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PowerBook G4 / MacOS X Initial Impressions

By br284 in Technology
Sun Jan 06, 2002 at 09:39:10 AM EST
Tags: Hardware (all tags)

I recently acquired an Apple PowerBook G4 as part of a subsidized deal. Read on for my impressions about the next-generation Apple platform.

First of all, this is my first Apple machine. I come from a Wintel / Unix world. On my desktop I run Windows 2000, and I have extensive experience with various Unix platforms -- from Linux to Solaris to Irix.

Hardware and OS X Installation

The bundle came with a G4 550 MHz processor and 256 MB of RAM. It also included the slot-loading DVD drive. For storage, Apple has included an 18 GB hard disk. It includes every port desirable under the sun: USB, FireWire, IRDA, Ethernet, and Modem. The mouse is a typical touchpad, with the signature Apple single button. It also includes a single PCMCIA slot and an expansion slot for a future AirPort card.

The initial impression of the machine before booting it up is that it well thought-out piece of hardware with thought given to both form and functionality. The machine is very elegant, yet is designed such that functionality is not impeded by the good looks.

As far as the software configuration is concerned, I wiped out the default factory configuration and installed MacOS X from the disks provided by Apple. The installation was simple and straightforward. Booting up was a simple matter.

The first thing that I did after installation was to update the software using the Software Update application. A noticeable increase in performance was observed after the installation of the 10.1.2 update on the default 10.0.1 installation. I was also able to update iTunes and DVD player software. This was a simple and painless process, only involving a couple of reboots.

After getting the system to a default base state, the first thing that I noticed was that I was going nuts trying to effectively use the default touchpad to accomplish tasks. Coming from a Wintel world, I was used to two or more buttons on my pointing devices. I lucked out and was able to use a USB trackball (Kensington Orbit) in place of the trackpad. This was a typical PC USB accessory that I'd acquired while working on Windows boxes, and I was pleasantly surprised that it worked flawlessly with the PowerBook.

Included and Third-Party Software

So, I had a fully functional Apple. The DVD player is phenomenal. The video playback on the LCD is first class. I also experimented with outputting the video via my regular 17" monitor. To be frank, I'd not seem better DVD output from a computer than what I watched on that monitor. I also fiddled with the included iTunes application. It seemed to be a run-of-the-mill MusicMatch-type application for playing MP3 files. It didn't impress me as much as DVD player.

After futzing with the included applications and configuring the system to my liking, I went online to search for applications for the shiny new Apple. I started out at Apple's website. I found a few applications, but I was disappointed with the lack of free third-party applications available for OS X. I was able to find the AOL Instant Messenger port and a few other tools such as VNC. I also downloaded a few browsers, but few were as well-done as Internet Explorer (included on the OS X installation media). I also searched for a few games, but most were demos or updates. One bright game that I did find was the Cro-Mag Rally Racing game where you race cavemen in a 3D GL environment. However, for the most part, pickings were slim. Pickings were also slim in the other software categories.


One of the things that I wanted to do was to network the Apple with my Windows 2000 fileshares. Apple has made the inclusion of a SMB-compatible network layer as a major selling point of OS X. It is true that the functionality can be accessed through the Finder. However, Apple has not provided a browser that can browse Microsoft workgroups and servers. In order to connect to a share, the user needs to provide a URL like smb://workgroup;user@server/share. This is fine if you know the exact URL of the shares, but it is an obstacle if you just want to browse. Another obstacle that I ran into is trying to get my servers to resolve behind my NAT'ed network. I initially tried to add an entry to the /etc/hosts file, but found out that I needed to make an entry into the included LDAPish directory included in the installation. This took a bit to figure out, but I was eventually able to add the host entry to the directory so that OS X was able to resolve hosts outside the normal DNS. With this accomplished, I was able to finally connect to my file shares.

Another note about networking - when I initially tried to configure the Apple via DHCP, I found that the majority of the network configuration was made, but I did need to set a DNS server to make the system work. Note that the Windows machines using this system never had problems discovering a DNS server. Other than this, network setup was simple and straightforward.


In order to maintain compatibility with the older MacOS applications, Apple has included the option run older applications using the Classic layer. Classic is basically an installation of MacOS 9 that is used to run the older MacOS applications. Since I wanted to have a pure OS X system, I did not install Classic. This has not been much of a problem, but a few key applications such as RealPlayer, Windows Media Player, and Outlook Express refused to run without Classic installed. This may be a major roadblock to those who rely on Apples for work purposes, but for one running it as a curiosity (myself for the moment), it is only a minor inconvenience.

