• Snow Leopard: First Look

    I got out early this morning to beat the rush and get my hands on the new release. As it turns out, I could have caught some more Z's, or waited out the unseasonable chill in Boston this morning: I misread either the zealotry or the disposable income of our local fanboy base, or both. The hype, the extra staff at the Apple Store, and the rope-line to keep the hordes of upgraders off to one side notwithstanding, there was just a handful of us when the Boylston Street store opened this morning.

    So much the better... I started the install on the T, so as not to waste a minute. Unlike previous releases, the Installer doesn't prompt you to restart. I wanted to run Disk Utility first, though, so I booted from the DVD.

    It's a simple process if you just want to accept the defaults... click Install, and you're off and running. It's unthreatening for the casual user: your mom can do it solo without calling you for support. It even dims the screen while it's working so she's not distracted by watching the progress bar.

    If you want to, though, you have the option of clicking the Customize button to enable or disable some packages:

    Printer Support: if you want to save more space, you can deselect some of the - literally - hundreds of printer drivers loaded by default;

    Additional Fonts: you may or may not need a Cherokee or Inuktitut font;

    Language Translations: likewise, Dansk? Portugues Brasileiro?

    X11: if you need it, you know, and if you don't know... you probably don't need it;

    Rosetta: if you need support for non-Intel apps, this is a must-load;

    QuickTime 7: Apple says QuickTime X is not compatible "for use with older media or with existing AppleScript-based workflows. QuickTime Player 7 can be used to playback formats such as QTVR, interactive QuickTime Movies, and MIDI files."
    You can also run the standard install and then add/remove components in the Optional Installs package (shown here with the Snow Leopard Easy-Reader size 512 x 512 icon):

    With a full Verify Disk on a 120 GB Fujitsu, the whole process took about 56 minutes. Most reports have the standard install coming in at 30 minutes or so on a machine with 2GB RAM.

    So far, the performance seems a bit snappier (though it's more likely just enthusiasm and all the Red Eyes I drank at Starbucks waiting for the Apple Store to open). The new Cocoa-native Finder is subtly smoother, and I like the new black-look contextual menus in the Dock:

    I'll check back in after a few hours of using Snow Leopard for more first impressions...
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