Waiting for Leopard to change its spots/dots

Being a long-time Mac user (MS Word on a Mac Plus still beats anything today in terms of writing flow and productivity) and someone who usually dives in head-first on new technologies, I was faced with an agonizing decision on October 26: to install, or not to install Mac OS X 10.5 on my primary production system. As a registered Apple developer, I plunged head-first into the early Leopard releases on my secondary machines (or at least tried to – it didn’t work at all for quite some time on my PowerBook), griping all the way about how the Finder was still the same, clunky beast and how Apple should have done this-or-that differently. Unfortunately, the work that pays the bills picked up and I had to leave Leopard behind just before summer got underway, confident in the knowledge that there would be a polished, shiny new toy to play with in the fall.

Thankfully, Jobs did not disappoint and I joined in with the throng of other folks who increased Apple sales by a quarter of a million dollars in just two days. When the shipment came, I opened it up, removed the disk from the packaging and did something that even surprised myself – I put it back in the box, making a conscious decision to wait until Apple added a dot and released 10.5.1. I suspect that I’m not the only one who is holding off, and the reports I’ve been seeing seem to indicate that delay may have been prudent (at least in my case).

I rely heavily on my MacBook Pro Core2 Duo (4GB/160GB) for both work and personal computing. My work VM (Vista+Office 2007) has to be 100% functional and the various bits of software and hardware that support my personal mobility and productivity all need to function with a minimum of interruption. During the week leading up until the official release, I kept reading vendor reports that they had to wait to test their wares on the final release version and then kept seeing reports during the first week after from some of my favourite tools that they were just adding compatibility. Not to mention Brandon’s post.

As if third-party software qualms weren’t enough of an issue, along came the security reviews. I’m an IT security professional by trade and was looking forward to the promised enhancements that would really put OS X even further on the security map (and ahead of Vista, which did include many real security enhancements). Sadly, the independent analyses showed what I suspected: Apple rushed out this release. The fact that we’re now seeing evidence of 10.5.1 seeding (which I’m not at liberty to confirm or deny given the legal verbiage tossed at us Apple Developers) seems to prove that conclusion.

I tried convincing my wife and daughter to let me install it on their systems (we buy family packs of all Apple s/w) and they both asked me why they should upgrade. This was the first time I did not have an answer.

So, I will take the plunge this weekend and put it on a dev box (MB Pro Core Duo) to see just the state of this latest predatory cat for myself. I’ll be paying very close attention to how some of the open source security tools I use compile and work and also what needs to be done to make the firewall as secure as possible. Hopefully, my core apps will all work so I can feel a bit more confident about moving to 10.5.1 when it’s released in a few weeks.