Leopard. 1 million files. Little improvement.

os9comic.gifI am a reluctant user of OS-X.

Three things turned me off to the new OS.
Apple has yet to rectify the problem(s), some of which I know are not directly their fault and will never be “fixed” because that’s the cost of “progress.”
The three things are:

The size and complexity of the OS has exploded.

The eye candy takes too much processor power.

OS-X still doesn’t work right.




Let me first say that, upgrades and new versions of software should be purchased and utilized when they offer significant improvements to your work. Do not buy them for cute features that would be “cool” to have. Do not install them if your current system works perfectly.

The golden rule: – If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.


The first problem with Leopard (and today’s big 2 OSes in general) the size and complexity of the OS. You see, in OS-9 (and before) the OS was visible and user malleable. I backed up my G4 PowerBook one day. This OS-9-based PowerBook had everything I had created since my first Mac, all recently recovered from various floppies and Zip disks. Years, and years, and years, of just, stuff.

Carbon Copy Cloner backed up some 7,000 files.

Then I backed up my brand new iBook, you know, before I go and screw it up.
It backed up over 15,000 files and I had not yet installed a single damm thing onto it. No music, no photos, no documents, no e-mails, nothing. And there were already 15,000 files of nothing on the machine.
Absolutely amazing.

Well, Engadget published a photo that shows that Leopard continues this unfortunate trend:


Further, they say, “Removing your root-level system folder from [Time Machine] backup gives a strange, somewhat confusing prompt: do you want to exclude all system files (those being what, precisely?) or just the system folder? Sounds like it’s asking if you want to exclude the system folder + default apps, or just the system folder. Either way, when we put system + default apps in the Time Machine exclusions, the number of files it backed up went from over a million files down to ~200k.

That’s utterly unbelievable. Nearly a million files for system and included apps.
Before you create one single bit of content, there’s a million files that OS-X has to keep track of.
We’re doomed.

TimeMachine doesn’t even create a bootable backup.


Item two.
Directly related to Item one.

While OS-X blows past the 1-million file mark, there are powerful, fast and efficient Linux-based systems are being made that can run from a USB memory stick. No, they don’t have all the eye candy, but that’s the point. We need multiple gigahertz processors just to be able to open the Finder when it comes with a million files of bloat.

Back when OS-X was at version 2, I had a dual processor G4 tower that I had souped up for video work. I was using Final Cut Pro 4 and had just updated to HD. (v4.5 I think). I had a client over and hadn’t launched FCP since I upgraded it. We needed to capture some DVCAM and when I fired up FCP, it asked me for my serial number.

This is not really a problem because I really own the software, not some bootleg. But it was a problem because the client was sitting there, and, I didn’t actually know where I had the original disks at. There’s lots of piles of stuff. It could be in the computer box. It could be with the software manuals. It could be with the CD case of software disks. It might be anywhere, really.

So my mind went into overdrive and the first solution that popped into my head was to reboot into OS-9 and use FCP-3 which I still had installed.

Doing so, I was greeted by a long-lost interface that, even with the interface sounds turned on, was so frakking fast… I mean, when I clicked a menu, it was like it was open before I was able to fully click down. I zipped around like greased lighting (impressing the client) and had the stuff digitized, rough cut and output in no time. I was stunned by how responsive my computer was. It’s hard to convey, but it was like there was an electric sizzle.

The client leaves. I hunt down my disks (in the box with the manuals, the second place I looked). Reboot into X and launch FCP to get this ironed out. Then I open the previous project and begin to finish editing what I had started in FCP3. Tweaking the edits, adding more effects, adding music, etc. I realized that the computer, while not “slow” had taken on the reaction time of someone who doesn’t really care to help. Each menu click had a slight delay. Opening a finder window took just a little bit longer. It was like I was doing 80 miles an hour before, and now I was doing 55. Not slow, but certainly not fast.

