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Snow Leopard - For the Layman
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Nov 1, 2008, 06:13 PM
 
Hello all... sorry if this is a dumb question.

I'm not too advanced in my mac life, I switched a year and a half ago, and by no means do I understand much of the OSX framework and guts that make it a nice OS. It works, and it fulfills my needs, so that's why I love it.

I read Apple's site about Snow Leopard, but really, other than Apple saying it's going to be a faster OS that takes up less room on my HDD, I didn't understand much else on their page.

My real question is: With Snow Leopard coming out in a couple months (supposedly), what is in it for me, the average Joe? I probably (hopefully) will not be upgrading to another computer in the next 2 years. I have a MBP 2.16 C2D w/ 3gigs of RAM which is running just fine. Is there any reason for me to upgrade to Snow Leopard?

Much thanks on any explanations you guys can give me!
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Nov 1, 2008, 07:28 PM
 
Originally Posted by Black_Rain View Post
Is there any reason for me to upgrade to Snow Leopard?

Much thanks on any explanations you guys can give me!
It's too early to tell.

To me, it's seems like Apple is trying to lower the expectations of SL upfront. However, I also believe that they will have something up their sleeves that they didn't make public yet.

With the limited information available about SL and it's final performance on older machines, your answer really can't be answered very well.

-t
     
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Nov 1, 2008, 08:22 PM
 
I don't believe Apple is working on Snow Leopard so much for the consumer, but rather it's for themselves. Mac OS X is about 10 years old and was written for 32 bit architectures. Snow Leopard is setting the stage for at least the next 10 years. It's a foundational work.
     
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Nov 1, 2008, 08:34 PM
 
Yes, it is. But Apple will have some feature up their sleeves to make it enticing even for the non-geeks to upgrade. You betcha.

-t
     
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Nov 1, 2008, 09:01 PM
 
The straight-up, simple answer for the average Joe is SPEED. If you're happy with your computer's speed right now then Snow Leopard (at least as it seems right now) probably won't add anything for you. What it will do is provide speed and efficiency for those who do need it, and allow for a more solid OS X 10.7, which WILL have new features, all based on the netter technology in Snow Leopard.
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Nov 1, 2008, 10:14 PM
 
You pretty much summed it up: It will just generally run better. Also, it's going to have a lot of interesting new technologies that software developers can use to create programs, so some might start requiring Snow Leopard. If you think your computer is perfectly fine as is, then you should be just fine staying with Leopard.
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Nov 1, 2008, 11:14 PM
 
Maybe no more beachballs?
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Nov 1, 2008, 11:20 PM
 
Originally Posted by milhous View Post
Maybe no more beachballs?
No sh!t. That's what I expected when I upgraded to my iMac Core 2 Duo with 2.4GHz and 4 GB RAM. And I still get beachballs for things that should not even require a 500 MHz G3. WTF ?

-t
     
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Nov 1, 2008, 11:52 PM
 
Beachballs are usually i/o wait. Until drives and networks become a whole lot faster (or programmers can thread around i/o wait) we'll continue to see them.
     
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Nov 2, 2008, 12:16 AM
 
I think that they are OS X bugs and lack of optimization, you simply don't have that sort of I/O wait issues on other OSes even with far lesser hardware.

Snow Leopard is actually what Apple needs doing. As marvelous as OS X is, fast and tightly optimized it ain't.
     
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Nov 2, 2008, 12:18 AM
 
You always have to deal with i/o wait. But I agree, the difference is how gracefully an OS handles it. In my experience Linux seems to handle it a lot better than OS X. But I have yet to see hard evidence that SL will change that.
     
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Nov 2, 2008, 01:24 AM
 
It's all about the apps; Leopard brought few new features that users actually wanted, but some people upgraded because the apps they wanted only run on Leopard.
     
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Nov 2, 2008, 01:40 AM
 
Originally Posted by Simon View Post
Beachballs are usually i/o wait. Until drives and networks become a whole lot faster (or programmers can thread around i/o wait) we'll continue to see them.
Why the hell would I have 10 seconds i/o wait on a Core 2 Duo 2.4 GHz ? That doesn't make any damn sense.

I'm saying: OS X is really fracked up in that regard. Yes, there's a lot of optimization to be done.

Beachballs and lack of responsiveness is the single most frustrating thing you'd encounter with OS X. Doesn't matter what your hardware is. And that just tells you: it's a programming issue.

