Update: See here for some updates on some compatibility issues.  I don’t really use the Safari plugin for Evernote, so I missed that issue. 

Snow LeopardI have been running a developer copy of Snow Leopard  for the past two weeks; however this weekend I thought I would give Apple more money and go out and buy the Gold Master release  so that I wouldn’t be bound by the NDA and I could talk about my experience.  I don’t have a ton of 3rd party software on my system so I really have not had to0 many problems with breaking old applications.  The software that is affected is the software that was written to run on PowerPC chips and for compatibility with Leopard use the Rosetta layer to load these applications.  The install does give you the option of installing Rosetta – however I chose not to and felt limited retribution for my choice.  A network traffic analyzer called Little Snitch stopped working which is no biggy.  Photoshop CS4, Final Cut Pro, and Evernote  worked perfectly without a hitch (so far).  The system is snappier and the tweaks to Expose and Dock are nice.  Quicktime now allows for screen recording, audio recording and basic editing for podcasts.  Snow Leopard lacks any major wow factor as far as features go but instead it most of the changes were under the hood.  I don’t remember the last time an operating system was released that reduced its footprint and increased speed for machines instead of taking the typical road to bloat.  Nice touch, Apple.

Most of the features that are under the hood are going to take some time to be exploited.  OpenCL will allow for developers to harness the power of the GPU which will allow for beefier programs and shared processor speed.  Grand Central allows developers an easy mechanism to take advantage of multiple cores.  The 64-bit environment seemlessly allows for 32-bit software to run without a hitch giving developers a migration path to the advantages of the 64-bit world.  It should be noted that not all Macs will boot into 64-bit mode.  To check to see if you are already running in 64-bit mode:

  1. Launch System Profiler (Applications > Utilities > System Profiler or About this Mac > More Info..)
  2. Click on the “Software” heading in the left pane.
  3. Check the “64-bit Kernel and Extensions” line for a Yes or a No.

If it says Yes, you are golden, if it says No – you need to check to see if your system has the 64-bit EFI required to run the 64-bit kernel enter the following:

ioreg -l -p IODeviceTree | grep firmware-abi

It should return:

| |   "firmware-abi" = <"EFI64">

If it returns,

| |   "firmware-abi" = <"EFI32">

you are out of luck.

Once you have determined that you can run 64-bit applications you can do one of two things.  You can either reboot and hold down the “6″ and the “4″ keys.  It may take a little bit longer to boot the first time, but go back and recheck the System Profiler to see if you it booted in 64-bit mode.  The other option is to edit the file:

/Library/Preferences/SystemConfiguration/com.apple.Boot.plist

Change this:
<key>Kernel Flags</key>
<string></string>

To this:
<key>Kernel Flags</key>
<string>arch=x86_64</string>

Reboot and you should be golden!  You can also go back and see which Applications are running in 64-bit mode by going back to the System Profiler and looking under the Software section.  Note on the right it will say, Intel, Universal, PowerPC or sometimes nothing.  It also will have a column noting 32-bit, or 64-bit.  FYI, 64-bit applications have more registers to work with which means that they can allow you process more information in the same processor cycle as a 32-bit application would.  This will allow for more speed as well as more memory management ability.  Once developers have made the leap to 64-bit, Grand Central, and OpenCL utilization, the OS X will become even more efficient.

For $29 you can’t beat it.  I would suggest upgrading.  I have a 2009 MacBook Pro that was running Leopard before I installed the dev version of Snow Leopard, so your experience may vary.  I strongly suggest the upgrade.

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2 Responses to “Snow Leopard”

  1. Ben Kauffman Says:

    Go Snow Leopard. I upgraded on Friday. 64 bit is much faster on my MBP. I like it all around. Upgraded the fam over the weekend. Other users in the Co. are upgrading today. Also, I.T. switched to Snow Leopard Server over the weekend. We’re going to get rid of Exchange once and for all, and handle mail thru Apple XServers! So much for nickel and diming users for Exchange access. See ya later MS.

  2. Nate Says:

    Love it. Thanks for the post, Ben!

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