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Mac OS X: part II -
The Installation and first look


A commentary concerning the new Macintosh operating system.


By Ted Bade


After a week of rushing home to see if my copy of Mac OS X arrived, I was dismayed to find that UPS (yeah, I went with the cheap shipping option), NEEDED a signature to give me my box, so the following day I located the UPS office and got my box... finally.

Overall I like Mac OS X. The Interface is elegant, visually interesting without being distracting. For the most part, sharp rectangular windows are replaced with soft rounded ones. The Aqua color scheme is almost relaxing. This new OS responds well, seems peppy enough on my G4/450, and has been crash free. I've see a couple applications quit, but this has not affected the OS at all.

The things I don't like so can be categorized into three items: bugs, my lack of familiarity, and Apple's people not following Apple standard interface guidelines. This OS feels a lot like the standard Mac OS, yet isdifferent enough to make one notice. It is an odd feeling.

The installation was a breeze. The installer makes some useful suggestions about collecting necessary network and other information, then walks you through the setup. After the second reboot, you are using Mac OS X. For me, the scariest part was when I noticed my mouse wouldn't work. After a bit of troubleshooting I discovered that it was my USB hub, not the mouse that Mac OS X had a problem with. So now I am forced to use the Keyboard hub, which isn't a problem at the moment, since none of my USB peripherals have drivers for Mac OS X. 

Operation of OS X is smooth. It feels smooth and definitely looks smooth.

Everything from the warm medium blue colors (which I wouldn't call "Aqua"), to the way the application windows move, all are smooth. However, some of the "eye-candy" stuff borders on flamboyant. I didn't care for the "wiggling" graphics in the Dock or the "Genie" effect. Okay, it is cool the first time you see it, but after that it has little value. As I watch these effects, I wonder, (much as I do when that annoying animated Microsoft paperclip pops up in Office), how much of my processor's abilities are being "wasted" on these silly things. But these things may sell an operating system and I doubt if efficiency will ever win over good looks!

The words in various windows looks fuzzy or blurry. I think this is because of the font you are forced to use The tops and some parts of the insides of letters are either severely faded or distorted. I believe they are trying to achieve font smoothing, but the effect just looks bad. 

Getting used to a enforced multi-user computer at home is going to take some getting used to. For instance, one must provide a password to install software, even if logged in as the owner of the computer. I realize the importance of protecting a multi-user system. However, provisions must be made for the single user computer. I have heard there is a way to log in as the "root" user (the person on a UNIX system with permission to do everything), but doing this may leave the computer open to security holes. 

Navigating with the new Finder is different, but not terribly bad. There seems to be a lot of dissatisfaction with the new Finder and how it responds. Granted it doesn't work like a Classic Mac OS does, but it isn't terrible. Once we all get used to it, it will become second nature. The biggest problem I am facing with this test is having both classic drive organization and Mac OS X organization. Since rules are different it is easy to confuse things.

The installed package includes a number of applications to play with. Along with the QuickTime player there is an MP3/CD player, calculator, web browser (Internet Explorer with a whole new plethora of bugs), a built in e-mail program, a mostly useless clock program, Sherlock for searching, and more.

If you are familiar with standard UNIX, you'll find some text based applications for working in the system. Other applications are included and every day I find more applications ready to run on Mac OS X. For instance,

MacMame, a program which allows you to play old arcade video games, has recently been carbonized.

Running classic applications is good, although there are a few odd things.

Classic applications don't (and cannot) show in the Application menu included with Mac OS X. To launch one you need to navigate to wherever you have stored it. When you d-click to run the classic application, it will start up the Classic Window, which boots Mac OS 9. If Classic is already running, the application simply launches. A major gotcha here is if an application in the foreground calls up a classic application, the computer seems to freeze while Mac OS 9 boots. If you don't realize this is happening, you might think the computer locked up. Normally when Mac OS 9 boots, a window appears indicating this. The window can be expanded to let you watch the normal start up graphics screen.

You then use the application just like you would in Mac OS 9. When you have a classic application in the fore-ground, the Mac OS menu bar changes to the Classic bar with the multicolored Apple and the clock, and any menu bar additions your Mac OS 9 has. You can easily move from there to Mac OS X applications by clicking on the desktop or using the Dock. As I write this, I am using NisusWriter in the classic window. I can jump to a Native X application or use my DragStrip to launch another Classic application.

Major things I don't like about Mac OS X include, no Menu bar clock, the potential security problems when connected to the Internet, and having to enter a password for certain actions after I have already logged in with that password.

Things I like include the smooth interface, lack of OS crashes, not having to play with application memory sizes, and multitasking.

It is really cool to be playing an MP3, launch the browser and load a graphically intense page and not hear the music skip a beat! I feel very confident running application in this OS. I don't hesitate to run any number of them at the same time.

I am still looking for great places to read and or hear about Mac OS X, Feel free to e-mail me. So far my favorite sites have been the Mac News Network site. They have a special section for Mac OS X including some excellent forums. Also the people at MacCentral offer some good information and links. Finally, the people at Version tracker offer a section on Mac OS X applications. A great place to visit if you are looking for new or recently released applications.

I intended to keep this a first look and short. The next article in this series will be after I am a bit more experienced with it and hopefully Apple has provided an update or two.

In the mean time, if you have a favorite Mac OS X information site let me know. I will inspect them and list the best of them in future articles. And Don't forget to check our Daily list of news links for Mac OS X news.


Ted Bade


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Mac OS X Black Book : The Reference Guide for Power Users, by Mark Bell








Mac OS X Clearly Explained,
by John Rizzo












Mac OS X for Dummies ,
by Bob Levitus  



The biggest problem I am facing with this test is having both classic drive organization and Mac OS X organization. Since rules are different it is easy to confuse things.  



















It is really cool to be playing an MP3, launch the browser and load a graphically intense page and not hear the music skip a beat!