-t
     
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Nov 2, 2008, 06:41 AM
 
Originally Posted by turtle777 View Post
Why the hell would I have 10 seconds i/o wait on a Core 2 Duo 2.4 GHz ? That doesn't make any damn sense.
If in OS X I write a little C program that does nothing else than write a stream of several GBs of data to the HD and I then execute that code, I will get the beachball while the stream is being written to disk. If I switch to another thread the beachball will disappear. The beachball indicates that that specific thread is in i/o wait. If the OS or an app is not written to thread around such an event users will see the beachball way too often. Note also that this will happen regardless of the hardware. The fastest MP will show the same behavior. That is where OS X needs improvement. The beachball is the symptom of the underlying problem, not the problem itself.
     
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Nov 2, 2008, 06:49 AM
 
Originally Posted by turtle777 View Post
Why the hell would I have 10 seconds i/o wait on a Core 2 Duo 2.4 GHz ? That doesn't make any damn sense.

I'm saying: OS X is really fracked up in that regard. Yes, there's a lot of optimization to be done.

Beachballs and lack of responsiveness is the single most frustrating thing you'd encounter with OS X. Doesn't matter what your hardware is. And that just tells you: it's a programming issue.

-t
Because I/O has nothing to do with the processor speed of your computer. If it's a network operation, Apple COULD do a non-blocking read, but you would still get the data at the exact same time, you just would not know the computer was doing something. The best way to reduce number of beachballs? Lots of memory, and a fast, (mostly empty) hard drive.
     
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Nov 2, 2008, 12:45 PM
 
Guys, example, I'm getting 10 sec beachballs when Safari tries to open a site. That ain't i/o. And it isn't Flash either. Just opening a darn post.

An btw, the internet connection is perfectly fine. It's just Safari farking up.

-t
     
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Nov 2, 2008, 12:45 PM
 
Originally Posted by King Bob On The Cob View Post
The best way to reduce number of beachballs? Lots of memory, and a fast, (mostly empty) hard drive.
I got 4 GB, how much more would I need to do simple tasks like web browsing

-t
     
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Nov 2, 2008, 01:02 PM
 
Originally Posted by turtle777 View Post
I got 4 GB, how much more would I need to do simple tasks like web browsing

-t
Like King Bob said, a big hard drive with plenty of empty space will help a lot. There's only so much the OS can do in RAM, since there's a physical limit to how much you can put in the machine. But there is a lot more it can do by virtualizing a lot of RAM functions to the hard drive. Plenty of empty space makes it much easier to do this quickly.

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Nov 2, 2008, 01:05 PM
 
i/o wait doesn't pertain just to the HDD. It can just as well be your network connection. Serial interfaces of course too.
     
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Nov 2, 2008, 01:26 PM
 
Well it probably won't impress or excite most people, but I'm looking forward to exchange support.
     
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Nov 2, 2008, 03:18 PM
 
Originally Posted by turtle777 View Post
Guys, example, I'm getting 10 sec beachballs when Safari tries to open a site. That ain't i/o.
What exactly do you think it is? Has the computer turned its head to watch funny animal clips on TV and it just hasn't noticed you're asking it to load a page?

It is I/O. Your computer does all kinds of I/O operations all the time that you don't initiate yourself. Cache hits, accessing bundle resources, preferences, bookmarks, history — Safari is chock full of excessive I/O operations.
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Nov 2, 2008, 03:32 PM
 
Originally Posted by Chuckit View Post
What exactly do you think it is? Has the computer turned its head to watch funny animal clips on TV and it just hasn't noticed you're asking it to load a page?

It is I/O. Your computer does all kinds of I/O operations all the time that you don't initiate yourself. Cache hits, accessing bundle resources, preferences, bookmarks, history — Safari is chock full of excessive I/O operations.
It's not always I/O. Haven't you experienced an essentially crashed app that was giving you the beachball even though your HD was not thrashing and iostat was returning normal numbers? The beachballs occur when that process is generally unresponsive, for whatever reason.

I believe it was you or somebody else here that stated that the beachball is *supposed* to indicate backed up, unresponsive I/O, but I'm not convinced that this is always what is going on in actual practice. I'm also not convinced that there is always a legitimate reason to be utilizing that much I/O every time one sees the beachball.

