Mac OS 10.6 Snow Leopard for Providers
Note: this document has been significantly changed since it was first published on August 28th, 2009. The original document is here.
Mac OS 10.6 Snow Leopard, formally announced on June 9, 2009, is the sixth significant update to Mac OS X, Apple's UNIX-based desktop operating system. It became available in stores (including the University's Computer Connection) on August 28, 2009.
Information Systems & Computing (ISC) supports Mac OS 10.6 Snow Leopard for its clients, including off-campus students. ISC recommends Mac OS 10.6 only for systems with an Intel processor (Mac OS 10.6 does not function on PowerPC-based systems) that have at least 1.5 GB of RAM. The full install of Mac OS 10.6 Leopard uses at least 7.0 GB of disk space, depending on the type of Macintosh and choices made during the install.
Mac OS 10.6 Snow Leopard is available as an upgrade from Mac OS 10.5 for $29 from the Computer Connection. Users upgrading from Mac OS 10.4 need to purchase either the Mac Box Set, at $169 or (if they don't need the iWork and iLife upgrades) the combination of Leopard ($69) and Snow Leopard ($29).
There are a number of known issues with Mac OS 10.6 Snow Leopard, several of which are especially relevant to Penn's Macintosh users:
Provider note: Norton AntiVirus 11.0.3 has not been yet been heavily tested at the University under Mac OS 10.4.11 or Mac OS 10.5.x, though Symantec lists it as compatible with these operating systems. Many users have already been upgraded to 11.0.3 or above via scheduled Live Updates.
Provider note: a Provider Notes article on University-Centric Mac OS 10.6 Compatibility is an alphabetical list of Mac OS applications in use at the University and their compatibility status with Mac OS 10.6.
Changes in Mac OS 10.6
Though mostly an optimization release, Mac OS 10.6 Snow Leopard does have some new features. Below are some changes that may be of interest to the Penn community:
1) Speed, Speed, Speed
Mac OS 10.6 has a host of speed improvements compared to Mac OS 10.5. In ISC testing, Mac OS 10.6 installs more quickly, boots faster, performs various Finder functions more quickly, and substantially shortens the time required to make an initial Time Machine backup.
The Finder has been completely rewritten in Cocoa to take advantage of modern technologies such as 64-bit support and Grand Central Dispatch. Performance is improved throughout the Finder and it includes new features such as customizable Spotlight search options and an enhanced icon view that lets you thumb through a multipage document or watch a QuickTime movie.
The Finder interface has been further enhanced with contextual menus in high contrast (white text on black background) and improved animations for stacks. Additionally, the Finder allows users to restore items from the trash to their original locations by choosing the Put Back command.
Exchange 2007 Support allows the combination of Apple Mail, iCal, and Address Book to more effectively communicate with the University's Exchange services.
Provider note: though this support is substantially improved over previous versions of the Mac OS, LSPs may find that some users, particularly heavy calendar users, will find this implementation limited (for example, Exchange categories are not reflected or displayed). Though these applications are not yet supported for the University's Exchange services, instructions for configuring them are here.
Nearly all system applications, including the Finder, Mail, Safari, iCal, and iChat, are now built with 64-bit code. Not only are they able to take full advantage of all the memory in a Mac, but the move to 64-bit applications also boosts overall performance.
4) Universal Access
Universal Access includes several updates. More braille readers are supported (including Bluetooth braille readers), along with significantly enhanced VoiceOver capabilities (such as faster keyboard navigation and trackpad control) and tutorials.
Mac OS 10.6 Snow Leopard includes at least some level of malware detection - a first for an Apple operating system. The new 64-bit code is also somewhat more resistant to various attacks.
6) Grand Central Dispatch and OpenCL
Grand Central Dispatch takes full advantage of modern multicore systems by making all parts of the Mac OS multicore aware and optimizing it for allocating tasks across multiple cores and processors. OpenCL (Open Computing Language) allows developers to tap into the computing power in graphics processors and use it for any application.
7) QuickTime X
QuickTime X includes a brand-new player application, offers optimized support for modern codecs, and delivers more efficient media playback, making it ideal for any application that needs to play media content.
Other features of note to LSPs:
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