Waiting for the blizzard; mmm, Dairy Queen

As I clickety-click-clack out this blog post, I am only a scant 48 hours away from receiving a shiny new box from the FedEx man. This box will contain Macintosh OS X version 10.6, aka Snow Leopard, aka Barry. Anticipation for Barry the Snow Leopard runs high throughout the Mac community. Normally, this wouldn’t be an odd thing. We Macheads tend to get hopped up on anticipatory goofballs for any new OS X release. But Barry is different. Barry is, for all intents and purposes, a maintenance release.

That’s right. At first blush, Barry is akin to a Windows Service Pack. Except it’ll actually work and add some cool stuff. Probably.

And we’re all a-twitterpated as if entranced by the Hypnocat.

Barry the Ice Kitty, for those of you who are either just trolling the MacHole or actually have been staring at the Hypnocat for the last year, is supposed to be less about new features and more about under-the-hood performance. (It’s also only going to cost $29, or 100 bones less than a typical OS X upgrade.) But let’s face it, any enhancement that makes a noticeable improvement to the user experience is going to feel like a new (or at least vastly upgraded) feature. So let’s just poke around Apple’s Barry page and find out just how totally gnarly my almost three-year-old MacBook Pro is going to be once I install Ice Ice Barry.

OS X is now completely, more or less, 64-bit. Which means I can finally access those 16 terabytes of RAM that have taking up space under the bed. Additionally, all OS X programs (Mail, QuickTime, Safari) have been rewritten as 64-bit apps. So they should open more quickly and spend only half as much time giving me the Spinning Beach Ball of Doom. Also, I think the move to 64-bit will let me play eight separate games of the original Super Mario Bros. At once. Suh-weet.

Grand Central Dispatch makes multi-core processors useful for all. Under non-Barry editions of OS X, if you wanted a program to take real advantage of the multiple cores in your processors, said program had to be specifically coded to do so. Of course, most programs didn’t bother jumping through these hoops. Mainly because their developers had better things to do like code Hypnocat. With Grand Central Dispatch, the OS takes care of divvying up the processes between the cores. So instead of figuring out the best way to slice and dice threads, manage overhead, etc., developers just use the GCD APIs included in Xcode and be done with it. I’m hoping Final Cut Studio 3 is already written with GCD in mind (and it would be dumb if it weren’t), so I can see a decent boost on my paltry dual-core system.

OpenCL lets idle GPUs shoulder some computational burdens. While I trundle along with an ATI Radeon X1600 with a whopping 128MB of VRAM, a lot of folks out there have graphics cards with actual muscle. Muscle that, not unlike my oddly over-developed middle toe, usually goes to waste. With OpenCL, your graphics card will be used for general computation when it’s not busy jacking up the frame rates on your porn. I mean, Halo.

QuickTime X makes QT useful for the masses again. Okay, I’ve never stopped using QuickTime, but I’ve always had a QT Pro license thanks to being a Final Cut user. The new QT is a massive overall that does away with the Standard/Pro designation and offers all of the former Pro features to everyone. The new player is also optimized for smoother HD playback, and QT streaming can be done from any server. Even those at Denny’s.

Stacks will no longer anger me. Stacks now include, wait for it, scroll bars. Now my Downloads folder won’t try showing all 326 files at once.

Trash goes back to OS 9. Back in the day, if you stuck a file in Trash, you could click on that file and select a handy menu item that returned said file to its original location. Quite handy. OS X did away with this behavior for reasons that are best called dumb. Barry’s bringin’ it back. If only the same could be said for window-shading.

Time Machine won’t force you to use a time machine to complete your backup. Apple claims the Barrified version of Time Machine will be up to 80% faster at backing up than the current version. I hope so. I’ve actually been late to work (okay, that’s not a big deal really) waiting for TM to finish up. This alone might be worth the $29 Barry is costing me.

Wake from sleep and shutting down are now faster. Because, honestly, could shutting down really take any longer than it already does? I don’t know what exactly goes on with all the system cleanup at shut down, but apparently it’s done by a lethargic septuagenarian with a limp.

Super cool Chinese character input will help me prepare for the impending Communist takeover. Enough said, comrade.

Built-in Microsoft Exchange support. If you’re excited about this, keep it to yourself.

This isn’t the complete list of updates, additions and general mucking around that Apple is set to unleash with Barry the Chilly Cub, but it’s all I care to write about. Here’s hoping none of us regret not waiting for the dot-one release.

Later,

Fox

Comments closed
    • henfactor
    • 10 years ago

    Oh snap, I didn’t realize Power PC users were getting the shaft with this one.

    It’s ironic, because this release would make a Power PC usable for another while.

      • StashTheVampede
      • 10 years ago

      PowerPC is dead. Many pieces of tech in 10.6 won’t/can’t be used on PPC hardware. PPC, at most, has two processors (maybe four, it’s been a while) and a GPU that doesn’t support OpenCL.

      x86 has 4/8/16 processors and GPUs that will use OpenCL.

