Snow Leopard on my Mac

mac Aug 28, 2009

Fedex swung by today, dropping off my Snow Leopard upgrade. I happily slit open the box with my Swiss Army Knife and pulled out the teeny-weeny package inside. Consisting of one DVD, the Snow Leopard upgrade held the promise of unlocking the power of my Mac Pro.

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Almost.

The upgrade itself was for all intents and purposes, painless. Kudos to coders at Apple for one of the smoothest transitions I have ever experienced.

The aftermath, however, dragged up some memories of the early days of XP x64. With Snow Leopard, Apple is now forced to send folks to the cursed 667th circle of Driver Hell.

While Apple took great pains to provide as complete a set of drivers as possible, certain bit of hardware (most notably my slightly older large-format printer) as no longer recognized. It now falls upon the OEMs to crank out 64-bit drivers. Hopefully, they will not choose this moment to abandon support for their older pro equipment.

When Redmond decided to go 64-bit, they went whole hog, plunging the early-adopter community into a chaotic scramble for 64-bit driver support. After five years, PC OEMs now ship 64-bit drivers the same time they ship 32-bit ones (usually).

Mac OEM’s are now up against the wall with providing 64-bit drivers. Apple’s 64-bit transition had been far more gradual than Windows, but this led to a lot of procrastination on the part of device driver authors.

Also, many applications are not ready to run in a pure 64-bit kernel so Snow Leopard ships with the 32-bit kernel enabled by default. By holding down the “6” and “4” keys while the system is booting, you can enable the 64-bit kernel and KEXTs.

Current Casualty List:
WideMail and GrowlMail (mail.app extensions)
Canon W6400 Printer (needs 64-bit drivers from Canon)
iStat Menus (needs 64-bit version)

Currently Impaired List (running but not as well as they could):
Any app with a 32-bit PrefPane (currently requires a restart of the System Preferences into 32-bit mode)
Parallels Desktop 4.0 (will not run with 64-bit kernel extensions enabled)

Recommendation:
If you are a professional user with high-end equipment, hold off until the manufacturer can provide drivers for their device. Make sure you contact your support organizations and request drivers for your high-end device. Make them aware that you need support!

General purpose users with more common devices should have no real issues with this upgrade.

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