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Is Mac OS X Slow? 1229

Junks Jerzey asks: "Every time there's a mention of Mac OS X on Slashdot, there's a flurry of responses about how unbearably slow Mac OS X is. To anyone who has done software development under both Mac OS X and Windows or Linux, is there any truth to this or is it simply a knee-jerk reaction from non-Mac users who see low numbers like 800MHz. I'm talking about average priced Macs here, like the LCD iMac line, not the dual 1.25GHz machines that sell for $4500+." Having the fortune of using a Titanium Powerbook for over a month, I don't find Mac OS X that slow at all, however, there are some things that do take a little longer than I am used to, but I think these things are application-specific. For those Mac OS X users out there, have you noticed operations that seemed slower using Mac OS X compared to similar operations on other operating systems?
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Is Mac OS X Slow?

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  • I find Mac OS X slow (Score:4, Informative)

    by Adam Rightmann ( 609216 ) on Thursday November 07, 2002 @05:42PM (#4619974)
    but that's because most of the apps I support are only supported in Mac OS 9, so I have to wait for the OS 9 emulation window to open up, slow, slow, slow.

    A good test would be with native OS X applications, compiled for OS X and not just emulating OS 9, but that's going to take a while.

  • Not anymore (Score:4, Informative)

    by tral ( 223126 ) <> on Thursday November 07, 2002 @05:42PM (#4619976)
    OS 10.0 was unbearably slow. They improved the performance with 10.1, and 10.2 doesn't seem to have any problems.
  • by 2nd Post! ( 213333 ) <.gundbear. .at.> on Thursday November 07, 2002 @05:46PM (#4620029) Homepage
    For people who want to bash and criticise OS X, then of course it's TOO SLOW.

    For people who enjoy and love OS X, then it's not all that slow.

    There is definitely a class of people who need or want speed but don't have it, and they think OS X is slow. The hard part is figuring out whether their views and circumstances resemble yours so that you know whether to accept or discard their perception.

    My view: OS X on a 400MHz G4 is fine. Applications my have a performance constraint due to slow CPU speed, but actual navigation of the OS is not a problem.

    I also run OS X on a 933MHz G4. With a GeForce2, 768MB ram. Runs fine.

    Slow always depends on how you define fast. Web browsing rendering is a tad slower and less optimized than under Windows, but on the flip side the HTML engine isn't integrated into the OS either.

    And you really can't trust Microsoft to create a better browsing experience under OS X than under Windows XP, can you?

    I use Mozilla just fine, though.
  • by dildatron ( 611498 ) on Thursday November 07, 2002 @05:48PM (#4620052)
    I find it a bit slow, but I consider my hardware marginal.

    I have a 500MHz G3 iBook, 384MB RAM, OS X 10.2. It is not really slow, but it is not as fast as my linux machine, a 750MHz Athlon, 640MB RAM, KDE3.

    I have not yet gotten the oppertunity to use OS X on a faster machine, but I suspect on a G4 processor it would be much better. Even on my G3, it is not so slow it makes me puke, it could just be a little snappier with IE, Mozilla, and opening up a terminal.
  • this article (Score:5, Informative)

    by jukal ( 523582 ) on Thursday November 07, 2002 @05:48PM (#4620053) Journal
    Mac OS X 10.2 Makes Fast Break [] at eWeek. I don't know anything about Macs but those rare people I kow using it, have said the same as the article:

    There were some speed improvements in Mac OS X 10.1, but this latest Mac OS version wrings significantly improved performance out of Aqua, courtesy of Quartz Extreme. This Apple technology offloads rendering of windows and other screen elements onto the graphics processing unit in a system's video card, which in turn lightens the load on the system's main processor.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 07, 2002 @05:50PM (#4620083)
    Moshe Bar has written an article [] at Byte [] in which he benchmarks and compares performance between Mac OS X and Linux at various tasks on the same hardware.
  • by ab ( 5715 ) on Thursday November 07, 2002 @05:51PM (#4620088) Homepage
    I run OS X on several machines. The one I'm using now is the slowest I really use (a 400MHz G3), and it's fine with 512MB of memory. With 128MB it's slow. More didn't make much difference for common stuff.

    In fact, it's deceptively responsive. I use a G4 733 at home, and sometimes forget how slow this thing is- until I do a big compile or something. :-)

    For ordinary GUI stuff, it's OK, but some programs that aren't really OS Xish (like Mozilla) sometimes have noticeable screen updates.

  • by BoomerSooner ( 308737 ) on Thursday November 07, 2002 @05:52PM (#4620106) Homepage Journal
    It will take an extra minute to boot up but all your OS 9 apps will run immediately.

    When talking about OS X 10.1 was slow on my G4 Tower 733, 10.2 is lightning fast (another reason it should have been a free upgrade to 10.1 users).
  • by soward ( 6325 ) on Thursday November 07, 2002 @05:52PM (#4620109) Homepage Journal
    You must have a bum machine or maybe you only have 128M of RAM. I've found OS-X to be pretty responsive even on older hardware, at least on par with linux+Gnome or native freebsd on similar systems. The one exception may be memory. Many OS-X Cocoa apps have a large memory footprint, and once you start swapping, things go downhill fast. Similarly if you have an old slow hard-drive application launching will be slow. My 667Mhz tibook easily performs as fast as or faster than my 1G PIII laptop at virtually every task.
  • Memory (Score:3, Informative)

    by rjstanford ( 69735 ) on Thursday November 07, 2002 @05:53PM (#4620124) Homepage Journal
    OS X is fairly memory intensive. Anyone interested in speed should, IMO, max out their memory. After all, moving from the minimum amount of memory (128mb) to the maximum (640mb) on the low-end iBook costs you $200 and is well worth it.

    Also, with Quartz Extreme adding additional amounts of video RAM seems to make a difference, since the graphics card is doing a lot more work in day-to-day life. 32mb seems to be noticably better than 16mb, with diminishing returns expected as you go up.

    Just my opinions, yadda yadda...
  • by macthulhu ( 603399 ) on Thursday November 07, 2002 @05:54PM (#4620137)
    As I'm sure many of the people about to post here do, I use several different OSs during the course of my day. Once I leave work, I rely on OSX for me personal machine. Even with 10.1.5, almost everything seems faster than any flavor of Windows that I come into contact with. My home machine is a "lowly" Dual 533 G4 with a Gig of RAM, and it consistently performs better than any of my other machines... ranging from a dual 600 Pentium w/ NT4 to 2GHZ AMD w/ XP. I am running mostly Multimedia creation software, so maybe that's where the results come from... Anyway, OSX is plenty fast... except for some strange spinning beachball zone-outs at weird times. To be honest, even though I am one of those Mac people that will break a bottle on the bar and hold it to your throat for bad-mouthing my system... I am perfectly functional with Windows going all the way back to 3.11. Bottom line: OSX on a sufficiently pumped up G4 will get the job done, and get it done pretty quickly. Now back to the impending flame war...
  • 10.2 isn't bad (Score:2, Informative)

    by timothy ( 36799 ) on Thursday November 07, 2002 @05:55PM (#4620147) Journal
    My family is mostly Mac now -- my mom and sister have them, and I have one in part so I can follow their explanations when troubleshooting by phone.

    And overall, now that I've made the switch (from 9 to X) more-or-less permanently wrt time spent on my iBook, I've stopped caring. The system is nice, and with Chimera and Mozilla (giving me browsing and IRC), I no longer feel any great need to boot into 9 for the speed.

    Yes, it is slowish -- my old 366MHz ThinkPad 600 with 128MB RAM is *snappier* running Windowmaker or even KDE than my 500MHz iBook (with 384MB) running OS 10.2, but I find the speed differenceis not terribly annoying. And 10.2 is noticeably faster than 10.1, and esp. faster than 10.0.1

    The Apple keyboard I could do without, but that's not really the OS's fault.

    I prefer (for various reasons) any of several Linux desktops for day-to-day use, but the iBook, even this slow one, makes a nice station for editing home movies, 802.11 access, etc. (I wish other companies would license that airport space inside the machine ... it's nice to have it in there full time, no card-edge to worry about snapping off ...)

