  20. J 3


    I'm not a fan of the Mac OS X interface in general, but one has got to give praise when people release new software that makes a 3 year old computer run *faster* than before, instead of forcing you to "upgrade". Not that the "old" computer was a clunker to begin with, but still...

    "Safari's public beta on Leopard weighs in at 45MB, but the Snow Leopard Safari at just 14MB. The Address Book shrinks from 58MB to 15MB. Mail is now 77.5MB."

    THAT might be worrying. I mean, was it SO extremely optimized? Or did they just incorporate parts of the programs into the OS? We already know what can happen when people do that... Hopefully not.

  21. Anonymous Coward

    @Doc Spock

    Nope, fraid its just the same old bitmap scaling

  22. dgp

    Who told them..

    that it was the most advanced operating system in the world? USB3 support? Nope. Only just getting around to porting the userland to amd64,.... apple are so full of shit.

  23. Anonymous Coward


    "This explains why the English have such bad teeth"

    You realise over 100million Americans have either no or insufficient health care trouble right? And that children in the US are dying from infections caused by... tooth decay right? People in glass houses should not throw bricks, especially when children in the US are dying from bad dental care, or in fact, lack of any dental care.

    You sir... fail.

  24. Herby

    I guess I have to stick... my Quadra 840AV running 7.6.1 and leave it at that. Back in its day it was a "smokin" machine. Too bad Apple abandoned the 68k for the PPC only to abandon that for intel. Just think what would have happened if IBM hadn't picked an intel processor for the original PC 28 years ago. We can only dream. (*SIGH*)

  25. Anonymous Coward

    hee hee

    Automator? Bazooka?

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ dgp

    you want to show me some real-life, on the market USB3-toting motherboards and peripherals of any variety? Take your time, I'll be sitting here being amused by your belief that Apple are doing anything at all with amd64 (clue: Intel).

  27. Anonymous Coward
    IT Angle

    My Teeth

    My Nashers would give any Americans a run for their money all thanks to the NHS, and possibly a good diet. You think Hamsters teeth are white - ha.

    Anyway where's the IT Angle?

  28. Piers

    BIG icons...

    ...are really handy when you're using a lot of images and photos in a design environment - saves using preview all the time when you're opening stuff in photoshop etc.

  29. ThomH

    @AC "Looks Nice But..."

    Nice troll. If there is any Linux software you want to run, then please explain why it would be incompatible with the X server that Apple ship as an optional install with their operating system. In reality, the software you can run on a Mac is a superset of that which you can run on a Linux machine, and quite a spectacular one once you figure in the wares of firms like Adobe, Microsoft and Apple themselves (re: the video production tools especially).

  30. asdf

    Re: @ dgp

    Not a mac fanboi at all (totally agree linux will support usb3 before mac) but amd64 in this case is used as a generic term for 64bit x86 instruction set which Intel totally ripped off from AMD including some of early flaws. Why Intel believes they can rename it to EM64T when they pulled a page from AMDs playbook and copied another companies instruction set is beyond me (yes I know there are slight differences but this was done by Intel on purpose to make it harder for others to optimize specifically to the AMD64 chips). Really it is correct to call x86_64 AMD64 because they did invent the instruction set (lol Intels greatest failure but Chipzilla with more money than God can spin it into record profits).

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'm sorry...?

    That's supposed to be major new release... and I get to arrange a list of files by date, last modified... and I can click on a file and there's a send to option... and it supports 64bit... and it will cost me £25 quid...

    Am I missing a trick here?

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Size reduction mostly from cutting language support

    I think the size difference for applications is mostly due to support for non-native languages being stripped out.

    You can do this right now in Leopard - Get Info on an application, then reveal the Languages section if necessary. For most applications, you'll see a list of different languages. Note the size of the application (in the General section), then select all languages except the one(s) you want to keep, and click the '-' (minus) button under the list. Now check the size again. The language resources are moved to the trash, so you'll have to actually empty the trash to regain the disc space.

    Some applications (like Frontrow) don't have a languages section. VMWare Fusion leaves the list disabled. In either case, I don't know why.

    There are tools to do this automatically, like Monolingual.

  33. Goat Jam


    Ummm, it was my understanding that intel license the AMD64 extensions from AMD but otherwise, nice rant.

