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Why I’ll Wait on Snow Leopard, and Why Maybe You Should Too

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snow_leopard_boxA new cat is upon us, but that doesn’t mean I’ll pounce on the latest upgrade, pardon the pun. Dare I admit in public I’m not an early adopter? Hey, if you like living on the edge, go for it. Go ahead and cook your poultry below 165 degrees or eat raw eggs.

Me, I play it safe. Mac users like everything to work out to the box and a new OS simply doesn’t. Do you really want to spend your weekend messing with a “better” operating system? Ask these guys about that.

I may be a lonely voice among the chorus of praise for Snow Leopard, but here are five reasons why I’m going to wait a bit before hearing this new cat purr.

1. It’s a Point 0 Release

Maybe it’s because I’m married to a Quality Assurance engineer, but I worry about unfixed bugs. I remember 10.5 having a critical data loss bug. Will 10.6 have it? I hope not. What other bugs will be discovered that first weekend? Several. Some could make your Mac virtually unusable, while others will be merely annoying.

Which ones will I face? None. I’ll wait for you all to find them while I sit back and read about your trials and tribulations. Online forums are already full of posts noting the prevalence of software-based kernel panics in Snow Leopard, and undoubtedly there are many bugs waiting to be discovered in the days ahead as the rough edges get sanded down.

2. My Programs May Not Work Properly

In theory, the code has been in hands of developers for a long time and they should have been able to update for full compatibility. However, Apple (s aapl) changes aspects of Snow Leopard after each build, and some builds can introduce bugs very late in the game. Do I have time to check each and every app and make sure it’s Snow Leopard compatible? Some incompatibilities might even prevent an install. 10.5 early adopters ran into big problems with “haxies.” What should we avoid with a 10.6 install? I’ll find out next month I’m sure.

Should I even mention Quicken 2007? If your business relies on Quickbooks, would you trust it in Snow Leopard, especially with older versions Intuit no longer supports? How about old versions of Creative Suite left over from your PowerPC days? Adobe says you’re on your own with that. Programs not designed for Intel-based Macs are the most likely candidates for problems.

If you don’t care about productivity, have fun this weekend. If you use your Mac to help put food on the table, your biggest risk is to lose your primary money maker for a few days. If you can afford the down time in this economy, go for it. I sure can’t.

3. Hardware Could Fail, and Fail Hard

A long, long time ago…I can still remember… How my Mac would start up with a smile. I can’t figure out how to change the words of American Pie to include the day AppleTalk died, but die it does in Snow Leopard, after outlasting System Enablers, floppy drives, and SCSI. That trusty laser printer you connect via AppleTalk becomes a big huge paperweight under Snow Leopard according to most reports. Someone might develop a workaround, but that isn’t going to help you with your deadlines.

Your printer isn’t the only casualty in Snow Leopard. An old Palm Pilot or Palm-based phone is no longer supported, and you’ll be required to buy third party software such as Missing Sync. As of this writing, Missing Sync isn’t fully compatible with Snow Leopard. What other hardware might have problems? Scanners are my next guess. Hopefully your manufacturer will develop a driver if your product is still supported. Speaking of support…

4. Lack of Support by Vendors

A vast majority of the support people you talk with will be completely flummoxed if you’re running Snow Leopard. They already treat you like a second-class citizen because you’re on a Mac. If they ask which version of the OS I’m running and I say 10.6, I suspect their brain will explode right then and there.

Snow Leopard will be blamed, not their product. Cable modem down: Snow Leopard. Printer making grinding noise: Snow Leopard. Health care claim denied: Snow Leopard. You’re probably laughing, but maybe not, if you’re one of many who’s run into something similar.

5. I’m Cheap

Sure, I’ll only pay $10 for the Up-To-Date program and others will only have to pay $29. However, my new iMac works great. Even $10 is an unneeded expense. Why mess with something that’s working well? My system works, I get things done. The last thing I need is to change everything. I’ll give it a few months until 10.6.1 comes out and the early adopters have done the hard work of finding problems.

Who else is going to skip curling up with a new cat this weekend and wait for someone else to find the sharp claws?

81 Responses to “Why I’ll Wait on Snow Leopard, and Why Maybe You Should Too”

  1. That cat is now on 10.6.2 and I still have a few very annoying bugs: Can’t use my printer at all, macbook won’t sleep, at least I now can shut it down.

    As today my productivity has suffered to much and I’m downgrading to 10.5, good thing I kept my full Leopard clone handy. And yes, when I boot from my external HD with Leopard, none of my present bugs exist.