The Mac / Unix duality

At its heart, OS X is a Unix operating system. However, Apple has gone a long way to disguise that fact. It is entirely possible to run within OS X without encountering a command line. I'll be honest and say that I've done very little with the Unix side. I did do some tinkering around with the Samba daemon and was frustrated that Apple had disabled the root account by default. I eventually found out how to access root (it's via using sudo) and was able to get access to what I wanted.

In some respects, OS X is a very schizophrenic system. The Unix side is everything one would expect to find in a real Unix box, and the MacOS side is very much a polished version of the past MacOS systems.


This is not a complete review by any means, but I hope that my impressions are of some value to someone. In short, the PowerBook / OS X combination is a very elegant and well-designed system. The hardware is beautiful and works extremely well with the software, and the work that has gone into the operating system has made OS X a very good-looking and intuitive system to use. However, OS X does suffer from a lack of native applications at the moment that would distinguish it from other platforms. However, the native applications that are available are quite robust, consistent and work very well with the operating system and hardware.

Should the quality of work that has gone into this system continue, this platform has a good deal to look forward to.


Voxel dot net
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Favorite Platform...
o Windows 9X / ME 6%
o Windows 2000 14%
o MacOS X 30%
o MacOS 9 and below 3%
o Linux / *BSD 37%
o Commercial Grade Unices 3%
o BeOS 2%
o Other 2%

Votes: 83
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o PowerBook G4
o Also by br284

Display: Sort:
PowerBook G4 / MacOS X Initial Impressions | 38 comments (38 topical, editorial, 0 hidden)
X apps? (3.75 / 4) (#1)
by Skippy on Sun Jan 06, 2002 at 12:19:59 AM EST

I'm SERIOUSLY considering buying an iBook myself. I run FreeBSD now but I'd love to have a consistent UI when running graphically. Plus I really like some of the ideas that Apple has integrated like XML config files that can be hacked by hand or configured via GUI.

The big thing that's holding me back is that there are a lot of programs that I've gotten used to (and used to not paying for) in the Unix world. Anyone know the statuses (or where I can check the statuses) of ports for OSX? And how well does the X on X stuff work? I NEED the GIMP because I sure as hell am not going to pay for Photoshop for web work.

# I am now finished talking out my ass about things that I am not qualified to discuss. #

UNIX ports to OSX are becoming pretty ubiquitous (4.83 / 6) (#2)
by Ranger Rick on Sun Jan 06, 2002 at 12:41:52 AM EST

XonX is decent, but mousing can seem a little weird because click-through from the unix apps to an OSX app behind can be a bit weird. But you can always run the full-screen version of X which just uses another virtual terminal, and switch back and forth with a key combination. The biggest annoyance is that the clipboard is not (yet?) shared.

As for GIMP and other UNIXy software, go check out Fink -- it's essentially a "distribution" for OSX. It's a beautiful combination of the best of both BSD ports and debian's packaging system. You install an initial base system, and from there can use apt to get pre-built packages.

The ports equivalent is pulled from CVS, and can be automatically brought up to date with a "fink selfupdate" on the command-line. To build and install any installed packages with updated ones you've gotten with a selfupdate, you then run "fink update-all".

To install new packages, just do "fink install [packagename]". It will download the source and build it on the spot. "fink list" will give you the list of everything you can install. It's similar to BSD ports except the actual packages are debian packages. Creating new stuff is easier than debian, however, because they don't use the overcomplicated debian/ tree thing for defining a package.

It's got most of Gnome, plus a ton of other stuff that you would find in ports or any linux distribution, and new packages are getting made daily. It's really an impressively slick system.

I'm a UNIX/Windows convert as well... I got an iBook intending to put Linux on it as the primary OS and play with OSX a little. In less than a month, I've formatted the Linux partition and given it all to OSX.

The only thing I can suggest is to make an HFS+ partition for OSX (some mac apps have weird issues with non-HFS), and then a UFS partition for Fink. HFS+ is case-insensitive, so some stuff will break otherwise.


[ Parent ]
this can't be right (none / 0) (#10)
by kubalaa on Sun Jan 06, 2002 at 03:33:35 PM EST

I think you're confused. Debian packages are binary. There is no "building" going on. I thought maybe you were trying to say that it downloads a CVS tree equivalent to the source packages, then builds a debian package from the source and installs from that (never actually downloading any debian packages), but the fink site doesn't say anything about that.