  34. SmallYellowFuzzyDuck, how pweety!

    @A.C Looks Nice But...

    Oh oh, beware of the troll. Damn I wish I had an operating system I could run software on...

    Anyhow, nice review. I will be considering Snow Leopard at some point in the very near future.

    I suspect I will just cave in and head to the Apple store on Friday. My only concern is that I have a first generation Intel iMac (Which still runs very well) and I wonder how this affects SL with is being a 32 bit machine.

    Before anyone posts, yeah I know the difference between 32 and 64 bit word lengths and it's more about how much memory it can access rather than speed, but I would rather hold off a little bit until I know what Apple are doing with those extra bits.

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Missing tricks

    You're missing a lot of tricks, Steve116.

    OpenCL, Grand Central Dispatch, Exchange Server support, Quicktime X to name but a few.

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Good stuff

    @Richard Drysdall

    Thanks very much for the hint, iCal has gone from 90+Mb to just 14Mb by removing all languages but English! That's gonna come in very handy on my cramped powerbook, tips like that make reading these opinions worthwhile...


    Yes, go back to your etch a sketch

    My opinion on Linux - it's just not there yet.. and it's falling further behind the curve.. if you want a cheap computing experience you use windows, if you want a hassle free and productive experience you choose a mac if you want to pull your hair out trying to get something installed and rally behind a fragmented community (with a few shining stars) you choose Linux.

    I keep checking in on linux especially ubunutu wanting it to make something of itself but even now it feels poorly thought out and poorly put together, it seems to me the people saying Linux is anything near the Mac experience have only static screenshots to go on...

    And I'd have to agree with Thom H, any BSD/GNU app I need can easily be installed via Mac Ports and if needed can use on Apples supplied X Server.. which just works..

  37. Anonymous Coward

    @Steve 116

    I know that you are being deliberately facetious, but the is an awful lot more to it than you mention! I can see the argument that it is "just a service pack" if you apply Microsoft business model to it. This isn't a Microsoft product though (you can tell this by the *lack* of pointless SKU's)! Apple use a different model - major point upgrades that are paid for(10.3 -> 10.4, 10.4 -> 10.5) and updates (10.5.6 -> 10.5.7 -> 10.5.8 - Tiger went to 10.4.11) which are free. The updates are closer to Microsoft's service packs. Apple, to much critism, don't tend to release patches in the same way that Microsoft do either.

    10.6 has a lot of 'under the hood improvements'. The Finder, OS X's equivalent of Explorer for instance has been re-written as I understand it from the ground-up and Quicktime finally seems to have been upgraded! Not to mention new technologies like Grand Central Dispatch and OpenCL, not forgetting that it's the first OS outside of Windows to have Exchange compatability built in - in fact Windows dosn't have exchange compatbility built in! Apple, realising that people aren't going to pay what they have for the previous upgrades because of the lack of *visible* feature improvements (I paid ~£80 for Leopard) have set the price at a far more reasonable level to reflect this.

    I'll put it to you another way. Microsoft expect us to pay how much for fixing Vista?! I paid for Ultimate (I know, I know!) haven't received any 'extra features' of note (no, animated desktop backgrounds and a shite robot game don't count) surely I should get the Windows 7 Ultimate upgrade for free!!!

  38. MarkOne

    Yet the problem still remains.

    You don't buy a mac because nothing runs on it (outside of what it comes with, and Office/photoshop).

    If anyone asks me "should I buy a mac?" the response is always "do you ever do anything on your PC other than surf the web, write emails, word processing or drawing"? if the answer is yes, don't get a mac...

    Easy as that...

  39. bigphil9009

    @it must be me

    Well, you can't have the software without the hardware, so it kinda makes sense...

  40. Tony Smith (Written by Reg staff)


    This is so bollocks, Sony Boy. Yes, there are plenty more applications on Windows than on Mac OS X, but to say you can only do the basics on it is willful trolling. Some major apps are not on OS X, true, but that doesn't mean to say there are no equally powerful equivalents - quite the reverse.

    Fewer apps overall also means the general level of quality is higher. I have downloaded many more Windows apps that have turned out to be tosh than I have Mac ones.

    That's not to say all Mac apps are perfect - far from it. But then that's not true of apps on other platforms either. But it is definitely not the case that fewer choices means less quality, or that the Mac platform has no choice at all.

