The Lazy or the Tiger?

Published 18 years, 4 months past

So I’ve been putting off upgrading from Panther to Tiger for quite some time now.  My base reason is that I’ve been really, really busy, but the other reason is that I kept hearing that it wasn’t worth it.  Now, I’m used to the 10.x.0 version of any major OS X release being unstable and the source of many complaints, but it’s up to 10.4.4 now.  That seems like enough time to work out the kinks.

Plus, I have to use Tiger if I want to play with the Mac version of Google Earth.  So there’s that.

Admittedly, I do have Tiger installed on a partition of an external drive, and I’ve played around with it a little bit.  Still, that’s a very far cry from upgrading my laptop’s hard drive from Panther to Tiger.  I know that any major OS upgrade will mean time and energy spent on managing the transition, including re-installing or upgrading some third-party software.  That’s where the “I’ve been busy” thing comes back into play.  It’s a lot easier to take the lazy route: the system I have now works, so why mess with it?  Then again, that same attitude would have kept me in the Classic OS if I’d let it.  At some point, you have to upgrade.

So I put it to the crowd: is Tiger (now) worth taking the plunge?

Comments (38)

  1. Totally worth it. And no, I’m not biased at all due to wanting to drop 10.3 support ;)

  2. I’m in a similar situation and I think its time I packed it up here and moved to Tiger. The turning point was seeing all this cool, new software I’ve been reading about through various Mac sites but seeing “10.4.x Required” more and more. If its all about the software and experience, as Apple says, and the software is moving ahead without you then it times.
    Let’s make the jump together, 1, 2, 3! Oww! My leg! ;)

  3. I don’t know how I lived without Spotlight. If you put metatags in graphics, then you’ll appreciate this a lot.

    Thumbs up for an upgrade.

  4. Beware if you are using iChat or if you have a 15″ Aluminium PowerBook – the former apparently works much more reliably in Panther whilst the 10.4.3/4 updates to Tiger have left deep uncertainty as to whether the Sudden Motion Sensor is working or not. See Apple Discussions for both issues.

    Otherwise its pretty sturdy.

  5. I use 10.4 at home and 10.3 at work. The only think I like about 10.3 better than 10.4 is that I can’t get the Mail App in 10.4 to handle IMAP email properly no matter what I do.

  6. I’d say go for it!

    Tiger has been very stable for me. IMAP with Mail as well. I can’t think of anything that got worse when I switched.

    widgets are fun too!

  7. I’m trying to think, …asides from Spotlight and the Dashboard, what came bundled with Tiger that wasn’t already in Panther?

    As far as the Dash is concerned, I rarely use it (and usually only to check the weather) – it seems like such a gimmick. I use Spotlight more frequently, though it doesn’t seem to search the entire hard-drive (system stuff seems to be off-limits).

    So, in hindsight, if I was to reconsider my purchase – the only real reasons I’d upgrade would be for a solid system update, and Automator.

    What about Leapoard? Would you be better off waiting (late 2006 / early 2007)?

  8. Grrr… “Leopard”, I meant. ;-)

  9. I felt similarly, but when I bought my new PowerBook last May, it came with Tiger already installed (to my surprise). I was concerned, but to date, I have had no problems. I use it for home and work, and so far so good. Of course, I didn’t have to upgrade anything, so I’m not sure what’s involved in that other than time and application upgrades, as with any OS upgrade. That said, I loved Panther and was wary of Tiger until I started using it routinely. Now I really like Tiger.

  10. If you are a Quicksilver user, the latest version only works on 10.4+. That said, I’m not high on the widgets and believe that they are way overhyped; specifically, I don’t care for the two modes of operation, either widget-land or the main OS. I don’t want to spend time in widget land, there’s no way to get any work done there that I can see.

    That aside, while Spotlight is nice, I find the similar capabilities (plus) of Quicksilver keep me from ever using Spotlight.

    Now, with all that said, 10.4 is maximally stable (at least for me) and solid; reason enough to move ahead.

    You are right that it does certainly take some care to move as you don’t want to simply upgrade in place without making sure you’re sufficiently backed up (prefs, 3rd party apps, data, etc.). Nothing new, but it does, as you point out, take time (and you want to make sure you have enough of it to survive the transition in the event something doesn’t work right).


