The Leopard Report: Why So Buggy?

February 13th, 2008

From the first day that Leopard arrived on the scene, the online universe has been filled with problem reports. On the surface, this is understandable. When you have millions of people using a brand new computer operating system, a small percentage will encounter difficulties of one sort or another.

Now you can place the blame for those difficulties at the feet of many offenders. Sure, it may all be Apple’s fault, and that’s the easiest answer, since it’s their product. At the same time, the source of your troubles may be due to a problem with your Mac hardware, and again it’s Apple’s problem, assuming that you haven’t abused your computer in some fashion. And certainly dropping your note-book to the hard wood or tile floor counts as abuse, although I presume such situations are usually accidental.

But there are other issues that arise, such as the new printer or other peripheral that doesn’t have Leopard-compatible drivers. True, Apple provides an almost exhausting number of printer drivers in Leopard, and even the tools for companies to use Apple’s Software Update feature to deliver newer versions. However, a fair number of products may not function, or function in a crippled fashion. Here, the blame probably lies with the manufacturer, and not with Apple. They might, of course, blame Apple for a last-minute change that broke their product, but there’s nothing you can really do to confirm whether that statement is true or not.

The other issue comes closer to home. You want your Mac tailored specifically to your needs, naturally, and that may include installing some third-party hacks that mess with the interface or add some features you really believe Apple should have included all by themselves. Unfortunately, some of those “toys” aren’t compatible with Leopard, or break during the upgrade process. So suddenly things are unstable.

Now if you look at the various fixes in the 10.5.1 and 10.5.2 updates, you’d come away convinced that there isn’t an awful lot Apple failed to address. It’s quite an all-inclusive list, and, while you may not like that 3D Dock on the bottom of your screen, that’s easily changed via a simple Terminal hack or third-party system alteration tool. Oh yes, didn’t I tell you to be careful of those things in the previous paragraph?

But at the end of the day, after looking at the various Mac troubleshooting sites, I come away with the feeling that Apple needs to get a 10.5.3 out there post haste. Or even sooner.

Now what could possibly be wrong? Well, take Wi-Fi. Apple has staked an awful lot on a reliable wireless connection among your various Apple products, from iPhone, to Apple TV and to your Macs. As most of you know, Apple was perhaps the first company some years back to take the then-fledgling Wi-Fi standards and make a huge push to get AirPort into the hands of as many Mac users as possible. It was among the first to embrace newest standards, including the still-draft 802.11n protocol.

However, Wi-Fi remains a sore spot. Frankly, I don’t have very much trouble. No, it’s not trouble-free by any means. There are tons and tons of complaints about dropped connections, somewhat reminiscent of the dropped call problem with your wireless phone.

So what can I say?

Now I live in a somewhat-cluttered neighborhood, where there are tons of wireless routers in operation at any one time. My master bedroom is about 50 feet from the office/studio area, and that ought to be well within the range of any Wi-Fi connection, right? Well, not quite. You see, I have occasionally gotten erratic connections in the bedroom. This is not just with a PowerBook or MacBook and an AirPort Extreme, but with routers from other companies too, such as Buffalo Technology and Linksys.

If anything, the 10.5.2 update has made my connections more stable. From here, I suspect that my ultimate solution is just to put a second router in the bedroom and have it set in bridge mode, so it passes on a more powerful signal.

Whether or not there’s anything Apple could do to make things better, I don’t know. Certainly if your Wi-Fi connection worked all right in Tiger, and in previous versions of Leopard, surely something is broken that has to be fixed. I’ll assume, for the sake of argument, that it’s Apple’s fault and that they have a lot more work to do.

However, before you say that Leopard is a disaster, it still has an extremely high approval rating. More to the point, they said even worse things about Tiger. Or don’t you remember?

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12 Responses to “The Leopard Report: Why So Buggy?”

  1. shane blyth says:

    Can’t say I have had any issues on my Macbook Pro and I dropped Leopard on the from day one.
    10.5.2 doesn’t seems to have done anything to my system at all, maybe because it seemed fine anyway. I find the people that yell loud enough and complain get the most attention. Reports of issues may seem to say there are big issues most people have but the reality is often not even close. I mean how many people are really having issues. My wireless is sweet. Never been an issue on my Netgear. Not the same story with Vista though, and judging from Paul Thurotts comments SP1 of Vista has lots of network wireless issues and until a person has the correct hardware and drivers SP1 wont be available for them to download (I always listen to the windows weekly podcast with Paul and Leo Laporte)
    Now it sure doesn’t seem to me that Leopard has anywhere near the issues Vista has.

  2. Paul Ennis says:

    I’ve upgraded a G5 (liquid cooled), two G4s and two Intel iMacs from Tiger to Leopard without any incident; this includes a network running ABS Extreme and AppleTV and a wired network with an Asante router and Netgear gigabit switch. Makes me wonder.


  3. Dana Sutton says:

    “More to the point, they said even worse things about Tiger. Or don’t you remember?” Sure, it’s easy to feel a bit of nostalgia for Tiger. By the time it got to 10.4.11 a huge number of bugs had been squashed, and of course it’s that version we remember with fondness, not the early versions. By the time a few more versions of Leopard are released we’ll probably get to the version we’ll remember with equal nostalgia after 10.6.0 gets released. Price of progress.