  • by Outland Traveller ( 12138 ) on Thursday November 07, 2002 @05:55PM (#4620160)
    My 700Mhz iBook running OSX 10.2 is quite snappy with all native apps, especially the ones I compile myself. It feels comparable to my 1.4Ghz Athlon running Redhat 8.0.

    If you run MacOS 9 apps in compatibility mode, the feel is more sluggish, but that's to be expected. Emulation almost always degrades performance. for MacOSX is quite nice, BTW.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 07, 2002 @05:56PM (#4620181)
    If you believe the press releases from Apple, 10.0 was the initial revision just to get beta testing and hardware bugs worked out with live users. 10.1 was the almost ready for prime time version: functioning apps and networking, but some performance lags due to the kind of semi-polished programming one is going to see in an object-oriented development environment for a completely new platform. OS 10.2 is supposed to be the fully optimized version, with slimmed down apps and streamlined graphics rendering.

    That's the official version. My experience has pretty much reflected that. I am running 10.2.1 on a 300 mhz Wallstreet Powerbook and it runs great. Outside of little lags waiting for Photoshop 6.0 to render filters on the Classic environment (no surprises there) I find that it's running along quite nicely.

    I have found that some of my Mac using peers that are whinging about performance lags are often running the minimum (or less!) of the recommended amount of RAM for the most graphics intensive OS on the market. Hello, Bottleneck, please RTFM before trolling for flames. And if it's driving you that crazy, may i recommend the command line? It friggin' rips along...

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 07, 2002 @05:57PM (#4620197)
    I develop Java apps on Mac OX 9 & X, Win 2000 and Linux and hands down find Mac the fastest to compile and run on. That is not to say it's faster for everything but overall I way prefer it, even more so with OS X. These machines are all relatively similar (you can take that with a grain of salt) so I think that this is a fair statement to make.

    Overall though, you have to ask yourself: What the hell do I want to do? Are you doing email, web browsing, downloading porn???

    BTW I find that Mac OS is wicked slow for browsing the web.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 07, 2002 @05:57PM (#4620200)
    Illustrator, Photoshop, Dreamweaver, all run perceptively *twice* as fast in OS 9.

    That's because they are (in essence) being emulated.

    Once those apps have been natively ported to OSX, I'm sure you'll have a different opinion.
  • by Wonderkid ( 541329 ) on Thursday November 07, 2002 @05:58PM (#4620218) Homepage
    As a designer, I have been using Macs full time since 1991. Currently, I am running OSX 10.1.5 on a 500Mhz G4 Powerbook with 384Meg RAM and 20gig hard drive. Am using Photoshop 7, Illustrator 10 and other latest versions of OSX native apps and they are much slower in launching and feel sluggish over their OS9 counterparts. OS9 was 'snappy' and the less complex window borders and smaller typefaces provided more screen / desktop real estate. Not only that, but the file / directory dialogs are a pain and the lack of smart window re-sizing/tiling like MS Windows means constant manual window re-sizing. OSX breaks several GUI guidelines that OS9 adhered to. The hype concerning OSX is only justified because of Apple's wise decision to base it on Unix, meaning it is stable and geek friendly. Apps do quit once in a while, but unless OS9 under classic mode goes weird, you never need re-start. Anyway, I think people are praising the wrong creation from Apple. What justifies buying a Mac over all else are apps such as iPhoto, iTunes, iMovie etc that are a pleasure to use and totally invaluable on a daily basis. But it's not OSX that makes them great (iTunes was identical under OS9 from an operational angle), it's the people friendly design and functionality.

    Remember, these comments on OSX all based on 10.1.5, not 10.2 (Jaguar.)

  • by Malic ( 15038 ) on Thursday November 07, 2002 @05:59PM (#4620221)
    Simple file moving operations can take FOREVER if you are moving around hundreds of files. Though I haven't tried it, I am sure that from the command line, it could be a blink of the eye.

    Example: Select, say 600 MAME ROM .zip files, and move them to another folder that already contains 3000 MAME ROM .zip files. Some may exist already and need to be overwritten and some files are new ones.

    An operation like this on Windows takes very little time to do. MacOS X can take many minutes to do the same. I don't understand why. This is on a G3 500Mhz iMac DV w/1GB RAM.

    The underlying OS is very fast. The GUI/Finder needs all the help it can get. Even after 10.1 and 10.2!
  • by ntclwhlr ( 543422 ) on Thursday November 07, 2002 @06:00PM (#4620247)
    Ive got both running OS X the Ti has Jag on it and the G3 10.1.5, and there is very little difference in the speed of the two. I find that OS X runs fast enough for all of my needs. I have never had a problem running OS X since 10.1 came out.
  • by WatertonMan ( 550706 ) on Thursday November 07, 2002 @06:01PM (#4620262)
    Try Chimera. It is damn fast, uses the same rendering engine Mozilla does, but has a basic Cocoa wrapper around it. It has tabs, but not as many other functions as Mozilla. Of course I think Mozilla is bloatware, but that's me.

    It is still missing some features I like and is obviously still under development. But the recently released 0.6 version is pretty amazing.

  • by SirOgre ( 610068 ) on Thursday November 07, 2002 @06:03PM (#4620277)
    As a long-time, self-described Mac fanatic, I must say that OS X is slower than OS 9, though I would not call it slow.

    Typically, I see the OS X behave slowly in Finder more than anything else. Within applications, I don't see much (if any) performance hit, but when switching to finder or minimizing a window, OS X can be very slow sometimes. This has improved a lot from 10.0, but it is still MUCH slower than OS 9.

    Application launch time is another area in which Apple needs to work on. They instituted a new pre-binding mechanism into jagwire, but it has had very little effect on launch time.

  • by jericho4.0 ( 565125 ) on Thursday November 07, 2002 @06:06PM (#4620315)
    On my G4, with classic running, OS X takes a big hit and gets kind of jerky. I'd say, if you're not useing a classic app constantly, to leave it off. It boots in about 10 seconds anyway.
  • by sh4de ( 93527 ) on Thursday November 07, 2002 @06:11PM (#4620384)
    AFAIK, OS X is late-binding by nature, but there's a way to speed it up by pre-binding. This process allows apps and libs to be loaded without resolving symbols in other binaries.

    In versions prior to 10.2, this was a manual process, usually run by the Installer app after installing a new package.

    10.2 updates prebindings for a new app automatically when it's launched for the time. There's a caveat: if you have multiple partitions, only apps on the boot partition will be pre-bound automatically.

    See the manual pages for update_prebinding(1) and redo_prebinding(1) for more info.
  • by BlueGecko ( 109058 ) <(moc.liamg) (ta) (kcallop.nimajneb)> on Thursday November 07, 2002 @06:13PM (#4620415) Homepage
    For the record: a clean install of OS 9 has the illusion (note my word choice) of being about twice to three times the speed of Mac OS X if you have been in OS X for a length of time. This is true pretty much regardless of what machine you are installing on. On the other hand, it also has about the architectural maturity of Windows 3.1, and if you start installing a ton of extensions, its speed starts going down the tube. This is why you see OS 9 as slow and others see it as fast.
  • by Del Vach ( 449393 ) on Thursday November 07, 2002 @06:14PM (#4620422)

    I'm at work on a G4/400 with 512MB.

    On an average day I'm running BBEdit, Photoshop, Mozilla, Mail, iChat, iTunes, Stickies, and a few 'background' apps like WeatherPop and Net Monitor. Some Finder activities can be slow, and I do twiddle my thumbs when I run Adobe Illustrator on top of everything else. BUT at that point I'm also using 300-400MB of virtual memory.

    If anything, OS X is a memory hog, but like everything else, the more resources it has, the faster it runs. My home G4/733 (896MB) is easily twice as fast for most tasks, and that's last year's low-end model.

