Snow Leopard Upgrade – Thumbs Up (Mostly)

I finally upgraded my Mac Pro to Snow Leopard. I give it a “thumbs up” because it was a smooth, trouble free process. It took about an hour, and required almost no input from me. [UPDATED 6/29, 6/30]

Apple Snow Leopard

Aside from a stability improvement, I saw no immediate, significant changes either good or bad. That was great. Most things worked, including VMWare. I didn’t lose any functionality, either through omission, or through “GUI improvements” that emphasize more common activities at the expense of less common, but still critical, activities.

My biggest gripe is that the Apple “Pro” applications like Aperture were broken by the upgrade. I didn’t find this immediately, since I don’t use Aperture every day. But as soon as I ran Software Update, it fixed the problem. A lame arrangement, IMHO, but at least I didn’t have to go searching for the fix.

Being paranoid, I disabled the Time Machine automatic backups during the upgrade. I turned them back on once I was satisfied with the upgrade results. If the upgrade had been a botch, I would then have pulled out my 10.5 distribution files and reinstalled my old system from Time Machine.

Since things went fine, I re-enabled Time Machine and told it to save the latest changes (8GB to the system).

VMWare Stability Improvement

I use VMWare to run Microsoft operating systems, mostly so that I can run FrameMaker and Quicken, my two vices.

The only real change I’ve seen in my Mac’s behavior is that it handles VMWare glitches without hanging the whole system. VMWare will occasionally go to lala land for 2-3 minutes, displaying nothing but the Mac’s spinning rainbow. In other words, it was so strung up that I didn’t even get the PC hourglass. These occurrences seem to happen when I’m clicking quickly between Mac and PC windows.

On 10.5, the whole system would spin while VMWare got hold of itself again. Now, I can go to other Mac processes and do other work while the rainbow spins over VMWare.

Glitches

When I first posted this (6/27) I had only suffered two minor configuration glitches. Since then other things happened. Here’s the whole list.

  1. The most trying problem arose the next time I tried running Aperture – there was a mismatch between Snow Leopard and the older support for Apple’s “Pro” applications. Aperture literally crashed without running when I first tried it after the upgrade. I had to run Software Update and get the libraries upgraded to make things work. I think this was lame on Apple’s part, though I was savvy enough to fix it without excessive fuss or inconvenience.
  2. I had to reinstall the login background screen – a pic of our tower. It defaulted back to the original background during installation. Actually, this time I went in and edited the appropriate plist to point to the new and different picture (see below).
  3. Sound output was messed up. Both the 10.6 upgrade, and the Apple Software Update immediately following it, reset the sound outputs to go to the internal speaker. Like many, I have a marginally better set of stereo speakers on the desktop, and direct all sound to those via “Line out.”
  4. The monitor profile for my Acer monitor disappeared. I have 2 LCD monitors, an old Sony and a newer (much cheaper) Acer. The Sony’s default monitor profile seems to work fine, but the Acer’s is seriously deficient in contrast. I generally display Finder windows with the column hierarchy view, and the lines between columns were invisible in the default profile. I re-calibrated the monitor and now it’s OK. (Actually, after I ran Software Update following Snow Leopard’s install, the monitor profile defaulted to the weak one again, and I had to re-select the right one).
  5. The Acer monitor profile was reset to the default on each user account. Thus I’ve had to go in and change it back on each account. Thus the accounts have anemic contrast until the profile is set to the correct value.
  6. I also had to reset the background pattern on some (but not all) user accounts. Not sure what was going on with that – some user accounts retained their background pattern without muss or fuss, but others didn’t.

So, it took some time to do the upgrade, including fixes. Incidentally, it’s tricky to change the login background:

Changing the Mac’s login background image

I found this described on-line.

I have a tower picture I like to use as the login background. To change it, you change the “loginwindow” properties, which are in this file:

/Library/Preferences/com.apple.loginwindow.plist

To change the login image, you edit that plist. To do that, you find the plist and open it. By default, the Property List Editor should open it.

Tell the Editor to add a new entry. I guess this used to be the “Add Sibling” command, but the latest version just seems to have an “Add Entry” command.

Be sure to name the entry “DesktopPicture” and give it the string data type.

Set the value of the entry to be the path name for the picture, in Unix format with slashes between folder names:

/Library/Desktop Pictures/tower.jpg

Be sure to include any embedded spaces in file or folder names. Note how the example above has a space in the name “Desktop Pictures”.

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