Snow Leopard Experience and Setup

Ok, if you’ve followed Apples’ release of Snow Leopard, you’ve probably heard that that out of the box it defaults to running 32bit, that it’s suppose to have speed enhancements, and that it’s slimmer in size.  It’s all true.  You can boot it into 64 bit by holding command-option-6-4 on bootup, or change your com.apple.boot.plist file.  Even running 32bit mode however, it can still run 64bit apps, infact looking at activity manager, most of the apps running are 64bit regardless of boot mode.  Also, things seems to run faster in 64bit mode.  For example Geekbench ran ~3300 in 32bit, but 3600 in 64bit.  Similar things can be said about other apps.

Ironically last time I posted about OSX was due to my talk about disk partitioning/optimization.  Well this time around, I went the SSD route and I have to say, it’s immensely faster.  Most benchmarks put it at about 4-6 times after.  I ran an xbench with my similar MBP from work which scored about a 50 on the disk section, while my MBP with the SSD scored 225.  Boot up feels quite peppy, button to full gui in <15 secs (most used by the Darwin boot loader).

Overall my experience has been positive, though it’s pretty similar to Leopard with a few tweeks rather then any new features.  Is it worth $29 upgrade… yes.  Anything more then that, no.  Also, not all hardware can even do 64bit.

It’s about time I updated my recommended applications list, this time for Snow Leopard, with more refinement through time/usage then my older list.

Free Apps

AppCleaner – Ok, so we’ve all installed software and later changed out minds.  Well with OSX, you typically just take it out of your Applications folder and put it in trash.  Well only problem is that most programs store preferences and other things in other places.  This app makes sure you get everything when you delete an app, I recommend that you turn on smart deletes from the preferences window.

AppFresh – Great app for keeping track of which Apps have upgrades available.  However it doesn’t always do a good job of updating apps itself.  Typically I run the AppFresh, then manually update those apps which need it by running the app, then selecting “Help – > Check for upgrades” from the menubar.

Cyberduck – A handy little utility for various types of FTP connections in a easy to use drag n drop GUI.  Don’t forget to save sites as bookmarks (took me a while to find that part : ).

Firefox – A great webapp with lots of great extensions (for another blog post;) not super stable however 😦  But until the others get all the great extensions, I put up with it crashing every now and again.  They are working on a 64bit version and even have a beta out, maybe it’s worth a try.

Geekbench – Good benchmark app for OSX, there is also a paid version with a few more features, but if you are looking for a quick bench using up2date measurements, it’s the way to go.

Monolingual – Ok, this app is a real space saver, select languages besides english, all keyboards besides US, and all architectures besides intel and intel64, and you’ll save TONS of space.  Highly recommended!

Onyx –  Not yet out for Snow Leopard yet, but my experience with Tiger and Leopard has been very good.  They come out with new versions quickly, and I’m sure the SL version will be out very soon.  This app cleans caches, optimizes the system, and allows for advanced settings/configuration of the OS and a few OS utilities.  Check the site for Leopard.

Open Office (Aqua) – Ok, lets face it, we all need a package for things like documents, spreadsheets, presentations, etc.  Well if you want free desktop software, this is the way to go.  Also free, though online, Google Docs are quite nice as well.

Remote Desktop Connection – This app is not for everyone, but if there is a windows machine you need to use, simply start this up, and connect to it as if you were infront of the windows machine itself.  It’s great for remotely running windows apps if you aren’t running parallels.

VLC – This a good media player for OSX which keeps fairly up2date.

Xbench – An oldie but goodie, it’s a small app which allows selectable area’s of the system to benchmark.  Also because it’s older, everyone will probably be running the same version of the application hence results are easily comparable.

UnRarX – No more winrar, you’re on a mac now 🙂  This lightweight app allows for extraction of rar archives, including support for passwords.

Paid Apps

CoolBook – A while back, over-clocking was all the rage:)  Now with laptops and battery life, it’s all about under-volting 😉  I haven’t used this yet with Snow Leopard, but it worked great in tiger on my MBP and dell mini.  Basically you are feeding the processor enough voltage to function fine at whatever speed it’s running, however less voltage then it’s set to run by default.  This increases battery life, and makes your laptop more quiet since the ran runs less.  Hold off until support for Snow Leopard however.

Microsoft Office 2008 – When you want a slightly more polished app for MS documents then Open Office, this is a decent alternative that ensures compatibility with your windows using peers.

PandoraJam – Ok, this 15 dollar app is well well worth it, especially when paired with subscribing to Pandora One ($36/yr).  It allows desktop control app of your pandora stream, as well as recording which is auto organized with album art in iTunes.  Later you can play the song all you want with full control.  Pandora One subscription gives higher sound quality (192kbs) and removes listening restrictions and ads.

PhoneView – If you’ve got an iPhone, this app is for you.  It allows a deep level of interaction/control over your iphone, have a look at the website and play the video there.  Cost $20.

ScreenFlow – A bit pricy ($99) but worth is as one of the best screen cast software packages for OSX.  They also have an intro video.  Click the link and have a look.

Snow Leopard Cache Cleaner – Until Onyx for Snow Leopard comes out, I’ve been using this and have been quite pleased.  It’s only $15, and allows for cache cleaning and disk optimizations.

SuperDuper! – A paid app for disk backups ($28).  Slightly better and more up-2-date then another competing product which is free, Carbon Copy Cleaner and I also recommend.  They both have Snow Leopard versions, the later being a beta.

Xslimmer – I was turned on to this app when optimizing my OSX Dell Mini9 install.  It’s quite similar to Monolingual, but provides a nicer interface and slightly more space savings.  Based on the low cost, $15, it’s hard to say which is better I’d recommend over the other.

Developer Apps

Eclipse – Ok, if you are doing development and need a more full featured project IDE this is probably the best free editor around.  It’s got a ton of plug-ins and lots of community support.  If you would like the 64bit version for Snow Leopard, read this page to set it up.  If you want to use it with Google App Engine (GAE), read here.  Last, if you want to interface facebook API’s with it and the GAE, read here.

IntelliJ – Although I’m very comfortable with Eclipse, this IDE has more features like better code refactoring, guild building, Javascript debugging, etc. that I could grow to appreciate.  It’s quite expensive, $99 for students, $250 personal use, $600 commercial use.  But if you code in Java, it might be worth it, even better if they spring for it.  Ping me later for my experiences as I’ve only been using it about a week.

SQL Developer – As far as a GUI for database access, Oracle’s free client is hard to beat.  It’s got everything that you expect and beats sqlplus from the command line 🙂

TextMate – The swiss army knife of text editors for OXS.  Great coding support when you need a simple editor with file layout support.  Many ruby programmers swear by it.  Cost, $58

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