Like many, I found myself purchasing Apple OS X 10.5 Leopard on launch day. There are no official Apple Stores in Ireland, but a variety of O2 Experience Stores and 3G shops were stocking it. I found myself at the Blanchardstown O2 store to pick up my reserved copy. There was me and one other person, who was rather more excited than I was it has to be said.

I had some time to kill before the 6pm launch, so ended up buying something else, but more on that in another post…

My 24″ iMac is around nine months old now, and has been regularly backed up using SuperDuper. Given that, I decided to do a wipe and clean install, making a new backup of my Tiger install first. The install process itself was painless, with my only complaint being that I didn’t notice the skip button on the DVD media test portion until too late. That would have shaved about 20 minutes off the install time.

After configuring the OS after install (including setting up an account) I ran the migration wizard and pointed it at my backup. I chose to copy over accounts and data, but not applications, thinking that I would install those separately and thus cut down some of the cruft the machine had accumulated. The copy over took an hour and a half or so for over 200GB of data from my external Firewire 800 drive.

Unfortunately it seems that the migration assistant always copies over the System files, so a lot of application-specific stuff in /System/Library and under my home directory got copied over. This pretty much defeated the purpose of trying to do a clean install and re-install apps, but wasn’t a big hassle to clean up.

The second migration assistant gotcha was that it wasn’t happy about copying over account data where the “from” and ‘to” account had the same name. This wasn’t a problem for me as I just asked it to create a new account for the migrated data (a situation where being happily known as both Adrian and Aidy comes in handy!) With some forethought, the correct thing to do is to create a temporary account when you install Leopard which you can then delete once running the migration assistant.

Given that I spend the majority of time in front of a Windows or Linux OS at work, my Mac is a haven of usability at home. As such I don’t consider myself to be an OS X power user and I find myself being much less critical of some of the new Leopard features than others. I like the new dock. Yes the way that the stack icons work isn’t very intelligent. Translucent menu bar? Not a problem for me. I keep a fairly uniform background image anyway for when I’m doing Photoshop work as I find complex ones get distracting with the way the floating toolbars appear in Elements. Spaces is a very cool virtual desktop implementation. The only thing I’d like is to be able to set different background images so my photo editing space could be completely clean. Coverflow in Finder and quick look are very useful. I’ve not made use of Time Machine yet as I’m waiting to buy a Raid 1 enabled Firewire 800 external drive to use it with rather than the Raid 0 one I currently use as a (rather suicidal) backup disc. Given my iMac is desk-bound I’m not at all concerned about the lack of backup to Airport Extreme disks.

One thing I am looking forward to making more use of is iChat. My mother has just bought a new Macbook and therefore iChat will replace Skype as our primary communication method. Leopard to Leopard screen sharing will be a boon for helping her our remotely as well.

All said, I’m very happy with Leopard. Yes I can understand some of the criticism it has drawn with regard to some of the technical and UI design choices Apple have made. However, all I can say is that it is an improvement over Tiger, and it sure as hell beats Windows XP, Vista or any flavour of Linux I’ve used recently. I long for the day when I can use it full time at work. I regularly tell our PC-using UI designer that he should have requested a Mac just so I could use it instead 😉 Maybe I should just take the iMac in…

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