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ATPM 8.12
December 2002





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Segments: Slices from the Macintosh Life

by David A. Zatz,

Mac OS X: Powerful But Awkward

Mac OS X, version 10.2, finally makes good on the new operating system’s promise of speed, accelerating Classic—that is, OS 9 running inside of OS X to support older programs—so that it launches with surprising speed. On the other hand, OS X continues to sport a pretty user interface that is harder to work with than older Mac systems, or, for that matter, Windows 98.

The Lighter Side

The OS X 10.2 interface is a bit less awkward than in the past, and finally has helpful new features that can save time—including a quick, effective feature to find files, faster content searches, and a separate Sherlock for Internet searches.

Installing OS X can be surprisingly easy and fast. Internet preferences are usually picked up by the system, eliminating one of the most time-consuming adjustments. However, Apple menu items are not picked up and put into the Dock—there’d be no room for them—and some of the cosmetic settings are less than optimal.

Every device I own was easily found and installed by OS X with no fuss, though others have had problems with specific peripherals, particularly SCSI devices, HP printers, and CD writers.

However, upgrading from 10.1.5 to 10.2 caused my screen to go black, and the computer to freeze a few minutes later. Eventually, I did a minimum install and left the computer alone for six hours after the screen went black, and that worked. This seems to be a common problem for beige G3 owners; the Mac appears to go into power-saving mode no matter what settings you specified. Using a second video card and monitor appears to work for some, but most people don’t have those spare parts. Still, once 10.2 was installed, it updated easily to 10.2.2.

10.2 brings an incredible speed boost to Classic, booting your old OS 9.2 system quickly so you can run older programs—or newer ones you haven’t had the cash or inclination to upgrade yet. Unfortunately, the amount of memory available to Classic programs seems to be limited—some have said 128 megabytes of RAM are shared among them. Very few programs are not compatible with Classic; the only one we had real problems with was SPSS 10, and an OS X-compatible version of SPSS is coming very soon. OS X 10.2 does a fine job of running even pre-PowerPC programs, such as Cricket Draw 1.3, Word 5.1, etc. We found it easier and faster to use Office 98 under Classic than Office v.X.

For the moment, you can also boot into OS 9 after you’ve installed X, and many utilities recommend this. While booting into OS 9 from your hard drive is scheduled to end in machines introduced after 2002, you may be able to boot into OS 9 from disk utility CDs—for a while, at least.

There is an incredible number of new programs being written for OS X—and seemingly none for OS 9. Every day brings some cool new X program, not to mention Java ports. That will probably be the motivating factor for getting most people to upgrade, rather than OS X’s gee-whiz features and candy-coated interface. Hackers will enjoy running Unix software on their Macs, and Web designers can test Apache configurations easily. Java works better, and Unix software is being ported over. In addition, many key professional staples will be put onto OS X, reflecting Apple’s greater market share (and probably those companies’ reluctance to invest in a dying platform, since OS 9’s death had been foretold for several years). That’s not to mention Apple’s slick, functional, easy to use new programs—iPhoto, iTunes, and all the rest—which are free with OS X.

For those who network with Windows machines, there’s very good news with easy SMB networking. You can now easily and quickly hook up to Windows shared files, thanks to a new implementation of Samba with a graphical interface. The system is much easier to use than in 10.1.x, and seems to work very well. We did have to go to Help to find out how it works, though, because it’s not that intuitive—instead of a Network option or submenu, it’s under the Go menu in the Finder. Still, it’s about as easy as using Dave—or, for that matter, mounting a Windows server from within Windows.

In terms of safe Internet networking, it took a while to get the hang of setting up an SSH tunnel (for secure Telnet, FTP, etc.), and Apple had no information on their Web site about this important and common task. Under OS 9, you simply get the great and flexible freeware program MacSSH (and see additional instructions). Under OS X, well, you should probably just visit the aforementioned Allpar site. It’s a simple command—but it’s pure Unix.

You can also have more than one simultaneous TCP/IP connection at the same time, making it easier to connect to multiple networks and eliminating the need to switch configurations all the time.