  41. Adam T


    "This explains why the English have such bad teeth"

    There's an old Monty Python joke taken too seriously by the yanks again. Tell me, did you get that quote off the news recently?

    My family, all six of them, has perfect teeth and have never had to pay a single penny or wait longer than a week for their dental appointments.

    I recently used a non-NHS dentist for some cosmetic work (which no insurance will cover) and it cost more than it would in, say, hungary. But it still cost less than it would in the states - I know because I shopped around.

    So, free or paid for - we have the better deal.

    Anyway yes Snow Leapard, cool £25 upgrade, off to PC World I go.

  42. Britt Johnston
    Thumb Up

    Next, the big picture?

    A worthy article, as is Tim Anderson's on Windows 7.

    Now, if you could just document a definitive discussion on which is the better of the two? You could pay for a jolly by buying shares in the winner shortly before you publish and selling them a day later.

  43. Anonymous Coward

    Missing Tricks

    @AC 9:13 / 9:14 -

    So in the latest hype fest there's a bunch of under-the-bonnet stuff your average joe ain't gonna have the the first clue about and whats that? a quicktime update playing catchup to recover the ground they lost to flash streaming and that 1990's must-have MS exchange support so your office designer dude can get cc'd in on those all important corporate meeting request, i mean didn't the cloud, GMAIL et al or even a good ole SMTP mail connection dimish the importance of this anyway?

    You are having trouble selling this to me i'm afraid. A technical building block it may be but in terms of broad consumer appeal or compelling reason to upgrade/purchase I don't see this exactly catching fire.

    Half your userland stuff isn't gonna run in 64bit and when Adobe does get around releasing 64bit Photoshop for MAC you are gonna have to pay again for that upgrade.

    32-64bit does not always equal performance boost anyway - it's an architecture choice more appropriate to certain classes of application (optimised database/network servers) and perhaps some high end video post production stuff where you move large chunks of data round but to mom and pop writing an email its almost totally irrelevant.

    Thanks, I'll stick to a free copy of ubuntu Jaunty running on my commodity £200 dell laptop and continue running Debain 64bit / Centos 64bit on my 8cpu quad core servers for the serious computing stuff...

  44. Anonymous Coward

    $29 != £25

    29.00 USD = 17.7933 GBP

    United States Dollars United Kingdom Pounds

    1 USD = 0.613561 GBP 1 GBP = 1.62983 USD

    so is that extra £8quid profit going into revolutionary top-secret Apple research shortly to be announced where they declare the future to be the "TWO BUTTON MOUSE" ????

  45. Michael Brown
    Thumb Up

    Smaller footprint

    Surely the reduction in the OS footprint comes mostly from the fact that the binaries are now just Intel binaries and not the previous "Universal Binaries" which packed a PPC and Intel binary into the same file?

    Just ordered my Mac Box Set copy (OS X SL + iLife'09 + iWork'09) from the Apple Store for 169 EUR. A bargain, and about time I got back to owning paid for copies of OS X and iLife ;-)

  46. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Family pack vs single user

    The family pack pricing is nice but do Apple actually put any 'single licence' features on their discs (ie is there anything other than personal honesty to prevent you installing a 'single user' disc on multiple machines?). I don't remember ever entering a licence code with Apple OS'es - the install discs that come with hardware are locked down to a fairly tight hardware config but that's it isn't it?

  47. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

    @ Dental comments

    I had to spend a fortune undoing 8 years of UK NHS dentistry, so I'm with the naysayers. Or lived in the wrong postcode.

    Anyway, back on topic, I actually like point upgrades because they tend to simply improve things instead of showing new "features" down your throat. I've been considering adding a Mac laptop to my collection, just to get some experience with it, and it may even become my primary OS. Depends a bit on how I like it after a few months - I also use Linux (Ubuntu and OpenSuSE) and Windows (XP, thanks, touched Vista once).

    Thank you for the review, it was helpful information and pleasant to read.

  48. ThomH

    @ SmallYellowFuzzyDuck

    One of the rumour sites (ie, take with a pinch of salt) reports that Snow Leopard boots in 32bit natively even on quite a few of the older Core 2 Duos, owing to them shipping with a 32bit EFI. It can still run 64bit software on compatible CPUs, but the kernel, drivers, etc, stick with the 32bit paths. As a Core Duo owner, I'm therefore optimistically assuming that specific work will have gone into these paths above and any changes or optimisations that affect everything.

