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OS X Businesses Operating Systems Apple

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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  • by Gabey ( 18874 ) <> on Thursday November 07, 2002 @05:44PM (#4620002) Homepage
    I recently installed OSX on my wife's iBook (366Mhz, 160MB RAM) previously had OS9.x on it, and it crawled. Neither of us would even want to use it, it was so bad.
    After installing OSX, it's runs amazingly well, and not just for the eyecandy, etc. Compared to other OS's, I would say it's right about on target...sure, it's a little sluggish opening Photoshop or having multiple browser windows open, but most 366Mhz machines are.

    I'm kind of surprised to see this question at all...OSX has struck me as very fast, all things considered.

  • os x, linux (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Aniquel ( 151133 ) on Thursday November 07, 2002 @05:48PM (#4620044)
    I use both os x and linux pretty extensively. I've used linux on macs as well (yellowdog and linuxppc). Linux *is* faster, from a user experience point of view and from a systems standpoint - However, this is on older (400mhz) G4's. The new iMacs (and by extension the new PowerMacs) are *much* snappier, but they would be in linux too. Harkening back to a post from a few days earlier, os x has about 85-90% the raw speed of linux on identical hardware. Considering the UI and application base, that's good enough for me. Besides, if you wanted straight-up hardcore power, you wouldn't be using a ppc. You'd be using a .357.
  • Re:HAhah (Score:4, Insightful)

    by johnpaul191 ( 240105 ) on Thursday November 07, 2002 @05:49PM (#4620072) Homepage
    still waiting for the windows users to post? heh

    i am running an older mac... G4 400mghz running 10.2 with a gig of ram..... i think the pokeyness IS application specific for the most part. i upgraded my Rage128 card to a 7500 when i hopped to 10.2 and noticed it handles the aqua interface a lot better. there are also little things to do to zip up the OS (like under dock prefs switch from "genie" to "scale"), turn off dock magnification, don't use a 10 megapixel picture as your desktop.

    obviously it's not as efficient as a very tweaked Linux or BSD box (with fast innards), but as an out of the box OS it's very usable. as always it's better running on newer machines, but i can use it on an older crt iMac G3 300mghz and not bang my head against the table. you might not want to do intense av work on that machine, but for day to day tasks (which iMacs were intended for) it will do just fine.
  • by banky ( 9941 ) <gregg.neurobashing@com> on Thursday November 07, 2002 @05:55PM (#4620161) Homepage Journal
    10.0.0 Public Beta was barely usable, in every way. It was beyond slow. It was almost a toy. The genie effect took forever.

    10.0.0 release was slow. It was a pain.

    10.1.0 was improved; my machines are quite old, and it showed.

    10.1.5 was improved; as the last of the 10.1 branch, it showed improvement.

    10.2 brought a noticeable improvement. I wasn't spurting my shorts but I could not recommend it to others without hesitation, with the exception of the guys that buy a new CPU every time AMD or Intel comes out with one, because the old was one "just too slow". Whatever.

    Is everyone seeing the trend? Getting better all the time. I forgot who did the presentation, but the quote was along the line of, "We have to improve in software because we can't trust Motorola to speed up the hardware". Each new release boosts performance on the same hardware with no noticeable new bugs or problems (other than what Apple introduces on purpose, like breaking LiteSwitch w/ 10.2).

    In short: it's sad that the unacceptable performance of older versions, esp. betas, has tainted a great OS with the moniker "slow".
  • by PineHall ( 206441 ) on Thursday November 07, 2002 @05:56PM (#4620178) 066/1028_bar.html []

    Moshe Bar says: "The fact that OS X needs to improve in VM and I/O handling is understandable given its relatively young age." That is his opinion from testing XServe. (Note there was things he could have done to improve the test, but on a whole it was a good test.)

  • Not really. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Jobe_br ( 27348 ) <bdruth@gmail.c3.14om minus pi> on Thursday November 07, 2002 @05:57PM (#4620202)
    It all depends on what you're doing and how much you're doing of it. At work, I have a Dell Optiplex GX150 with a 1GHz PIII processor, if I'm not mistaken. This system has 256MB of RAM and runs Win2K SP3.

    Typically, if I have 4 apps open (Outlook, SciTE*, Phoenix or Moz, PuTTY*) - when I launch IE, its unbearably slow - the screen redraws visibly and the system is generally unresponsive for the ~5 seconds it takes IE to launch. Not sure what causes this - 256MB of RAM is obviously part of the problem, but the swap file shouldn't be that slow, either.