  4. Dick Van Hooft says:

    I upgraded my Intel iMac and MacBook Pro to 10.5.2 without issue. No crashes, no bugs, everything running very smoothly.
    I’m convinced most of the reported issues are related to:
    1) Users doing upgrades on systems with “hidden” problems – corrupted installs, H.D. file structure issues, etc. Apple’s installer should mandate doing a Disk Utility “verify disk” check before proceeding. I always use one of the utilities (Diskwarrior, etc) to verify/rebuild the HD directory, do a fresh reboot, and use the Combo updater – and have never had a problem.
    2) Memory problems aggravated by marginal spec. memory upgrades causing random crashes / freezes.
    There’s too many weird problems people are having to completely attribute to Leopard bugs – considering the vast majority of people don’t have the same issues.

  5. Frank says:

    I had to do an erase and install on my PowerBook 1.5 GHz to get Leopard to install. I always do a new system installation on a separate partition, leaving the previous system intact on its own partition. That way if anything goes south, I’m covered.

    With Leopard, things have been so smooth that I’ve rarely gone back to Tiger for anything. No wireless issues, no software problems. In fact, the things I do a lot daily: start programs, quit programs, navigate the finder, etc. are so much faster it’s been like having a new machine.

    I believe it when others say they have issues, but there are no complaints here.

  6. mcloki says:

    The only problem I had was Adobe Apps not working. That was a terror inducing moment. But I tracked it down myself to Linotype font explorer stalling the programs. Luckily Linotype issued a fix that night. Since then the machine (Dual 1.25G4) has run beautifully. Everything I need runs great. I was contemplating getting a New Mac Pro tower. But this update is going to keep me happy for a few more months. It will probably take a monitor update before I get the bug to buy a new machine.
    As for your feeling that there are more problems with the update. You answer to your own question in your first line. It’s just a case of there being more Aple specific writers/complainers/bloggers out there. This week I saw an article by Jerry Pournell, of Chaos Manor fame, writing about his Mac trials. Jerry is old school. I read him in BYTE magazine when I was a teenager. I always secretly thought that his articles were Apple ads because no human would possible put up with the computer problems he did. Anyways, when a PC writer like him starts blogging about Apple and every other writer looking for hits starts blogging, there is more news out there about Apple. And most writers write about bad news. It doesn’t mean there’s more bad news, It just means there’s more reporters. We can all probably name 4 mac reporters/blogs. This is one of them. The comments already have 3-4 names. Be wary that the media saturation doesn’t cloud your perception to the extent of a problem.

  7. Bill Scott says:

    Safari has been crashing on me ever since I upgraded to 10.5, at least once per day. I blame the Java applications on websites I go to, but often it’s just the news page at Yahoo or Google. I have a G4, 1.5 gigs of memory, two hard drives with plenty of empty space on each and an external 500 gig LaCie hard drive for backup. I even had TurboTax crash on me as I was printing my taxes!

    I installed 10.5 on my second hard drive after erasing it, so it was a clean install. I haven’t tinkered with it or installed third party hacks. But the crashes continue. It’s almost like I installed Windoze! Apple needs to address this problem, soon!

  8. shane blyth says:

    I think the word is upgrade here. mind u i upgraded and never had an issue with safari crashing. I wonder if you have an addon to safari or the like. sounds more of this type of issue I may not be something for safari or course but somethng else on your system but safari 3 has been rocj olid for me . The only time i had it crash was everytime i went onto myspace about a week ago when they redid alot of their site. They have fixed it at the myspace end as it doesnt do it now.

  9. Bill says:

    There is no denying that some people have problems with every update. I didn’t find this one particularly troublesome compared to some other OSX updates. Seems like Wifi connection problems are one of the things don’t work well if there is going to be any problems with an upgrade. If anything, on my Powerbook 2.16 Safari really hums using a Wifi network connection. Heck I’m still using an old Graphite Airport and I’m amazed it keeps working with the current OSX!

    My initial install of OSX Leopard did not go well on an old G4 Dual 1.25. The installer was convinced the machine was not fast enough to run it, but it killed my system.

    Lesson learned have a full back-up before any major OS upgrade. Don’t update a mission critical machine until an update has been out for a few days so you can see if it is fairly bug free.

  10. Pier says:

    I installed the Leopard update a few days ago and the result is my macbook pro has become buggy and even slow at some moments you don’t even know what the hell is Leopard doing.

    Logic Pro 8 doesn’t work. I can’t create or open a project. I have the latest update of both leopard and logic.

    Adobe CS3 works fine.

    Leopard has improved some things but now I’m facing a music project and I can’t even open my sequencer. I can reinstall Tiger and all my programs again and loose a weekend, or hope to find a solution….

  11. Scott says:

    I have a two week old Mac Book Pro. I also have a G5 running Leopard and an old Powerbook running Tiger.

    The G5 and the Powerbook have flawless wireless connectivity.

    My brand new Mac Book Pro simply won’t stay connected to the net longer than 5 minutes on any network I try – at home, at the office, on the road.

    I have not migrated my system with stetup assistant. I am using the Mac Book as Apple delivered it to me. I am an experienced Apple user and have tried myriad fixes, to no avail.

    Other Mac Book Pro users I know suffer the same problems and their pleas for help have fallen on deaf ears.

    Maybe we’re complainers, but clearly this is a serious issue and Apple isn’t correcting it.

  12. I have a fairly new MacBook Pro, purchased earlier this year (same vintage then). I have not had any problems with network connectivity anywhere. You should download all the 10.5 updates and whatever else Apple has in Software Update, and see how it fares.


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