It is easy to ridicule Windows and Linux users who come here and bitch about OS X's speed, but there is a certain amount of truth to this. Where their argument falls apart is equating raw speed to overall quality and satisfying experience... You know, the kind of people that measure the value of their computer based on the value and performance of their hardware while overlooking the many variables that software bring to the picture.
     
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Nov 2, 2008, 03:51 PM
 
I'm not saying beachballs only occur during I/O. Beachballs just mean an app isn't accepting events. This can occur for any number of other reasons, such as deadlocks and use of synchronous functions on the main thread. Heck, just a simple sleep(10) (which tells a program to do nothing for 10 seconds) will cause a beachball. But by far the most common is I/O, and in particular the beachball that some computers experience when they start to load pages in Safari is I/O related in every case I've seen.
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Nov 2, 2008, 06:20 PM
 
You know what, the average Mac user doesn't give a rat's ass *why* a beachball might occur.

On a 2.4GHz Cor 2 Duo with 4 GB, there shouldn't be anything that beachballs as long as you are doing mundane tasks like email, internet surfing etc.

-t
     
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Nov 2, 2008, 07:01 PM
 
Would beachballs be OK on a six-year-old PowerBook? Why would a 2.4 GHz Core 2 Duo with 4 GB of RAM make any difference if it's a disk problem? Disk access won't be any faster on that system than it would be on a 867 MHz PowerBook with the same hard drive.
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Nov 2, 2008, 07:18 PM
 
Originally Posted by Chuckit View Post
Would beachballs be OK on a six-year-old PowerBook? Why would a 2.4 GHz Core 2 Duo with 4 GB of RAM make any difference if it's a disk problem? Disk access won't be any faster on that system than it would be on a 867 MHz PowerBook with the same hard drive.
I'm talking about simple tasks that don't (well, shouldn't) require a lot of computing power.

Email and Safari shouldn't task today's Macs to a beachball halt.

-t
     
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Nov 2, 2008, 07:31 PM
 
Originally Posted by turtle777 View Post
Guys, example, I'm getting 10 sec beachballs when Safari tries to open a site. That ain't i/o. And it isn't Flash either. Just opening a darn post.

An btw, the internet connection is perfectly fine. It's just Safari farking up.

-t
Something is wrong with your system. I have never seen 10 second SPROD trying to open a webpage.

Does webkit and/or firefox do the same thing?
     
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Nov 2, 2008, 08:58 PM
 
Originally Posted by AKcrab View Post
Something is wrong with your system. I have never seen 10 second SPROD trying to open a webpage.

Does webkit and/or firefox do the same thing?
I don't know, I can't replicate it. It doesn't happen all the time, just sporadically.
But when it happens, I think WTF, that just shouldn't happen.

-t
     
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Nov 2, 2008, 09:32 PM
 
For network applications, DNS lookups in Safari (and elsewhere) can be an issue: and if you consider that a single page is probably not just using it's own site, but also some Google-tracking service, some random ads, etc. it's clear that this can be an issue. The AT&T DNS service I am forced to use for example takes ~5 seconds to resolve a host.

Given that the beach ball simply means "Application waiting for something before it can progress" I don't see how you can say it "just shouldn't happen" -- Windows XP, for example, uses a somewhat subtler notification (the small hourglass beside the pointer). It's the same issue.
     
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Nov 3, 2008, 12:14 AM
 
Originally Posted by dimmer View Post
FThe AT&T DNS service I am forced to use for example takes ~5 seconds to resolve a host.
You can change your DNS servers. Use Open DNS.
     
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Nov 3, 2008, 06:17 AM
 
Originally Posted by seanc View Post
Well it probably won't impress or excite most people, but I'm looking forward to exchange support.
Amen brother!
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Nov 4, 2008, 02:14 AM
 
I think most safari issues are DNS and server related - many pages are pulling ads and flash and pictures and scripts off of many different servers at once. If one of them is slow or unreachable then you sit and spin.

Maybe safari could try to ignore them while it waits, but it's not really a safari issue if your DNS is slow.
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Nov 4, 2008, 04:06 AM
 
Agreed. In my experience two out of three "Safari is lagging" issues are solved by switching to OpenDNS name servers.
     
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Nov 5, 2008, 01:54 AM
 
Sadly, my Pac Bell/Yahoo/AT&T connection won't allow me to use other DNS services. Which sucks the proverbial ass.
     