No, what you download isn't a ports tree, it's simply a mirror of the package info tree. No "building" going on. As for there being no "/debian", that doesn't make much sense since that information is required to make a deb package. I mean, without it the packages wouldn't be debs, would they? Since the fink site doesn't say anything about this either, I'll assume I misunderstood or you were misinformed.

[ Parent ]

Fink's site is low on docs (4.00 / 1) (#11)
by fluffy grue on Sun Jan 06, 2002 at 06:46:41 PM EST

Fink works as the person you were replying to says. Fink handles all of the patching and the creation of the debian/ subdirectory and the like, and what it builds is, indeed, a .deb package, managed by dpkg, dselect, apt, and so on. I've been running Fink for a month now on my iBook. Trust me on this. :D
"Is not a quine" is not a quine.
I have a master's degree in science!

[ Hug Your Trikuare ]
[ Parent ]

Nope, I'm not confused. =) (5.00 / 1) (#12)
by Ranger Rick on Sun Jan 06, 2002 at 07:19:43 PM EST

The weird part is getting used to the fact that they've only used half of the debian packagin system.

In Fink, there is one CVS tree that contains .info and .patch files. These are the templates that everything is made from.

When you do a 'fink install [package]' it grabs the .info file (similar to an rpm .spec file) and a patch if necessary, downloads the source, patches it, and builds into a fake root. From there, the regular debian package tools take over, compressing it and making it into a .deb on your local system. Fink has essentially reimplemented the 'dpkg-buildpackage' or whatever it's called, and just kept the backend .deb database and binary on-disk format.

When you use apt-get, you're getting pre-built stuff instead of rebuilding from scratch from the cvs tree.

Basically, the apt-get bit is the equivalent of running debian stable (they make discreet releases of the base system and packages), and then "fink install" source build is like running unstable but building everything from scratch -- kind of like BSD ports but it makes .deb packages instead.


[ Parent ]
ah, much clearer (none / 0) (#16)
by kubalaa on Mon Jan 07, 2002 at 08:14:43 AM EST

That makes more sense. Although I'd call it running "twice" the debian packaging system, because very few people download source packages and build their own debs, while this always does that plus the deb format itself plus all the usual dependency and server business. Can you further explain the package building part -- you said it doesn't require the "debian" directory, but I'm gathering you mean it does more to automate that than the current deb-helper toolset? How and why exactly does it do this?

One other unclarity: you talk like the source is downloaded from CVS, but afaict, only the info files are kept in CVS; the source is simply downloaded as a debian source package, am I correct?

[ Parent ]

Well... (5.00 / 1) (#17)
by Ranger Rick on Mon Jan 07, 2002 at 08:59:37 AM EST

I really don't know enough about the guts of the debian package system to tell you how it compares to the deb-helper stuff...

But pulling the source is like BSD ports, it grabs a pristine tarball for, say, gettext from ftp.gnu.org/gnu/gettext/ -- and then applies the patch and builds. From there, fink creates the low-level DEBIAN/ extra stuff needed to make it a real debian package and packages it up.

The first half of the builing process (grabbing the tarball, patching, and building) has nothing to do with debian's set of tools at all. They only use the binary format, essentially.


[ Parent ]
all clear (none / 0) (#29)
by kubalaa on Tue Jan 08, 2002 at 05:40:12 AM EST

That does indeed sound like the best of both worlds. Since debian already has the infrastructure to serve and compile the packages themselves, it wouldn't help them much but it sounds perfect for OSX. Now if only we could get pgp-signed packages in place...

[ Parent ]
Matter of opinion I guess... (none / 0) (#31)
by Ranger Rick on Tue Jan 08, 2002 at 08:57:32 AM EST

As far as I'm concerned, it is a *huge* pain to create a package for Debian. There is a lot of work that goes into that debian/ directory -- lots of little files to edit and make just right.

I think the fink .info format considerably easier to understand, and I can put together a good package of something in as little as a few minutes.


[ Parent ]
there's a reason (none / 0) (#36)
by kubalaa on Tue Jan 08, 2002 at 05:43:20 PM EST

Mostly, I think debian developers like to make it a pain in the ass because it almost forces you to follow debian policy. Everything right in the changelog, all the dependencies perfect, and so on. Which makes for great packages but I agree is a huge headache when you just want to roll your own. (For that purpose I actually stole slackware's dead-simple system for the few things I can't get from debian.)