    ;-/

  2. Ben Abbott

    I’ve installed Snow Leopard and am *all most* happy with it. The only remaining problem is that TeXShop no longer works. When dvips is called, I expect dvips to be called as …

    /sw/bin/dvips -R -Poutline -o /tmp/altpdflatex.834/myfile.ps myfile.dvi

    Instead I see …

    /sw/bin/dvips -R -Poutline -o /tmp/altpdflatex.834/-n myfile.ps -n myfile.dvi

    :-(

  3. I’m in the exact same boat as Steve mentioned above. I use an HP 5M LaserJet printer via AppleTalk (ethernet connection via router)… I upgraded to Snow Leopard yesterday, spent hours last night trying to re-configure this printer without success. Now, thanks to Time Machine, I’m back to 10.5 again for the time being and printing just fine.

    Anyone have a suggestion for how to integrate my HP 5M via ethernet? I’ve been checking around online and see that some people are recommending that I use TCP/IP to set it up (which my HP5P does have). The thing is, though I can specify an IP address on it, I have no clue which address to give to it. I tried going through the router, assigning the printer the IP address that the router is, and it printed and communicated with it, but then the internet wouldn’t work. So I’m assuming that meant that it was conflicted.

    I tried to just select TCP/IP on both the printer and then trying to get it installed in the system preferences, but nothing worked there to set it up and it didn’t recognize it.

    So overall, I liked the added speed that Snow Leopard brought, but in the end it’s not worth it for me yet until I decide I want to replace the printer.

  4. I installed it yesterday. I had a fairly important document to print this morning and figured all was well. My coffee cup fell to the floor and shattered when Snow leopard had no record of drivers for my faithful HP 3745 printer. So in a panic I went to the HP website and sure enough there was no driver at all for 10.6! Thank God I was able to transfer my document to another Mac and print it with 10.5 at my neighbors house. Now my printer is a paperweight and I’m really paranoid. Come on people get it together!

  5. OpenThreads

    I’ve had Snow Leopard installed since noon today. So far, no problems. I had to install rosetta because of my Epson scanner monitor…but the system told me that I needed to do it, and then installed it for me automatically.

    My Parallels 4.0, VMWare Fusion (with Windows XP and Ubuntu Linux clients), Office 2008 Pro, Adobe Creative Suite CS4 (Photoshop, etc.), Thunderbird, Firefox, iView MediaPro, Canon Digital Photo Professional, Canon ImageBrowser, Canon EOS Utility, X11 (regular & full screen XDMCP to my linux box Ubuntu 9.04 KDE desktop), Cisco VPN Client 4.9.01.0180, Adobe Lightroom 2.4 are all working fine.

    There’s an Aperture update that just came out today that I installed.

    So far, so good.

  6. Upgrading a cloned volume on an external drive is one way to go… If you use a lot of third-party apps/haxies like I do it gives you a worry-free way to see how everything works with an OS upgrade.

    If things go well then it is easy to use SuperDuper! to copy the cloned volume to your Mac. BTW, SD! was updated to 2.6 today and is now compatible with Snow Leopard.

  7. I’ve been an early adopter of Mac OS releases since OS 8. Yeah, there are definitely issues every once in awhile, but the great thing about Leopard is that you should have an Up-To-Date backup with Time Machine on an hourly basis (or you can just run a manual one to make sure everything is up to date).

    If anything goes horribly wrong with the SL install and you realize that none of your apps work, pop in your 10.5 disc, reformat and reinstall from a Time Machine Backup, simple (yes, there are those that will complain about lost time, deal with it).

    I’ll be updating as soon as that disc hits my front door, and yes I’ll be the guinea pig. I don’t mind being a “Gamma Tester”. :)

  8. OpenThreads

    Completely cloned my Macbook Pro 10.5.8 to external bootable drive last night.

    I’ll update to Snow this weekend, maybe even today (Friday). If there are too many hassles, then the MPB is restored back to 10.5.8 overnight while I’ll sleep peacefully.

    Don’t forget….it’s fun!

  9. I’m going to clone a 2nd drive with my current OS, run the upgrade, and watch the sparks fly. I’m hoping for the best, but expecting the worst. Either way I’ll be able to carry on but my curiosity won’t let me be satisfied with waiting for a .1 update.

    Anyone that is wondering… I did receive a response from Acclivity (formerly MYOB, USA) to my question if they had tested AccountEdge 2009 or knew of any issues: “At this time we do not have any updates regarding AccountEdge running on Snow Leopard. Since it is due to come out on Friday we will hopefully have something released then.”