Web browsing is better under OS X than older systems, with a greater variety of browsers (including OmniWeb and Chimera) with greater speed and reliability (aside from Explorer).

Mail, Apple’s free e-mail program, is easy to use, and powerful enough for most people. Emailchemy can help you to convert from Eudora to Mail, but because Mail only works on OS X, you can’t access it if you boot from OS 9. Eudora has finally come out with a version that’s fully compatible with X, on the lighter side; Mulberry has native and Classic versions; and there is a native version of Mozilla/Netscape for those who use that for mail. People who like to live dangerously can use Microsoft’s virus propagation systems, which can also serve as e-mail clients.

The built-in Rendezvous system for automatically discovering network devices, such as printers, is not especially useful right now, but will become invaluable over time as more companies build it into their hardware.

Quartz Extreme makes OS X much faster, but only on systems with 16 MB of RAM and an AGP-based ATI graphics card or one of a number of Nvidia cards. That speed boost can be very helpful on G3 machines, which lack Altivec, and aids the G4 line as well. Our test beige G3 (with a $150 G4 upgrade from Other World Computing) was not equipped to use this, but OS X ran quickly enough regardless.

Device support continues to improve, with more printers, scanners, and the like being supported—but beware, because your favorite peripheral might not be on the list. Check Apple’s Web site for compatibility if you’re concerned. Our two printers, scanner, NP networking box, and various USB and FireWire gadgets were all recognized, but we must admit that we did not try an old slide scanner. FireWire support in OS X is better than in OS 9, by a good margin, and USB support seems better as well.

Printing is faster under OS X than 9. Creating PDF files is built into the system, but, though the display system is built on PDF, you need the free Acrobat viewer to read or print some PDF files.


As an operating system, OS X excels in technical terms. Where it falls is the user interface. Macs are known for their ease of use—but OS X is, as it comes from the factory, harder to get along with on a daily basis than Windows (even Windows NT!).

From the start, the lack of a Start or Apple menu is still a major gap, especially for those who have lots of small programs they need to run (and little patience for constantly opening new windows to find their programs). The Dock doesn’t cut it, unless you only have five or six programs, and recognize their icons quickly. A menu-based program switcher would also be handy. There are shareware utilities which fill both these needs, but they will probably need to be upgraded each time the system is.

When Microsoft came out with Windows 98, and later Windows XP, they included provisions to keep the appearance fairly similar to Windows 95, so that people who had gotten used to the older systems would not be too disoriented. It does not seem entirely unreasonable to expect Apple, whose prior operating systems had been almost universally applauded for their usability, to have done the same—to have a set of preferences and appearances pre-installed, so that clicking on a button or two in the preferences would restore the Apple menu, program switcher, stable Trash can, and other key features to their OS 9 locations. Surely, this would not be too much to ask by 10.2.2, especially considering the work Apple has put into arguably less important features such as proprietary mail and chat clients. Can a real Apple menu be so hard to program? (And, if it is, why have several independent programmers been able to do it?)

Simple things quickly become problems, and not just because of the oversized icons. Selecting files using the new multiple-column format (in Open/Save dialog boxes) is painful thanks to poorly thought out, or missing, keyboard shortcuts—simple things like pressing the first letter of the filename, then arrowing down to select it, often don’t work as expected. The columns move back and forth, making it impossible to orient your eyes easily, so you have to pay attention at all times. It’s hard to ask new users to know that you have to left-arrow or click on the left scroll bar to go back up one level. And that’s not even considering the paradigm shift from “contents of disk drives” to “special folders on one disk drive” in what used to be the path button in the Open/Save dialogues; unless you store your information in one of Apple’s preferred locations, you have to monkey with the default folders, and to do that, you have to figure out where the controls are. Hard drive roots are not listed by default, unfortunately. Neither are common OS 9 locations. It’s sad that we’ve gone from a simple, elegant Open/Save in system 7 (Command-Right Arrow to go to a new hard drive, Command-Up to move up one level, Enter to select) to the less elegant Navigation Services (move all the way up and drill back down to change drives) to the even less elegant Column view (too complicated to summarize).

That brings us to the paradigm shift from the desktop to the multiple-user environment of Windows NT, complete with a buried set of User folders, and a separate applications folder for X and for 9.