        • ThorAxe
        • 10 years ago

        Too bad if you bought a G5 in July 2006. As usual Apple asks it’s users to bend over and take it up the Khyber Pass.

    • destroy.all.monsters
    • 10 years ago

    Any word on ZFS?

    • henfactor
    • 10 years ago

    Pre-order done.

    • ddarko
    • 10 years ago

    Walt Mossberg at the Wall Street Journal has discovered that despite what Apple marketing says, you don’t need Leopard to install Snow Leopard. He was able to install and upgrade Tiger systems to Snow Leopard just fine. And he confirmed with Apple that it was allowed, although they still prefer you to pay the extra $150.

    • floodo1
    • 10 years ago

    the press is retarded when it comes to snow leopard. it’s not a maintenance release, how many of those have feature additions?

    Not a SINGLE page reports nice little changes like having the path to what folder you’re in show up at the bottom of a finder window (so you can easily backtrack up the hierarchy).

    While it’s not as massive as a typical update it IS entirely worthy of a new version number.

      • adisor19
      • 10 years ago

      l[

      • Corrado
      • 10 years ago

      What about XP SP2? It added the Windows Firewall, the security center, all new WiFi managment… and that was a service release, AND FREE.

      • Meadows
      • 10 years ago

      Who said maintenance releases can never add anything? If that were true, why not just release bugfix or security patches instead of all this fuss?

    • ludi
    • 10 years ago

    That is an awesome picture.

      • ssidbroadcast
      • 10 years ago

      pretty kitty.

      • fpsduck
      • 10 years ago

      It’s just perfect for Lol-[

    • Corrado
    • 10 years ago

    Well, all my parts for a new hackintosh are here today. I wonder how long till 10.6 is genericized? I have a purchased 10.5 DVD and an ‘obtained’ 10.5.7 DVD here that I know work…

    • Corrado
    • 10 years ago

    The Exchange support really worries me… since I run a 500+K user hosted Exchange environment that. All we need is yet another mail client that has crappy Exchange support to deal with. We already have to deal with Entourage 2004, Entourage 2008, and Entourage 2008 EWS.

      • adisor19
      • 10 years ago

      There will always be little issues here and there. This is a brand new feature after all.

      This being said, Entourage 2008 and the new Exchange support in 10.6 should be the least of your worries. You should push for your clients to get rid of Entourage 2004, 2008 as soon as possible however if you want to avoid problems.

      WebDAV was never meant for Exchange sync. MS just wouldn’t licence MAPI out to anyone including their own MacBU division for reasons still unclear to this day.

      Adi

        • Corrado
        • 10 years ago

        Oh, I know. Its just that my client gives out Entourage 2004 for free to all subscribers… and they can only use it as IMAP or POP3 right now. We recently got Exchange 2008 EWS to work properly. 2004 and 2008 WebDAV don’t, and I don’t see the point. 2004 is out of support on Sept 30th, and if you have 2008…. upgrade for free to EWS and it works fine.

        • Corrado
        • 10 years ago

        Initial testing actually shows that the Exchange support built into Apple Mail is FAR superior to that in Entourage 2008 EWS even. Autodiscover works properly, GAL works properly (something with MSFT seems to not be interested in making work in Entourage). Very impressed. No hackery needed.

        As a caveat, our environment is VERY complex as its an HMC 4.0 environment. 200+ servers with about 100K different orgs/domains hosted with full multi-tenancy + SharePoint WSS3.0.

    • UberGerbil
    • 10 years ago

    Re: Quicktime — so now people can resize a video without having to first pay for the privilege? (I’m not being snarky — well, not entirely — I’ve used 3rd party players for mov/mp4 files for years, so I really don’t know. But it always struck me as a more ridiculous case of charge-for-basic-features than anything MS every tried).

    • Meadows
    • 10 years ago

    Septuagenarian. You made me look up something.

    Well done.

    • Skrying
    • 10 years ago

    Everything I’ve read about the new Quicktime puts it firmly in the… worse end of the spectrum. Hell, apparently Apple is letting people install Quicktime 7 Pro. I’m going to guess there is a reason for that… like Quicktime X lacking many features.

      • blubje
      • 10 years ago

      it’s not vlc but undoubtedly a million times better without the stupid pro license advertisement. hopefully this will come to other platforms.

      • Jason_Fox
      • 10 years ago

      From additional reading (which I’ll verify after I install the update but have no reason to doubt), it sounds like QT X actually loses a lot of Pro’s functionality as far as exporting to various formats goes. This would be sad. I use Pro quite often. While there are many third-party apps that can handle this function, it seems dumb on Apple’s part to strip it from the new QT.

    • FubbHead
    • 10 years ago

    Mac users, obviously.

      • ssidbroadcast
      • 10 years ago

      Pffft. Damn Mac users.