    Show me a 733Mhz PC that can run four high-quality Quicktime movies side-by-side without dropping any frames, and I'll feel like I have a sluggish OS. (vid card: Nvidia GeForce2 MX 32MB)

    And besides, since I AM a typical frothing Mac freak, I'd take OS X at this speed than Windows at 3Ghz anyday. And yes, Linux HO and death to commercial software and all that, but I'm too busy most of the time to be my own sysAdmin; I just want something that works. And if it breaks... well, like Ted Kennedy, we'll drive off that bridge when we get to it. :)
  • by Scott Ransom ( 6419 ) <> on Thursday November 07, 2002 @06:14PM (#4620428)
    and I stay in Linux 95% of the time because KDE2 is much faster in general than OS X (10.1.5).

    Since my iBook2 (600MHz) can't handle the new Quartz rendering in Jaguar, I'm left with a functional - but still slowish - interface under OS X.

    In general, though, I get the best of both worlds by running Mac-on-linux [], which runs OS X beautifully (all except sound....) with a simple Ctrl-Alt-F8...


  • by MontyP ( 26575 ) on Thursday November 07, 2002 @06:14PM (#4620431)
    Maybe your hard drive is to blame. I dont think it has to do with the OS. I just moved 7000+ files registering at about 2.5 gigs. I dragged them dropped them clicked the always replace check box and it was done before I could move the mouse away from the prompt.
  • Re:LCD iMac (Score:4, Informative)

    by Molz ( 87066 ) on Thursday November 07, 2002 @06:17PM (#4620472) Journal

    It also has to do with the fact that in OS9 the game could hog all the processor cycles that it wanted. With OS X, its forced to share with everything else you have running (which could be quite a bit).

  • Asking for Trouble (Score:2, Informative)

    by hyperizer ( 123449 ) on Thursday November 07, 2002 @06:18PM (#4620483)
    Since there aren't any good benchmarks for this sort of thing, all you're going to get are subjective comments. As someone who has used Mac OS 9, OS X, Windows NT, and Windows 2000 on a variety of machines, I'm pleased with X's performance.

    One thing I did notice when I switched from Mac OS 9 to OS X--the Aqua GUI feels a bit slow. I don't know what causes this perception, but you'll hear users on Mac-centric discussion forums complaining about the lack of "snappiness." In OS 9's Finder (in list view), you could select a hundred files and immediately drag them into another folder. In OS X's Finder (in column view) you have to wait a second after selecting the files or you can't drag them. It's little things like that which matter.

    On the other hand, OS X is much better for multitasking. I leave all the apps I commonly use running 24/7. OS 9's primitive memory management made this near impossible, and its pathetic system of assigning processor time to the frontmost application prevented me from even simple multitasking (like coding a Web page while downloading software while listening to an MP3).

    I'm running OS X on a 733Mhz PowerMac G4 (digital audio) with 1024 MB RAM and a GeForce 3.
  • by zman99 ( 612240 ) on Thursday November 07, 2002 @06:21PM (#4620526)

    The underlying OS is very fast. The GUI/Finder needs all the help it can get. Even after 10.1 and 10.2!

    The biggest problem with the OS X finder is that is was programmed in Carbon, and not Cocoa. Back when OSX was still on the drawing board, third party developers insisted that Apple program the finder in Carbon or they wouldn't develop any apps for it. This was to ensure that the Carbon API got due attention and third parties wouldn't be stranded with a half finished API. This strategy worked well for Carbon, as it turned into a very useable API, unfortunately the finder can be very sluggish and is not multithreaded very well. I hope Apple makes a cocoa version soon.


  • by ewwhite ( 533880 ) on Thursday November 07, 2002 @06:23PM (#4620541) Homepage
    ..after about 11 months of using OS X.x exclusively. I've grown used to multitasking abilty of OS X, but in OS 9, the GUI never felt sluggish; regardless of hardware. At the same time, I found myself growing impatient while the foreground applicaiton (Digidesign Protools) in OS 9 prevented me from doing anything else on the system. In the end, I think OS X.2 (Jaguar) performs very well on my Powerbook 667. As others have said, the GUI performance is very solid under Jaguar, whereas the older versions of OS X suffered a bit.

    There are a few things that I do to enhance my OS X experience. I work in Linux systems deployment for a software firm, and spend mucho time at the command line. I *do* think that the Apple Terminal application is a bit slow, so I use Eterm [] under XDarwin/Gnome for my terminal needs. My other suggestion is installing Launchbar []. This program makes every command/application/document/etc. available by typing a few characters. It's highly configurable and allows you to keep your hands on the keyboard for just about every task.

    These tools, plus the multitasking ability (versus OS 9's inability) allow me to be more efficient on OS X. Speed doesn't really matter as much, since I can still get my work done.

    Oh, and here's a nifty screenshot [] that illustrates that productivity :)

  • Re:Speed (Score:4, Informative)

    by Fugly ( 118668 ) on Thursday November 07, 2002 @06:24PM (#4620551) Homepage
    Memory Hog? That hasn't been my experience. I was just ripping a CD with iTunes while I was mucking around in terminal, system preferences, and the network utility. Ok, I obviously wasn't doing anything very memory intensive but still, I had tons of physical RAM available. I found that having lots of RAM was more important for OS 9 than 10.

    With OS 9, the virtual memory was so crappy I never wanted it turned on. I would keep my mac maxed out in ram and have virtual memory completely disabled. I'd also have to crank up the memory allocated to the indivudual apps I was using quite frequently. This combination ate soooo much RAM.

    With X, my memory problems have pretty much disappeared. I ripped out most of my RAM and threw it into my PC. I don't think I'd want to run with less than 256 but I don't see much of a performance gain when I crank it up to 512MB or a gig under normal use.
  • by Molz ( 87066 ) on Thursday November 07, 2002 @06:25PM (#4620568) Journal
    microkernal vs monolithic kernal penalty

    Um.. not quite. OS X doesn't have a true micro kernal. To speed things up Apple placed the BSD kernal in mach's kernal space, thus mitigating most of the cost of making calls between the two layers.

  • by LionMage ( 318500 ) on Thursday November 07, 2002 @06:30PM (#4620618) Homepage
    Let me lead off by stating that I'm running OS X 10.2.2 (Jaguar) on my iBook, and 10.1.5 on my G4 Cube. The reason I haven't yet upgraded the Cube has to do with making sure all the core apps on the Cube are up-to-date so they'll work with Jaguar, and making sure there are no other "gotchas" in Jaguar. (Also, I need to free up more hard disk space on the Cube, since Jaguar eats more disk space.)

    OS X has gotten steadily better, to the point where I never boot my iBook back into OS 9 anymore. I've noticed a few annoyances when upgrading from 10.1.5 to 10.2.X on my iBook -- having to fix my PATH to once again include /usr/local/bin and having to recompile tinyfugue were both minorly annoying. But the speed improvement, and the ability to browse SMB shares easily, were worth it. My iBook is now a very usable OS X machine, and it's only a 500 MHz G3 machine.

    My G4 Cube is a workhorse. It sometimes is a little slow to load applications, but once running, they don't seem to drag much at all. (Those who remember NeXTStep may recall that application load times sucked there too.)

    One of the few application performance complaints that I have is with (surprise, surprise) Internet Explorer. Even after installing the latest 5.2.2 update, I've noticed painfully slow page render times on some sites. I've also noticed bad/wrong rendering (stuff that Netscape gets right, and that IE on Windows usually gets right). But then, IE on OS X has had numerous bugs from day one, including lack of support for long filenames (a problem shared with Microsoft Office v.X), occasional corruption of JPEG and other image files when saved to the local hard disk from the browser, and font rendering glitches (especially in Jaguar).

    Where OS X shines is in applications that are written for the Cocoa framework, and in running Java applications. (Java applications run pretty quick under OS X, and look great to boot. Especially well written Swing apps.)

