Apple OS X 10.5.7 Update: Is it worth it?

15th May 2009
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Mac OS X Dock and Default Desktop Image

MacFixit Describes and Catalogues the Issues

Read this before continuing: Mac Fixit Article

The Apple 10.5.7 Combo Updater is here. But wait…read on before you download it.

I’m baffled that Apple continues to put out sketchy, buggy updates. Even the Combo Updater, the supposed safest of them all, exibits blue screens and permissions issues. Forgive me but this seems very strange to the point of being irresponsible. Why not wait a bit, test the release, and then release it? It seems this workflow has been forgotten.

The Good

If they’ve fixed the Adobe Creative Suite issues then I might be on board. I use Adobe Fireworks CS4 on 10.5.5 and it’s so slow and buggy it’s nearly unusable. One poster on the MacFixit article says:

“All Adobe Creative Suite 4 applications appear to be working perfectly, as does Firefox, Safari, Mail, a host of Twitter apps, Suitcase Fusion 2, Toast Titanium, iWork, etc. The only thing I haven’t really tested is Microsoft Office – but since those apps pretty much ship “broken” to begin with, I suspect I won’t notice much difference.”

The Bad

But further on I see monitor settings can get lost (and blue screens of DEATH) and I’m back to not being impressed:

“Updated my Mac Pro 6 hours ago. Downloaded update OK and ran/installed OK. Only one reboot, BUT the update screwed my screen settings. Both screens (20 inc ACD and HP1702 now just flash between blue and black, sometimes I can see the desktop for a few seconds, Reset PRAM several times, booted into safe mode with exactly the same results. Been on to Apple Support who were about as much use as a chocolate coffee pot.”

MacPro and the MacBook Pro seem to have overlapping issues which tells me either it’s an issue with the different machine motherboards or simply a case of different software being present on each machine causing different symptoms. Either way, still not impressed.

Not for the faint of heart

If you are feeling brave, go for it, but I’d read Apple’s Discussion Forum first. Do I download this update or wait for 10.5.8 or even wait till Snow Leopard comes out? Seems like these days it’s a crapshoot, and I can’t risk losing my work machine or my freelance machine to an update.

Apple, c’mon, can’t you make this choice easier for us plebs?

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Nathaniel Flick

I'm a Front End Web Developer passionate about usability. My primary specialties are HTML5, CSS3, SCSS, LESS, and jQuery and I am very familiar with Foundation and Bootstrap frameworks. I've worked on top of and with WordPress, Shopify, Rails, Python, and ASP.net/Umbraco frameworks.

  • gendibal

    There’s an easy way to make these updates painless. Before updating, use SuperDuper! and an external hard drive to make a complete duplicate of your startup disk. Then do your update. If things go wrong with the update, just boot off the backup and restore your disk to its pre-update state.

  • Nathaniel

    gendibal, thanks for the response! I feel that the advice to back up all my data before doing an update is not comforting in the slightest. In fact, it’s not an answer at all.

    When will Apple get back to releasing stable updates? I’d surely wait a few extra months for it to be released if this were the case.

  • segdeha

    It’s good advice to backup your system before any major software update, no matter how well it’s gone for others. Your system could easily have some little problem (e.g., a few corrupt disc sectors in just the wrong place) that cause the whole thing to go to custard. I use Apple’s Time Machine for my backups, but I’ve used the eponymous SuperDuper in the past.

    I’ve been through this dance enough times to know better, but I went ahead and installed 10.5.7, through Software Update no less, as soon as it was available. I haven’t had any real problems, though I suspect a couple flashes of system flakiness may have been due to it.

    My theory about why this release might not be as solid as previous ones is that maybe Apple pulls their best programmers onto the next full release of the OS after a couple of point updates, so the QA and bug fixing is left to more junior programmers, and more so as time goes on. This is just a theory. I have no inside information that indicates it’s anything other than speculation.

  • Nathaniel

    Segdeha, good points all. I do understand the need for backups, so no quarrel there.

    My issue is that Apple Support seems to think having a backup is an excuse for having a piss-poor system update. There’s too many issues with it to ignore.

    I remember there was a time when the worst you could expect was to lose a printer driver or OS 9…ha ha.

    If it ain’t ready, don’t release it. 😀