Leopard: What you need to know

By Ron Ellis

Leopard, AppleÕs new operating system, is here. The new operating system has an impressive list of new features, and continues AppleÕs OS X cat-based naming scheme. Most prepress operators wisely hold off on upgrades — and with good reason. Whenever you perform an upgrade there is the chance that key features and functions will stop working. For some users — those using certain features in Panther that are set to expire, as well as those buying new computers — they will have no choice but to upgrade. For those of us in production, we usually tend to wait until we know it is a safe time to upgrade.

 

The features

There are more than 300 new features included in Leopard. A few of the more notable ones include changes to the way files are viewed, as well as how the operating system operates. In Leopard, Bootcamp is no longer a beta feature but is now a fully supported feature that can now run Microsoft Windows Vista in addition to Windows XP.

A popular new feature called Time Machine automatically backs up your system, and lets you scroll through a visual representation of your system to certain points in time so that you can restore files from those backups. It is a pretty neat feature and is activated by simply plugging in a firewire drive.

A feature called Spaces lets you organize and switch between multiple desktops much like the old Unix systems of the past used to do. With Spaces, you can keep clean desktop and then switch into working desktops for different projects. Almost all files in Leopard can be previewed quickly without opening them, and users can easily scroll through stacks of documents and see this on-the-fly preview.

Leopard also cans automatically auto-activate fonts as needed. The 300 new features are a lot, and there are many other great ones — like Photobooth being able to take movies and email them, Text edit being able to open Word 2007 documents, clean guest user accounts, and many other features. You can see all 300 new features at http://www.apple.com/macosx/features/300.html.

 

The problems

People who have made the move to Leopard report some problems common to many users. Of specific interest to graphic arts users are the compatibility issues with Adobe Creative Suite.

As the November release approached, rumors were that Adobe still had not extensively tested the Creative Suite applications with Leopard. (Publicly, Adobe has announced that they would provide no Leopard support for Creative Suite 1 & 2 applications and would expect issues in these applications that would have no resolution. Regarding Creative Suite 3, Adobe stated that it would test and release any needed fixes for Creative Suite 3 applications as soon as possible.)

Upon release, it became clear immediately that there were some issues with Creative Suite 3 applications. At this writing, Adobe is working a fix for important issues with the Acrobat portion of Creative Suite 3. Quark 6.x is not supported, but Quark 7.x will be supported.

For new installs there appear to be less problems than for users performing upgrades. In fact, it is recommended that you reformat the drive and start over with a new user. With that being said, many of us would prefer to just upgrade our Panther and Tiger versions so that we donÕt have to reinstall and reactivate all the applications we have, and reset all of our preferences. For many users who upgrade Leopard, it Ôsort of worksÕ but there have been major issues. I ran into many of these issues when I upgraded my laptop. Some of these issues tend to be changes related to major changes in the operating system, and some just appear to be tweaky issues.

One of the first of these issues you may notice may be that all or most of your printers have vanished from your printer list. In Leopard, Apple has performed major changes to the print engine, and because of this, many of the prior print drivers no longer function. Whether there is an updated print driver available depends purely on what type of printer you have.

For example, there was no updated driver available for one customer who was using an older laser printer. There was no driver update available for my Epson K3 printer, but it was scheduled to be released shortly (prior to publication of this article). In any case, be prepared to rebuild all of your printers when you upgrade.

The next major issue reported has to do with permissions. This can be as simple as not being allowed to open a file, run an application, or even install an application even though you are logged on as an administrative user and should have permission to do anything you need.

In my case, I was unable to load software, and run some common applications that I use frequently such as Preview. This is particularly an issue with upgraded users. The solution on my system was to create a new user and painfully move all my settings and serial numbers over to the new user.

Another commonly reported issue is the inability to log onto Windows servers from Leopard. The servers no longer consistently show up when you browse the network, and many users report being able to login only by entering IP addresses (rather than browsing or UNC codes). While logging in by IP address solves the problem for some users, some cannot connect to Windows systems at all.

In my case, Leopard began to run consistently once I rebuilt my printers, created a new user, and moved all my application settings and serial numbers over to the new user. Time down was about eight hours — and my machine is used mostly for email, Acrobat stuff, and other low volume activities.

 

Bootcamp

For anyone using Bootcamp with Panther, the Bootcamp beta will have expired by the time you read this and if you want to continue to use Bootcamp you will have had to move to Leopard. In this case, Leopard will see your Panther bootcamp partition and will automatically upgrade it.

 

Strategy for upgrades

When you upgrade it is handy to have a firewire drive handy and to clone your current drive to the firewire drive using a utility like Carbon Copy Cloner or SuperDuper. Once you have done, this you can install Leopard with little risk. If you donÕt like it you can simply restore your previous install from the cloned firewire drive. (Some users clone their current system to the firewire drive and then load Leopard on the firewire drive. They can then simply boot to either system and use whichever one they wish). In any case this is an upgrade you should not take lightly. Make sure you perform a full backup before installing it.

Leopard is here, and eventually youÕll have to upgrade to it — especially if you use features like Bootcamp. It is not a necessary or easy upgrade, so for most of us, holding off on it makes the most sense.

About the author: Ron Ellis is a prepress consultant specializing in workflow training and integration. He has consulted on numerous CTP installations and he provides color management, integration, training, workflow development, and troubleshooting solutions to the graphic arts community. He can be contacted at 603-498-4553 or through his web site at www.ronellisconsulting.com.