[ Parent ]
Fink is so cool (5.00 / 1) (#25)
by NDPTAL85 on Mon Jan 07, 2002 at 04:11:14 PM EST

The source is downloaded as straight up tar.gz files from where ever the particular app comes from. For example if you did "fink install gimp" it would download the fink source from gimp.org. Fink is written in perl, and then takes the source and after compilation builds it into a deb file for easy management later on. Alternatively you can also use "apt-get install gimp" if the Fink guys have built their specially ported deb packages from the start. This isn't possible with most stuff yet outside of xfree86-rootles/server and a few window managers so most people find themself falling back on "fink install <whatever>"

[ Parent ]
GIMP for OSX (4.00 / 2) (#3)
by msphil on Sun Jan 06, 2002 at 12:44:56 AM EST

Try macgimp.org. According to one review, it's the best and most painless X install currently available for OSX, and it nets you the GIMP. The one big quirk (again, according to the review I read) is that X's clipboard and OSX's clipboard don't meet in the middle, so you can't paste straight from a Mac app into the GIMP.

[ Parent ]
MacOS X Apps (4.00 / 2) (#4)
by truth versus death on Sun Jan 06, 2002 at 01:06:11 AM EST

There's a non-exhaustive list of MacOS X Apps over at VersionTracker updated daily. Try the search function to find what you're looking for.

"any erection implies consent"-fae
[ Trim your Bush ]
[ Parent ]
Buy that iBook! (4.33 / 3) (#15)
by rantweasel on Mon Jan 07, 2002 at 02:38:13 AM EST

Unless something better/faster/smaller comes out at MacWorld SF (check apple.com on monday night or tuesday)... Right after I bought my iBook, they released the 600mhz version of it, but if I had waited for MacWorld... I've tried SuSE, Red Hat, Debian, NetBSD, OpenBSD, plus a slew of windows variations, Solaris, and Tru64, and OS X is the perfect blend of the strong points of all of the others. It's got a GUI that my mom can use, but I can build and install most anything (qmail, ettercap, nmap, it's all good). Not to mention the fact that OmniWeb is one of the prettiest web browsers ever, and getting nicer every day (the early versions of 4.1 I've been using still have some memory leaks). I've been talking about splitting this iBook with OS X and OpenBSD, but the more I use OS X, the less I think I need to...


[ Parent ]
DVD player (3.00 / 2) (#5)
by westcourt monk on Sun Jan 06, 2002 at 08:56:27 AM EST

Funny thing with my DVD player... it won't work when I have another monitor plugged in. No clue why and it is really annoying.

I am running a G4 400 with 512 RAM and OS X.1. I have had the thing since June and love it but hate this one DVD player bug that seems only to effect my machine.

Ah well, small price to pay for all this on my lap. Just wish I had the cd-burner combo drive - my other major beef with apple (why did it take so long when Dell was doing it months ago on a cheaper laptop?!?).

DVD on external monitors (5.00 / 2) (#8)
by briansletten on Sun Jan 06, 2002 at 11:37:21 AM EST

This might help you out:


In general, http://www.macosxhints.com is a great place to find support.

[ Parent ]
cool thanks (3.00 / 1) (#19)
by westcourt monk on Mon Jan 07, 2002 at 11:01:05 AM EST

I will try that when I get my chords back. I thought that it could have been the video adaptor not OS X cause it didn't work with OS 9.1 either.

Pretty annoying considering how much these damn things are. Good thing I didn't pay for it :)

[ Parent ]

Re: DVD player (3.50 / 2) (#18)
by nefertari on Mon Jan 07, 2002 at 09:48:49 AM EST

(why did it take so long when Dell was doing it months ago on a cheaper laptop?!?).

I read in a german mac-magazine (macup) that the size of the Powerbook was the problem. Or more exactly that they had to find one that was slim enough for the Powerbook.

[ Parent ]

My thoughts (4.85 / 7) (#6)
by DJBongHit on Sun Jan 06, 2002 at 10:23:29 AM EST

Let me start off by saying that I've been using Windows since version 3.0, and DOS for a few years before that. I started using Linux around the time of Windows 3.1, but also have run Win95, 98, NT 4, and 2000 significantly. I was never much of a Mac fanboy until maybe a month ago, but now I'm hooked.

I've been running Linux on a Powerbook G3 Wallstreet (292mhz) for about 2 years, and when OS X first shipped, I had to try it out. I only had 64MB of RAM at the time, and needless to say I wasn't much impressed - it was dog slow, and I quickly went back to Linux.