    • Buzzard44
    • 10 years ago

    Reading the title, I thought this article would be about either Starcraft 2 or Diablo 3. I’m a bit disappointed.

      • Umbragen
      • 10 years ago

      Same. Even a rehash of the next WoW expansion would have been more relevant (to me anyway).

      • Meadows
      • 10 years ago

      You mean you expected incorrect capitalisation from TR?

        • Buzzard44
        • 10 years ago

        While you have a very valid point, I tend to overlook capitalization the second someone might have news about Diablo 3.

        And I appreciate the grammar Nazis that keep this site clean. Too many kids these days learn to type like idiots through instant messages and text messages. May American English prevail in a proper manner!

          • Taddeusz
          • 10 years ago

          Down with zed!

          • Meadows
          • 10 years ago

          You mean British English.

            • Buzzard44
            • 10 years ago

            <Chuckles> British.

            No, I can’t even understand what British say half the time. American English is what I speak.

            • Meadows
            • 10 years ago

            I can’t understand what Americans say half of the time!

            • ludi
            • 10 years ago

            ¿Que?

            • FubbHead
            • 10 years ago

            Una cerveza por favor! 🙂

    • adisor19
    • 10 years ago

    “OS X is now completely, more or less, 64-bit.” which will be half useless to you as your MacBook Pro(and mine as well) has a 32bit EFI and Apple has decided that it will artificially cripple SL and not allow you to boot with the 64bit kernel even though your CPU is 64bit. There is already a hack out there for it but all our MBPs need is a freakin EFI firmware update from Apple to make it 64bit compatible. It won’t happen.

    Adi

      • ssidbroadcast
      • 10 years ago

      Dude, chill. You only need the 64-bit kernel for 32+ GB of RAM. Your MBP will never have that.

        • adisor19
        • 10 years ago

        WRONG. You seem to have forgotten the performance gains from having twice the CPU registers at your disposal. A kernel using more registers is a faster kernel.

        Adi

          • StashTheVampede
          • 10 years ago

          ^^^ Citation needed. More registers = more overhead = more memory used. The gains do outweigh the additional overhead, but it’s there.

            • UberGerbil
            • 10 years ago

            Actually, that’s not the issue. Additional registers /[

            • ssidbroadcast
            • 10 years ago

            Thanks for backing me up Uber. Calm down, Adi.

            • adisor19
            • 10 years ago

            You may need to reread his post cause he’s not exactly backing you up on this…

            Adi

          • UberGerbil
          • 10 years ago

          Maybe. It’ll be single-digit % increases on code that is register-heavy, and you shouldn’t be spending much time in the kernel anyway, so it’ll be a smaller overall percentage gain. You can find the occasional exceptional case (such as some SSE routines that were spilling registers before but fit entirely now) but that’s relatively rare; I did some tests of my own back when XP x64 came out and 10% seemed to be the best-case ballpark for most code. That’s on Windows, of course, but I wouldn’t expect it to be different on the Mac and the Adobe guys seem to have found the same thing
          §[<http://blogs.adobe.com/jnack/2009/08/photoshop_64-bit_registers.html<]§ (Of course Adobe are the guys who are now trumpeting the benefits of 64bit for large data sets on Photoshop after swearing up and down /[

      • ltcommander.data
      • 10 years ago

      I’m disappointed about this too since my MacBook Pro doesn’t look to be able to run the 64-bit kernel either.

      It should be noted though, that users will get most of the benefits of 64-bit since 64-bit apps will run on 32-bit Snow Leopard just like they would in Leopard. What’s more, with all the core apps rewritten with 64-bit support, the average user will actually have 64-bit apps to run.

      On another note, since their is no 64-bit Flash plugin yet, Snow Leopard defaulting everyone to 64-bit Safari is another way to discourage web developers from being too reliant on Flash.

        • adisor19
        • 10 years ago

        l[

      • MadManOriginal
      • 10 years ago

      You’re supposed to buy THIS YEAR’s Mac not complain. Steve Jobs doesn’t care about last year’s hardware. You’re a bad, bad Macolyte for daring to complain rather than pony up for the newest shiniest bauble!

          • ssidbroadcast
          • 10 years ago

          What’s scary is that the iPod “micro” looks exactly like the new iPod Shuffle.

        • adisor19
        • 10 years ago

        You must confuse me with someone else. Lurk around some more and you’ll notice i do criticize Apple when they deserve it.

        Adi

    • UberGerbil
    • 10 years ago

    It’s going to be amusing watching the user bases take to Endangered Cat and Brad Pitt Horror Movie, respectively.
    Mac Users: “Snow Leopard changed some things! Yay! It didn’t change some other things! Yay!”
    Windows Users: “Seven changed some things! Boo! It didn’t change some other things! Boo!”

    And since there are so many more Windows users than Mac users, which set of exclamations will we hear more of?

    • Richie_G
    • 10 years ago

    Gotta admit, that Hypnocat link made me laugh.

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