The five minute Leopard review

After installing Leopard on three machines and using it for the past four days I figure I might as well write down my first impressions. Here are the high and low points for me:

  • The installer is a bit buggy in that it doesn't seem to recognize hard drives with any sorts of special partitions made for previous versions of Boot Camp (made by Apple themselves!). One Mac required wiping out the Boot Camp partition completely before I could proceed, the other asked me to open disk utility and do some sort of GFI Journaling thing or something that I can't remember and could barely decipher. It took quite a bit of noodling with the installer to figure out where Disk Utility was and in a buried advanced menu was the option I needed. Why didn't the installer just do it for me with a quick one-button click? I've had Microsoft Windows installs go smoother than my macbook install of Leopard.
  • Spotlight is super speedy now, to the point where it works as fast as Quicksilver used to for application launching. I say "used to" because Quicksilver lost its index of my system after upgrading and couldn't seem to launch very basic apps I use dozens of times each day. I ended up breaking down and uninstalling it today, converting over to Spotlight instead.
  • Things seem a little faster and a little more stable (less beachballs, for sure).
  • Time Machine is a godsend. I've been waiting for a transparent backup system with easy retrieval for the past ten years, ever since I worked in a place with nightly full backups saved for months on end (but even then, retrieval was a pain). I rarely have hard drives crash, but I accidentally trash or tweak Photoshop, Textmate, Excel, and Word files all the time. Getting a copy from a day, a week, or a month previous has already saved me once since I installed Leopard and I suspect it'll be the kind of thing I use for fetching previous versions of mockups and writing drafts often. I really hope they return the network storage feature, since I could easily hook a usb drive to my airport extreme and just have my computers backup to that.
  • The downside of Time Machine is that I have noticed a couple beachballs and my second hard drive spin up around the top of the hour. I figure it's probably Time Machine since my second hard drive is entirely dedicated to that, and it's only about 20 seconds of unexplained lock-up, but it's still annoying when you're in the middle of something and you have to wait for it to finish whatever it is doing.
  • Firefox is my browser of choice and seems to take forever to launch. I usually leave it open all day, but it seems to take about a minute to launch on my 4-processor machine. Safari pops up in just a couple seconds, so I'll either prune my extensions and hope for a quicker firefox, or move over to Safari when I'm in a hurry and just want to look something up real quick.
  • Screen sharing in iChat is freaking awesome. I'd finally have no qualms about buying my dad a mac now, since I could give him tech support whenever he needed by just popping in and fixing things over iChat. I also like the new Keynote iChat sharing as that might be a great way to practice my talks for upcoming conferences.

Overall, Leopard looks like a welcome upgrade and I can't wait to see what application authors do with the new animation capabilities.