Panther Notes

  • Feels snappier, more responsive. I like that the pinstripes are played down a bit.
  • Is it just me, or does Lucida Grande look “skinnier” in Panther?
  • Finder‘s sidebar is handy, and it’s nice to have those same shortcuts in open and save dialog boxes.
  • Mail improvements are nice. I’m not sure why they went with PostFix over Sendmail, but it does seem darn fast. I like the options when hovering over an email address (send a mail, add to addressbook, etc.).
  • Exposé is fantastic — especially when you activate screen corners. It’s a little awkward having to go up to the the Function keys, but moving the mouse to one of the corners is fast.
  • Tabs in Camino are now a little funky. It’s inheriting Panther’s new button tab theme and something just ain’t right. Minor.
  • Fast User Switching is amazingly great. Previously, you had to quit all applications in order to log another user in. Now, you can leave everything open. I’ve heard that setting up different desktop environments is a neat way to take advantage of this feature. One “user” for writing, one for graphics or development — with all of the associated applications open only in those areas.

    I’m wondering though if this would affect system performance (having all those applications open at once, even though they are in different user accounts). I’m assuming it would.

  • I completely rendered my PowerBook useless after playing with Font Book. I guess I should have read the Help before attempting to drag n’ drop new fonts in. Somehow I managed to delete all of my fonts, which in turn crashed all running applications and the Finder. Things are pretty much back to normal now, although Verdana and Times look slightly different than they did before the disaster. Possibly unrelated.

    Be careful with fonts.


  1. Jeff Croft says:

    I did the exact same thing with Font Book. Thankfully, nothign was permantely lost. I really hope Apple updates Font Book into something more useable. I love the concept, but the implementation is pretty poor. It’s pathetically slow with a large number of fonts — and I know my “large number” is no where near that of some print designers…
    As for Fast User Switching and performance: I believe I read that the applications for background users have the lowest possible priority on them. There will certainly be some system performance hit, but I believe Apple has done what they can to minimize it.

  2. brian says:

    that Font Book thing is nasty. i totally screwed the pooch with that one.

  3. Keith says:

    I’ve had some problems with fonts as well.
    I too love the fast user switiching, I’ve not used it the way you have (sounds like a good idea though) but it does help keep my girlfriend out of my porn laden desktop. :) hahaha…For reals though, it’s nice for her to be able to have her own bookmarks, etc. accessible so easily.
    And, as much as I’m learning to like Expose, I hate the screen corner activation. It’s just too sensitive and keeps going off when I don’t want it to. I think maybe it just needs some more getting used to, but so far it’s rather annoying.

  4. Charlie Miller says:

    Dan, Lucida Grande is skinnier. Yours is the first comment I’ve read anywhere that mentions this. I wonder what gives. I actually prefer this “new” version at 10pt to the old.

  5. Chris Clark says:

    The funky tabs in Camino are a little bit of a problem.. and probably means that Mike Pinkerton will have to renege on the very thing that made Camino unique in the first place– he’ll have give up the natives for custom interface widgets.
    In the mean time, I’ve just given up on tabbed browsing altogether. Opening up links in new windows, it’s surprisingly awesome to hit the “Application windows” Expose screen corner and select which page you’d like to read.

  6. MikeyC says:

    “Is it just me, or does Lucida Grande look “skinnier” in Panther?”
    I can’t speak for Panther but I (recently) upgraded from OS9 to Jaguar at work and certain fonts are now slightly “fatter”. I definitely could use “Fast User Switching” as I must share *my* Mac with 9 other people in the office and it can be quite a pain having to shut-down “Quark/OS9 emulation” and log-out as it takes forever to get everything back up again.

  7. eric says:

    Panther seems a lot slicker than Jaguar, overall. Here’s my one tip:
    If you do an upgrade install, don’t turn on FileVault, even if it’s just to play around. My home directory got corrupted and after losing my keychain it decided to not open images, either. Not fun!
    On the upside, my new fresh install weighed in at a lean 1.8GB rather than the stock 3.5 or so. I’m still impressed at how smoothly OS X runs (in general) on my old G3 700 iBook with 128mb of memory… XP on a similar laptop would die hilariously.

  8. Jason R says:

    Regarding Exposé, I didn’t like having to reach for the function keys or mousing towards the corners so I just set my hot keys to the extra buttons on my mouse and that seems to be working really well.

  9. Speaking to Postfix over Sendmail: First, sendmail has a long history of security problems analogous to the way that Windows has a long history of security problems. Postfix is much better designed from that perspective. Secondly, sendmail configuration is a bit of a black art — while Postfix is pretty derned flexible it is also a lot easier to understand why it does what it does. Postfix, Exim, and Qmail are the major Sendmail alternatives (ie, provide sendmail drop-in functionality compared to pure SMTP etc). Exim is only marginally better architected than Sendmail. Qmail suffers from bizarre licensing (DJB is a brilliant coder, but is a pita with licensing from a software libre point of view). That leaves Postfix. Qmail is probably better (simpler, faster, as configurable) but Qmail configuration requires applying patches to the source tree (sets of patches are distributed for it still because of the licensing issues) in order to get certain bits of functionality that are just configuration in postfix.

    But I ramble, so will hush up. Postfix included in Panther is a significant upgrade in my opinion (as a mixed *nix sysadmin and developer). Most people I know who run mta’s on OS X use Postfix anyway.

