OS X Leopard is a great operating system, but having used it since it’s arrival in October, I’ve found a number of things I think Apple should fix, in increasing order of randomness:
- Network Sharing
- Time Machine configuration
- Workgroup configuration
- WiFi dropouts
- Spaces configuration
My house has multiple computers on our network, including an iMac and Windows PC. For the most part sharing works quite well, but I have found that sharing with Panther or even Tiger seems to work better than Leopard. I certainly have more control over sharing folders and users, but that seems to come at the expense of compatibility in a variety of situations. Permissions don’t always work — adding an option for “ignore permissions in this folder” would be awesome — and machines aren’t always discovered (that’s probably because of the workgroup problem).
Time Machine configuration
Naturally the most touted feature of Leopard was Time Machine, and rightly so. Finally backing up is so easy and cool that everyone can and should use it. Unfortunately, the implementation of the preference system leaves a lot do be desired. In the image at left, my Time Machine preference panel shows a large number of folders. This is because I want to back up one single folder of my Library, and ignore the others. Rather than select the single folder I wanted backed up, I had to ignore all but the single folder. This can be improved greatly with a “back up” list, in addition to an “ignore” list.
In order to share files with Windows computer users, a computer needs to have the correct workgroup. So far with my experience with Leopard, the workgroup does not remain in memory, meaning sharing files with other users is a real hassle. This is a simple element of the preference panel that can make using the entire sharing system much more efficient.
In past generations of OS X, the Airport menu item revealed precious little information about neighbourhood wireless networks. That has changed in Leopard, as now the security status of networks is always shown, along with a dynamically updated list of connections. Unfortunately, it appears these new features have caused some WiFi trouble with some users at the Apple discussion boards and abroad. It appears to be a widespread problem, as many other sources are saying that the net connection drops entirely, until the menu bar is clicked again and the signal is restored. In an age where WiFi is as ubiquitous as electricity, this shouldn’t happen.
Another feature hyped in Leopard was Spaces. This virtual desktop environment allows users to run applications in separate workspaces to eliminate distractions. So far the only real use I have found for Spaces is to use full-screen applications like Parallels and Chicken of the VNC. The Spaces system preference item allows you to link applications with Spaces so they always run in that specific Space. The problem that I have with this setup is that there is no option to have applications ignore Spaces completely. For example, if I have a Finder window and iTunes open in Space 1, and Safari open in Space 2, when I change to Finder again I am sent back to Space 1. Finder is a program that I want to have open a new window regardless of the Spaces open and the applications in each Space.
Some of these issues are more pressing than others, but even fixes for the smaller bugs can help make Leopard an even better OS than it already is.