Now, we’ve gone from G4, to G5, to Intel, to dual core, to quad core, so, yea… the computers are faster. But you know, I still see the every so slight delay every time I click a menu, every time it has to zoom open a folder, or do that wooshy thing from the dock. Clicking on the Airport menu is always a click and wait adventure. Maybe it’s because there’s so many files that have to be accessed. The computer has to check a dozen things before it can to the “open” animation that used to be just a zooming rectangle. The pauses didn’t go away. And now there’s just more eye candy, more dimensionality to the interface. And all that takes time that the processor could be doing my video work.

It bothers me because it’s still there, and probably getting worse,
despite eight processors and drives that are 100x as fast as before.


Item three. OS-X still does not work right.

A lot of my video work is managing files.
What projects use what assets, and where are they?

Reviewers are lauding Leopard’s additions to the OS-X finder, specifically spring-loaded folders.
They forget that spring-loaded folders were a Classic OS invention that were not intended to be in OS-X.
The first few versions of X didn’t have it. Only because of user demand, did Apple put it back (as they did with the desktop printer, colored labels, and a whole lot of other Classic OS innovations). Those new to X think these additions are just wonderful. Yes, they are. And they were. I’m glad to see that Apple is, however slowly and begrudgingly, putting back the well-developed features they threw away with OS-X. But there are things that Apple still hasn’t fixed.

X has severe problems with two data management tasks that I perform every single day.
Problems that haven’t been resolved in the 8 years since its introduction.

An open finder window will not properly auto-update itself to file size changes.


When you capture video, or recompress files to other codecs, those files will appear in a folder, but never properly display the proper file sizes. I can open an info-window right next to the file and only the info window will display the proper file size. I can click on the file. Open it. Close it. Get info and more. The Finder will never update the window with the proper file sizes. If I look at the folder enclosing the files, that too will not properly update based on both the file size changes, or the last updated changes of the files within. This is abhorable.
This worked perfectly in OS-9.

xhighlight.gifA labeled file will discard its label if resaved from within the application.
While I’m editing a project, and I’m in the Finder, I may decide to make that project file red to indicate that it is very important. No one else should touch it. This is the golden child in a folder filled with all kinds of media. So I label it and then I continue to edit in FCP. The next time I save the project, the red label in the Finder vanishes. Aside from the fact that I hate how X does labels (after Apple begrudgingly gave them back to us) compared to the Classic OS, OS-9 never had a problem with files being saved, and resaved. If they were colored/labeled, they stayed that way. Reliability is GOOD.

I could go on and on.

There are even online posts about the loss of hierarchical menus from the dock. You know, where (like OS-9) you could put an alias of your hard drive in the Dock (or Apple Menu) and easily drill down to anything, in any folder, without opening a single window. Yea… that coooool feature…
If you want it back, you now have to buy third-party software.
Oh, and it ain’t just me that thinks this sucks. There is much kvetching.

Loved this one:

In Tiger, the story is like this.
You have a folder in the Dock. It looks like a folder.
Click it and it opens in the Finder…
Control-click it and you get a hierarchical menu of its contents… and so on.
Just about all of that is now gone. Gone!
What was wrong with it? Nothing!

An incredible “feature” of Leopard (one you can’t turn off) is the insistance of the OS to show you the first page of every document, instead of the various “file type” icons we have used since Mac OS-1. So now, Instead of easily sorting between PDF, Word doc, Pages, Excel Sheet, Quark, Page and more, you get a long list of white pages that look identical.

If you lost the ability to play Flash under Leopard X.5, it may be that QuickTime Flash playback was turned back on without you choosing it. Apple knows better.

I could go on and on but I’ll leave you with a MacFixIt page of Leopard items that includes:

In a recent article in Computerworld, a LaCie representative takes Time Machine to task for the master boot record problem and the computer name problem: “Apple seems to have failed to test sufficiently, he says, and is only now discovering these things, after the release of Leopard.”



Like the ever changing design of the iPod, whatever Apple decides in the new direction is, is what the users are forced to use. Many follow it blindly.

An interesting ironic twist, eh?

Myself, I use X now only because all the tools I use are now X-only.
I miss the speed, efficiency and reliability consistent interface that was OS-9.
But am always testing the waters elsewhere for the day it just becomes too much of a hassle.