Gone are the days of understanding what each extension did, or of being able to quickly find preference files in the System Folder. Key files are distributed across all sorts of folders, buried here, invisible there, scattered across all creation. Troubleshooting quickly becomes a nightmare. OS X is also a pig—adding to the root directory:

  • .hidden
  • Applications
  • Applications (Mac OS 9)
  • Desktop (Mac OS 9)
  • Library
  • Network
  • System
  • Users
  • Volumes
  • bin
  • dev
  • etc
  • mach
  • mach.sym
  • mach_kernel
  • private
  • sbin
  • tmp
  • usr
  • var

You can’t get rid of most of ’em. That’s a far cry from the old OS 9—a single system folder, logically divided into Control Panels, Extensions, Fonts, Preferences, etc. It’s as bad or worse than the litter created by Windows, though at least the files in OS X have longer names, and there’s no inane “shared extension except that each program has its own folder of unique shared extensions” system.

Another issue for OS 9 upgraders is the fact that most programs don’t seem to be programmed to share preferences with their OS 9 equivalents—at least, not by default. You can set Eudora and the rest to use their OS 9 file locations, but by default, they look in the OS X folders and not in the OS 9 folders. That might not be under Apple’s control, but surely it wouldn’t be so hard to have a routine that first checks in the System Folder preferences (though as of 10.2 Classic applications can read preferences from the OS X home folder).

It is still hard to customize most aspects of OS X, especially when compared with Windows, which allows for far greater user control. This is, to me, less important than straightening out the user interface, and going back to the tried and true principles that shaped OS 1 through OS 9. A little experimentation on real people might help Apple to make an operating system that doesn’t cause its loyal customers to scream. (A lower upgrade price might have the same effect.)

There are also issues of metadata and file extensions; now the .doc extensions matter to Mac people as well as Windows people. That was probably only a matter of time, but many of us will miss the file type and creator codes when they finally leave us.


It almost seems as though Apple was so busy getting the technical parts of OS X to work that they totally ignored Apple’s #1 selling factor of the past, namely the user interface—and how easy it is to get things done on a Mac. It’s hard to make adjustments on Windows. It’s hard to get even simple work done on Windows. The Windows interface is not meant for use by humans, but by developers. That’s why installers sort programs (under Windows) by company name, and put single icons into folders. (In Windows, to start Eudora, go to Start, select Programs, select Qualcomm, select Eudora, then select Eudora—ignoring Uninstall Eudora. Who cares that Qualcomm created Eudora? And why is Uninstall even needed?)

The Mac has always been about ease of use, about lower maintenance costs. OS X throws that out the window and replaces it with technical superiority—but not so much technical superiority that Windows isn’t a viable alternative for those who don’t mind doing business with convicted (albeit unpunished) criminals bent on dominating the world. Come to think of it, the technological advances of OS X are largely in place with Linux, and you can get WINE to run a large number of Windows programs under Linux—with boxes already set up at Wal-Mart for $200 and passable user interfaces.

Even though former Mac user interface designer Bruce Tognazzini posted an extensive set of recommendations for OS X two years ago, Apple seems to be totally ignoring everything it learned about user interfaces in the past. Perhaps 10.3 will do something, but don’t hold your breath; we were given that line back with 10.0, then with 10.1. Even now, simple things like an OK button in the preferences (instead of just a tiny close button), or a real Apple (Start) menu with an easy interface for customization, or a satisfactory Open/Save dialog box (maybe with Windows’ ability to delete or rename files) seem very far away.

Converting to OS X

Even though using OS X may make you run screaming to OS 9—or to Linux—you may choose to install the system for either part-time or full-time use. Some people seem to actually like the OS X interface, and there’s no way to tell until you try it.

To prevent disaster, back up your hard drive completely before starting, and make sure you don’t have mission critical jobs in the next few days—just in case. Then check out your system with DiskWarrior (it really should come with each Mac) as well as Disk First Aid. Follow all Apple’s advice.

