Why you should stay productive on Mac OS X 10.5.8 and not move to Snow Leopard Mac OS X 10.6.0

You probably shouldn’t cave into those urges to move to Apple’s new operating system, Snow Leopard. You’ll be better off staying at Leopard for at least the next nine months. I’m going to tell you why in this post.

I’m as guilty as the next person of always wanting to move to the next next thing from Apple or pretty much any brand company I’m associated with. I was one of the first adopters of Mac OS 10.0.0 (what a nightmare that was), I had one of the earliest iPhones, I got rid of my CDs about a hundred years ago. I stopped using desktop applications about two years ago. I am the ultimate tech savvy early adopter.

The issue is that there are two important factors to consider:

  • your buddhist wanting mind will never ever ever ever ever go away and you will constantly crave the next next thing from Apple (or BMW or Ford or Walmart or Amazon or …)
  • Apple and most technology companies have pretty well established patterns of releases and if you know them, you can ride them appropriately so you stay productive.

Buddhists call the part of you that seeks to find new experiences and that drives the shopping urge the “wanting mind”. It is the bottomless pit of desire that says “if I just buy that one thing / upgrade to the new O/S, get that new app for my phone / etc., my life will be complete and I PROMISE I’ll be happy.” Don’t believe the lie. You can choose to be happy with nothing. Satisfying that urge gives you momentary relief until your seeking mechanism picks a new target. We’re wired this way in our DNA. Don’t listen to it. Or at least be aware that’s what is going on when you irrationally crave the leap to the new O/S, even when you don’t really know what it will do for you.

I’d like to suggest that Mac OS X 10.5.8 (the most up to date version of 10.5) is probably the best we’re going to get from Apple in the next nine months. With the leap to Snow Leopard 10.6.0, Apple is putting in a stronger foundation but breaking a lot of stuff above ground. That’s because of this pattern:

  • Mac OS 9.0….9.x.y: the development years;
  • Mac OS 9.x.y (the very last release of Mac OS before adopting the new NextStep O/S foundation):this was the penultimate Mac OS 9 O/S – fully featured, fast, multi-application. It was a thing of beauty.
  • Mac OS 10.0: the nightmare beta. Unix based but they threw out 10 years of UI and started from scratch.
  • 10.1.0: It sucked less
  • 10.2.0: They sped it up.
  • 10.3.0: Getting better! (but more apps broke)
  • 10.4.0: Hey this thing is fast, solid, and runs really well (and some apps broke)
  • 10.5.0: Wow, I love this stable, fast, lovely, beautiful Mac and all of my apps run so well.
    • 10.5.8: Even all the little patches and glitches are fixed!
  • —— big O/S. foundational break point——–
  • 10.6.0: WHOA – a whole bunch of applications broke here. The finder was rewritten from scratch (a good thing) but alot of applications are now borked. If your drive was partitioned incorrectly, you need to clone it to an outside drive, format/partition it to GUID partition tables (wtf are they? yes, exactly my point), and restore the drive and THEN upgrade it to 10.6. Quicktime is a frankenmonster and now has a crappy poorly thought out UI and still requires Quicktime 7 to live on the drive anyway. It now only runs on Intel macs so if you have multiple generations of Macs and move your cloned copy around to different machines or want to use them as emergency spares, you can’t do that with OS 10.6 unless they’re all Intel based. They gave us a few new features (like Exchange integration which is great for those who need it) but broke a lot of cool tools like Widemail/Letterbox that give  you 3 pane views in Mail.app or Windows Live Sync or Parallels Desktop and the list goes on and on. This is a big foundational change and not a user release. It is Apple’s attempt to defray engineering costs of their new O/S by getting a bit of revenue in now which is brilliant on their part.

If you want to stay productive, update your system to 10.5.8, run Alsoft Diskwarrior on your machine, free up as much hard drive space as you can so your virtual memory works better and stay happy and productive on 10.5.8 until 10.6 hits at least 10.6.1 or 10.6.2 or maybe even 10.6.3.  Unless you’re an Exchange user, in which case you should just suck it up and live with the pain and upgrade. The upside of having Exchange integration will far outweigh the minor UI niggles and the upgrade path pains. But for everybody else, I recommend staying where you are.