    I also am basing my upgrade decision mainly on it being cheap and the Apple Store being nearby, though I also want to check out the Grand Central and OpenCL stuff. I have Windows 7 on order too, to catch up on .NET stuff.

  49. insertjokehere


    Allthough the PPC binaries have been cut out they would not really result in any speed boost. Application Bundles store the PPC and Intel binaries, all the assets for apps are the same. It would make the bundles smaller but the reduction in size in Applications is due to not bundling Frameworks and extra languages in the Apps. I'm sure theyve got rid of many drivers and PPC related system frameworks, etc.

  50. Giles Jones Gold badge

    @Looks Nice But

    Where's Logic Studio, Aperture, Photoshop, Final Cut, Microsoft Office for Linux?

    If you want professional quality applications in a no fuss, no glitch environment you use a Mac. If you can be bothered to tweak the hell out of Windows and put up with audio glitches then you can use Windows by all means.

    If you want to spend most of your life debugging config problems, installing additional libraries and setting up property files then sure, use Linux for your professional creativity needs. But Linux on the desktop isn't much cop in terms of responsiveness.

    I just want to run an application and work, not spend time figuring out why the audio keeps pausing or my MIDI keyboard isn't working. OSX gives me this. When I used Windows the applications would glitch or crash, I would then give up writing music for the evening as there's nothing more of a killer to creativity than losing some good work.

  51. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Family pack vs single user

    There's no serial number activation or licence code with OS X. You can install it on as many machines as you wish. So yes, it comes down to personal honesty.

  52. Bilgepipe
    Gates Horns

    Only PowerPC losing out?

    It's not just PPC users that are getting left behind. 1st gen Intel iMacs like mine were 32-bit Core Duos and won't benefit from the 64-bit revolution. I'm expecting 10.7 to drop those machines.

  53. magnetik

    @Steve 116

    I'm amused that you're making such a big deal about a £25 upgrade. Bet you've spend hundreds of quid in the past on stuff like faster disks or more ram to make your machine faster, yet you go on as though a £25 software upgrade which improves performance is not worth it.

    Oh, and BTW, your comments about Photoshop are equally laughable. Tell me again, what you're using to edit photos on your Ubuntu box?

  54. John Molloy


    My your ego needs stroking. If you aren't interested in it leave it. But no it seems that everyone else needs to be indoctrinates with your crap.

    "So in the latest hype fest there's a bunch of under-the-bonnet stuff your average joe ain't gonna have the the first clue about and whats that?"

    Until they actually come to use it and find it is faster and more efficient. Go say this stuff on a non geek board and you might get away with it. Come here and expect to be shot down.

    "You are having trouble selling this to me i'm afraid. A technical building block it may be but in terms of broad consumer appeal or compelling reason to upgrade/purchase I don't see this exactly catching fire.?"

    Nope, you are not interested. I see that you are carefully ignoring the OpenCL work and the Grand Central stuff - probably because in your world they don't mean anything. But they will.

    BTW it is Mac and not MAC.

    "32-64bit does not always equal performance boost anyway - it's an architecture choice more appropriate to certain classes of application (optimised database/network servers) and perhaps some high end video post production stuff where you move large chunks of data round but to mom and pop writing an email its almost totally irrelevant."

    But going forward it is very big. Apple have put in place technologies that will change computing on the desktop and while these pieces are now in place please feel free to ignore them until the next Windows release (the one after 7) which will trumpet all these features as significant Microsoft improvements.

    "Thanks, I'll stick to a free copy of ubuntu Jaunty running on my commodity £200 dell laptop and continue running Debain 64bit / Centos 64bit on my 8cpu quad core servers for the serious computing stuff..."

    Well done. Now go back to your sandbox while the people who are interested discuss.

  55. Shakje

    @Giles Jones

    Have you heard of Ubuntu Studio? And OpenOffice is quite simply fantastic. I'm not going to say that Ubuntu Studio is any real replacement for Logic (although it does have VST compatibility), although I'm actually planning on playing around with it tonight.