If you’re using a beige G3, you will need to make sure that OS 9 and OS X are installed in the first partition, and that the partition is 8 GB or smaller. That might mean reformatting your hard drive. Make two sets of good backups if that’s the case—Retrospect Express might be handy. Actually, Jaguar seems to be fairly buggy in the beige G3s in general, though some have suggested that if you have a G4 upgrade, you take it out and put the G3 chip back in for the purposes of installing OS X.

Once OS X is running, I suggest installing and configuring FruitMenu first, for your own sanity. If you are going to be using Classic (non-native) programs on a regular basis, and you probably are, set the Classic control panel so it automatically launches on startup; it comes up faster if you have it automatically shut off all extensions (Apple, it would be nice if you could simply run an extension set so you can keep essential extensions on!). Classic (OS 9 under X) starts up very quickly, and OS X puts it to sleep when it’s not in use so it doesn’t eat up your system resources.

Because Classic works so well (despite some problems copying and pasting between Classic and X), you probably should not upgrade all your software immediately to Carbon or Cocoa versions. Wait a while and see what happens. Maybe a competitor will come in and drive prices down in the meantime—or maybe open source will come to the rescue. Remember, being native to OS X does not mean being faster; this isn’t the PowerPC conversion. If you’ve been using Photoshop 5.5, GoLive 5, and Office 98, upgrading to the new X versions will be disappointing. All are slower than their older 9.2 equivalents. At some point, versions that add more value—or open-source alternatives—will probably appear, especially now that the Mac is based on BSD Unix. Indeed, many are already here, including high-speed replacements for HP print drivers, and an open-source image editor.

In some cases, you will use different versions of the same program. In some cases, you can set them up to use the same preferences and files (e.g. Eudora, Mulberry). In other cases, they can drive you crazy by refusing to acknowledge the other’s existence. Researching with Google can help avoid frustration.

OS X likes lots of RAM, not surprising considering that you will sometimes also be running OS 9. RAM is now fairly cheap, and 512 megabytes isn’t such an unrealistic idea—but you can get by with 256 if you don’t go overboard. Get good, high-quality (e.g. Kingston) RAM; many have had problems with cheap RAM under OS X.

Overall, moving to OS X can be rewarding with lots of new software, greater stability (in most cases), and new capabilities. It can also be punishing, with a poorly thought out user interface, many rough edges, and incompatibility with some hardware and software—which is unimportant to me, since all of mine works, but very important to you if your printer, scanner, and backup drive are all suddenly obsolete. You may well end up like me—switching to OS X now and then to enjoy Chimera, easy FireWire access, and fast, simple Windows access and file searches—then rushing back to OS 9 with a great sigh of relief to enjoy the traditional Macintosh ease of use, efficient use of graphics, and high-quality interface design.

Also in This Series

Reader Comments (20)

Gene · December 4, 2002 - 23:06 EST #1
I don't necessarily agree about running back to OS 9 after
using OS X. Once you get used to it, what you originally thought as problematic becomes less problematic. There are numerous small programs that bring the OS 9 interface back to OS X.

The biggest benefit? No more crashes. And the screen is so easy to read.

The biggest unsolved problem? Use a USB floppy drive and you get a new definition for S-L-O-W.

I wouldn't go back. There is just too much going for OS X when you get used to it.
Patrick Long · December 5, 2002 - 12:22 EST #2
I enjoyed reading this article. However, from my experience, it is just a little negative.

I have not gone back to Classic for several months now, and I use a wide variety of programs from Adobe through Microsoft, and FileMaker Pro to a multitude of others.

The one area that I would appreciate more help is in the area of HP drivers; in particular for LaserJet 2200D.
anonymous · December 5, 2002 - 16:10 EST #3
Look at DragThing if you miss the Apple menu. It is much better and more flexible with lots of options.
Will S. · December 5, 2002 - 19:46 EST #4
It does take a while to get used to OS X. It is, in general, a whole new way of doing things. At first, I wanted apps that let me do things the old way. I found that the more I used OS X the less I felt this way. In fact, the only old style helper app I find that I need is WindowShade. When I gave up on doing things the old way, got used to the new way, and started to find and use the many key shortcuts of OS X, I finally no longer wanted to go back. In fact, I no longer use OS 9 nor Classic. I boot into OS 9.1 about once a week to archive my e-mail in Eudora. I use Mail in OS X and love it. The first mail app besides Eudora which I find usable. I set Mail to leave messages on the server and Eudora saves the messages and removes them from the server. One day, even that will no longer be done! OS X has opened a whole new world of wonderful video editing apps that just aren't available for OS 9.x at any price.
anonymous · December 7, 2002 - 20:28 EST #5
I hope to completely avoid going back to Classic soon. As soon as I can find an OS X verision of FoxBase Pro, I will use OS 9 for utilities only. Yes, it does take time to get used to OS X, but the rewards outweigh the issues, in my opinion.

