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First Leopard Update Squashes File Move Bug!

What’s the definition of a show-stopping bug? Well, how about something that can result in lost data? Certainly that ranks number one on my book, ahead of a problem that just makes your Mac crash.

Well, I suppose the latter can also result in lost or corrupted files, but if you save regularly, and perform backups, that shouldn’t set you back real bad. At least most of the time. However, I do sincerely hope that Leopard’s Time machine will encourage those of you who have avoided backups to change your ways.

So when reports emerged on the Mac troubleshooting sites about a bug that revealed itself when you moved, rather than copied, a file to another partition or drive, either locally or on a network, you had to feel extremely concerned. I know that I was surprised and shocked to hear such a thing, since I figured that, even if Leopard was rushed to the finish line, nothing of that sort would be allowed to happen. Worse, it seems this self-same bug may have persisted since Panther, if not earlier.

Just to bring you up to date, this particular bug only manifests itself during a file move operation across partitions, where you press Command as a modifier key while dragging the icon to its new location. This particular shortcut is supposed to copy the file and then delete from the original drive. However, if something happens to interrupt the successful procedure, such as a system crash, a power outage, or a file share going offline (did your MacBook just go to sleep prematurely?), the file is toast.

According to Apple’s extensive release notes, for the 10.5.1 update, it “addresses a potential data loss issue when moving files across partitions in the Finder.”

Indeed, that’s the most serious issue, aside from the usual run of security fixes. But I will take Apple at its word and not try this at home. I’ll assume the fix has been thoroughly tested, and if there are any lingering issues, you’ll hear about it soon enough.

In all, there are 25 listed fixes and enhancements, covering a whole range of issues that have affected early adopters to Leopard. They cover AirPort, networking, iCal, Mail, security issues, including some adjustments to the broken firewall feature, and even Time Machine. If you’ve been following the online chatter about problems with Leopard, you’ll probably find most of the issues have been dealt with pretty well.

Unfortunately, if the past is a guide, some of the fixes might not take quite as intended. What’s more, there may indeed be fixes that aren’t even listed as part of Apple’s short list, but could have a serious impact on some of you. It’s also true that reparing one issue might create another, but that’s the nature of programming.

In the end, I installed the 10.5.1 update in rather a lazy fashion. After installing the update on my 17-inch MacBook Pro, I used Leopard’s screen sharing feature to download a copy on my desktop Mac. Then I ran the update remotely. It restarted, and everything worked great! Of course, I only saved a 50 foot walk in performing the upgrade this way, but it does show the utility of the ability to share a screen in such a seamless fashion.

Perhaps I was influenced by some of those radio ads, where an announcer promises that a PC support company will install your upgrades and fix your Windows box over the Internet. Certainly if it can work on a PC, clearning up all the accumulated junk on those computers, making it happen on a Mac ought to be a piece of cake.

But I have to admit that screen sharing isn’t quite sweetness and light. I’ve tried to make the feature function using the “Back to My Back” feature that leverages .Mac to allow online connections of this sort. I even managed to make my desktop visible in the note-book’s Finder. But the connection never completed. Maybe 10.5.1 fixed that problem, or maybe Apple has a little more work to do. But these troubles may lie partly in the differences among various Wi-Fi routers. Certainly an AirPort system is compatible, but then all bets are off.

In any case, as with other Mac OS X updates, unless you’ve been bitten real bad by a specific bug that has been addressed, it doesn’t hurt to wait a few days to make sure that it is free of serious defects. As an inveterate early adopter, however, I’m fully pleased with 10.5.1.