    Ubuntu is dead easy to setup, even to a relative novice. There's the occasional difficulty, but nothing that can't be solved by a quick google, or a visit to most Linux forums..and from what I've seen, using Jack, latency is right down, but, like I say, I'll find out tonight.

    As far as a Windows PC is concerned, with a decent interface it shouldn't be a problem, Logic may well still be the king of production software, but I find that Ableton Live is also fantastic (and rapidly catching up with Logic, the warping in it is amazing to say the least), the latest version is stable, and it's 8 quid ( :) ) cheaper than Logic on Amazon. Of course, it is also available on Mac, but that kind of defeats the purpose of my point. Considering the money you would save doing it this way (ie paying for the PC instead of the brand), you could get a shit-hot DAW, and either a shit-hot interface/new synth/new monitors for the same price as the Mac.

    Oh and I've never really experienced true glitchiness..

  56. Adam 10

    64-bit? And when does Bluray playback arrive?

    Wait... so for 3 years now, Apple has been pedalling Macs which run the processor in a reversionary mode?!?!

    Seriously, if you bought an Intel Mac that came with a 32-bit OS without explicitly mentioning it, you should be getting your money back at the Apple store. A lot of the OEMs ship 64-bit PCs with 32-bit Windows, but if you call them they take them back and give you full refund.

    Although as there were no 64-bit Mac applications, I guess the point is a bit moot (like this OS service pack... sorry I mean new release!)

    "Apple stole Microsofts innovation by bringing out 64-bit OS!" - isn't that the usual sort of rhetoric from Mac fanboys when Microsoft bring out a feature similar to an Apple feature?

  57. magnetik
    Thumb Up


    Either you're very new to music production or haven't really used Logic. Ubuntu Studio is an absolute joke compared to the likes of Logic, Cubase, ProTools or Sonar.

    Ableton is a great program, especially for live work, but in terms of a sequencer it's still many, many years behind the big apps.

    If you're into music production nothing is as good as a Mac.

  58. Anonymous Coward


    Remind me again about Apple's open source contributions?

    Ah yes, Apple are a company who are quite happy to take extensively from open source community code but are apparently almost entirely deficient when it comes to making any contributions in return. And they wonder why not everyone shares your apparent good will towards them?

    As a Linux user i'm not forced into paying for upgrades (performance or otherwise) on Redhat, Suse, Ubuntu, Debain or indeed BSD.

    Or maybe i just need to drink a little more of that apple fanboy kool-aid...?

    Btw - for photo editting i used to use some great free win32 software Pixmantec Rawshooter from a German company (before Adobe bought them to destroy competition to their own inferior RAW editor product) . These days though for my family pics i use or any of the freely available cloud based online picture editors....

  59. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    @Steve 116

    "Or maybe i just need to drink a little more of that apple fanboy kool-aid...?" - and you've not drunk that of RMS or Shuttleworth?!

    Well done! You like Linux and open source software. More people like the Mac! Even more people like Windows! Rawshooter is *very* old news. What's it called now? That's right, Adobe Lightroom. Personally I prefer Aperture, which is only available on the Mac and I also use LightZone which is available on all three. Yes, there are some *reasonably* good OSS RAW editors, for that matter there are some pretty good multimedia OSS apps. From recent experience, most need some sort of bodge to get them working. It's great that you have bought into the Stallmanian ideal of libre software, but in real terms most of the OSS multimedia stuff just isn't good enough for day to day professional use - it is by and large half-baked. The problem with the F/LOSS movement is that it expect everyone to buy into its ideals, there is no compromise, no-wonder it's finding it difficult to take off after 20 odd years. As someone that has been using digital photo manipulation software for over 15 years, the GIMP whilst good, it isn't anywhere near as good as Photoshop - Corel's Paint Shop Pro perhaps, ditto Illustrator vs. InkScape. As for the cloud based stuff, it's available on Snow Leopard too, using the fastest HTML and JavaScript engine available - the Apple lead and funded open source WebKit...

  60. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Steve 116

    I'm happy to remind you of Apple's open source contributions.

    Apple's WebKit is open source. Google use it for Chrome (and, er, Android). It was also picked up by Palm, for use on the Pre via WebOS, oh and on the S60 browser on Symbian phones. And then there's all the Darwin stuff.

    Good old Apple, eh?