    My one source of befuddlement: Load times and execution times for some "Classic" applications are even faster than the native versions of the same applications. (Well, assuming the Classic environment is already running.)
  • It looks slow (Score:1, Informative)

    by Unregistered ( 584479 ) on Thursday November 07, 2002 @06:30PM (#4620620)
    When i use it i expect to to be slow b/c of the eye candy, but it runs fine for me. Linux w/ flux on an athlon 1200 is faster than OSX on 400mhzG3s but its not bad.
  • by binomial ( 623923 ) on Thursday November 07, 2002 @06:34PM (#4620664)
    I use a Beige G3 overclocked to 300MHz. Even overclocked it is very slow. At the stock speed (233MHz) it is unusable. I use Jaguar with a nice 40GB 7200RPM IBM drive, and 512MB of RAM. Using the builtin ATI Rage Pro video with 6MB of VRAM, Aqua makes this system crawl. I use the machine as a web/mail/file server and for those tasks is is quite fast. In fact, I bet it would run faster if I could disable the graphics entirely.

    To show exactly how bad it is, I can open a terminal, make it full screen, cd to a full directory, and ls -la it. CPU utilization jumps to 100% and stays there while the list slowly scrolls by. I even used the hack to disable font antialiasing, but that provides no speed up. For terminal usage, it is faster for me to use Putty on my Windows box. The same directory listing via SSH, it *much* faster. So obviously the graphics system is the bottleneck in my system.

    The solution to this would be to buy a decent video card, but you can't stick any old PCI VGA card in a Mac. First off the card needs a Mac boot ROM, then it needs to be supported by OS X, and you also need drivers. Of course "Mac Edition" ATI cards cost more than their PC counterparts, and the Radeon 7000 is the only modern ATI card available in PCI form. This all adds up to real frustration for OS X users stuck with older non-AGP Macs.

    Overall I would recommend using OS X on a Beige G3 only if you intend to use it as a light duty server. For workstation or home use, you really have to have a modern Mac (~500MHz and up) to enjoy the user experience.
  • Re:Check Complete (Score:2, Informative)

    by JHromadka ( 88188 ) on Thursday November 07, 2002 @06:34PM (#4620666) Homepage
    Your sentence. "but this damn thing is to slowwwwwwww" suggested grammar and spelling. "but this damn thing is too slow" GRAMMAR AND SPELLING CHECK COMPLETE: 15 minutes 23 seconds 67 ms

    Actually, had you been using Omniweb for Mac OS X, it would have underlined your misspellings in red as you typed them.

  • My PIII Was faster (Score:1, Informative)

    by jtaylor72 ( 446011 ) on Thursday November 07, 2002 @06:38PM (#4620702)
    I bought into the new OSX and went out and bought a DUAL 1GHZ fully loaded with 1.5GB RAM and everything else I could put in it. After selling it on eBay after a month of use, I went back to my PIII 866 and Windows ran so Much Faster. Things like openning applications and dragging the Windows around and resizing them were a lot faster on the PC. I will never buy into that Apple BS again.
  • by dsandler ( 224364 ) <dsandler@dsandle ... Nrg minus author> on Thursday November 07, 2002 @06:38PM (#4620710) Homepage
    There are some things in OS X that need improvement - notably window-sizing - but then again, the Win2000 box still does outline-drawing for resizing so it's not fair.

    In the end I think Quartz Extreme is Apple's answer to this.

    It's not a complete answer, however. Extreme is only able to offload window composition to the GPU, which is a big win for some responsiveness situations (dragging windows around, with irregular shapes, and fat drop shadows, under a fancy 32-bit cursor) but doesn't help off-screen drawing ops (note that almost everything in Aqua is drawn off-screen).

    It gets even worse when your off-screen drawing touches every pixel in your window. Apple encourages apps to do this, of course, by offering particularly gluttonous Aqua features like brushed-metal windows (Extreme has no way to ask the graphics hardware to chew on a full-window gradient, atop a texture, being rendered to an offscreen pixmap). Don't believe me? Fire up Quartz Debug (part of the developer tools; allows you to ask Quartz to highlight update rectangles before they're painted) and see for yourself.

    I'm confident that Apple will continue to make improvements, but right now apps like iCal (which shouldn't be computationally intensive, but is all hopped up on Aqua) are miserably slow in screen updates.

  • by thinkliberty ( 593776 ) on Thursday November 07, 2002 @06:39PM (#4620718)
    Using OS X with a UFS volume is stupid. Most carbon apps will not run on a UFS formated hard drive.
  • by katorga ( 623930 ) on Thursday November 07, 2002 @06:41PM (#4620746)
    I have an 800Mhz 512MB TiBook and 10.2 seems fast enough for my uses. Web, email, text editing, photo manipulation, and small compiles do fine.
  • Re:Not anymore (Score:2, Informative)

    by hyperizer ( 123449 ) on Thursday November 07, 2002 @06:43PM (#4620760)
    Details in this excellent Ars Technica article [].
  • Re:Yes, it's slow. (Score:3, Informative)

    by Elwood P Dowd ( 16933 ) <> on Thursday November 07, 2002 @06:49PM (#4620844) Journal
    That's almost hard to believe. Perhaps the kerberos software they're running has fscked the computers. My computer has much much less than half the processing power of a flat panel imac, but I've never had that kind of problem.

    Not that it isn't slow... it just isn't *that* slow.
  • Re:Answer to title. (Score:5, Informative)

    by Jezza ( 39441 ) on Thursday November 07, 2002 @06:54PM (#4620882)
    Mac OS X isn't actually slow but has a lot of technologies that have got a bad rap (though they didn't always deserve them).

    Mac OS X is based on a Microkernel - now everyone agrees these are slow, right? Well, sure I can see where that's coming from - but Apple have gone to great lengths to make this as fast as possible without losing the benefits. So the Kernel isn't actually slow, it compares well with other BSDs and Linux.

    The Mac is only 800MHz(ish) for low end machines so it must be slow? This is the classic "MHz Myth" the G4 has a short pipeline (a good thing) and executes over 90% of it's instructions in 1 cycle or less (the modern definition of RISC, TRIVIA: the old definition was implements less the 100 instructions). And then there's the amazing AltiVec (which Apple call the "Velocity Engine", if you see these terms they refer to the same thing). Macs have blistering real math performance (the G3 iBook doesn't have the AltiVec).

    Macs are based on Objective-C - that's REALLY slow. Well sure if you just implemented Objective-C without optimisations then it would be slow, but NeXT (them that did the Objective-C implementation) didn't do that. They added a method lookup cache which speeds things up a great deal, and IMPs that can be used in tight loops to gain extra zip (healh warning, IMPs are not ususally needed and can cause stunning bugs if you're not careful with them - unless you have a large tight loop that REALLY needs speeding up - don't bother with IMPs). The use of allocation zones can also speed up the VM system a great deal (these aren't as troublesome as IMPs can be, but again aren't as often needed as you might think). The Kits make heavy use of these tricks so they are pretty fast.

    Quartz has lots of tricks to make it fast, and now all current Macs can make use of Quartz Extreem (uses the compositor on the GPU to dramatically speed up the whole windowing system).

    So no Macs aren't slow. Apple's site includes server stats and they are very impressive too.

    But the implementation details aren't widely understood so a lot of people's initial reaction is "Oh that's gotta be slow" - it really isn't.
  • Application Specific (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 07, 2002 @06:55PM (#4620895)
    I have a 400Mhz TiBook - and yes some things are VERY slow. Ironically, almost all of those things are made by microsoft. Internet explorer is probably the most noticable. Compared to chimera or Omniweb, internet explorer drags it's feet enough to make me wonder if it's on purpose. Same with word and excell. Those are definately way faster on similar pc's.

    Native apps though seem to be far faster than their PC counterparts. Even on slow hardware it only takes about 6 seconds to launch my mail client, and check all of my imap accounts. My PC is supposedly 3 times as fast, but outlook express takes 15 seconds on a good day. The Mac mail app just feels more responsive too.

    I guess it just depends on what you're using when you're testing. The emulated MacOS 9 stuff is dog slow - to the point of being too annoying to use. The carbon stuff is a little slow but usable. The native stuff is more quick and responsive than any enviornment I've used (other than windowmaker)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 07, 2002 @06:56PM (#4620906)
    Thanks for pointing that out, I had been wondering how Apple did it, and this topic is always interesting to me.

