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  • Mac OS 10.4.10: The Worst System Update Ever?

    July 23rd, 2007

    The other day, I was interviewing MacFixIt’s Ben Wilson for one of his periodic slots on The Tech Night Owl LIVE. During the conversation, he remarked that reader surveys had shown that the recent 10.4.10 update for Tiger was the most troublesome in recent memory.

    This surprised me, largely because I never seem to have any of the problems that other people seem to encounter with regularly. I don’t know that I’m necessarily doing anything different, other than to be a little cautious about third-party system toys, or maybe I’ve just been lucky, and now things will change for the worse because I’ve mentioned them here.

    While troubleshooting forums might be heavily weighted towards people with problems, I accept Ben’s comments as entirely accurate. Clearly there’s a disconnect between my experiences and those of others in our audience.

    So what went wrong? Well, some folks are encountering AirPort wireless connection issues and related kernel panics, primarily on recent-generation MacBooks and MacBook Pros. Well, my MacBook Pro is of the first generation variety, and it has been outfitted with a replacement AirPort card from our friends at FastMac to support the 802.11n draft standard, so I don’t really fit into any of the conventional categories, but I haven’t had any troubles at all.

    Another problem, fixed by a more recent update, caused a popping sound on some of the Intel-based Macs. This isn’t something I can check for myself, since the bottom tip of an audio jack remains stuck in my MacBook Pro’s output port. So much for sound, although I installed the update anyway without incident.

    Apple also released and quickly withdraw a SuperDrive firmware update that had the nasty side-effect of disabling drives, which will no doubt keep their service departments busy for a while.

    There are also reports of issues with QuickTime 7.2 but that, technically, is not a 10.4.10 update, so we have to put it into another category.

    So why is these problems occurring? Did Apple fail to test the 10.4.10 update because the operating system team was too busy putting in the final touches for the iPhone and to get Leopard development back on track? I don’t pretend to have any hard answers, especially with no personal experiences to help illuminate possible causes.

    But assuming everything is as bad as it seems, does that mean Apple must put up a 10.4.11 update to set things right? Or will that just create more problems than it solves.

    It’s a sure thing, though, that as the Mac OS X user base continues to grow, there will be more opportunities for things to go bad. That’s the nature of the beast, because it also increases the opportunity for unique installation scenarios that might cause some of these ills.

    However, I have to tell you that no Mac OS X update was ever as bad as some of the garbage that passed for a Mac system over a decade ago. Let’s return to 1995, for example, when Apple switched to PowerPC computers with PCI expansion slots. Now ditching NuBus for PCI was a great idea, because it made it possible to get accelerated graphics card for much less money, since a manufacturer could leverage their PC product with new firmware. Or at least that was the prevailing theory.

    But the Mac OS 7.5 versions that shipped with those computers caused endless nightmares. As I recall, that PCI Power Mac, a 9500, shipped with 7.5.2. It was crash city, and it started misbehaving not 15 minutes after I set up that computer for the first time, and continued every hour or so until Apple delivered relief in the form of the 7.5.3 update. In retrospect, 7.5.3 was nothing special, but after the misery caused by 7.5.2, anything would have seemed a vast improvement.

    Although cherished by some old-time Mac users, I don’t recall System 6 as being especially reliable either. I recall working at a pre-press studio in the late 1980s, and hearing Macs restarting several times an hour. Of course, they were running heavy-duty and notoriously bug-prone content creation software too, but you had to wonder how they ever got any work done, and how the Mac came to dominate the graphic arts business. Then again, those early versions of Windows were far, far worse.

    Indeed, things have changed far more than our fading memories realize. However severe those problems with the 10.4.10 update might seem, they pale in comparison to what we encountered way back when.

    That, however, doesn’t lessen Apple’s obligation to fix the things that are broken, even if it means that Leopard may ship a little bit later.



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    56 Responses to “Mac OS 10.4.10: The Worst System Update Ever?”