Memory handling is much better. I usually have 12 to 14 apps open at once. Memory issues are gone. The system is stable. The only time I restart the computer is after I install a package that requires it. I happen to be a fan of the dock. Between it and the favorites Finder window, I don't need to look any further for all of the things I use daily. Speaking of Finder windows, the 10.2.2 forward and back arrows are a great way to navigate to places you often go. Other customizable menu items in the Finder windows make them far more useful than in OS 9. OS X has a good user is just different. I would not volunteer to go back.

Ed Williams · December 8, 2002 - 22:48 EST #6
If only the OS X UI were "pretty" as deemed by the author. In addition to its mindless difficulties, it is about as aesthetically appealing as a pinball machine--an old pinball machine. (Well, better than a new pinball machine anyway.)

And Steve Jobs once charged Micro$oft (quite rightly) with having no culture. Now Apple has joined the barbarians.

Ed W.
RTMac · December 11, 2002 - 11:07 EST #7
I couldn't agree more. It's obvious the NEXT programmers developed the UI. It's an interface only a programmer could love. But hey, the geeks are happy. Who cares if it takes twice as long to manage your files with OS X. It's finally got a terminal window, man!

My OS 9 machines connect to my networked laser printer with a single click on the Chooser. My laptop running Jaguar has options to select Appletalk, TCP/IP, HTTP, USB printers and more. Unfortunately none of them can find my printer.

Oh well, it gives me a hobby. Someday I'll find just the right combination to be able to print. In the mean time, when I need to work I'll use OS 9.
Scott Schuckert · December 11, 2002 - 11:22 EST #8
I do computer support for education. I've used OS X from the get-go on the theory that my customers would be using it. After, what--two years now?--I'm finally getting to the point where I miss some parts of OS X when I go back to OS 9, mostly in the smoother multitasking and better memory management.

But still, after "OS X immersion training," it's like a refreshing drink of water to go back to OS 9. The speed! The crisp screen display! The infinitely better file management! And, sadly, the superior user interface.

This is not a comment from someone who's simply having trouble adjusting. I've got computers in the house running various Windows and Linux revs, and I use them comfortably. OS X eye candy is designed to be SOLD, not to be used.
Bob Booten · December 11, 2002 - 22:47 EST #9
I had to keep looking at the date while I was reading this. It was like I had ran across an old article of someone seeing OS X Public Beta for the first time. You should get out more.
Maurice Illouz · December 24, 2002 - 18:02 EST #10
The Epson 880 basic driver that comes with OS X 10.2 seems better than the one that is updated with 10.2.3. Has anyone had the same problem?

With the old version, I can access resolutions of up to 1440 under the print settings while for some obscure reason, I can't in the new driver!?
Gabb · December 30, 2002 - 00:29 EST #11
Good article, but it's based on the assumption that Mac users do not like to, or cannot, learn! I have been using Mac from OS 1 up to OS 9 and I want to upgrade to OS X, but Apple is of no help. Where is the Hebrew and Arabic OS X version? I wait ... and wait ... and get no comments from Apple. The article did not touch on the mutliligual issue. I am afraid our huge investment in Apple is gone with OS 9.
Dave · December 30, 2002 - 12:33 EST #12
Mac users can certainly learn--I never assumed they could not. I don't see why Apple would not have spent some more time fixing the user interface, though, to conform more with what we know about effective computer interfaces. Tog even wrote a free, detailed report on the problems and solutions. As far as the various "you should get out more often" type of comments, I never said EVERYONE would hate OS X. Some people obviously love it. I appreciate lots of things about it but, like Scott, after immersing myself in OS X for a while, OS 9 is like a great drink of crystal-clear water...just like it is after I've been using Windows. I'm still not entirely sure whether I think Windows or OS X is easier to use (sacrilege!), but I know I don't like all the Windows baggage--and I know that OS X is more reliable than Windows 98 or XP. I will soon be diving into Linux with Gnome or KDE (not sure yet). I noticed that one looks more like Windows and the other more like OS 9.
Tom E.M. · January 4, 2003 - 21:50 EST #13
Sorry, but I'm fed up with complaints that the Apple menu doesn't work as it used to or that the Trash can't be found on the dock, or that "there is no equivalent of the Start Menu (good grief!).