    Recently (this past Tues.) I was at home working on a few different things - ripping CDs to AIFF w/ Audion 3.0.2 (in batch mode), backing up 10GB of data from a ~19GB partition on a FW drive to a 8x4x32 CD-RW in an external FW enclosure (Dantz Retrospect Express), editing PHP files in BBEdit (6.5.2), updating site files in Dreamweaver MX whenever my partner needed something updated, checking mail via Chimera/Mozilla using Horde/IMP (web mail access), maintaining a connection to an FTP site (authenticated) and SSH site (publickey) for files I was editing in BBEdit and for Apache log files I was copying down to run through the analyzer which was also running and serving out log stats to two clients who wanted temporary stats on certain logs (not available on our main server). Summary was also doing DNS lookups and crunching log file entries in the background while everything else was going on.

    Now - was my computer slow? Well, Chimera/Moz seems to have a bug in entering data into text areas when the system is under high-load - that was unbearable. Otherwise, besides having to wait a couple seconds to switch desktops (using, other apps responded just fine. The multi-tasking on OS X is first rate, it really is. I managed to rip through ~15 CDs that day, in about an 8 hr time frame, while I had an amazingly productive day otherwise.

    I'm running a classic iMac DV at 400MHz with a G3 system, unaccelerated by Quartz Extreme, as my AGP card only has 8MB of video RAM. If I can be productive on a system like this (and I have a pretty low ctrl-alt-del threshold, as a former prof used to call it) - then you ought to be just fine with one of the 15" iMacs running at ~700MHz with a G4 processor (which has Altivec - amazing, don't ignore that) and a few other enhancements over my machine.

    Slow is all in the eye of the beholder. I know people that always use the fastest of the fastest machines from Intel when they come out. People like that will never be satisfied. I've had this iMac for almost 3 yrs now and every release of OS X has run faster (noticeably). Menus pop out faster, Finder responds faster, file searches execute faster, applications launch faster - the works. I look forward to my next hardware upgrade, just like the next guy, but for being productive - I can kick ass on my machine, and I give a lot of credit to OS X. My productivity is limited in various fashions on my Win2K machine at work - crashes cause some delays, but more minor annoyances cause far more delays.

  • by d3xt3r ( 527989 ) on Thursday November 07, 2002 @06:07PM (#4620324)
    As far as the underlying OS is concerned, OS X is fast. It stacks up well against Linux running on the same hardware (see previous Slashdot story).

    Their Java implementation rocks. Cocoa applications are fast. The Aqua UI is snappy, epecially considering what it's doing.

    Consider this: Aqua renders everything in PDF. It make perfect use of anti aliasing, shadows, fading, zooming and window effects. It does what KDE, Gnome and Windows users only dream of being able to do. And at what price? In general, the UI is as snappy as MS Windows or X-Windows. Acutally, in some senses it's faster and it is stable. In my experience, this GUI is just as fast as Windows and KDE and Gnome, while doing a hell of a lot more than any of these other interfaces do to paint a pretty picture.

    OS X isn't slow. Aqua isn't slow. PPC chips aren't slow. This OS and GUI kick ass.

    If you are a Mac OS X user and feel the GUI is slow, I have to two recommendations:

    • Buy more RAM.
    • Move the swap file to a swap partition.

    Both of these help immensely with any speed issues you may be having. RAM definitely makes the biggest improvements.

  • by BMonger ( 68213 ) on Thursday November 07, 2002 @06:09PM (#4620354)
    I happen to have a 15" iMac. 800 mhz G4, 768 MB of RAM, running Mac OS X 10.2.1. Anyhow... here's the scoop on me.

    I had an Athlon 1.x Ghz up until last December with all the bells and whistles a gamer could reasonably want. XP Home started freaking out on me and after a while and many calls to Microsoft I basically determined it was beyond repair for me. I've been using computers and building my own since probably 94-95 or so so I should've been able to fix anything reasonable. I'm pretty sure ultimately it was a hardware problem but I was fed up with Windows anyhow so I just sold the whole thing except the motherboard/processor (everything else worked fine).

    No more computer for me I said.

    Then I saw the iMac. It had style. Maybe person X doesn't like it because it looks like a lamp or a funny hat or whatever, but it's certainly unique and has some style. And I knew it had Unix underneath that pretty screen. I had tried various releases of Linux but it seemed like after the many days of tweaking would ultimately end in me booting into Windows anyway. No point in that. But the iMac came with Unix (BSD, Darwin, whatever you wanna call it, that's not the point) installed on it.

    So I bought it. And it arrived. I took it outta the box and was even more impressed with the real thing. Within minutes I was literally up and online and everything worked. I really was amazed.

    The above is mainly to establish that I used to use Windows, dabbled in Linux, and am recently a novice Mac freak. So now more onto the question at hand.