    1. […] Mac OS 10.4.10: The Worst System Update Ever? […]

    2. George says:

      I just updated my Macbook(1st generation) to OS X 10.4.10 and can’t log into my system. I get pushed into Darwin/BSD. I can’t seem to figure out if its specifically related to the update or something else. There doesn’t seem to be a mention of it anywhere! This is really ridiculous! I guess archive and install back to 10.4.6!

    3. tawfig says:

      I have install my laserjet 1320 with mac os 10.4.11 and it is working but when i downloaded updaes to Os ( 131 MB) the printer stop working pls comment

    4. tawfig says:

      I have installed my laserjet 1320 with mac os 10.4.11 and it is working but when i downloaded updaes to Os ( 131 MB) the printer stop working pls comment

    5. Andrew M says:

      I have recently installed 10.4.10 via disc on my iBook G4 (1.33Ghz 1.25g ram Power PC). I then updated to 10.4.11 via download. Now the classic mode won’t start up. I (unfortunately) still have some very reliable programs from my OS9 days that I still use. Any help?

    6. gopher says:

      I have recently installed 10.4.10 via disc on my iBook G4 (1.33Ghz 1.25g ram Power PC). I then updated to 10.4.11 via download. Now the classic mode won’t start up. I (unfortunately) still have some very reliable programs from my OS9 days that I still use. Any help?

      Suggest you restore your backup. If you have no backup, restore with Filesalvage or Data Rescue to an external hard drive as outlined in the recover section of my FAQ

      http://www.macmaps.com/backup.html

      Once the recovery gets all your critical files off your existing machine, let us know, and we’ll take you to the next step.

    7. Andrew M says:

      Hi Gopher,
      I have backed up my entire HOME file onto an external drive. I don’t have Filesalvage or Data Rescue, so I copies them all across to the ext drive. Do I need to back up anything else? If not, what’s the next step?
      I have been told by a few people that Classic won’t work in 10.4.11. Is this correct?

    8. gopher says:

      Hi Gopher,
      I have backed up my entire HOME file onto an external drive. I don’t have Filesalvage or Data Rescue, so I copies them all across to the ext drive. Do I need to back up anything else? If not, what’s the next step?
      I have been told by a few people that Classic won’t work in 10.4.11. Is this correct?

      Classic works in 10.4.11. It does not though work on Intel Macs and does not work in 10.5 or higher.

      Booting into Mac OS 9 works in both 10.4.11 and 10.5 via Apple menu -> System Preferences -> Startup Disk if your Mac supports it.

      The probably you may be running into is an INIT conflict or data damage. If you like you can e-mail me via my website guestbook, and try to isolate your problem.

    9. Mary Ann says:

      I had no problems with my mac tiger until I downloaded the software update which I tunes demanded to run it. Since updating to 10.4.11, every time I try to click on my home folder, it crashes. Clicking on my applications folder does the same. I’ve tried archive and reinstall with and without keeping user preferences and all the little tricks I’ve read about to no avail. I need I tunes to work because that’s how I add movies and music to my ipod but I can’t stand the system running like this. To access my applications I have to press down and hold on the folder I have in my dock. Clicking on the folder in my doc won’t launch anything. Likewise, clicking on the homefolder causes my window to flash and disappear and a new finder window opens. I HATE THIS

      It seems to me that the people on these forums know more about fixing macs then the people at apple that you get on the phone, which is pretty disheartening. All they can suggest is reinstall.

    10. gopher says:

      I had no problems with my mac tiger until I downloaded the software update which I tunes demanded to run it. Since updating to 10.4.11, every time I try to click on my home folder, it crashes. Clicking on my applications folder does the same. I’ve tried archive and reinstall with and without keeping user preferences and all the little tricks I’ve read about to no avail. I need I tunes to work because that’s how I add movies and music to my ipod but I can’t stand the system running like this. To access my applications I have to press down and hold on the folder I have in my dock. Clicking on the folder in my doc won’t launch anything. Likewise, clicking on the homefolder causes my window to flash and disappear and a new finder window opens. I HATE THIS

      It seems to me that the people on these forums know more about fixing macs then the people at apple that you get on the phone, which is pretty disheartening. All they can suggest is reinstall.