  10. Mike D. says:

    Finally someone else noticed the skinny Lucida thing. From the second I installed it, it looked terribly condensed to me and I couldn’t convince anyone in my office that I wasn’t seeing things. It’s *definitely* skinnier, and to me, not quite as perfect as it once was.
    The only thing I can think of is that Apple might be trying to push Lucida very hard as the most practical and readable font you have at your disposable. It’s already the most readable, but by squishing it just a little, it is now a lot more horizontally economical than Verdana. Everybody loves Verdana, myself included, but its one knock has been that it takes up a lot of horizontal space.

  11. Dan says:

    Brian – thanks for the info on Sendmail vs. PostFix. Makes sense now. It certainly seems faster at sending out mail using the Mail app. Sounds like they knew what they were doing :-)
    Mike D. – Yes, interesting. I wonder if horizontal space was a reason for squishing Lucida even more. I always thought of it as a narrower font — narrower than Verdana for sure. Now it’s even skinnier. But isn’t it strange to change the appearance of any font? It just seems sort of wrong. Perhaps they should’ve just added a variant, like “Lucida Narrow” or something.

  12. Dan says:

    That’s an interesting use for fast user switching. I never thought of doing that. But then agian, that’s probably because I’m on WinXP and using Fast User Switching takes a big performance hit for me. I do love using it as a quick way to get to the login screen as opposed to using a password enabled screen saver.
    The process priority for non-active users I imagine would be very low freeing up your CPU, but those progs would still be using RAM like usuall. OSX would handle it better than XP though. Much more stable when running multiple high-mem programs. My copy of XP chokes when I run Photoshop and Firebird simultaneously :(
    Now only if I had an extra $3,000…

  13. re: FileVault
    Does anyone know if you can serve web pages from your Sites folder if FileVault is active? How about having people access your public folder? Thanks iolaire

  14. Emyr says:

    Re: enabling personal web pages with FileVault active
    Try this hint from Mac OS X Hints.

  15. Bruno says:

    Fontbook has some problems.
    I had a problem that simple crashed the launching of other system applications. Reinstall panther and again, when messing with font activation in fontbook, serious problems. I discovered that the problem was related with a file ( in the Preferences folder that got corrupted somehow … this file seems to have the information about active and desactive fonts managed by Fontbook.
    To solve the problem I deleted the file and logged again. Problem solved… but i cannot trust Fontbook!

  16. Mike D. says:

    Yes, I absolutely think it’s weird to change the metrics of a font without calling it by a separate name (like, as you mention, Lucida Narrow). I’ve read a few posts on other boards today saying this issue might actually be related to the use of Extensis Suitcase under Panther. I do use Suitcase but have been too lazy to disable it and see if things go back to normal. Just another thing to think about.

  17. Matt says:

    Didn’t 10.2 and lower had shadows on Lucida? I could be mistaken.

  18. Rik Abel says:

    Exposé is even yet still greater with a five-button mouse, as mentioned already. MASSIVE productivity aid- I don’t just keep tiling the windows gratuitously because it is so cool. I would never do that.

  19. steven says:

    also notice that the flash and shockwave performance within Safari 1.1 took a noticeable downturn for the worse. They had improved performance recently to the acceptable level, but now it is back below some of the early Safari beta levels. Poor.

  20. Andre Leistner says:

    [skinny Lucida Grande in Panther]
    I don’t think that Apple has changed Lucida Grande’s font metrics – this would probably have too much impact on text placement in application dialogs etc. To me it rather looks that they’ve modified the font rendering and anti-aliasing in order to improve readability on screen. Take a look at other fonts such as Times, especially at small sizes.

  21. John W says:

    [re: ugly Lucida, ugly Verdana, bad anti-aliasing]
    I too have left comments on other sites regarding Lucida Grande.
    It is noticeably thinner. And yes, there a higher amount of anti-aliasing systemwide. To my eyes, it’s downright blurry and unacceptable. What’s more, the character spacing for Verdana seems to have changed. All you “11px verdana” style-ers watch out– you’re going to see huge rivers of whitespace open up in your content. It’s not pretty at all.
    I’m still using a CRT (call me a dinosaur), but it’s a high-end Sony with one of the finest dot pitches available. Maybe Panther is optimized for viewing on an LCD? I hope not.
    What I know is this: Aqua wasn’t a bad idea. But those who complained of “a death of a 1000 cuts” are going to start winning over more sympathizers. Brushed metal, drop shadows, glassy buttons, anti-aliasing to the hilt… I dunno– it was all starting to look a little “shlocky-but-acceptable” to me, but with all these additional annoyances, I’m beginning to wonder whether or not the whole look and feel of the OS is heading for the crapper. Let’s just hope they introduce animated paper clips and doggies n 10.4!

  22. eric says:

    On this site, at least, paragraphs are justified – messing with the whitespace of Verdana; maybe this is what you’re seeing? I personally haven’t seen any variations between my PC and my iBook.

  23. Malic says:

    Panther is slick on my Summer of 2000 iMac DV – 500Mhz/1G RAM – I got about %5+ overall increase on performance according to XBench.
    But I do agree about the Aqua/Brushed metal thing. Someone in Apple has more say than they should in such things. The brushed metal look of the iLife apps is…ok, I suppose. But the Finder shouldn’t have gotten the treatment.
    The one thing STILL not dealt with is the “iSub not waking from sleep consistently” problem!!! I don’t care if they discontinue the thing (why?!), this should be fixed!!!