Sunday, September 6, 2009

The Joy of Using an Apple Operating System

I just upgraded to Snow Leopard. I am late to the party because I didn’t pre-order my copy right away. Well, I didn’t know what I was thinking really, waiting that long. But, anyway, I was able to save $5 from Amazon and I was also able to save on the tax, so I still did get something from installing the upgrade later, albeit I was really jealous of those who were already able to enjoy Apple’s new cat.
But this is not what I am writing about. I am writing about the joy of upgrading the Apple operating system. Let me tell you why…
Before I had an Apple computer, I used a laptop that did not come with an operating system. So, I was pushed to look for operating systems from different vendors. Of course, Windows was, and is, the standard, so I had to have that. But, I didn’t want to settle there. I was afraid of viruses so I wanted to check something that wasn’t so vulnerable. (As a side note, the people where I used to work in were even afraid to share diskettes (diskettes!) between computers for fear of the “main” computer getting infected.)
Anyway, I chose another kind of operating system - linux - and I was really happy for making that choice. However, because the internet connection back then was really slow, I had to rely on external agents to help me obtaining a linux distro. I had a friend help me with the download and installation of another operating system and I had to really plan my installation because, in those days, my hard disk drive was only 20 gigabytes big! And those were the times when we were already so proud of owning a 128MB flash drive! So, I had to partition my HDD into three - for Windows, for linux, and for my files.
My files…

You see, every time I had to install a new operating system, I had to wipe out the entire drive because, as I read, that was the safer thing to do - you cannot really upgrade an operating system. And, aside from upgrading, I really could not decide on what linux distro I would eventually use. So my friend downloaded Mandrake linux for me, then I bought a book which had a Fedora Core installer, then I bought a magazine which had a Suse linux installer, and, finally, my then girl friend, now my wife, sent me, from Italy, a Mandriva linux installer. I finally settled for Mandriva. No, my then girl friend did not insist on it - I really liked the OS.
[Also, I must say that the book and the magazine that I bought were already old. The arrival of books and magazines in the Philippines during those days, I don’t know the case now, took so long, that, by the time you read them, there is already a new distro that was released.]
Anyway, back to my story…
So, I had to partition my meager hard disk into three smaller sizes. This move enabled my to format only the partition where the OS will go to and not the entire drive. It was a good thing that my songs were still collected in CD format or else I would have had a major break down. Also, I didn’t have a digital camera back then also, so that was also a major relief.
Why did I partition my HDD? So that whenever I install a new operating system, my files won’t be harmed. It was as simple as that. I wouldn’t want to erase lessons, exams, exercises, communications (email wasn’t yet in vogue in my place of work then, or rather most things were still communicated through hard copy - triplicate - with a signed received copy). I wouldn’t want to format that!
And the sadder thing was, every time I had to change a linux distro, I also had to re-install the Windows OS. It was a sad state of affair… And what made that worse was, with the slow internet connection, sometimes I used dial up, I had to re-update Windows every time! Have you tried downloading updates through a dial up connection?
Again, back to my story…
So, when I first updated my first Mac - a late 2006, first generation Intel MacBook - I was really impressed! All you had to do was click on the installer DVD and it’ll do its thing - you don’t have to make a partition, sweat a little because you were not 100% sure that you put the OS in the proper partition, etc. Of course I still had to back up my files - now with a lot of mp3s, and DRM-ed songs and videos bought from iTunes Store plus a lot of digital pictures - but I really wasn’t worried. I trusted the Apple system all the way! And after the update, everything was as it was - you still have the desktop pic, passwords stored in your web browser, everything! And the same is true for my jump from Tiger to Leopard, and now, with my MacBook Pro, from Leopard to Snow Leopard.
What a great move forward from my 20GB HDD to 200GB, from my 128MB flash drive to 32GB iPod Touch, from my cheap, generic laptop to Mac, from Windows and linux to Mac OS X. I still love linux, and I regret not having able to try Ubuntu, but I will stick with my cat.

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