Durham, NS, Canada

I took the plunge. I made the upgrade from Tiger to Leopard on my aging Powerbook, and so far, all is wonderful. Well, there have been some problems, but these aren’t things which the normal user would run into I suspect. Apparently Apache on Leopard has been upgraded to Apache 2, versus the older version Tiger shipped with. Since my setup here contains dozens of virtual hosts, I found upon upgrade that they didn’t work. I half expected that to be the case since I have been burned by system updates before, even point updates of the system sometimes would provide a new httpd.conf file. Fortunately I have all of my virtual hosts defined in a separate file, which just needed to be copied to the new location.

For anyone interested, the built-in web server’s configuration files on Tiger are in /private/etc/httpd/. In Leopard, look in `/private/etc/apache2/. Also I had to turn on Web Sharing in the Shared System Preference pane.

That was the extent of my negative experience with the upgrade however, everything else has been fine. I have enabled Time Machine on my drive and while I haven’t needed it yet, and I hope never to, I did take a look at the interface and it is great. One of the things about backups is that people just don’t bother. There are a number of reasons people give for that, but I think that they are getting weaker and weaker. With 500 GB drives available for $120 the cost of media isn’t really a factor anymore. Now with Time Machine not only are full drive incremental backups easier, they are also really neat. And that is the key, people might try something that is easy, especially if they are aware of the value, as I am. But the real trick to get people to try something important because it is cool, regardless of whether or not they recognize the importance. I think Apple has done a good job on that front.

A lot of people have been complaining about the new visual changes in Leopard and how bad some of them are. I honestly don’t see what the big deal is with most of them. I for one, haven’t seen much to complain about, and generally if there are interface problems, I will be right there to mention them. I guess everyone uses their system a bit differently and you can’t please everyone, and while there isn’t anything visually about Leopard which makes me stop and take notice, I am quite willing to adapt to new environments, which is what I have been doing since Jaguar.

I for one am also not jaded by the new stacks on the Dock which have some power users up in arms. I guess the primary reason I don’t care about the change is that I never used folders in the Dock before. It had never occurred to me to do that. After I heard about stacks I created my own Downloads folder and put it on my Dock, which was nice, but since it didn’t contain a hierarchy of subfolders the change in functionality across the upgrade isn’t noticeable. One thing that I have found that I would like now that I have heard of what others are doing are Application Stacks. These would be simply groupings of applications placed on the Dock’s left side, which when you dragged a file to it, it would expand as the normal stacks do, allowing me to drop my file or whatever onto one of the stacked applications. Basically this would allow for grouping applications to minimize the unexpanded horizontal (or vertical) space. Applications could be in multiple groups if desired and the groups could be named by the user. Perhaps there is a third party Dock replacement application which does this. Launching apps in a stack can be accomplished now with a folder full of application aliases (or symlinks if you prefer), but things can’t be dropped onto them that way. For me, the only reason I would have an application in the Dock other than those which are currently running (which I don’t need either) would be to drag something to. I often drag files to VLC or Quicktime to play if I don’t want to use the default. The same goes with photos dragged to my thumbnail generator as opposed to the default viewer. Now that I break it down, I don’t really need the Dock at all, and might be more satisfied with a third party solution. I’ll let you know.

I can see the new Screen Sharing application to be useful when troubleshooting my father’s laptop via iChat regardless of our networking situations. Yes, all said, this is a nice upgrade, and there are a lot of minor changes that you don’t even notice, but they are there and they all contribute to the overall feel of Leopard.

Written by Colin Bate