Leopard 10.5 a disappointment on legacy hardware.

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I’m no longer on the cutting edge of gadgets or software these days. I prefer the tried and true, and have less time to fool around with the inevitable issues that result from being an early adoptor. When Apple released Leopard (OS 10.5) I looked with interest but had no desire to upgrade nor did I need to buy a new Mac with it installed. But as luck would have it, when I started working for my current client a number of months ago I was given a license for both Textmate and MacOS 10.5. Textmate is great but I have found the operating system less so. Though it has provided a few key features that I find invaluable, the upgrade has overall been very painful. I don’t believe it’s wise to upgrade for those with non-intel Macs and I am probably alone in this assertion.
Here are some of the problems I have:
Speed. I have wanted to replace the safari icon with a spinning beach ball for a long time. It used to happen so frequently under 10.4 that at times safari was unusable for me. Since upgrading to 10.5 it happens everywhere. Forget about getting anything done why time machine is performing it’s hourly back-up. Take the day off if spotlight starts indexing. Overall I’ve noticed a significant drop in performance.
Network. My wireless base station in my office hasn’t been changed in over a year and yet since upgrading I have to enter and reenter the password over and over again. What used to be seaqmless is now a pain.
ICal. I use iCal notifications extensively. They have stopped working.
Spotlight. When I first started using my Powerbook after the upgrade, I was amazed at the improvement in speed I was experiencing when using spotlight. It was so fast I stopped using Quicksilver as my application launcher. But as it’s index has increased it’s speed has disappeared. Spotlight doesn’t seem to adhere to the preferences I set – I tell it to ignore a volume – it indexes it anyway. Spotlight is now pretty much useless for but for the occasional search across my external drives.
Safari. Since when has a browser needed to take more processor cycles and more memory than photoshop. There are times when Safari has over 50% of cpu and a huge chunk of memory. The UI is suspect as well, why all the dialog boxes confirming every choice I make.
UI. The new icons are completely indistinguishable in list view. I’m constantly getting confused between finder windows and application windows because they all look the same. My click error rate has skyrocketed, it’s not improving, and it drives me crazy.
Mail. These problems aren’t new but they still persist. The spam label doesn’t accurately state the the current number of spam message until you click on the label. While the speed of search has increased within mail.app it still lags far behind Gmail – a web app. on a remote server. Lastly, I’ve come to the conclusion that the Junk button is largely for show as it never seems to make a difference.
That’s most of my laundry list of gripes. I should add that I am not entirely surprised that it doesn’t perform as I had hoped. I am using hardware that is almost 3 years old and though as an ideal it would be great if each OS update increased in efficiency, this is seldom the case.
Caveat emptor.