Panther First Impressions


Whoa.

No, seriously: It's great. Fast User Switching works (I have an Administrator account setting up stuff while I check e-mail and type this), Exposé is fast (although a bit tricky to use with the smallish iBook function keys), and it took me all of two minutes to configure my e-mail accounts (I have a central IMAP repository where I aggregate everything).

So far, I've found that:

  • 802.11b worked first time (the trick of preceding your WEP key with 0x is still valid)
  • IPv6 has GUI configuration indeed (have to set it up properly later)
  • The Address Book now supports LDAP authentication and a very nicely laid out field customization mode.
  • Software Update worked first time (I used to have some issues with downloads via my ISP, but I might just have been lucky this time)
  • Mail.app opened (and threaded) my "Unsorted" mail folder without any perceptible delay (trust me, this is a biggie for me - the folder is huge). Threading works smoothly (and quickly), and clicking on the start of a thread gives you a nice list of related messages.
  • Xcode looks OK, but InterfaceBuilder is exactly the same (it took me around 10 minutes to reproduce my old hack and give Mail.app a vertical preview pane)
  • X11 just works, period. Funky keymaps seem to be a thing of the past, but I've yet to try something really demanding.
  • SMB access worked first time, too (but I do have to sort out browser precedence in my LAN, since my Linux box won't show up - but then it's a known issue here, and nothing to do with Panther.)

I do have some gripes, though:

  • A few icons look somewhat different (for the worse)
  • The new Finder feels wierd (maybe it will grow on me)
  • There are quite a few fonts missing from my usual install (my fault for not backing them up and not a big deal, since I already have a Windows TrueType font pack for my Linux installs). The new Font Book is great - just what I needed a couple of months back.
  • Fast User Switching requires a password every time I switch (i.e., no temporary trust relationships) and the menu takes up too much real estate on the menu bar.

Interesting stuff I just have to check later:

  • Mail.app now has a new "Exchange" account type. Can't wait to try it...
  • Preview is supposed to be much faster at reading PDFs. But can it cope with the latest vendor drivel?
  • CD Burning is supposed to have changed a bit. I wonder exactly how, and what new incantations of cdrecord will be necessary.
  • L2TP VPN support is available in the newly revamped Internet Connect application (complete with SecurID support).
  • The new MIDI Setup and the Activity Viewer look like much more than simple "toy" applets.
  • Printer and scanner support. This is going to be a biggie for me, since I have an HP combo printer/scanner/copier, and HP's Mac support can be (charitably) classified as utter crap.

And the prize for the first application to grace my brand new Panther install?

Why, Fire, of course. iChat is useless when half your friends use MSN and the other Yahoo.

But here's the full list, as I envision it:

  • Fire
  • SideTrack (the default trackpad settings are driving me nuts)
  • Fink (postponed until I figure out a couple of things, but a dead certainty)
  • SubEthaEdit (great for looking at some of the new config files)
  • The Microsoft Remote Desktop client (I'm not a Mac zealot, but I definetly prefer using my XP boxes remotely)
  • Office (Microsoft's, of course - the rest are pretty much useless)
  • Macromedia Fireworks (about the only thing I use besides vi and the Terminal)
  • Virtual PC (probably the last thing I'll actually use, but I've needed it before on emergencies.)

I'll be installing the rest of my stuff during the week, but it's amazing how much I can do with just the base install.