    So on Mac OS, the BSD server runs in kernel mode, but the graphics server (the Aqua thing -- not sure what it's called) runs in a user-mode process. Right? OSF/1, aka Digital UNIX, aka Tru64 UNIX has done the same thing for years, with the UNIX server running in kernel mode and the X server running as a user-mode process. I suppose it must work reasonably well, but putting the graphics server into kernel mode could probably improve performance somewhat.

    On Windows XP, the Windows subsystem for each session (the closest thing to the BSD server) is still a user-mode process, called CSRSS.EXE (Client-Server Runtime SubSystem), but the graphics server (USER, the window manager, and GDI, the Graphical Device Interface) runs in 'session space', which is sort of in between kernel mode and user mode. It's part of the kernel address space, so there's no mode-transition penalty, and it's protected from user-mode processes, but it's not globally mapped like the rest of kernel space. All the processes in one 'session' use the same session space, but each session has its own (where as the rest of kernel space is always the same, irrespective of which process is running, like on UNIX and most other OSes).
  • by Daleks ( 226923 ) on Thursday November 07, 2002 @06:57PM (#4620921)
    The "binding" you're talking about is for function calls to dynamic libraries. The "binding" that the original poster is talking about is Objective-C method calls in general. Updating the pre-bindings in Mac OS X won't get rid of late-binding in Objective-C. It has nothing to do with it. Pre-binding just calculates where a function will be at run-time so the caller doesn't have to figure it out on their own. Late-binding in Objective-C is where you don't know what type of object you are interfacing with but know the partial (base class) interface. The reason why you don't know its type is because it's determined at run-time. Again, updating the pre-bindings has nothing to do with this.
  • by overbom ( 461949 ) <overbom@ya[ ].com ['hoo' in gap]> on Thursday November 07, 2002 @06:58PM (#4620925)
    It's plenty fast, but not as fast as I wanted. So I sped it up. Here's what I did for my machine; some of it is what I routinely do to other people's machines. ymmv. ymmm. yumm.

    First, I advise all 10.1.x users to upgrade. Then again, I work for a school, and teachers can get 10.2 for free. It's worth it. I don't care that it should be free. If you want better performance, stop griping, or run OS9. OS10.0 and 10.1 are not optimal for ordinary use.

    make sure you're following the recommendation for Video RAM -- 16MB, Quartz Extreme pretty much needs it. If you can't upgrade a card, cram as much memory as you can in there, you will need it.

    I wouldn't attempt to use a OSX machine with less than 256. All power users get 512MB by default.

    There's an option on the installation disk (under the disk utility option, maybe?) that will reset permissions on the OS. I've noticed this would speed up a slower computer; it takes about 1/2 hour on my laptop.

    Turn the machine off once in a while. I suspect OSX's memory garbage collection isn't as good as it could be. I reboot the laptop about once a month, (after I've had a finder crash, usually).

    if you've got a laptop that isn't on at 3 in the morning, run the periodic files (i.e., let cron do its thing). Someone released an app that does this for the shell-feary; I forget its name. Google loves you.

    Use a valid hostname. Something called "Foo's Computer" isn't valid DNS, even though it's the default (bad apple!). This will affect how long it takes to connect to the network, esp. at boot time. Having DNS entries (and reverse DNS) helps a bunch, if you're using DHCP (there are opts in bind to autofill this for you). Valid hostnames include a-z, 0-9, and "-". Have fun and be creative.

    Disable what you don't need. I edited the scripts in /System/Library/StartupItems. Say Goodbye crashreporter, appletalk, and rendezvous. I was nice and had my modifications listen to /etc/hostconfig, in case I wanted to re-enable them quickly, at a later date. Most other people need networking, I've noticed, but I just need scp and ftp. ;P

    prebinding question. Run as root (use sudo, or, um, use root)

    update_prebinding -root / -force

    And wait for a bit, watching a bunch of errors spring up because the printer apps weren't prebound. You might want to do an output redirection (add something like 2&>1 ~/prebind.log to the command [or is it 2>&1?]) if you want a record of what it did.

    here to help,

  • by benwaggoner ( 513209 ) <ben DOT waggoner AT microsoft DOT com> on Thursday November 07, 2002 @06:59PM (#4620945) Homepage
    Manual prebinding is no longer needed in 10.2. The first time a non-prebound app is launched, the OS will quietly prebind it behing the scenes, so the second launch will be at full speed.

    Of course, many installers will still do it on install. This is kind of irritating if you have to do a lot of installs at once, like update a stock install with all the updates.
  • by Large Green Mallard ( 31462 ) <> on Thursday November 07, 2002 @07:03PM (#4620983) Homepage
    Yes.. if you could port CP/M to it, it would probably run pretty damn fast. But it runs OSX, which has some slightly higher requirements :)

    The 500mhz iBooks, while looking very flashy and stuff, are not very grunty beasts. They have a 66mhz bus, and 8MB ATI Rage Mobility. Compare this to the 800mhz iBooks, just released, which look the same which has a 100mhz bus and a 32MB ATI Radeon 7500. Throwing RAM at them helps. My 500mhz iBook sped up a lot when I upgraded from 256MB to 640MB RAM.

    And then I got a 800mhz TiBook ;)
  • by IIEFreeMan ( 450812 ) on Thursday November 07, 2002 @07:04PM (#4620994)
    > XUL is slow. Hence, we have Phoenix, Galeon and Chimera.

    Actually Phoenix is written with XUL and it's lighnting fast so i would just say that full moz is bloatware (as it is intended) but not that XUL is slow.
  • by WatertonMan ( 550706 ) on Thursday November 07, 2002 @07:15PM (#4621107)
    That is an old wives tale. The fact is that the Finder is slower for copying or displaying files like that. Extra memory helps a lot though. As everyone has been saying 512M is pretty much a bare minimum for an enjoyable experience. With current prices, I'd suggest everyone have at least 1G Ram.

    BTW, if you want a better finder check out Path Finder [].

    Anyway, back to the original point, Carbon apps are not slower than Cocoa apps. Best example? All the recent (and SLOW) iApps are written in Cocoa. The best iApp is iTunes which is written in Carbon. Carbon has some downsides, such as not being able to make use of Services. Further up until recently many OSX interface features weren't really supported by Carbon. (i.e. drawers) Apple has been working at unifying the features of both frameworks. This will hopefully eliminate differences between apps, such as in terms of how Open/Save dialog boxes work.

    Arguing regarding speed is simply silly though. The problem is bad programming. And yes, until 10.2, the Finder was horrible. (IMO)

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 07, 2002 @07:16PM (#4621119)
    Great Question! When phrased like this I have to say I had no idea. But what a great way to test the OS.


    First off I couldn't build the UCD-SNMP libraries in OS9, so the question has to be a simple comparison of compilation times in a controlled fashion using Linux versus OSX on my existing 667 PowerBook g4.

    For those who do not understand why, the libraries do not exist in OS9. Yet in both linux ppc and OSX all libraries do exist, and can build. Well, heck there isn't even a console in OS9, and these are console commands that are being built.

    For the record, the GUI feels very snappy in Linux (using the KDE default that came with SuSE linux PPC). Sometimes OSX 10.2 feels snappy, and sometimes it seems it is waiting for something. But none of this has to do with the question above, which was speed difference between OS. To me the purest test of an OS is how fast the same code can build on either.

    I used gcc which came with ver 7.2 SuSE linux PPC and the devloper disk shipped with OSX 10.2

    I used the code available in tarball from

    tar -zxvf was lightning fast on OSX. However, I think the scrolling was the lag behind on Linux. The disk didn't seem to be working after just a few seconds. Anyway, on to the real test: ./configure

    The configure portion under linux was lightning fast. 20 seconds whizzed by. I believe that may have been that the code found everything it was expecting much quicker. It was 51 seconds to complete the ./configure portion under OSX. Didn't look good for OSX. Made me begin questioning the development environment.