      It isn’t always that way. I’ve gotten to talk to some geniuses who genuinely know what is wrong. But as a generic response a reinstall teaches all people the necessity of backing up. http://www.macmaps.com/backup.html

      Cause if you haven’t had a backup, some reinstalls will leave you with no data. Troubleshooting invariably can have solutions that may require a complete recovery of your backup. The true _experts_ know the finite methods of avoiding a reinstall, but even those can fail to the point your own recourse is a reinstall and recovery from backup. Apple’s solution of the reinstall can be a quicker solution, but it doesn’t teach you what went wrong. If you really want to know what went wrong and are willing to troubleshoot, then ask the experts. BTW I’m a brody on Apple Discussions.

    11. Mary Ann says:

      Well apple agreed that it must be something with the update so after speaking with them for 4 days in a row they’ve decided to send me out an update to Leopard free of charge. I have to say this was a very fair solution considering they can’t explain why the update does this to me every time either. I do want to start doing full backups though, I”ve heard SuperDuper is the way to go? I have a LaCie external harddrive. How does SuperDuper work, is it easy to use? Ã…lso, do people have a lot of problems with Leopard? What should I expect from that now?

      Thanks!

    12. gopher says:

      Leopard has no problems here. However, if you are upgrading because you have a problem, that’s not the way to go. Problems never disappear when you update your operating system. You must first get your system to be healthy before you upgrade. Upgrades are there to add new features, and new compatibility for new software. I explain this and more on my FAQ http://www.macmaps.com/upgradefaq.html

      Superduper works great in Tiger. In Leopard some versions have difficulty with permissions, but thankfully Time Machine works great too. Whatever you do, test to make sure your backup is working before going ahead with the upgrade. Don’t use the help boards as an excuse to believe any operating system is problematic. They are after all hospital wards. Most people have no problems with the operating systems.

    13. Leopard has no problems here. However, if you are upgrading because you have a problem, that’s not the way to go. Problems never disappear when you update your operating system. You must first get your system to be healthy before you upgrade.

      Upgrades are there to add new features, and new compatibility for new software. I explain this and more on my FAQ http://www.macmaps.com/upgradefaq.html

      Superduper works great in Tiger.

      In Leopard some versions have difficulty with permissions, but thankfully Time Machine works great too.

      Whatever you do, test to make sure your backup is working before going ahead with the upgrade.

      Don’t use the help boards as an excuse to believe any operating system is problematic. They are after all hospital wards.

      Most people have no problems with the operating systems.

      Thanks for your update. Understand, though, that the latest SuperDuper!, version 2.5, ought to be fully Leopard compliant. According to the publisher: “2.5 is fully compatible with Leopard, and produces fully bootable backups of the newest version of OS X.”

      Have you heard otherwise?

      Peace,
      Gene

    14. gopher says:

      Yes. ACL permissions issues were reported by one person I know. Whatever is causing them I don’t know, because I can’t test these issues across the country, as he is California, while I’m in Maryland. I’d really like to know why someone has had difficulties with these.

    15. Yes. ACL permissions issues were reported by one person I know. Whatever is causing them I don’t know, because I can’t test these issues across the country, as he is California, while I’m in Maryland.

      I’d really like to know why someone has had difficulties with these.

      Suggest to your friend that they contact the authors of SuperDuper!. They are quite good about addressing any problems and it’s important that the latest version be used in any case.

      Peace,
      Gene

    16. Mary Ann says:

      Well apple seems to think it’s something in the update 10.6.9 and up that is incompatable with my computer.I agree this doesn’t really make sense but we can’t figure out why all runs fine in 10.6.8. Are you saying that I’ll still have problems then with the Leopard upgrade and would need to erase my hard drive first? If I did and did a backup doesn’t the problem still exist somewhere in some folder then in the saved harddrive. I’m sorry to sound so dense, I’m not very good when it comes to the mechanical/technical aspects of all this. Appreciate all your help!

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