Then about a month ago, Linux decided that my /home partition had lived long enough, and ate it. This just confirmed my feeling that 2.4 was a disaster (the idea had been building in my head for a few months, but that just clinched the deal). So I wiped Linux and installed OS X 10.1.0, then upgraded to 10.1.2. Since I had last tried OS X, I had added 128MB of RAM, bringing it up to 192MB. 10.1 was noted for being a significant speedup over 10.0, and the extra RAM sure didn't hurt things - it runs quite nicely on this Powerbook now.

The Quartz UI is clearly a groundbreaking thing, but that's really just icing on the cake - in my opinion, OS X is an OS done right, from the ground up. There's just a feeling of continuity between everything that you just don't find in the free software world, or even in Windows for that matter. Apple made some rather drastic changes to their user interface guidelines between Classic MacOS and OS X, but they're all excellent, IMHO. The Application menu (which has the title of the application and is between the Apple menu and the File menu) is a great addition, and has things like Preferences and Quit in every application, as well as things like Hide and Hide Others.

I don't agree with the author's comments on application support - VersionTracker is basically the OS X equivalent of freshmeat (except that it has commercial and shareware stuff as well as just open source), and I found most everything I need there. The few apps I'm missing, like Photoshop, are under development (and there's an OS X version of GIMP floating around for the impatient. Even Maya runs native on OS X already. Combine this with the fact that you have a real Unix underneath and can build any command line app you please, things look good from the application side of things.

The gripe I hear most from Unix/Windows users about OS X isn't even anything in the OS - it's the fact that Apples ship with a single mouse button (this is more annoying on laptops, where you can't exactly fix the problem). This is annoying as hell if you're running X11, but when you're running an Apple OS, it's all designed around a single mouse button - you never need more than that. Ctrl+click replaces right clicking. If you'd like, of course, you can just plug in another mouse - I have my Logitech optical mouse plugged in right now, and OS X uses the right mouse button and scroll wheel without complaining - and the right mouse button functions like Ctrl+click everywhere, which is nice.

The OS X GUI is far-and-away the best GUI I've ever had the pleasure of using, and unless you go looking for it, you'll never even know you're running a Unix - everything is just extremely stable and fast (well, you get a dialog box pop up asking you for the administrator password if you try to do something you don't have permissions for, but that's to be expected). When I first started using it, I had a very reservations - mainly the lack of sloppy focus support and lack of virtual desktops, both of which I relied on heavily in both X11 and Windows. But you know what? After using OS X for a week or two, I didn't miss either one anymore. It just encourages a different style of use, and with a little practice I'm as efficient with it as I was with the old way.

Apple just completely blew me away with OS X, and I haven't looked back yet - my Win2k box is now hooked up to my 14" monitor and does nothing but TV and DVDs (my alpha, running Linux, is still happily chugging away in the corner, doing its thing and being a good little server, like it's been doing for 2 years now, but it's getting replaced with OpenBSD soon anyway). My next computer purchase will be a Mac, no questions asked.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have a plane to catch.


GNU GPL: Free as in herpes.

Another Convert (4.16 / 6) (#7)
by briansletten on Sun Jan 06, 2002 at 11:32:34 AM EST

I'd just like to put in another evangelical vote. I've been running FreeBSD at home and work for eight years or so. I was fundamentally happy with the OS and stability, but I was becoming increasingly frustrated with lack of application availability and a constantly poor digital media support.

I began to take notice when I heard that OS X was based on FreeBSD. I really became interested when I saw some Ti's at JavaOne and learned what a fantastic Java development platform it was. It offers shared library support for JVMs and hardware accelerated Swing under 1.3!

I spent many years developing for SGIs and I find that OS X and Ti's are what I wanted them to become. I finally got one when the product revs came out this fall.

Say what you will about Office, it is nice to have it as an option when dealing with others. Using Virtual PC I can run Windows, Linux, etc. on this machine too. Using DAVE, I am able to log into Windows domains, share drives in a corporate network, etc. I am able to run X-based apps, Mac OS X apps, Windows apps, Linux apps, etc.

There are occasionally issues, but I have to say I was an instant convert and have loved just about every minute of using this machine since then!

[ Parent ]
Re: My thoughts (3.25 / 4) (#13)
by SoupIsGoodFood on Sun Jan 06, 2002 at 09:57:03 PM EST

The OS X GUI is far-and-away the best GUI I've ever had the pleasure of using

That's the worst part about MacOS X IMHO. They have added a few nice features to it. But they have also taken away quite a few things that shouldn't have. The biggest changes are just eye-candy.

I feel that so strongly about it. That I won't be using OS X until they offer some upgrade/patch, that will bring back the essence that made MacOS 9 great.