    Linux 20 seconds
    OSX 51 seconds


    I did this on linux, and have to admit there were some issues. Found numerous problems with the compiler settings. However, this code is usually built (at least by me) on a Solaris box. In any case, eventually I got all errors run through, and sucessfully built the binaries.

    Linux: 2 minutes 14 seconds (on final run).

    On OSX things went much smoother, first time through. However, the screen showed tons of errors regarding invalid pointer references, etc. Was very skeptical if code would run. However, that shouldn't effect the time it takes to crunch out the machine code right?

    OSX: 1 minute 31 seconds

    make install

    Linux did this like cake walk. I think the libpaths and all are setup quite well on linux. However, this is once again development environment setup, right?

    Linux: 34 seconds

    OSX seemed confused. It seemed I had more messages, or just they scrolled by much slower. I could see it linking the object files.

    OSX: 48 seconds

    NOTE: I did not mention the "umask 022" portion which was instantaneous on both machines.

    Bottom line:

    This is probably all meaningless, however the code built under OSX works against my stack of routers. I can use snmpget, snmpwalk, and snmpset without problems.

    The linux code is somehow broken. Typing the commands without commandline switches gives the proper display output (usage information), however when it tries to actually attach to an snmp device it does not appear to work.

    My suspicion is some kernel option or environment option in linux. By putting my HP internet LAN advisior (a sophisticated sniffer/analyzer) on the line I could see no packets originating from the linux load. I could telnet to the routers, so I know it was not networking - at least not basic networking.

    I will delve into this to try to get better information.

    Right now though, it seems to me to be a pretty close match between the linux load and the OSX load on the same hardware. The compiling seemed slower on the Linux boot, however setting up all of the environment seemed considerably faster. Keeping in mind that the end result of the linux load seemed to build but did not function.

    Any ideas?
  • by WatertonMan ( 550706 ) on Thursday November 07, 2002 @07:28PM (#4621224)
    You should only use UFS with directories you KNOW are going to be for Unix apps only. (Say a directory for Apache, for instance) While HFS+ has many problems, that isn't the problem.

    Here's a simple test. Copy a directory of 1000 files in the Finder and then do it with the shell. In theory the same actual OS operations are going on. However the Finder will be dramatically slower. Of course intellectually copying that many files with a GUI is silly to begin with. But we'll ignore that for now.

    Copying, while dramatically better than 10.0 and 10.1, is still the achilles heel of the Finder. It also doesn't play nice with displaying directories with large number of files either. Under 10.1 this was enough to keep me from developing under OSX. It was simply too slow to switch between the Finder and my compiler. Under older versions I'm not sure that copying was multithreaded either. Which honestly was an egregious error and I'm surrpised it took so long to fix.

    With the current Finder things are markedly better. Not perfect, mind you. As I mentioned elsewhere, programmers and Unix geeks ought to try Path Finder [], which is a Finder replacement. I've not run speed tests on copying, so I can't speak to that. However it has many features that the Finder doesn't.

    Personally though if you are playing with large numbers of files you should learn the shell. Copying files using wildcards and the like is frequently far more efficient and speedy.

  • by tim1724 ( 28482 ) on Thursday November 07, 2002 @07:42PM (#4621341) Homepage Journal
    Haven't Linux and Windows used acclerated hardware video drivers for drawing their GUI for many years? I'm talking about Windows 95 era, possibly even WFWG 3.11. I'm sorry if it only takes a $30 "hotshot" graphics card to accelerate the rendering of a perfectly usable 2-D GUI in X or Win32, but them's the breaks.

    yes, they use 2D hardware acceleration for drawing. So did Mac OS 9 (and 8, and 7) .. Quartz Extreme is something completely different. It doesn't accelerate drawing, it accelerates compositing

    Quartz has two parts:

    • Quartz 2D: This does the drawing of 2D primitives (lines, rectangles, bezier curves, etc.) in windows... it might be accelerated, it might not be. I'm not sure. Given that Aqua uses mostly Bezier curves and bitmaps, plus the fact that it supports transparency and floating point coordinates, I don't think most 2D hardware would do much to accelerate drawing. (standard 2D hardware doesn't usually do bezier curves, floating point coordinates, or transparency)
    • Quartz Compositor: This is the part of Quartz which composits all your windows together for display on the screen. Remember that windows are transparent in Quartz, so a particular pixel on the screen may need to be calculated from the cumulative effects of drawing multiple semi-transparent windows, drop shadows, etc. This is slow in software, but this is exactly the sort of thing that 3D hardware does really well. So on a graphics card supported by Quartz Extreme (recent ATI or nVidia cards with 2x or better AGP) this is all done in hardware. Quartz 2D draws into windows the same as it always did, but instead of having Quartz Compositor composite the windows in software, Quartz Extreme just passes the window contents as textures and passes the window coordinates as the vertices of rectangles, and lets the hardware render your desktop as a bunch of texture-mapped polygons :)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 07, 2002 @07:48PM (#4621372)
    OS 9 is fast if you like to do one thing at a time.

    If you like to have mp3s playing while browsing the web, use OS X...
  • by WatertonMan ( 550706 ) on Thursday November 07, 2002 @07:56PM (#4621425)
    Whoops. Sorry for not hitting preview and screwing up the link. Java 1.4.1 for OSX [] Note that you must be a ADC member. But registration is free. To register go to Apple Developer [] Anyway Apple has been working hard to improve the speed of Swing.
  • by tim1724 ( 28482 ) on Thursday November 07, 2002 @08:02PM (#4621457) Homepage Journal
    I also don't like that Mac has Java 1.3, and from what I can tell, you are fixed at that until they decided that they will upgrade it in their own release, regardless of the fact that there is 1.4x out for sometime now, which actually has a lot of things that some of us need and use.

    I don't think anyone would complain if Sun or someone else would release an implementation of Java for Mac OS. No one is stopping them. Just because Apple supplies a JVM doesn't mean that no one else could. If you want someone else (such as Sun) to release a JVM for Mac OS, then go bug them about it.

    Apple currently has a Java 1.4.x release in testing. Registered developers can download it free from Apple's web site. Just go to the developer login page [] and sign up for a free membership. Why did it take so long for them to get 1.4.x ready? Well, from what I understand they decided to rewrite the Swing implementation from scratch (in Cocoa rather than Carbon) which understandably took some time.
  • by mellon ( 7048 ) on Thursday November 07, 2002 @08:13PM (#4621535) Homepage
    I bought one of the 500MHz iBooks shortly before the 600Mhz iBooks were released (D'oh!), and it was a bit slow until I stuffed an extra 512M into it. Since then, I've been using it for development work, lots of compiles, lots of testing, and it is just great. My G4 tower is faster, but I do not find myself wishing the iBook was faster when I'm on the road (which is a *lot*, unfortunately - what I find myself wanting is more pixels. :')
  • by mellon ( 7048 ) on Thursday November 07, 2002 @08:21PM (#4621577) Homepage
    The one time I do notice a lack of zippiness on a Mac is when I thrash the cache. Unfortunely, OSX seems to have a unified buffer+page cache, which means that I/O and virtual memory compete with each other head to head for physical memory. So if you have an app that runs through a gigabyte file, all the programs that weren't running at that time wind up swapped out, and it takes a while to get them back.

    This is something Apple could probably fix with some intelligent tuning - it's exactly the same problem Sun had in the early versions of SunOS 4. I do hope they fix it soon - it's a bit of a drag.
  • by jcostom ( 14735 ) on Thursday November 07, 2002 @08:21PM (#4621579) Homepage
    How about Medal of Honor: Allied Assault? That's pretty new, and a great game... How about Q3? Not really new, but still mighty fun. How about Max Payne?

    CompUSA [] lists 115 available game titles. Surely some of those would be enough to satisfy you.

  • by vi-rocks ( 611108 ) on Thursday November 07, 2002 @08:33PM (#4621637) Homepage

    Macs are based on Objective-C - that's REALLY slow.

    Correction: It is Mac OS X that is based on Objective-C. Linux/PPC systems are (all kernel, all Xfree86 and most of server applications) written on C.

