Lion: Smooth Sailing With a Few Waves

I’d been putting together some thoughts on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, etc. when Lion was released. Obvioulsy, I immediately installed it – I can afford to. I have backups. Lots of backups.

So what is there to say that hasn’t already been said?

First, some high points. In case you’ve never been bitten by this, never, ever, ever upgrade a business-critical computer until the software you need is updated to work with it. Ever. That especially applies to niche software like architectural CAD software, or if you make a living as a graphic designer.

Also, “rosetta” – the technology that allows Macs to run older programs depending on “PowerPC” chips, is no longer available, at all. This especially hurts those who use products like Quicken for the Mac  (Intuit, along with Adobe, is another company that seems to think that adapting to long-announced changes and providing current product updates is just passe). Also, Mac versions of MS Office before Office 2008 will not be usable without an update or switching to iWork or Open Office/Libre Office.

Please note – if you are using Quicken for the Mac, please export your file as a backup before upgrading OS X.

So now what?

Well, I’m not every user. I make my living helping other users. That said, many of the programs I use are the ones I recommend to others.

 The Install

Straightforward. Buy the app, let it download, let the installer run. Wait 30 minutes or so after that, and a new splash page appears with your login.

The first thing I checked, as with every major update since 10.5 completely reset the printer settings, was to verify my printers were still there. Yes they were, and yes they worked. Also, the 10.7 update didn’t scrub my custom keyboard shortcut for  printing PDF’s (originally at OSX hints).

 Personal Information and Mail

I started up the new Mail app, and ended up waiting quite a while for it to update the mail database to the new format. In the meantime, I opened up my google account in Safari, and discovered a new wrinkle. When logging in to at least several services that Lion recognizes using Safari (I can verify this for Gmail and MobileMe), Safari helpfully asks of you wish to add the account to your mail and calendars. Since those accounts were already in Mail.app (which was updating) I simply said no thanks, but it’s a nice touch that goes hand-in-hand with automatically opening up the login sheets at many public WiFi hotspots.

Once the mail had finally updated, I looked in the system preferences. Oddly, even though the soon-to-be-obsolete MobileMe control panel listed that I was syncing my contacts, the (new) unified “Mail, Contacts, & Calendars” account panel showed my Mobileme account as only synchronizing calendar items, mail , and chat items.

Yes, chat items. I’m not sure where that will lead just yet.

Either way, my contacts do sync.

Looking into my address book, I discovered that Address book was no longer syncing with Gmail. I fixed that, and after a few rounds of discrepancy reviews, had my contacts under control again.

Scrolling

I’m still torn on the scroll direction reversal. I will say that it’s actually fairly natural when scrolling via a trackpad.

That said, the hiding scrollbars were driving me nuts. I need to know where I am in the document, and the default setting to hide them when not scrolling can make it difficult to tell if there is anything further to scroll to.

Apps

Despite the dire warnings at the beginning of this post, very little broke.  The following third-party apps worked without any apparent hitches:

 

  • Hazel – an automated folder cleanup tool.
  • Both of my password programs – 1Password and Little Secrets – worked fine.
  • DropBox
  • BBEdit – text editor
  • Candybar – custom icons.
  • Chrome
  • iStumbler seems to work
  • LibreOffice
  • Kindle
  • MailPluginManager seems to work
  • Notational Velocity a text note taker that works with simplenote
  • Google music manager
  • Picasa picture manager
  • Microsoft Remote Desktop Connection 2
  • Steam seems to work – but I havent tried to play any games yet
  • VLC – video player for flash and WMV videos
The following programs needed or had a Lion specific update that hadn’t yet been installed:
  • Xcode – New copy currently free
  • Homebrew – a system for installing linux utilities. Installed apps actually work, but you need to isntall the updated Xcode to add anything else.
  • Firefox 5 had an update when I opened it, but didn’t like my 1Password plugin.
  • Carbon Copy Cloner – excellent bootable disk backup system.
  • iStumbler – for finding WiFi networks
  • I updated Silverlight just in case
  • Scrivener has an update for Lion specific features
  • VMWare Fusion – this virtual PC emulator installed updates
  • Mail Act-On – a mail management plugin for the Apple Mail app, needed a reinstall.
Then a had a few issues that needed more work:
  • Pixelmator (a lightweight, awesome, and cheap image editor) had an issue – but an App Store update is coming soon to resolve it, and there are workarounds to get it running.
  • All of my Emacs (another text editor that works on different platforms) customizations and add-ons will have to be rebuilt, but the version I installed through Brew, as well as my GUI-based copy, both work fine at the default settings.
Lastly were the programs that flat out didn’t work:
  • Pocket Tanks – an “artillery” game knockoff.

All’s well that ends well.

Overall, it was a very smooth update. While there are a few things that are known to break, very little broke unexpectedly, and I’ve now had enough exposure to this to start getting really comfortable. Many apps did not need updates at all, though a number of the ones that didn’t need post-upgrade updates had already been updated in the recent past to be compatible with Lion.