  61. webmonkey

    Ubuntu? Half baked

    To all those who claim that Linux is a real alternative- You're dreaming. As a person who desperately wants to escape the clutches of Macrosquash I've been seriously trying to make Ubuntu work and have given up for various reasons- mainly video. I've sort of got VLC Player working, but it's slow, choppy, and erratic. Firefox runs like a spastic sloth, and Open Office just can't compete with the bloated but effective MS Office. I'll continue to use Ubuntu for torrents and downloads because I feel Linux is more secure, but long term I believe I see a Snow Leopard in my future.

  62. dave hands

    encoded morality

    Computers are tools. It's just so bloody typical of people to turn them into statements of political purity or apathy.

    I have all three OS's. I use all three OS's.

    Windows for gaming (which it does very well on the whole), and nothing else - why go to sea in a tissue paper boat designed by landlubbers?.

    OSX for laptop (Mac's are investments in a way Wintel machines never will be). Apple attested to the power of Unix when they switched to BSD. Microsoft are too proud to admit it's a better model and will keep releasing reiterations of NT/XP until the final trumpet and so the virus/trojan problem will never go away (or won't until the last hole in the MS code is closed).

    Linux for everything else. Meaning, Linux for online browsing, all music and video (playback), word processing etc. No meaningful viral threat and thus no need to have some awful crappy program sitting in the background scanning everything (most of which fail to spot and protect against new fast spreading threats anyway). Total customisability - to some of us, being able to change anything is a bonus.

    If I had to run Photoshop et al the first place I'd check would be Crossover to see if it supported it, followed by the Wine forums to see if anyone else had successfully run it on Linux, then I'd look at a Mac. Windows wouldn't even be under consideration.

  63. Ian Watkinson

    Windows Can, OSX can..but Linux Can't...just one example


    Looks Nice But... #

    By Anonymous Coward Posted Tuesday 25th August 2009 20:48 GMT

    I'm sure Apple users are happy with Leopard and Snow Leopard but I just can't see how it's any better than Kubuntu Jaunty.

    Real basic things like it works?

    Try doing something basic like network sharing on Jaunty. I've just plugged my laptop into the hotel wired broadband, I want to share this with my colleagues on my wifi.

    Windows Can.

    OSX Can.

    Linux can't. At least not easily, and no hacking routes and firewall configs doesn't count as easy.

  64. ThomH

    @Adam 10 , Steve 116

    Adam 10: v10.4 supports low-level 64bit address spaces, v10.5 supports proper 64bit programs throughout Cocoa. 10.6 adds a 64bit kernel and 64bit versions of all the bundled apps. OS X can run 64bit user-space apps on a 32bit kernel.

    Steve 116: besides WebKit, Apple bankroll a lot of development that is contributed back to GCC and are more or less the only people financing Clang and LLVM. They developed the OpenCL spec (which may not be code, but does cost money) and all of the drivers released for that for any platform so far are Clang/LLVM based (ie, Apple contributed heavily to the code too). The Darwin kernel remains completely open source (though I'll bet you're applying the "it doesn't count if I don't use it" test). Apple also own and are the primary developers of CUPS, which is an extremely popular way of talking to printers in most of the free UNIXes.

  65. Shakje


    I haven't used Ubuntu Studio at all so I shouldn't really have compared it. Yes, Logic is utterly amazing and a joy to use. As someone who hasn't really bought a DAW, but more of a highish spec general purpose machine, I'm happier spending money elsewhere than on the Apple brand, as Ableton quite happily lets me do everything I need to (and I have other things to consider, such as Visual Studio).

  66. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Missing Tricks

    I think some of you guys missed the point of my original post - as something that is being announced as a significant consumer release, product milestone and international news event this update is lacking any stand-out unique selling point that will really make an impression on the average non-ubergeek buyer.

    Sure a new OS multi-core aware thread scheduler is a great talking point if your social circle discuss NUMA architectures, HyperTransport and the latency / atomicity problems associated with sharing data addresses between distributed cpu caches within clustered multicore chipset architectures), 64bit addressing is also a fine noteworthy advance (albeit one that linux has offered for some time) if your computing requires >4gb RAM or you need to rapidly shift data chunksizes optimised neatly in 8x8byte arrays to/from cpu/memory/disk cache/network network sockets... and an new api to use the GPU for maths operations is also great for certain highly specialised number crunching applications (are the mass market really computing fast fourier transformations these days?).