  11. “I”m trying to think, …asides from Spotlight and the Dashboard, what came bundled with Tiger that wasn”t already in Panther?”

    One – or is it considered two? – words: CoreData.

    If you do any kind of Cocoa development you’ll already be nodding your head in agreement. But even if you don’t give a hoot about it, nor have a clue about what it is – trust me…. this is a major dividing line between 10.0-10.3 apps and those built for 10.4 and beyond.

  12. I would say go on and upgrade. To me, tiger just feels like a better system. I would pay the upgrade fee for spotlight alone. Widgets I can take or leave, they’re memory intensive, and I’m usually quicker when getting to info from within my browser.

  13. I hold off the upgrade for a long time, mostly because I have so much stuff installed in /usr/local and other deeply hidden Unix locations. That said, after one month of use, I don’t regret it. The system is pretty solid, and Spotlight turns out more useful than expected. Automator is a nice addition as well. Camino runs much better than on Panther. Memory managment appears to be better.

    That said, if you upgrade, I recommend the radical route: wipe and install. I first did an ‘archive and install’, and that wasn’t as clean as expected.

  14. I definitely recommend upgrading to Tiger. Not mentioned in other posts, I’m particularly happy with Mail’s performance improvement, the change of individual files per message, as well as the switch from mailbox drawer to pane.

  15. I think you were wise to wait as it was probably the buggiest release I’ve ever encountered from Apple since System 7. Now that it’s on the fourth iteration, it seems very stable.

    The one thing I really love at 10.4: launchd. Boot-up time from when the hardware check is done until my desktop appears: 4 seconds.

  16. I just got my first Mac so I am of course completely lost… LOL One of the Prof’s at my university bought a brand new Powerbook for his “Christmas Present’ so I bought his G3 for a song…

    I find I am curious to know just how long before I’ll be able to find anything on the Mac and where oh where did my keyboard short cuts go… I ;oved them so and now they are gone…

    All that aside I think 10.3 is all my G3 will support so I don’t have to worry about upgrading to 10.4..

  17. I think it is definitely worth the upgrade. I have been using it since 10.4.2. I waited until then and was a bit disappointed with the stability at that point. Now it seems to be ready to go.

    I did find one widget I like, and it’s a new one, the ski mountain condition widget. I love knowing the current conditions without trying to navigate the terrible websites of those ski resorts. And it’s pretty. Really pretty. The snow grows if they have a bigger base.

  18. Gotta agree, feels rock solid.

    Personally i’ve wanted to see you on 10.4 by now for selfish reasons i’ve been waiting to see what you do when you play with dashboard like you play with wordpress, lol

  19. Nah. I was considering downgrading for a while, Tiger felt like it took a bit of a toll on my Powerbook, speed-wise. And I really don’t get much out of the new stuff, it’s not nearly the upgrade Panther was for me.

    Sure, Dashboard is alright (I kind of rely on the calendar and weather widgets now, not to mention the SeeSS CSS property listing one) but not a must-have. Automator is fun every now and then, but a once-a-month sort of thing for me. And I’m not getting anything from Spotlight, I rarely lose track of my own files. Quicksilver’s still king for app launching, so Spotlight is a once-every-three-months feature to me.

    After hearing about all the really major under-the-hood upgrading that Tiger brought, I’m kind of thinking at this point it was a transitional upgrade, and they’re saving the big guns for Leopard or 10.6. The Tiger hype got pretty loud, but in retrospect it hasn’t changed much about my every day interaction with my Mac. There’s no new Exposé-like feature in Tiger, basically.

  20. Just wanted to second what Dave S. said.

    * Dashboard is interesting, but most widgets are generally net related (I’m still on dial-up at home) and honestly, not that useful.
    * If you keep your stuff well organized, Spotlight’s pretty much useless.
    * The new PDF creation options from the Print dialogue are nice.
    * Automator is a joke (especially if you’re even passingly familiar with Applescript).
    * And I prefer Thunderbird to Mail (Mail always seems slow when checking several POP accounts over dial-up).

    Everything beyond that was either under-the-hood or a relatively minor update. So, from a user perspective, Panther-to-Tiger doesn’t have the groundbreaking feel that Jaguar-to-Panther did.