Try thinking of the Dock as a piece of desktop that floats to the top whenever you want to get at it. Haven't you ever been annoyed that things on the desktop become inaccessible as they get covered up by open work? This is a huge and innovative improvement over that situation!

With the Favorites folder on the Dock, you have everything you ever had in the old Apple Menu, and Apple won't be putting miscellaneous other things in it at every OS update like they did in earlier OS versions.

With your hard drive (or any folder, even the Desktop) on the Dock, you can drill down to any folder or file on the drive, just like you could by putting a drive or folder on the Apple Menu. The only way this could be improved is by allowing items to be dropped into Dock menus, like spring loaded folders. OS 9 never had that feature, either.

Rehashing these old objections to the Dock and pining for OS 9 are just unproductive. Let's get on with things that really do need improvement, such as FTP support in the FInder and .Mac, PDF files that have image compression options, a serious office suite alternative, and a modernized version of HyperCard. There are others, I'm sure.
Michael Tsai (ATPM Staff) · January 4, 2003 - 22:01 EST #14
Tom E.M.: If putting folders or disks in the Dock truly worked as well as the Apple menu, I doubt you'd be hearing complaints about that. As it stands, they fill up the already crowded Dock, and accessing hierarchical menus from the bottom/right doesn't work as well as the Apple menu, in the top left.
Dave · January 5, 2003 - 15:39 EST #15
Let me add a couple of things in self-defense (and thanks, Michael).

First, "innovative" - Microsoft has had a self-hiding dock for years...since Windows 98. It shows running programs and you can put icons into it for faster loading. The difference is it works better, as much as I hate to say it. You can easily tell the difference between running programs (which can have their program names and file names!) and "rapid start" icons. and some other OS X advocates have made some good points, but also made lots of "get with it, don't live in the past" comments. Frankly, the past has lots to offer us in terms of engineering and user interfaces. The Chrysler Hemi engine is a case in point. You can tell 'em to live in the past or be amazed at the engine's low construction cost and high power, thanks to its "retro" engineering. Mac OS 9 was, in my opinion, the pinnacle of usability. OS X is still getting there.

How hard would it be to create a customizable launching pad for your programs that allows novices to easily group software into categories and to be able to read the program names as well as see icons? Not hard, I imagine. The Start menu and Apple menu both allow you to add files as well as programs, which is nice, and you can tell the difference because they provide TEXT.

Apple/Start menus were used for a reason: they were the best way to accomplish their goals. The Dock should be there in addition to, not in place of, them. The Dock is, IMHO, not as usable as the Windows taskbar. That's a shame. I don't like saying ANYTHING good about Windows.

I am not living totally in the past; I use OS X and do plan to move entirely to it at some point in the near future, after upgrading my hardware so I can run current versions of big programs. SPSS for OS X will be invaluable in my switch - it's a big kahuna that I can't live without, so I stay in OS 9 much of the time and love the ease of use. I also use Windows regularly and find it awkward. I haven't decided for myself whether a well-tuned Windows 98 setup is easier or harder than OS X. I do know it doesn't work as well, and I like OS X's superior handling of Firewire and USB.

One final thought. "Get over it, stop living in the past" is not useful criticism. It is an ad homonym attack designed to make the writer angry or defensive. It doesn't make any friends and it shouldn't convince any other readers.
Curt Adalbert · January 20, 2003 - 17:48 EST #16
I'm afraid the only awkwardness is in ourselves as users. We've been spoiled. It doesn't come naturally to a Mac user to work in an environment like Unix, but we have to, both to support our platform and to move ahead.