    Correction for the correction. The operating system is written in C/C++. The Mac OS X Cocoa Framework is written for Objective-C (and can implement Objective-C++ and Java).

  • by Psychic Burrito ( 611532 ) on Thursday November 07, 2002 @08:34PM (#4621647)
    I'm using OS X for half a year now, after having used previous Mac OS's for nearly 15 years. Having said that, I think I can comment a bit about these "sluggishness problems".

    Mac OS X is definitely less responsive that OS9 in some respects, but they can be (and will most likely will be) fixed in a future version. Here are some ideas:
    - Bringing up a printer dialog on Chimera 0.6 (G4/400) takes roughly 10 seconds. During this time, the OS calculates what it should display, inluding looking for printers, before it shows the dialog. When it is done thinking about it, it finally displays the dialog. During the waiting, you can use other apps, you can sometimes even use other windows of the same app, but you can't interact with your current window. A possible improvement would be to just show the dialog so that the user has control over it again - even though it has not yet finished thinking about it. If there are elements that still need some calculation, show the element greyed out and display a "still calculating on this element" pic besides it

    - Preview (the app that displays PDFs and pictures). When you press the down arrow for the next page, it take the app up to 5 seconds to display the next page. During this waiting time, there is no visual indication that the program has aknowledged your command, neither that it is actually busy, nor how long it will take this time. This can of course be easily changed by informing the user

    - Finder: Bringing up an info dialog by pressing Cmd-I makes you wait for 2-3 seconds while the info dialog is internally built, then displayed at once. Again, this could be displayed immediately with some infos missing, after which the missing info is calculated and added.

    - Resizing (my favorite :-) The old way in OS 9 was more responsive because it just displayed an outline when you dragged your mouse. As soon as you let it go, the resize was performed once. Even if this took a second, nobody would mind because during the time when the user wanted feedback ("how much will my window cover") the outline was instantaneous. The OS X way certainly looks nicer, but when you wait a second until the window is updated *while dragging with the mouse*, it doesn't feel responsive at all.

    Well, that's about it.
  • by nachoman ( 87476 ) on Thursday November 07, 2002 @08:38PM (#4621671)
    I have almost the same configuration but the G3 600MHz iBook. For the most part the only slow things are graphic related. If I had a better video card and could run QuartzExtreme, then I probably wouldn't have much of a problem.

    Window resizing is slow. It always has been. Don't know why but it just is. Programs load fairly quickly though.

    The key is to have at least 256 MB of ram. If not, you're swapping as soon as you boot. When I went from 128 to 384, I noticed a huge performance gain.
  • by theLOUDroom ( 556455 ) on Thursday November 07, 2002 @08:38PM (#4621673)
    When performing calculations, applying Photoshop filters, etc Macs are just as fast or faster than P4s of double the clock rate.
    The is an unsubstantiated b.s. statement.
    Check this page [] to see a real comparison.
    Be sure to note the the macs used are dual processor while the pcs used are not. Macs aren't horrible as far as speed goes, but do make them out to be something they aren't.
  • Re:Answer to title. (Score:5, Informative)

    by be-fan ( 61476 ) on Thursday November 07, 2002 @08:43PM (#4621704)
    Actually, the kernel is slow. In lmbench (which measures the speed of basic UNIX kernel operations) OS X is half the speed of Linux. And the Velocity engine would be great...if the G4 had enough front side bus bandwidth to actually feed it. The AltiVec units themselves are very high quality, but because the average P4 has 3x the memory bandwidth (and streaming SIMD operations are *very* memory bandwidth dependent) it can't shine in the current G4.
  • by autopr0n ( 534291 ) on Thursday November 07, 2002 @08:47PM (#4621731) Homepage Journal
    They wanted to know if MacOS seemed slow to the users on mid-range macs. Not if it would be 'theoretically fast' based on the technology.

    Basically what they really need to know is 'interface latency'. How long between when you click and when something happens. Things like Vector engines are not going to help this.

    While the P4/Athlon and (I assume) G4 can all run more then one instruction at once (not just one) that's irrelevant, what is being asked here is if the OS is slow for the hardware it's running on. Win95 would be blazing fast on a p3-500 with 128 megs of ram, but XP would run like a hog on the same machine.

    Since I seriously doubt anyone has any kind of actual measurements this is basically going to be nothing more then a page-view generating flamewar on slashdot.
  • Wrong comparison... (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 07, 2002 @08:57PM (#4621783)
    I see a lot of people here saying "Slow? No way, it's much faster than MacOS 9". Well, that's not the point. All that proves is that OS 9 was terribly slow. This article is about OS X compared to Windows 2000 / XP or Linux, on a similarly priced machine. And in my experience, OS X is significantly slower than any of those, except possibly XP with all the bells & whistles turned on. But in XP you can pretty much turn it all off, in OS X it's not so simple. True, version .2 helped, but it still feels "laggy" sometimes (for ex., my 500 MHz Pentium III loads MS Word in 3 seconds; on the Mac it takes about 10).
  • Re:Answer to title. (Score:1, Informative)

    by kraksmoka ( 561333 ) <> on Thursday November 07, 2002 @09:05PM (#4621826) Homepage Journal
    are you kidding? they are made for newbies. macs require about a twentieth of the support that PCs do. i support a design house's mac's on a contract basis. they have over 150 of them. that translates into about 5 hours of my worktime every six months to keep the operation running at full capacity. they have 5 guys to support 50 windows machines and a few servers. let me tell you, all the designers know about Macs is that they turn them on and do their work, then go home. i'm not even sure they know how to turn them off.

    Trying to figure out how to install and run apps under MacOS X is a lot more complicated than Windows.

    this says to me that you have completely spoken out of your buttocks. most mac installs follow this procedure: step 1) insert cd step 2) copy the application into your favorite place for those things step 3) mess with your new app.

    call it a year cowboy

  • Just add RAM (Score:4, Informative)

    by rwa2 ( 4391 ) on Thursday November 07, 2002 @09:17PM (#4621897) Homepage Journal
    My wife's ibook 700 was pretty unbearably slow with OS X 10.2 . Blowing an extra $125 on 512MB of RAM fixed it real quick, though. It's a shame they come with 128MB standard, that really isn't enough.
  • by jafac ( 1449 ) on Thursday November 07, 2002 @09:20PM (#4621914) Homepage

    cp in the terminal is NOT the same as a copy in the finder.

    cp does not respect resource forks.

    You need to use something like ditto in the terminal to properly copy HFS+ data.
  • by grammar nazi ( 197303 ) on Thursday November 07, 2002 @09:25PM (#4621953) Journal
    I agree with your comment 2nd Post!.

    I have some specialized uses for my 667MHz G4 Powerbook, so let me add my thoughts...

    For 99% of what I do, OS X is fast enough. I'm a part-time graduate student in quantitative finance, and I used to run a lot of financial simulations in Octave in OS 10.1 and Redhat 7.3 (P3 550MHz, 512MB). I found the G4 to consistently be twice as fast as the P3. My Octave option pricing programs would consistently run in 1/2 the time on the laptop as they did on my P3. The only time that the P3 had any significant advantage was when there was a lot of file i/o in the octave programs, where my SCSI drives would become all stars. These estimates are based on measurements built into the Octave program.

    For excel, however, my Powerbook is weak. For my current job, we run a lot of Pricing models in excel, and something as simple as solver crawls on my PowerBook. I would say that solver takes 10 times as long to find a solution on the G4 as it did on my P3 (this is a guess, I didn't measure the time).

    For *everything* else, my powerbook shines! I know that it doesn't say much to compare an old P3 to newer mac, but the P3 was good enough for my programming/graphics/needs and the

    I have to cut this message short because my roommate wants to go to the bar. If I get any good replies, then I'll answser

  • by Arctech ( 538041 ) on Thursday November 07, 2002 @11:20PM (#4622634) Journal
    "...Macs are just as fast or faster than P4s of double the clock rate."

