Written by: James Alguire
Categories: Hints & Tips
That’s not a typo, Despite the excitement and fervor to rush out and upgrade to the newest cat in Apple’s litter, there are actually good reasons not to upgrade to Leopard right away. Here are five to consider.
Number One: First Isn’t Always Best
Technology always needs early adopters, brave souls living on the bleeding edge trying each new electronic gadget or software program because they are driven to be the first. They are the ones who take the punches, suffer the glitches, crashes, and report the bugs that are inevitable with new technology and software, and many times provide workarounds and fixes. More cautious Mac users should follow the basic tech rule, “Never buy version one of anything.” Some may argue Leopard is just the evolution of the current Mac OS, and while it’s Officially Mac OS X 10.5, it’s still version one of Leopard. Wait a few weeks after Leopard’s release into the wild to see what problems, gotchas, and solutions the first adopters discover. This makes transitioning from Tiger to Leopard smoother and less painless. Places to check to see what is going on with Leopard include Appleâ€™s support site for Mac OS X (www.apple.com/support/leopard/) where there will be technotes regarding problems and solutions, and forums where other users discuss their experiences; our own MacCast, as well as MacFixit.com (www.macfixit.com) and Macintouch (www.macintouch.com).
Number Two: Are you Mac Enough?
Apple has significantly raised the bar for which Macs can have Leopard intalled. If your Mac doesnâ€™t meet the new system requirements for running Leopard It’s necessary to either upgrade your existing Mac or purchase a new one. Really the only Mac upgrades for Leopard compatibility are add RAM or hard disk space. Many Macs with third party processor upgrades may still not allow Leopard to be installed, so check with the manufacturer about Leopard compatibility. If buying a new Mac, Leopard will be included in one of three ways depending on when the new Mac was purchased. Leopard is either pre-installed on the hard drive, included as an installation disk in the box, or available through Appleâ€™s up-to-date program (www.apple.com/macosx/uptodate/), which entitles those who purchased a new Mac in October before Leopard’s release to get a free copy (although there is a $9.95 shipping and handling charge).
Number Three: Critical Software Used is not Leopard Compatible.
Current programs, drivers and System Preferences installed on your Mac may not all be Leopard compatible. Adobe and Filemaker have already made announcements regarding compatibility issues with their software running on Leopard. Definitely wait to upgrade to Leopard until the software that you need to use is compatible. Check with developers to find out when a patches or upgrades to provide Leopard compatibility will be available. Also check Versiontracker (www.versiontracker.com) for Leopard compatible software updates. It’s also best to upgrade your software before upgrading Leopard, especially software that installs kernel extensions or System Preferences.
Mac users still using Classic Mac OS programs should note that Leopard cannot run Classic at all, so it will be necessary to finally migrate to Mac OS X native versions of any Classic programs being used before upgrading to Leopard.
Number Four: Critical Hardware Used is not Leopard Compatible.
Just as in number three above, third party hardware, video cards, hard drive controllers or other expansion cards, printers, scanners, etc. may not work fully or at all under Leopard. This is currently a problem for users of high end video cards from BlackMagic Design and AJA, who cater primarily to the digital video industry. Definitely check with the manufacturer of any third party hardware that is installed to verify both driver and firmware compatibility with Leopard.
Number Five: Never Upgrade Software (including operating systems) in the Middle of a Project.
In the middle of a critical project? Wait until the project is complete before upgrading to Leopard. Upgrading could introduce problems that can slow or stop the work that is currently being done while you (or the IT department) have to troubleshoot the issues. It could be something as simple as a function or service that has been moved in Mac OS or as complex as dangerous hardware/software interactions, but always stick with the old adage, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
Bonus Reason: Wait to Upgrade until Your Data is Backed Up.
It goes without saying, but never perform a major upgrade of software or hardware without first making a back up of all your important data.
For those of you who can’t wait to upgrade to Leopard, but still want to have a better experience doing it, check out Adam Engst’s Take Control eBook site for “Take Control of Upgrading to Leopard” ($10, http://www.takecontrolbooks.com/).
Treat this new Mac OS X more like a real Leopard and it won’t bite you.