  21. I upgraded my Powerbook to Tiger a while back, but not until it had hit 10.4.2 I think. Yeah, Dashboard is kind of neat, but I find that it bogs my powerbook down more than anything, especially when I accidentally hit the hotspot corner for it.

    I also use Thunderbird for e-mail and keep my stuff fairly well organized, so Spotlight doesn’t do me much good.

    Aside from that, I haven’t had any problems with Tiger. In fact, I didn’t even do a backup before installing and that went off without a hitch. Then again, my powerbook is not my main workhorse, just my on-the-road machine.

  22. 10.4.4 is great. 10.4.0 had a lot of bugs. so did 10.4.1. But they’ve been fixing them and now Tiger is at a point where it’s pretty good.

    The user-visible stuff isn’t all that great. Spotlight is ok, dashboard is ok, but neither is mind-blowing. The good stuff is in all the goodies for developers.. Cocoa had some really cool stuff added to it in 10.4. Expect a lot of Tiger-only applications this year.

    Now that most of the big bugs are fixed, I’d say upgrade.

  23. I’m not certain if Spotlight was worth $99, or whatever Tiger cost, but you might as well. I can’t think of a reason why not to.

  24. One more thing…that I forgot to mention in a previous comment…

    While Blair thinks “Automator is a joke”, for those of us that are indeed not even passingly familiar with Applescript, I think it’s quite useful. One recent example of its use for me was the following: (1) using a web camera that ftps photos to a web directory (every 10 minutes, 6 days a week), each image has a base name plus date/time appended as digits to the filename, (2) used Quicktime to make a time-lapse of the sequence, (3) turns out that Quicktime doesn’t handle enough digits in the sequence number of the filename to make sense (see my time lapse “wrapping” over the 1/1/06 cusp, (4) spend about 10 minutes with automator to change the filenames to QT-usable sequence numbers. ‘nuf said (at least for someone that might not have a simple way to go about it otherwise.

  25. Spotlight and the dashboard, two things you didn’t think you needed until you tried them. My desktop is always a mess, it’s my dumping ground for all my files, spotlight has given me the freedom to not worry to much about file locations and concentrate on work instead. The dash has also sped up my life, from a simple drag and drop ftp interface ‘transmit’ to all of my system monitoring widgets, I don’t know how I managed before. Get tiger, it’s much faster than previoud iterations of OS X (install it on a G3 iMac and you’ll see what I mean! DC

  26. I’ve been mulling over the same thing… For what it’s worth, the feature in Tiger that’s calling me most isn’t Dashboard or Spotlight, it’s the WebKit. I like Safari, but v.1.3 still has some memory leak problems that force me to quit and restart it occasionally. I want to be able to run the latest build of Safari, and multiple builds for testing.

    From what I’ve seen from others who have taken the leap, upgrading to Tiger may also come with the need to boost your RAM — those widgets add up. While Panther was sprightly with 512MB, Tiger only seems faster once it’s been increased 1GB.

  27. I actually bought a new computer to move to Tiger, my iBook doesn’t read DVD’s.

  28. Yes! It is worth the upgrade. Spotlight is amazingly fast. Widgets, which I hated at first, are also excellent once you find some you really like to be able to see at any moment. The panda cam widget alone is a good reason! Mail 2 is way better than Mail. Smart folders are incredibly useful. 10.4.4 has been good to me so far. Good luck :)

  29. Yes, it is high time you upgraded. Tiger has a lot of goodness that you will quickly come to love. Panther was a great release, and Tiger definitely ups the ante.

  30. I just upgraded our entire design firm’s Macs to Tiger, and I think we had one System prefpane to update, a couple of minor applications, and that’s about it. It went smoothly for everyone and have had no downtime other than the approximate 1 hour to install. Automator has some potential (when I can script entourage with it). My saddest realization is that Ibeezz (a most excellent tool or launch apps, etc) no longer works and won’t be updated for Tiger. Stil looking for a replacement.

  31. I can’t say whether Tiger is better than Panther, because I never used Panther. My Mac came with 10.4 installed. However, I like it very much. The widgets are a bit of “much ado about nothing” in my opinion, but the OS seems very stable, the updates work for the most part, and they’ve kept up with security and such pretty well.

    Just my opinion.

