Upgraded to Mac OS X Leopard

Well I finally did it. I upgraded to the latest and greatest version of Mac OS X: Leopard (10.5).

But why?

A little over six months ago I wrote about not fixing what isn't broken, including the previous version of OS X: Tiger (10.4).

There were a combination of events that drove me to write that post, including hearing numerous stories about how Leopard was causing problems for people upgrading. Also around the same time I was hearing about how so many people (including myself) were refusing to upgrade to the latest version of Microsoft's OS: Vista. But I now realize that every upgrade comes with its bumps and you won't be hearing stories from people who didn't have any problems upgrading (negativity is something to complain about, positivity is taken for granted).

So what drove me to upgrade to Leopard? Well a customer at work was having problems with an application I created and he was using the latest version of OS X (Leopard). I was running Tiger, so I wasn't able to replicate his problem and confirm the bug. This is unacceptable and if Apple is shipping new computers with Leopard, then my software should work with the latest version.

Impressive Upgrade Process

After using RsyncX to create a bootable backup of my entire Tiger installation (183 GB!), I started the upgrade process for Leopard. This was the first upgrade of an OS X system I had ever done and the first thing that impressed me was the 30+ minute "Verifying installation disc" step. I say it impressed me because it made me feel confident that the software was going to verify the entire installation disk before continuing with the upgrade process. I can't remember how many times I've installed/upgraded a Windows system only to discover the CD was corrupted and the resulting installation was flaky.

No Hiccups

The entire upgrade must have taken about an hour and a half, but I wasn't timing it so I could be wrong. With the exception of BOINC, OS X started up without any hiccups. The first thing that came up was the Software Update dialog with a whole slew of things to upgrade the system to 10.5.3. I let it do its thing, including a reboot when it was finished.

After the reboot, I started all the applications I use on a daily basis to confirm they worked properly: Eclipse (v3.3.2), Firefox (3.0 RC1), FileZilla (v3.0.5.2, though now I can upgrade to the latest version), iTunes (v7.6), Adium (v1.2.5), iTerm (v0.9.5), QuickSilver (vB51), Thunderbird (v2.0.0.14), and VMWare Fusion (v1.1.2).

Feeling a Little Sluggish

Right off the bat, the system felt a lot more sluggish than it did with Tiger. With 4GB of RAM in my system, I knew it shouldn't be slow. I was beginning to worry that I made a mistake by upgrading until I remembered something I read about Spotlight Indexing. I clicked on the Spotlight icon in the top left and sure enough it was in the middle of indexing my entire drive. I don't use Spotlight (I always know where everything is on my computer) and after a quick visit to macosxhints.com I had a solution to disable it completely:

Turning off and disabling Spotlight (helps prevent the slowness associated with indexing)1:

1) Stop and disable the spotlight application itself:

cd /System/Library/LaunchAgents
launchctl unload com.apple.Spotlight.plist
sudo launchctl unload -w com.apple.Spotlight.plist

(Ignore the error message from the last command. That command tries to stop the application for every user, including root. Since root isn't running the app, you get that error.)

2) Stop and disable the background server:

cd /System/Library/LaunchDaemons
sudo launchctl unload -w com.apple.metadata.mds.plist

3) Remove the .Spotlight-V100 directories

sudo find / -iname '.Spotlight-V100' -type d -maxdepth 3 -print0 | xargs -0 -t -n1 sudo rm -rf

Wow, that sped things up a lot! Being the user-friendly operating system that OS X has become known to be, I'm a bit surprised they don't at least notify the user that indexing is running and that the system might be a bit slow until its done.


I'm running Leopard and so far I'm really liking all the new features. There are so many slight things that, when put together, make the upgrade well worth any hiccups that might come as a result. I will be posting about these new features over the next few weeks as I discover their usefulness (or lack thereof).

If you're thinking of upgrading but haven't yet taken the plunge, I encourage you to do so. The sheer number of tips on macosxhints.com and LifeHacker which require Leopard should be enough to annoy you into upgrading.

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