Thursday, October 15, 2009

Don't buy Snow Leopard

If previously I was equivocal, now I’m clear: buying Snow Leopard was a mistake.

Sure, I was already irritated that Mac OS X 10.6 deletes AppleTalk and PowerPC support. However, a few people may not have a need for these technologies. I was running it on my Intel-based iMac which needs two printers, neither which of changed in the past 6 years.

But today, trying to scan a document for my tax return, I found that 10.6 breaks existing scanner drivers. Trying to re-install the scanner software, it refused to install one of the kernel extensions (kext), implying that some or all 32-bit kernel drivers are toast.

Sure enough, my scanner is known to be incompatible with OS X 10.6 and it’s not on the list of scanners HP plans to support for 10.6. This is the second time Apple’s broken drivers this decade, a record that seems to surpass Microsoft.

Facing this, I wasted most of the afternoon re-installing 10.5, copying user files and preferences, re-configuring printer and network settings, and installing post-10.5 updates. And I paid $50 for the privilege of having to do so. (If this had been OS 7,8 or 9, the re-install would have been done after 20 minutes).

As a systems programer and standards strategist, I can see why Apple developed 10.6 to help the Nexties force a transition away from legacy architectures and APIs. It appears to have succeeded wonderfully here.

However, unless you own a large-RAM desktop or server CPU, I can’t see why anyone would pay to buy this less capable software. Wait for the new one that actually does something new.


Eddie von Eigenvector said...

Is this Apple's fault or HP's? After reading your post, I was quite unclear who was to blame.

Personally, I think the performance improvements of Snow Leopard make it quite worth the money.

Joel West said...

I understand that some like the improvements in 10.6 However, the installed base of AppleTalk printers is still functional, and at the time they were made, these printers were fully compatible with Macs (at extra cost to HP).

To me, the 10.6 improvements are marginal and the loss of functionality is a deal-breaker.