I know I'm not alone on this:

I could make my own list and go into detail. But these guys do it better, asktog.com and arstechica.com make some very good points.

A lot of people make the argument of "It's just new, and you're not used to it yet, that's all". That's complete BS, the kind of points that they make in there are facts, not opinions from someone still coming to grips with OS X, facts.

Apple has done a lot for the PC industry. They still have a good innovative team inside there, and they are still capable of producing products that set the standards for everyone else. But I can't help wondering if Steve Jobs has simply go down the path full of marketing and sales figures as opposed to the 'Think different' path.
Maybe things will change. Maybe they will just end up going down the same path most other companies do. It will be a shame if they do.

[ Parent ]
Hm (4.33 / 3) (#21)
by fluffy grue on Mon Jan 07, 2002 at 11:58:16 AM EST

Pretty much all of the issues which are mentioned in those articles can be easily solved by upgrading to the latest version and installing TinkerTool (which exposes a bunch of hidden settings, such as affixing the dock to the corner and system font sizes and such). I find that TinkerTool makes OSX much easier to use.
"Is not a quine" is not a quine.
I have a master's degree in science!

[ Hug Your Trikuare ]
[ Parent ]

Dosn't do enough (2.00 / 2) (#23)
by SoupIsGoodFood on Mon Jan 07, 2002 at 04:00:35 PM EST

Dosn't mention anything about spring loaded folders. A replacement for the dock. Or a set of Icons that look like icons and not photos.

It fixes a few of the problems. But many major ones still remain.

[ Parent ]

Sping Loaded Folders... (3.66 / 3) (#26)
by rantweasel on Mon Jan 07, 2002 at 05:26:50 PM EST

I know I'm being a iHeretic here, but I have always hated spring loaded folders. The first version of MacOS that they showed up in (7.5.5?) was worse for the addition, as far as I was concerned. They are not at all intuitive, which has always seemed to be the acid test of Mac GUI design (until QuickTime went brushed metal, anyway). What makes this a major gripe? Does it really alter your usage patterns that drastically to not have spring-loaded folders? As for the dock, I'm not sure what you'd want to replace it with, and replacing it would constitute a major GUI conceptual shift, so don't hold your breath for that one... I find it far more useful than the old combination of the Apple Menu and the Finder Menu, personally, as well as more intuitive. The icons seem like a very minor point to me as well. Not to be cantankerous, but what are your major gripes other than these three?


[ Parent ]
Please explain (none / 0) (#28)
by fluffy grue on Tue Jan 08, 2002 at 04:42:53 AM EST

What are spring-loaded folders? I've never even heard of them before today. Obviously I don't miss this feature that I've never even heard of.

The dock is just fine. If you don't like it and have a better idea of how to do things, code your own replacement. Personally, I think that setting the dock to be on the right, fixed at end position neatly solves all of the problems of the dock, UI-wise. I mean, seriously, how was the old way (app menu) any better? It had absolutely no visibility, and you couldn't just glance at the corner of the screen to see what's running or see if any apps needed any attention or whatnot.

I don't know what icons you're looking at, but the icons on my OSX system look like icons. Sure, they're vector art instead of ugly pixelated messes, but they still look like icons.

"Is not a quine" is not a quine.
I have a master's degree in science!

[ Hug Your Trikuare ]
[ Parent ]

Spring loaded folders (none / 0) (#32)
by noer on Tue Jan 08, 2002 at 11:54:28 AM EST

Spring loaded folders are a nifty feature first introduced in Mac OS 8. Basically, if you drag a file/folder onto another folder, but don't drop it, and instead hold it for a second, the destination folder flashes and then opens; you continue holding the icon and hold it over a subfolder of the one that just opened, and the same thing happens. It lets you "drill" through deeply nested folders very quickly to copy or move a file.

I don't miss it TOO much, but I'm glad that spring-loaded folders are coming in Mac OS 10.2. That's right, the currently leaked builds of 10.2 have springloaded folders.

As for a dock replacement, I love the Dock. It took a little getting used to, but I can't go back to OS 9 without cringing. I also can't stand use Windoze without getting a headache, but that's nothing new :)
-- I eat with my fingers. Don't use utensils if you email me.
[ Parent ]
Oh (none / 0) (#35)
by fluffy grue on Tue Jan 08, 2002 at 04:11:40 PM EST

That actually sounds pretty cool. Yeah, I could definitely go for that feature, for the rare times that I even use the Finder (I'm a commandline bitch). Thanks for explaining it... that's one of those features which seems so obvious when it's there that it's surprising that more systems don't do it.
"Is not a quine" is not a quine.
I have a master's degree in science!

