I suppose I could get a cheap laugh and say that the next maintenance update to Tiger, after Tuesday’s 10.4.9 update, would be 10.5.0, but that isn’t true. It would probably be 10.4.10, assuming another update is forthcoming.
However, unless 10.4.9 has the ultimate show-stopper when it comes to defects, I don’t see it happening, since my initial experience has been seamless, although I haven’t seen much in the way of visible or performance-related improvements. According to Apple, the 10.4.9 update includes the following changes and enhancements:
- RAW camera support
- Handling of large or malformed images that could cause crashes
- Image capture performance
- Mouse scrolling and keyboard shortcuts
- Font handling
- Playback quality, and bookmarks in DVD Player
- USB video conferencing cameras for use with iChat
- Bluetooth devices
- Browsing AFP servers
- Apple USB Modem
- Windows-created digital certificates
- Open and Print dialogs in applications that use Rosetta on Intel-based Macs
- Time zone and daylight saving for 2006 and 2007
- Security updates
That is, of course, the short version. If you want a more complete picture, you’ll want to consult this Apple Knowledge Base document, whch lists 51 “improvements” that apply to either the PowerPC or Intel versions — or perhaps both.
In addition, there’s a slew of security fixes, as outlined in still another Knowledge Base document. Now alarmists will say this proves Mac OS X is extremely vulnerable to malware, but the real truth is that none of these issues have been exploited, and now, assuming the update is installed by most Tiger users (and there’s a Security Update with many of these fixes for Panther uses), they probably won’t be.
Moreover, It’s fair to say that some power users will manage to ferret out even more changes, undocumented, over the next few weeks.
As usual, you have various and sundry choices of what to download. If you already have 10.4.8, there’s a “Delta” version whose size depends on the kind of Mac you have. The “official” versions range from 72MB for the PowerPC edition and 160MB for the Intel variant.
If you have something older than 10.4.8 on your Mac, the sizes expand to 163MB and 310MB — the Combo versions — either of which is a huge load even for a fast broadband connection. Again, I pity the millions of people who are stuck with dial-up, either because a faster alternative is unavailable, or because they don’t want to invest in broadband.
In addition, there are updates for Mac OS X Server, which I won’t cover here, but you’ll see it in your Software Update panel for your Xserves and such.
Among the key changes are to .Mac, Network and Modem issues, and lots of stuff in the “Other” category, which cover various and sundry support issues.
As usual, you should use caution when doing an update, particularly one as wide-ranging as this. Although lots of us are rushing to move to 10.4.9 as quickly as possible, I suggest most of you just leave it be until the dust settles. Consult the online chatter and see whether there are any problems that could somehow impact your particular setup.
How long? Well, a week ought to be sufficient for the most serious issues to be revealed. If you’re the really cautious type, you might even want to consider the Combo editions even if you have 10.4.8.
The usual preparatory steps apply. Back up your critical files, do a fresh restart, and don’t run any applications while the update is in progress. In theory, this shouldn’t make a difference, but in practice if something can go wrong, it will.
After the update concludes, and your Mac has restarted, it doesn’t hurt to run Disk Utility, and access the Repair Disk Permissions function on your startup drive.
But if all works out well, the way is now cleared for Leopard. Or at least that’s what Apple is probably hoping and hope indeed springs eternal.
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