Which is not to say that Vista is any better…



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7 thoughts on “Leopard. 1 million files. Little improvement.

Add yours

  1. Sounded like a comedy rant. There are work arounds for most of what you talked about. OS 9 or Classic as they call it now, was good then, now it is a joke. I will not even bother to tell you the work arounds, go back to 9 guy. Agree that Leopard is not ready for prime time, but no OS is at first, wait until about 10.5.5.

  2. There are “work arounds” for things that worked a decade ago?
    THAT sounds like a comedy rant!

    Riddle me this… if OS-9 was so “outdated” how come the “new” OS can’t do even those things correctly. I mean- basic, elemental, file size listing things.

    If you have to do a “work around” to get the new OS to work properly and report file sizes properly (something that had worked for decades, then the new OS itself is a joke.

  3. You talk about the “loss of hierarchical menus” in Leopard, but that’s not entirely true. If you’re aware of the new Stacks feature, here’s what you do: drag your hard drive or any other folder from the desktop down to the Dock, right next to the Trash. Control-click, and you can select “View content as > List”. And it works the same way (though I personally use the “Grid” layout when viewing the Applications folder from a Stack). Sure, it puts an extra icon on the Dock, but the feature is not gone as you say, and as in the previous OSes, you can still specify particular important folders you want down there if you’d rather not drag the entire drive over.

  4. Wow, what a ridiculous rant. If you’re such a fan of Mac OS 9 and earlier, please, go back. I loved those OSes, but they’re a thing of the past, and despite your attempts to convince us otherwise, Mac OS X is better.

    By the way, I figured your complaint about the number of files in Leopard was BS, so I went to my copy of Leopard (10.5.3) and checked the number of files. Even including user files along with the System and Library folders, I barely crack 200k files. Yes, yes, yes, you hate that number. If you’re so unhappy, switch to Windows or Linux — you won’t do any better though, because they have a crapload of files, too.

    Pre-OS X systems were great for what they were, but they didn’t meet the needs of modern computing. Yes, OS 9 felt zippier because of the lack of preemptive multitasking. I’m sorry you’re so bothered by that, but welcome to the 21st Century……

  5. CAS, it was Engadget that published the million files image, and the accompanying story about how the System and default apps took the file count from over a Million to under 200,000.

  6. yeah, but even with full-multitasking, these OSes are blogggedly SLOOOW. I have a 3.5ghz machine and STILL have to wait on LEopard.(don’t ask). Windows 2000 ran fine.XP is SLOOOWW as well.VISTA, wont even get started with the eye candy on it. BUT YOU CANT FIND 2000 anymore.

    drudgingly slow is the word on VISTA. thats before i launch UT3 or what have you.dont get me started with ‘ACTIVATION’.Do it once on vista and you are fubar. If you try and do it again, you get the dreded,’your copy is not valid’ message on a valid key.Blows loads if you ask me.

    BeOS and os9 ACTUALLY ran shit halfway decent.and both were next to nothing at same time.betcha I can still find apps out there for my g3 600 that take way too long to load on OSX.the same apps. only thing severely outdated is quicktime and the web browser.most, no not all, apps are dual os9/OSX and universal nowadays anyway. I know office and dreamweaver MX are.imovie WAS.

    the key i dont get and Gates tryed to fix was that os9 was just a bunch of addons from os7+.Yet thay still use same method with OSX tiger AND leopard.your drivers (KEXT) are OLDER than the OS. windows updates these with each new release,which is why some stuff is not supported anymore.

    LINUX, well has a million files, yes.most of them are binaries.could they be flabergasted into one, like command.com,probably if someone made the effort.(DONT DELETE rm,ls,cd,mkdir.your system WILL CRASH) the other half are shared libraries either need to build apps or other libraries or required to run the os.sometimes you just have piles of sources lying around,though and this does get messy.or caches for apt-get or something that take up a lot of room.BUT X11+xfce flies in comparison with windows or the OSX GUI.try running icewm sometime.notice the speed improvement over KDE or the like.
    Some of the speed is there, anyway.

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