    Your average consumer isn't going to comprehend any of these details in the slightest beyond some vague subjective "ooh is it really faster?".

    @Anonymous Coward Apple's relationship with KDE konquerer project makes for an interesting history albeit one with a tacit decision to reluctantly embrace the open source paradigm in order to benefit from an enlarged developer community - kudos to the dev's for pushing that past the apple executive.

    @ThomH - isn't x86 darwin dead in the water already since a few years as key components of the kernel and driver code were withheld in the switch from ppc?

  67. Charles-A Rovira
    Thumb Up

    G4 & G5 compatibility isn't an issue

    and I own a a working ancient G4 PowerBook and an almost equally ancient G5 21" iMac which is my HDTV now.

    I'm looking forward to Snow Leopard. It's already on order from Amazon.

  68. James O'Brien

    @Ian Davies

    Ok I wasnt the only one who saw this.

    Seriously Andrew...Rolls-Royce of browsers?

    Im going to go back to napping on my desk :)

  69. Peter Kay

    I'll be interested to see the progress of 64 bit support

    Frankly, it's a bit lacking on all other platforms (Windows and *nix). The device drivers are there now (mostly), but there is usually a limitation or two.

    Mainly, it is the browser. Many unixes do it right and install a 64 bit browser off the bat - you have to hunt around for it under Windows. Of course, once you've got your 64 bit Windows browser, with a 64 bit JVM, certain java programs don't work because they're trying to call a 32 bit DLL...

    64 bit Flash? What's that? In alpha on Linux. Non existent for Windows and OS X. Popular open source programs are 64 bit on Linux only (no surprise there, really, it's up to the users to get it working).

    I hope that Apple does the right thing and installs 64 bit OS X by default with new Mac sales; it's rare for Windows machines to do the same thing.

  70. Anonymous Coward

    Bad Teeth... Health Care...

    By Anonymous Coward Posted Tuesday 25th August 2009 22:00 GMT, "You realise over 100million Americans have either no or insufficient health care trouble right?"

    Ummm... no, health care is available for anyone who walks into an office... many people choose to not get insurance, and insurance is often too expensive for others (cheaper to just go cash in most cases.)

    By Anonymous Coward Posted Tuesday 25th August 2009 22:00 GMT, "And that children in the US are dying from infections caused by... tooth decay right?"

    Ummm... no. If someone is dying, they can go to a hospital and get treated, regardless of age or citizenship - this is the law in the United States. Equal access to health care is guaranteed in the United States. Someone in the hospital will write out a prescription. Many antibiotics only cost $1 US$ in a local grocery store - cheaper than a 3 liter bottle of soda, that rots out their teeth.

    By Anonymous Coward Posted Tuesday 25th August 2009 22:00 GMT, "People in glass houses should not throw bricks, especially when children in the US are dying from bad dental care, or in fact, lack of any dental care. You sir... fail."

    People who don't understand market driven health care where government guarantees of health care for all [citizens & non-citizens alike] in the United States should not throw bricks.

    By Adam T Posted Wednesday 26th August 2009 09:49 GMT, "I recently used a non-NHS dentist for some cosmetic work (which no insurance will cover) and it cost more than it would in, say, hungary. But it still cost less than it would in the states - I know because I shopped around. So, free or paid for - we have the better deal."

    That's because in the U.S. - the purchaser of services pay for people who do not pay for their own service in conjunction with paying the people who won lawsuits for negligence against the providers. In the socialist systems, money taken from other citizens fund the person using services.

  71. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Whut ?

    >Many antibiotics only cost $1 US$ in a local grocery store - cheaper than a 3 liter bottle of soda, that rots out their teeth.

    So that s where the resistance to antibiotics is coming from, US people are eating them coz they are cheaper than drinking soda !!

    Well it makes sense to me :)

  72. Steve Robertson
    Thumb Up

    £39 quid to upgrade all my Macs

    £25 quid for a single upgrade is quite nice.

    My savings come from upgrading all my Mac's at home for £39 quid. That works out to around 8 quid per device, to bring a little more grunt to those older Mac for 8 quid can only be a good thing..