    Whatever *that* means…

  10. Having been through every Mac OS upgrade since, I don’t know, OS 7, I’ve learned not to upgrade until the .1 version hits. Not unless you just enjoy being pissed off at your Mac and potentially losing productivity.

    • @benjamin – One man’s “brag” is another’s simple expression of why price is not a factor in the upgrade decision. Can’t figure out why you’re so enraged by this observation that you feel the need to insult the author.

      @brian – And speaking of insulting, just when I think the “discussion” here couldn’t sink any lower, you weigh in. Thanks for lowering the bar.

      I’m just amazed at how the installation of a minor OS upgrade becomes for some people a litmus test for character and intelligence.

  11. You’re reasons are recycled. How about some more specificity? And, if you’re using PPC based app on Intel based systems then, they’re already running like crap. So good job Captain Obvious.

    And bragging about your discount is just tasteless. Jackass.

  12. I’ve been on Snow Leopard for over a month now. I like to see software evolve. I haven’t encountered any show-stopping bugs. Works great and it shuts down even faster!

    I’ll be buying it ASAP. Too bad I’m leaving the country Friday..

  13. Bible Thumper

    You must be crazy. Apple is perfect and anything they deliver is something straight from heaven. Waiting on snow leopard is like not repenting for your sins – judgement day is upon us. And yes, atheists cannot adopt kids.

  14. the weather is way too nice still to bother with an OS upgrade. Will do it when the next few days of rain are announced. Am also not sure how well it’s going to work. I bought the iMac 2 years ago while living in the States and am now back to Germany, where the Snow Leopard upgrade says its Deutsch. Anybody have experience experience with that? Are they the same except for the print on the packaging?

  15. I agree with Dave on this. Despite that this is a redone Leopard, I’m not taking chances.

    The point is that not everyone relies on the standard applications that are guaranteed to work. How about all the wonderful opensource apps? Will they work??? Quicksilver, TexShop, BibDesk, Skim, R, AppTrap, to name a few. I can’t even find some of them on the website to check compatibility…

    How about the big one: DropBox (still having issues).

    Some of us have more refined uses for our OSX’s so if you don’t have constructive feedback, just go ahead and upgrade quietly. You probably will not have any issues. I’m happy for you. If you do have issues, I’m sure we’ll hear about it on Saturday morning.

    Have fun, gamma testers!

    • I hope you are joking, but if not:

      DropBox is an online storage that syncs your computer’s files with the cloud. It is platform independent and you can also view all your files via any web browser. When I work on a project, I am not stuck with one copy of the file and am free to continue working on it on any of my platforms (mac, win, linux). Also, has a nice Public folder that lets you create URLs to your files to send to friends.

      PS I host my website and blog via DropBox. Overall, probably the most essential application at the moment for me for sync/storage/backup.

  16. I’m jumping in with both feet and not looking back!
    Weee.
    But yeah, probably not the wisest choice.

    Criticize us all you want just bear in mind that the rest of you would not benefit if it wasn’t for us early adopters.

    It’s like we’re heros! HEROS I tells ya!

  17. I’ve upgraded to every new OS release on day one and never experienced any major issue. It’s a myth that first released are unstable, especially when it comes to OS X. Besides, Apple usually releases a fix to major problems right away. Just upgrade and move on with life. Not a big deal.

    • Howie Isaacks

      The same for me, no problems with Mac OS X major releases. The only issues have been when another software vendor has dropped the ball and waited to release patches and updates to make their software compliant with the new Mac OS.

  18. I also been using Leopard since i upgraded in 2008. The problem of whether to upgrade or not into snow leopard is very simple here:

    a) Upgrade Snow Leopard right away – and you still can get an update in the future for 10.6.1 to 10.6.3

    or

    b) Upgrade Snow Leopard later (to wait a few days or months) – and you still can get an update in the future 10.6.1 or so.

    So in the end there will still be an update to it as to improve the next system in snow leopard. Its either you update or not that is entirely up to any mac user. Happy Mac-ing! :) – Rone

  19. I’ve been using Snow Leopard beta builds for a few months on my MacBook and have had 10A432 since it was seeded to developers. The only problem I’ve had with it is “AntiRSI” crashes on start. It’s not at all mission critical and it’s the only problem I’ve had. I will be upgrading to Snow Leopard on my other machines as soon as my retail disc arrives.