[ Hug Your Trikuare ]
[ Parent ]

Re: Oh (none / 0) (#38)
by SoupIsGoodFood on Wed Jan 09, 2002 at 06:47:26 PM EST

It is pretty cool, and like someone said. It's only a small thing. And you may hardly use it. But what makes or breaks a GUI is the small things. All the little small things add up.

Anyway. I found it very handy when I started to drag a carefuly select bunch of files. And realised that I need to drag them into a differnt folder or forgot to open the destination folder etc.
Normaly, that would mean droping everything, opening the folder, the re-selecting everything.
With spingloaded folders, you just carry on without thinking and pissing about with little inconveniences all the time.

The key point here is: Why take it out of the OS? It's not like this is a differnt OS brand and I'm flammimg them for not including a small feature in another companies' OS.
It's the same OS, a newer version. And yes, huge changes have been made. But there's no reason to take these things out of it.

Also, this whole springloaded folders issue is just an example of something the things that have been changed.

The other issues are not, not including old features from OS 9, but just generla bad design. I'll go into the icons issue. Basicly, I'll paraphrase what was said in one of the articals I linked to.

The icons in OS X arn't really icons. They are photos. The idea of a icon is to to have a graphical elemant, which represents something. This is best done when you stip away everything that is unnessesary, and leave a simple graphic.

Example: A good symbol for e-mail would be a evelope, or maybe an evelop with a globe or plug, everybody knows what it means. But in OS X that have a letter with a stamp of an eagle on it. What the f$#! does an eagle have to do with e-mail? Nothing. It just adds noise, clutter and confution to the icon.

They could have addeded usefull information to the icons, like howmuch space is left on the HDD, a preview of a textfile or e-mail etc. The only decent symbol only the is--funnly enough--Internet Explorer. It's just a big E, people who know what it is can still tell what it is on OS X, they've just added a nice gradient look to it. They havn't added a whole lot of crap to it.

The other thing is the use of anti-alised fonts. At the moment, you can't turn this off or chnage the font size/face without downloading somthing, or using the CLI.

Another thing that bugs me is the use of icon buttons. Icons that have a button shape around them. They look un-clean, and arn't nessesary. Users quicky learn the icons are there to be pressed. Buttons shapes should be keeped to show things like clickable text.

[ Parent ]

Nicest laptop so far (4.00 / 3) (#9)
by Nickus on Sun Jan 06, 2002 at 11:40:49 AM EST

I must say the G4 Titanium is one of the nicest laptops I've seen so far. The only thing stopping me from getting one is the one-mousebutton-only. Except for that it is a great machine. The new iBook from Apple is also very nice if you are on a low budget. No matter what operating system you are going to run (Linux, MacOS, OSX) they are great machines.

At my workplace we have Solaris on the serverside and 250+ Macs running the old Mac OS. I have high hopes for OSX and I look forward to the day when we no longer runs AppleTalk on our network. We have also had some problems with the SMB-layer. For some reason it can connect to some of our samba servers but not to others. I must admit I haven't had much time to debug the problem so it could just be something stupid from my side.

Due to budget cuts, light at end of tunnel will be out. --Unknown
Think man think! (5.00 / 1) (#24)
by NDPTAL85 on Mon Jan 07, 2002 at 04:01:03 PM EST

All you need is a USB mouse and or trackball and you will be good to go! I have a 3 button trackball. OS X has native support for the right click, brings up a context menu everywhere you go! :)

[ Parent ]
One Button Mouse (2.00 / 2) (#27)
by Refrag on Mon Jan 07, 2002 at 07:55:01 PM EST

All you have to do is option-click (hold down the Apple key on your keyboard and click) to simulate a right-click when using a one button mouse. You can also use a two button mouse if y ou wish.


Kuro5hin: ...and culture, from the trenches
[ Parent ]

Just a correction, it's control-click. (5.00 / 1) (#33)
by noer on Tue Jan 08, 2002 at 12:01:49 PM EST

Control-click == right click == contextual menus.