    Thank god I have a technet plus account for Windows 7 and the PC's I have.


  73. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "32-64bit does not always equal performance boost anyway"


    64 bit code is faster for all everything for a couple of fairly important reasons. The first is that code compiled for 64 bit has 13 extra registers to play with: this is not to be sneezed at.

    The second reason affects both 32-bit and 64-bit programs once you get enough memory in the machine: enough memory here is about 1GB with a more serious kick as you approach 4GB.

    It depends exactly what the machine is doing whether the simpler memory management or the increased program speed has the greater effect, but both do have an effect and you don't need to be doing anything obscure to feel their effects.

  74. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    32 vs 64bit

    @AC 13:51

    Unless you are doing stuff like compression, crypto, encoding, high volume IO (eg network servers), rendering, audio signal processing and such the benefits of 64bit are not going to be significant. Plenty of benchmarks (albeit most i've seen are Linux / Solaris / UltraSparc) attest to this.

    Larger address size and 64bit data types can unless your app is correctly optimized result in lower performance and significantly greater memory use.

    Then there's a whole seperate class of problem running non-64bit code for example flash plugin in 32bit emulation where performance really suffers.

    My guess would be that at least some of the suggested boost in Apple's latest is likely down to re-factored binaries now the PPC architecture stuff isn't required combined with bytecode optimisation from the LLVM compiler?

    There are some benchmarks (pre-snow leopard) and discussion here

    It will be interesting to see what performance benefit if any the FreeBSD guys get from compilation using LLVM.

  75. mikefulton

    512-pixel Icons

    Allowing icons up to 512 pixels large may not be all that useful for everything, but for those of us with lots of digital photos and other images, being able to set larger icon sizes than 128-pixels is quite welcome.

  76. magnetik

    @Steve 116

    The article you linked to tested 32 vs 64 bit on OS X 10.4. Apple hadn't even converted the kernel to 64 bit at that time so it's not exactly appropriate. Try this instead:

  77. Anonymous Coward

    Left to my own devices.

    I can't wait to get my wonky British teeth into this shiny new OS - as soon as someone works out how to install it to PC hardware.

    Now, how many taboos have I broken here?

  78. dgp

    @Peter Kay

    The only 32bit code that runs on this machine is Apple's shitty EFI, Refit and Skype's statically linked Linux binary. Most Linux distros are "Pure 64" now.... there is even a 64bit Flash plugin which apparently no one that reads the el reg knows about.

  79. Anonymous Coward

    Much love...

    I do love the Windows lads...

    Apple Fanboi: Apple have done this, designed that, tried to compromise this, Windows has this, that and a bit of that and some good bits of this or that.

    Linux fanboi: No free software? Oh well, you can try this and I will be good when this O/S get that and we get something that will do this and that and hopefully more compatability with XYZ.


  80. Joe 3

    "Mail is now 77.5MB."

    You know what, I'm still on 10.4 and Mail is only 15MB!

  81. Anonymous Coward

    @AC Bad Teeth - Health Care

    A link for you

    Two people in the US die because of lack of dental treatment (which btw, isn't covered by Medicare or Medicaid)

    Around 50 million Americans cannot afford insurance so have no access to medical care, around 50 million Americans are under insured so if they do need treatment, it will cost them an arm and a leg. Still, all that competition must be really good, seeing as how over 1,500 people queue up at ONE station giving free medical/dental care in LA, must be nice to live in a country which has worse medical care than a 3rd world county, or even Cuba.

  82. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    back on topic somewhat,,,

    Shove the DVD in, couple of clicks... make a cup of tea, wander back 30 mins later just as it's finishing up.

    All my stuff works, the computer is slightly faster.. The new gamma looks a bit funny. Looking forward to seeing all this OpenCL/GCD nonsense in future- meantime, I have a slightly quicker and prettier computer.

    All very painless. Can't say fairer than that.

  83. Was Steve

    Clever Snow Leopard

    Decided to take the plunge and put a new fat and fast hard drive in my Macbook and put Snow Leopard on there. And it works a treat! The best bit so far was on pairing my Nokia n79. Snow Leopard recognised it for a smart phone from Nokia, and offered to set it up as a modem, a quick google for the APN details (on the handset) and it was set up and working. Which is a good job as my internet has decided tonight is the night to take a bath!

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