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Nov 5, 2008, 02:02 AM
 
Originally Posted by dimmer View Post
Sadly, my Pac Bell/Yahoo/AT&T connection won't allow me to use other DNS services. Which sucks the proverbial ass.
What happens when you try to contact a public DNS server such as OpenDNS on port 53?

Code:
telnet 208.67.222.222 53
     
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Nov 5, 2008, 12:43 PM
 
Originally Posted by Black_Rain View Post
Hello all... sorry if this is a dumb question.

I'm not too advanced in my mac life, I switched a year and a half ago, and by no means do I understand much of the OSX framework and guts that make it a nice OS. It works, and it fulfills my needs, so that's why I love it.

I read Apple's site about Snow Leopard, but really, other than Apple saying it's going to be a faster OS that takes up less room on my HDD, I didn't understand much else on their page.

My real question is: With Snow Leopard coming out in a couple months (supposedly), what is in it for me, the average Joe? I probably (hopefully) will not be upgrading to another computer in the next 2 years. I have a MBP 2.16 C2D w/ 3gigs of RAM which is running just fine. Is there any reason for me to upgrade to Snow Leopard?

Much thanks on any explanations you guys can give me!
There have been many "features added to the past several versions of OS X all the way thru Leopard [10.5]_ The problem is that Appl has been pushing innovation and the next "cool" feature_ I agree that they are setting the stage for a transition to the next iteration of the architecture_ However - I have been using Macs - developing on Macs - acting as a Sys Admin for nearly the entire span of the Macintosh and Leopard as it is it rather unstable_ Some installs it works flawlessly_ On others it becomes unpredictable as to how it will act from one machine to the next_ My main computer I still have Tiger [10.4] running as my main OS simply because the "cool features" in Leopard are not worth the upgrade_

Apple is aware of the instability of Leopard and they've said as much_ They have noted that Snow Leopard will a means to clean up and stabilize OS X_ As far as the transitory nature of Snow Leopard - that is only hinted at in the standing notice about Snow Leopard but it makes sense_

If you're loving Leopard and don't have any problems with it_ Stick with it and keep using it_ I wouldn't woryy about Snow Leopard right now anyway_ Apple hasn't set an announcement date for it yet and the next verified Apple event is Macworld in January_
     
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Nov 7, 2008, 09:01 PM
 
Originally Posted by Simon View Post
Agreed. In my experience two out of three "Safari is lagging" issues are solved by switching to OpenDNS name servers.
thanks for the tip

can you share a 'how to' please?

much appreciated

     
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Nov 7, 2008, 11:23 PM
 
Originally Posted by dimmer View Post
Sadly, my Pac Bell/Yahoo/AT&T connection won't allow me to use other DNS services. Which sucks the proverbial ass.
This doesn't make sense. If you enter in the DNS directly on your Mac, OS X will use those entries first.
     
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Nov 8, 2008, 03:54 AM
 
Originally Posted by roberto View Post
thanks for the tip

can you share a 'how to' please?
Sure. OpenDNS has IPs 208.67.222.222 and 208.67.220.220.

For AirPort you go to Sys Prefs > Network > AirPort > Advanced > DNS and add these two numbers.
For Ethernet you go to Sys Prefs > Network > Built-in Ethernet > DNS Server and add these two numbers.

If you administer your own AirPort network, you can change the base station's DNS entries too:
Applicaions/Utilities/AirPort Utility > Your base station > Manual Setup > Internet > Internet Connection > DNS Server(s)

Make sure the two OpenDNS IPs you enter end up standing before anything else that might have been in the DNS server field before.
     
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Nov 20, 2008, 06:06 PM
 
Originally Posted by Simon View Post
Sure. OpenDNS has IPs 208.67.222.222 and 208.67.220.220.

For AirPort you go to Sys Prefs > Network > AirPort > Advanced > DNS and add these two numbers.
For Ethernet you go to Sys Prefs > Network > Built-in Ethernet > DNS Server and add these two numbers.

If you administer your own AirPort network, you can change the base station's DNS entries too:
Applicaions/Utilities/AirPort Utility > Your base station > Manual Setup > Internet > Internet Connection > DNS Server(s)

Make sure the two OpenDNS IPs you enter end up standing before anything else that might have been in the DNS server field before.


THANKS SIMON!

- sorry for the belated thanks ; )


really appreciated your consise instructions

...and really like the change : )


please keep up the handy hints / 'howtos'!

ciao ciao

r
     
   
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