  32. 2 words – “Google Earth”. You mentioned that you’re really, really busy….? You can easily waste hours using G.E. I’d say the switch is worth it for Spotlight alone. I use it all the time, it’s incredible.

  33. I can understand the hesitation. I’m the type of guy that is always upgrading on the razor’s edge. If you use your mac on a windows network, I would be especially cautious. It seems like Panther works better in a windows environment. Spotlight doesn’t work too well for Windows formatted volumes unless you use the mdfind hack to turn on indexing of those volumes, and the recent places menu crashes my mac all the time when I fhave windows volumes mounted (Adobe Apps mostly). That used to work fine in Panther. but if those aren’t concerns, I would say go for it. I like how quick it boots. Spotlight, Automator and Dashboard are cool. Safari is nice and quick in Tiger. Xcode 2.1 on Tiger rocks.

  34. Tiger is a great upgrade and I can’t imagine not using some of it’s less fancy features, but for the likes of Dashboard, spotlight etc. I could live without.

    A friend of mine installed Tiger on his 1.2Ghz 15″ Powerbook and lost use of his bottom RAM slot as a result of a “Known” problem. Apparently Tiger upgrades the firmware effectively irreversibly damaging the logic board.

    Just do a quick search on the Apple support forums if you have a 15″ Powerbook, I wouldn’t recommend upgrading until you have.


  35. Ha ha, I’m in an identical situation. I have DP G5, but it’s my main production machine and I know that any upgrade means a fair amount of work and downtime. Upgrading is further complicated by all the Unix software I’ve compiled and got set up the way I like, which means more manual changeover is needed. I’m still waiting a little bit longer, because I want to complete my current project, but I agree with you that at this point new software is beginning to shift to require 10.4. Tiger added so many interesting aids from a developer standpoint (such as Core Data) that I can see a lot of dev companies (especially small ones) would rather save the time required to re-implement comparable features in Panther at this point and just go Tiger only. So shift time I guess. On the bright side, last I heard from Apple a lot of the core OS X APIs have finally been frozen, so in the future we may see more long term support.

  36. Do it. On my AlBook 15″ 1.5, the performance difference was quite noticeable, especially after a clean install (updated immediately to 10.4.4). Probably thanks to Quartz Extreme and Core Video improvements, I dunno. I’ve had no stability issues (except for Virtual PC, but that’s another story) and don’t think any apps needed an upgrade per se, based on a quick check beforehand (although I took the opportunity to get the latest versions of them anyway). I actually find the Dashboard quite helpful for a few reasons – calculator in one keystroke being one of them – and Spotlight has come in handy numerous times; even if I know where a file is, I can get there faster by just hitting Command-Space and typing its name. I’d agree with the 1GB RAM comment though, but that could be from trying to run a few big Java apps (Zend Studio and Test Track) at once along with Carbon/Cocoa apps (especially as Firefox, Adium, Terminal and OmniOutliner are always open at least). Mail does feel like a step (or maybe just a “Shuffle”?) backwards, more of a “kiddie” interface than Panther. But overall the whole environment is an improvement and a joy to work with. A final thought: I have an original (Bondi!) iMac still on Panther, and next to it Tiger just seems somehow more… refined. Maybe less lickable, but more usable on a long day (imho).

  37. If you’re worried about ruining your working system, use SuperDuper to make a bootable clone of your whole system on an external drive (or other partition). Then if anything goes wrong, you can clone the old system back. SuperDuper is *awesome* for this kind of thing (and for everyday backups).

    Anyway, I’ve upgraded (as opposed to clean install) about 25 machines from Panther to Tiger, and only ran into a few minor problems. I rarely had to reinstall anything.

    I doubt you’ll have much if any trouble, and it’s *well* worth it. Just be sure to run disk repair, repair permissions, and preferably DiskWarrior first to make sure your Panther system is all clean (do all that before cloning too).

    Clearing out caches first will save you time on the repair & backups.

    So to sum up:
    1) run every disk repair thingy you have
    2) make bootable clone
    3) upgrade

  38. Google Earth (despite it telling you frequently that it doesn’t) will run on Panther…
    Does fall over quite a bit (although cleanly) but as it’s essentially a toy, I’m not sure
    this is such a big issue.

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