Thursday, April 28, 2005

The ultimate Tiger/Unix/MacOS review and tutorial

Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger : Page 8

I'm a geek, but I am not in this league.

This is extraordinary. It's sort of a review, sort of an OS tutorial, sort of a UNIX tutorial, and basically a display of geek versimilitude. The UNIX file permissions and ACL tutorials are among the best I've seen anywhere, and they're only one "chapter" in this book.

The ACL description makes me think the old problems with repairing permissions may finally go away -- someday. It's not really a part of 10.4.0 standard (server only).

Meanwhile, it looks like there will be some pretty significant speedups with 10.4.1
There's one final barrier to hardware-accelerated bliss. Quartz 2D Extreme is disabled by default in Mac OS X 10.4.0. That's right, the whiz-bang new technology you just read all about is not actually used in Tiger unless it's explicitly enabled using the Quartz Debug application. Even then, it only applies to applications that are launched after it was turned on. It also appears that Q2DE is re-disabled when you quit the Quartz Debug application.

Why develop something as impressive as Quartz 2D Extreme and then leave it turned off by default? My inquiries to Apple have gone unanswered, so I can only speculate about the reasoning behind this decision. My best guess is that all of the bugs could not be excised from Q2DE in time for Tiger's launch date, and that it will be enabled by default in a subsequent update—perhaps as early as version 10.4.1.
For most of us very happy with Panther, 10.4.1 will be the real Tiger, and this is what our ace reviewer recommends:
If you're still running Jaguar or earlier, you really owe it to yourself to upgrade to Tiger. It'll be the best $129 you've ever spent on an operating system. If you're happy with Panther, I strongly recommend going to an Apple store and checking out Tiger in person. Chances are good that there'll be at least one or two features that you'll decide you need, if not right way, then soon. As with any new release, it won't hurt to wait for version 10.4.1 or later.

Overall, Tiger is impressive. If this is what Apple can do with 18 months of development time instead of 12, I tremble to think what they could do with a full two years—let alone the length of time it took for Mac OS X 10.0 to first ship. The productivity of Apple's Mac OS X development team has increased tremendously since 10.0; they're now firing on all cylinders. While I dearly wish someone would steer them in the direction of the eternally neglected Finder, I can't help but be proud of the little OS team that could.

Mac OS X started its life as the most ambitious consumer operating system ever produced. Apple abandoned its existing, 16-year-old code base for something entirely new. Out of the gate, Mac OS X was a technical curiosity with few applications, and a performance dog. A scant four years later, Tiger is a powerhouse that combines the best Unix has to offer with a feature-rich, user-friendly interface. The increasingly capable bundled applications are just icing on the cake. We've come a long way, baby.
Lastly, as I read about the various advanced functions of the OS that Adobe won't touch (needs to stay cross-platform) I keep thinking "iPhoto Pro", "iPhoto Pro", "iPhoto Pro" ....

Take my money Steve, even if you are getting weirder and more manic.

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