Apple certainly wants to get Mavericks (OS X 10.9) into everyone’s hands quickly – if you haven’t heard, they released it yesterday for free. Free is a price pretty much anyone can afford – provided, of course, your Mac can run it.
I’m not going into a lot of new feature detail or specs here – you can find that on a lot of other sites. I will tell you about my experiences installing and running it for past couple of weeks though (I got my hands on the Gold Master a couple of weeks ago as I am a paid developer).
I have to say that this is probably the most stable x.0 release of an OS I have seen. In the past, programs would behave oddly or not run at all, and it was prudent to simply wait for the x.1 update to come out. But so far, I’ve only had one program really not run right – and that is Neat Receipts. It seems to hang doing the Optical Character Recognition (OCR) on a document. You can still load up documents just fine though and get to your old ones, so for now I can live with that.
After the first boot, if you were using iCloud, you’ll be asked to supply your password. I was asked several times – I don’t know why it was multiple times; presumably, it was for Messages/iCloud storage and who knows what. Just keep filling them in – after 2 or 3 dialog boxes they’ll go away.
When Time Machine runs, you won’t get a spinning icon in your menu bar any more. The icon does change slightly to a double-headed arrow, but it doesn’t spin. Presumably that saves a bit of CPU and hence energy. Also, if you are using a network disk for your Time Machine backups, you won’t see the disk mount on your desktop. In 10.8, the Time Machine disk would mount on the desktop, and then unmount when done. You can still see it if you look with the terminal, and presumably with Disk Utility if you catch it while its backing up, but it won’t show on the desktop anymore. Time Machine has decided to become a bit less obvious, and that’s not necessarily bad.
Some things to be aware of though. On one of my systems, some of my preferences got reset – annoying ones, but nothing major, and easily fixed. The single-finger swipe to go back and forth a page in apps like Safari for some reason got turned off. Worse was my preference in Security to allow any program to run – it got set back to “Mac App Store and identified developers”. Since most of my apps aren’t from the Mac App Store, that wasn’t great – especially when it complained about loading the drivers for my eSATA card (although at least it did load them, because I wouldn’t have been able to boot otherwise!). So if things are acting oddly, try checking your preferences.
Speaking of the App Store – you can now have your programs update automatically, just like on iOS 7. While in the store getting updates I was asked if I wanted them to be automatic, and I clicked OK. But then I got to wondering – what if I change my mind? There’s no Preferences menu item on the App Store program – how do I turn this off if need be?
The answer is in System Preferences. The Software Update preference pane has been replaced by one called “App Store.”
Inside, you’ll find the options for system and application updates (from the Mac App Store at least):
I had problems upgrading my OS X Server program on one system. For some reason, it just kept hanging at the same point. I rebooted a couple of times and it eventually worked – maybe I just needed to wait it out. But on my other system, it breezed right along in a minute or so.
If, like me, you have a MacPro and you are booting from eSATA drives on a card that needs a kext (kernel) extension to run the card, you’ll have a tough time installing. Every time the install program rebooted the machine, it couldn’t see the boot drive (since the installer knows nothing about a third-party card for booting up). To get around it, I cloned my boot drive to my former boot drive, an internal, and installed there. Then I just cloned back after the install. It sounds easy, but it took me a while to figure that out!
It looks like my Time Machine problem has been fixed – the one I mentioned a few weeks ago, where ejecting my backup drive caused my boot drive to become excluded from the backup. One more annoyance gone.
Mavericks has also cleared up another annoying problem for me. On boot, my MacPro would revert the sound from the line out (where I have an amp and speakers hooked up) to the display with its tinny speakers. Worse, it only routed the system sounds there – it just killed off the other sounds. Every reboot I’d have to remember to reset my sound preferences. But Mavericks remembers, just like a good card counter remembers what’s been played.