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The Tiger Report: Mac OS 10.4.7 and Counting

You’d think that after nearly 14 months, updates for Tiger would settle down, but alas that’s not to be. On Tuesday afternoon, yet another update, rather a substantial one, appeared in the Software Update preference panels. As usual, the liner notes only indicate a fairly modest number of changes, but a Knowledge Base document is a lot more informative.

There are separate PowerPC and Intel versions, plus one for Tiger Server, but here’s the short list:

The 10.4.7 Update is recommended for all users and includes general operating system fixes, as well as specific fixes for the following applications and technologies.

It includes fixes for:

Depending on your situation, some of these changes are particularly significant. My main concern is the fact that Apple is still wrestling with network problems after all this time and all these updates. Even those irritating connection issues with iChat should have been resolved before this.

In fact, the entire Knowledge Base document lists over 70 “improvements” and that doesn’t include the security issues, which are detailed in yet another document.

The upgrades are positively huge and growing. The “Delta” updates from 10.4.6 weigh in at 64MB for the PowerPC version and 131MB for the Intel version. However, your Software Update list may deliver an update of a different size, which makes it doubly difficult to deploy that update on a network with different types of Macs. If you have older versions of Tiger, you’ll be eligible for the Combo updates, which are 192MB and 215MB. Considering that millions of you don’t have broadband connections yet, updates may be difficult if not impossible to retrieve; that is, unless there’s a nearby Apple Store, a cooperative third party dealer, or a friend with a fast connection.

Once again, I hope Apple will consider setting up a program where you can order monthly or quarterly CD or DVD updates to your operating system, maybe as part of your Mac OS X purchase, or as a separate subscription. I’ll have more to say about that subject in my next Leopard wish list.

Until the initial chatter about 10.4.7 is posted, though, it may be a good idea not to rush out and run the update on your Mac. True, previous Tiger updates have been pretty reliable for most of you, but there’s always the potential for trouble, particularly when so many fixes are involved. After a few days, it should be obvious if there are any show-stopping issues with the potential to affect you.

Some cautious troubleshooters suggest that you also take a few precautions before you run any update of this complexity. You may, for example, want to run the Repair Disk Permissions feature of Disk Utility before and after the update. Some recommend that FireWire devices be dismounted and disconnected from your Mac before the 10.4.7 installer runs.

You should also make sure that all Apple applications are placed loose in the Applications folder and not buried in another folder. While the installer ought to be “smart” enough to find the applications anyway, this is a precaution worth taking. As for myself, I recommend quitting all your other applications too, although I haven’t gone so far as to remove any peripheral devices.

My biggest hope, of course, is that all of the fixes in 10.4.7 will not deliver new problems, and also that Apple can concentrate now on working full steam on Mac OS 10.5 Leopard without any further sidesteps into the past. And, yes, Tiger will soon be the best, as are all operating systems that preceded it.