If you have a scrollwheel on a 3rd party pointing device, it'll work too (in most apps, anyways). Somewhat ironically, I have a Microsoft trackball on my OS X system. I'm just waiting for Microsoft to release a driver so that I can configure the extra buttons (i.e. the scrollwheel and buttons 1 and 2 work, but buttons 3-5 can't be configured). Or USB Overdrive for OS X.

also, to pick a nit, option != the apple key. The key with the apple and propeller on it is the command key. The option key says "option" on it. Basically, the modifiers on a Mac keyboard are:

shift, option, control, command.

shift is obvious.

command does keyboard shortcuts - i.e. ALL keyboard shortcuts involve command, rather than SOME using alt (option) and some using control. Some use option or shift as further modifiers, but ALL use command as a base.

option gives you high-bit ascii characters, as well as further modifying keyboard shortcuts

control does very little in standard mac apps and text input areas; it's occasionally used as a keyboard shortcut modifier (never by itself), but mostly is there for interfacing with the unix world, or some text editing apps where you'd want control-G to input a term bell character, etc. Thus control was a good choice for the second-button modifier for mouse clicks. It also doesn't have much history attached to its use, unlike say command-click or shift-click, which have meanings in item selection, or option-click which is used in most drawing apps.
-- I eat with my fingers. Don't use utensils if you email me.
[ Parent ]
Don't want any extra stuff (none / 0) (#37)
by Nickus on Wed Jan 09, 2002 at 12:38:09 PM EST

The thing is that I don't like to drag around an extra mouse just to be able to use the computer. Atleast you can emulate a 3-button mouse with 2-buttons quite effectively without resorting to some keyboard magic. But this ofcourse just my personal preference.

Due to budget cuts, light at end of tunnel will be out. --Unknown
[ Parent ]
I bought an iBook... (4.20 / 5) (#14)
by maveness on Mon Jan 07, 2002 at 12:17:00 AM EST

... about a month ago (which I may well sell when I find out that there are irresistable new goodies announced today -- Monday -- at MacWorldSF, even though I'm very happy with it). It was my first foray into OS X. I've been using Macs since 1984 (really!) and I was worried about the GUI changes in X.

Nonetheless, I was determined to approach it as a completely new operating system on its own merits. (I hasten to add that I'm familiar with Windows and some flavors of Unix.)

I put extra RAM in the iBook (the max, 640) since I know Unices like RAM, and hoped for the best.

Long story short: I am in loooooooove. OS X is beautiful, stable as a rock, fast. The dock is fabulously useful once you let go of trying to compare it to other vaguely similar affordances and acquire a few new habits.

As soon as my current large project is over, I'll be moving my major production machine to OS X and I'll never look back. Once Photoshop and Dreamweaver are ported I won't ever boot Classic again. And the floodgates are open for Unix ports and shareware and freeware galore.

By the way, there's a reason that Apple isn't selling CRTs anymore -- OS X looks fabulous on their LCDs. The anti-aliasing that gives people headaches on video monitors works wonderfully on flat screens.

And give iTunes another look... decent little equalizer in it now -- with some handy presets -- and lots of ways to sort and organize your music. I've got almost 5 Gigs of (totally unpirated) MP3s on it -- nearly 3 days worth of non-repeating music. Sounds great with earphones and even acceptable through the iBooks tiny speakers.

Latest fortune cookie: "The current year will bring you much happiness." As if.

LCD Hurts my eyes (3.00 / 1) (#20)
by Andrew Dvorak on Mon Jan 07, 2002 at 11:46:10 AM EST

I find the LCD on my powerbook g4 kind of difficult to look at after a long while - where the CRT is easier to look at, for some reason. (I wouldn't be surprised if looking at the lcd is doing more damage to my eyes than the crt!)

This is just a supplement to the points you have already made.

[ Parent ]
Crappy builtin speakers (3.00 / 1) (#30)
by Vs on Tue Jan 08, 2002 at 05:40:21 AM EST

You don't mention whether you like the on-board audio or not. IMO those two speakers just plainly suck, especially when you want to watch DVD. I'll have to get some of those USB-speakers, but since they`re host-powered, let's see how long the battery lasts...
Where are the immoderate submissions?
Use the headphone jack (none / 0) (#34)
by epepke on Tue Jan 08, 2002 at 03:14:33 PM EST

Plug a self-powered speaker set into the jack. Put a battery in the self-powered speaker set. Works fine, lasts a long time. People remind me of this story from The Onion.

The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.--Terry Pratchett

[ Parent ]
Re: Use the headphone jack (none / 0) (#39)
by Vs on Sat Jan 12, 2002 at 03:02:30 AM EST

Hm, IIRC you cannot mute the builtin speakers -- you can only mute *all* audio.
Where are the immoderate submissions?
[ Parent ]
PowerBook G4 / MacOS X Initial Impressions | 38 comments (38 topical, 0 editorial, 0 hidden)
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