    For this person and others who are still under the impression that Macs "smoke Pentiums" on things like After Effects and Photoshop, there are some benchmarks out currently that you'll find belief-shattering. tures/cw_aeshowdown.htm [] tures/cw_macvspc2.htm []

  • by Dopefish_1 ( 217994 ) <slashdot@thedope ... minus physicist> on Thursday November 07, 2002 @11:33PM (#4622702) Homepage
    control + pageup or pagedown
  • by romulus15 ( 238862 ) <> on Friday November 08, 2002 @12:13AM (#4622931)
    Having owned a Titanium PowerBook G4 550 for around a year now, and having used OS X, I find it extreamly slow, even compared to a 500 mhz x86 machine. Now going from my AMD Athlon 2200+ with 512MB ram to the TiBook is getting to be painful.

    However, I've also used YellowDog Linux for a while on the same TiBook, and it runs quite a bit faster.

    I'm waiting for my copy of X.2 to come so I can give it a try. I'm also runing with 256 MB of RAM, which I'm going to upgrade to 512 tomorrow which should help quite a bit as well. From what I understand (correct me if I'm wrong) but don't PowerBooks use 4200 RPM hard drives? That's a huge performance loss over normal 7200 RPM desktop drives. I'm sure, as is Apple's tradition, that it's loading way too much at startup to gain speed in what they dicided to be "the most commonly used applications". Remember watching the elder Mac's as their extensions filled one line and then almost filled another as default? All those eat up ram.

    Just looking at 'top' in X.1 shows 98 threads, 38 processes 36 of which are sleeping. 195MB of physical memory are being used currently and CPU usage bounces between 12% and 55% just typing this message. Currently, I'm running one IE window, typing this, AIM (main window only) and a terminal window running top. Personally, I think these statictics are pretty bad. There's no way I should be using that much resources doing essentially nothing.

    But, even with all that complaining, I still like my Mac and I'm not the least bit sorry I bought it. Mind you I like my PC better, but I love speed, OCing and modding and the pc is the way to go for that.
  • by Jherico ( 39763 ) <> on Friday November 08, 2002 @01:06AM (#4623187) Homepage
    I love this technical discussion of why the Mac is considered to be slow but actually isn't. The asker is probably not as interested in a detailed technical minutae as the user experience.

    I'm a professional software developer that had to port a large body of code from Windows to Mac. I've also done a signifigant amount of work on *nixes. The Finder interface in 10.0 and 10.1 is unbearably slow. I haven't had enough experience with 10.2 yet to make a call. The problem seems to be twofold, poor UI, and poor implementation.

    You have to understand where I'm coming from. I'm no fan of Microsoft's practices or the stability or security of their code. And I am a big fan of OS X technology. A (mostly) user friendly operating system backended to a unix system, with all the unix tools and features I love. Plus I'm not railing on the hardware architecture or the OS core. Codewarrior on OS X beats the pants off Visual Studio on Windows in just about every category. But OS X's Finder, its front door as it were to someone like me, has some serious lacks.

    I'm pretty fast in Windows explorer, I have to be navigating between hundreds of source files. I've learned just about all the shortcut keys and my hands move to wherever is fastest to accomplish a given task, mouse or keyboard. When I started working on the mac I was frustrated by the amount of mouse effort I had to expend. If my hands are on the keyboard and I need to do some UI navigation I don't want to have to use the mouse. I call that poor UI. I know there are probably keys there I don't know about, but they certainly aren't readily apparent in the help files. The tab between controls functionality windows has seems to be largely missing. I'm not incapable of learning new shortcut commands, I just need to be able to find out what they are without installing 4 third party applications that add them.

    The seoncd part is that the finder is just damn slow. I don't care that its shiny and round and scales perfectly. I have a ~500Mhz G4 and thats more than enough power to make sure that simple tasks like moving files around and editing source code should never EVER have a perceptible delay. Sure, maybe Windows XP might be slow on an equivalently powered PC, but you know what? I can turn off all the UI crap that comes with XP. Not so with OS X. Its about as customizable as your grandmothers sofa, the one with the plastic covering you're not allowed to sit on.

  • Re:Answer to title. (Score:3, Informative)

    by tshak ( 173364 ) on Friday November 08, 2002 @01:12AM (#4623207) Homepage
    Actually, YOU are believing in the Mhz myth just as much as everyone else. Mhz doesn't mean much of anything - somewhat regardless of the pipeline as well (branch prediction can make up for longer pipelines, for example). What does matter is real world performance, and in certain area's G4's are way behind Athlon's and P4's. Altivec is great, but only helps in very specific area's (Like a Guassian Blur) but due to poor memory bandwidth can't be used in larger, more practical uses.

    Finally, The Man Mr. Carmack has this to say about G4's, how a P3 _can_ be faster in certain area's, and how Altivec is not relevant for apps like games (although on x86 SIMD is very important for games). Read more here [].

    BTW: I think Apple has done an incredible job with it's hardware of late. I'm a Windows guy myself but for normal "desktop" users I've been continually recommending the G4 iMac's as they are great machines. G4's are fast enough for many applications and I don't feel that Mac's feel slow at all (assuming OS 10.1 or 10.2). However, I do know that when I want speed (eg: for games or 3D rendering) I'll go x86 for almost twice the speed at a fraction of the price.
  • Re:Answer to title. (Score:3, Informative)

    by be-fan ( 61476 ) on Friday November 08, 2002 @01:20AM (#4623234)
    It isn't old code.
    Yes it is old code. Mach 2.x, mostly 4.4 BSD. How much improvement do you think the Apple engineers could have improved on that code base given Apple's situation before OS X was released? Of course, code doesn't rot like wood, but machine performance characteristics are very different now than they were when the code powering OS X was designed. Take a look at the Linux kernel code. There are all sorts of optimizations that depend on the general performance characteristics of the machine. These have changed, and as a result the OS X code isn't optimal for modern systems. Beyond that, there is the fact that huge improvements in VM design and microkernel performance have been introduced since Mach was designed. OS X largely lacks the advantage of those improvements. The fact that OS X is slower isn't in question here. The benchmarks are nice and simple. What I'm doing here is explaining *why* the benchmarks as are they are.

    Second the BSD kernel is in the same address space as Mach and is compiled into the same file.
    Doesn't change the fact that the layering involves a layer of redundency and abstraction that hurts performance.

    Further, what version of xnu you were you guys testing with? xnu has gone through a massive amount of development.
    10.1.5. Not 10.2, as mac-heads say when I point it out, but if you'd read the changelogs, you'd realize that the GUI was the focus of 10.2 development, not the kernel.
    You can find numbers here
  • Re:Answer to title. (Score:5, Informative)

    by lemkebeth ( 568887 ) on Friday November 08, 2002 @01:58AM (#4623393)

    :rolls eyes:

    How did this clueless post get modded up?

    Anyway you said:

    Yes it is old code. Mach 2.x, mostly 4.4 BSD.

    No it isn't that version of Mach. Apple switched versions of Mach (3.0 OSF I think it was). The BSD code is much newer than what NeXT used.

    You also wrote:

    10.1.5. Not 10.2, as mac-heads say when I point it out, but if you'd read the changelogs, you'd realize that the GUI was the focus of 10.2 development, not the kernel.

    They did make significant changes to the kernel. I'm on the Darwin list.

    Finally you wrote:

    Doesn't change the fact that the layering involves a layer of redundency and abstraction that hurts performance.

    Yes it does. having the BSD kernel in the same file, the same address space, etc, DOES increase performance.

    I will say this again, so it gets through your Linux biased skull, that the version of Mach is not 2.5 (the version NeXT used). Hell it isn't even the CMU version anymore.

  • Re:Answer to title. (Score:3, Informative)

    by Halo1 ( 136547 ) on Friday November 08, 2002 @02:29PM (#4626803)
    The results are right here []. Note that these tests were performed before the low-latency and pre-emption patches were available, so things may be (a lot) better on the Linux front by now.

    Another interesting tidbit to read (use login/pass "archives", without the quotes) is this [].

"For a male and female to live continuously together is... biologically speaking, an extremely unnatural condition." -- Robert Briffault