The simple fact that the Mac can compete at all is a tribute to it, but on top of that to have come up with some of the industry's leading technologies while offering not just a hardware platform, but a cutting edge OS is downright amazing.

I think we're getting too blasé and have come to expect the best. Please don't forget it wasn't all that long ago we were all invited to Apple's funeral and the stocks had a $1 + rating.

Come on guys. Jump in with both feet and put your trust in the things that made you purchase your Mac in the first place. Sure, there may be a few bumps in the road, but I'll bet the ride will be far more interesting than any PC or Microsoft excursion.

I know I've made the right choice.
anonymous · January 24, 2003 - 18:57 EST #17
When I first put trust in OS X, I was disappointed. I would have agreed with all the stuff written in this article. My attitude remained the same for the first two months, until I took a temp job during the winter break (1 week) upgrading an office's old Bondi blue iMacs from OS 9 to OS X. I could NOT BELIEVE how much I did not like working in OS 9. I can't explain it, but I cringe sitting in front of an OS 9 system. Can someone explain? I still cannot really pinpoint it. It seems as though OS X really was engineered well, after all. And now after this last Macworld Expo, and with a 17-inch PowerBook coming in the mail, I feel more confident in Apple's abilities in engineering and design as ever. Thanks for reading.
Edward Chew · January 27, 2003 - 13:11 EST #18
I can't believe the author criticizes OS X and Apple over its SSH support when OS 9 has NONE! You have to turn to third parties for programs like MacSSH or Nifty Telnet SSH.

In OS X, the SSH server can be activated with just one click on a checkbox (System Preferences - Sharing - Remote Login). Granted, on the client side, they offer no tools above the Darwin command line but, like in OS 9, third parties DO!

Go to VersionTracker's Mac OS X tab and look up "SSH." There are tunnel managers, key managers, password name it! For SFTP, try Fugu (which, by the way, can set up tunnels as well). Best of all, most of this stuff is freeware, since it's only adding a friendly interface to the built-in UNIX tools.

It's stuff like this that keeps me from ever going back to OS 9.
Dyske · January 28, 2003 - 14:20 EST #19
Any operating system that you are not used to is awkward, at first, and takes a long time before you start to appreciate its merits. This is what often happened with the war between Mac and Windows users. Most of them never gave the other enough chance and complained about the familiar features missing in the other OS. The same is now happening with OS 9 and OS X since they are entirely different operating systems. What seems odd is that those who refused to learn the merits of Windows are now so willing to learn and adjust to OS X. If they had extended the same open-mindedness to Windows, I'm sure they would've discovered the merits of Windows as well. Since all Mac users now must learn a whole new operating system, it would make sense to give Windows a try, but devoted Mac users would not do this. Why? It is not because OS X is better than Windows, it is mainly because they want to be "Different." They are rooting for anything that is not Microsoft. It is not about quality or performance. It is about the ideal and identity. Steve Jobs is very crafty with pandering to these sentiments.
Dave · January 28, 2003 - 14:34 EST #20
Two main comments.

First, some people do not want to do business with convicted criminals, even if they have yet to serve a sentence. (For what Microsoft has done, and how often they have done it, jail time would be nice. Could we get away with perjury? More than once? How about breaking a settlement with the Federal government?)

Second, many people have said, in essence, try it and you'll like it; you just haven't tried it long enough. To which I say, there are real and serious deficiencies in the user interface. I stand by that. Yes, there are advantages to OS X and I said as much in the article. I'm not a Luddite. I have used Windows, BeOS, DOS, GEM desktop, DOS, BSD UNIX, and Linux, and I'm eager to try Linux with KDE. I am not scared of OS X. I'd like to embrace it with open arms and make it my primary system, but I need to be more productive.

That said, once I upgrade my computer, I hope that Apple will fix things like the open/save dialogue boxes and incorporate FruitMenu and XAssist into OS X 10.3 so that I can stay in OS X as a, more or less, permanent resident.

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