    Of course all the iApps run well. Not a problem there. I have never ever ever ever ever had a coaster CD or DVD from this machine. This happened quite frequently with my PC. While burning a CD under Mac OS X I've been able to browse the internet, watch quicktime, etc no problem even. I *think* once I even played an OpenGL game to see if I could make it make a coaster. No dice though. This makes me happy. A coaster for a CD isn't that big a deal but coaster DVD's at $4-$5 a pop can stink.

    Why do I have 768 MB of RAM in it? To run Windows 2000 with Virtual PC. Windows 2000 does run slow. It works but it runs slow. For my correspondence classes I'm taking right now I need to program in VC++ so I went and got Virtual PC. VC++ is the only thing I use Virtual PC for.

    I recently purchased Macromedia Flash MX. Works like a charm. I don't notice it being slow in the least.

    Exporting DVD's from iDVD can take a while. But I don't really have a comparison on the PC so that's probably not too helpful.

    I've rendered some Bryce here and there and it doesn't take any longer than on my Athlon machine that I used to have. I won't say it's faster but I know it's not slower.

    Games that my machine meets or exceeds the specs for work just like they did on the PC. The Mac does have games... you can get them from and :)

    Encoding to MP3 doesn't take any longer. Converting movie files takes the same amount of time.

    I dunno. Overall I'm impressed with OS X. It took me a while to realize that it wasn't the computer I was happy with but it was the OS that I was happy with. If you live close to an Apple store I'd reccommend checking them out for yourself or finding a friend that'll admit to having one.

    As far as speed goes I think they're decently on par with x86 machines. They might be a tad slower. But unless every single day you're going to render video, does it really matter? All I usually do is browse the internet, download stuff, play the occasional game, IM, etc. If you want to play every new game that comes out I'd say get a PC because you can upgrade that easier long term I think. Or if you daily intend to do super intensive tasks. But for most users any small slowdown that a OS X does is worth the benefit of which in my opinion, is a better OS.

    It's like I told my friend the other day... I might have a *insert crappy but dependable car name* and you might have a *insert fast but non-dependable car name*... but odds are, neither of us are gonna very much over highway speeds so who cares if you can go twice as fast as I am if you never will.
  • by x mani x ( 21412 ) <> on Thursday November 07, 2002 @06:11PM (#4620373) Homepage
    I had a G4/533 with a gig of RAM. General performance is just fine, non graphical applications like Apache, gzip, etc would have performance up to par with the same software on any other OS and/or platform.

    The main problem was the graphics rendering. I haven't tried Quartz Extreme, but on 10.1, things like scrolling in Mozilla (this includes Chimera) or IE were just sluggish. Scrolling a web page, in the Intel world, should only be sluggish if you're using a Pentium 100 with an non-accelerated graphics card.

    Resizing a window in OSX has the same issues as scrolling. The last time a Windows or Linux user experienced sluggishness and frame skipping when resizing a simple file manager or browser window was like ... 1995.

    I think what OSX needs is a means to bypassing the graphics pipeline for certain operations. One way I did this was by loading up IE for OS9 in OSX ... it doesn't anti-alias/scale/whatever, and it scrolls and resizes fast. Although this feature might not be needed if QE absolutely solves the above problems. But wait, my G4's Rage 128 pro wouldn't work with QE.

    The kind of UI sluggishness I describe is a really hard pill to swallow for a traditional PC user like me. I switched, but after a year ended up switching back. It's just like the time I bought an SGI, once I got over the fact that "wow, I own an SGI workstation!", it quickly became a cool purple doorstop. Once you get over having "real" transparent terminals, all you're left with is a slow user interface. Maybe OSX is a couple years ahead of its time?

  • by mykle666 ( 623911 ) on Thursday November 07, 2002 @06:11PM (#4620375)
    I use OS X on a 667mhz TiBook after years of frustration with X-Win & Linux. Here's my take on raw OS X performance.

    1) if you open a shell and start ripping or gzipping or compiling, it's plenty fast enough. Building programs from source archives (via Fink) is plenty fast. The window manager is superfast. Most everything is fast enough that I don't get hung up on its speed.

    2) Once you use up free memory with a bunch of open apps and start swapping, performance degrades a bit, but it's still useable. this is pretty similar to X/Linux behaviour. However, there are a lot of huge heavyweight apps on OS X, so using up free memory can happen. I usually have Mail, OmniWeb, SSH-Agent, Stickies, Terminal and iTunes open even before i've started "working". If I add in Photoshop, Illustrator 10, and Preview, i'm on the edge.

    3) There are a couple of gawdawfully slow applications out there. apple's iCal calendar program is beautifully designed but it's drastically slower than any of the other apple iApps! I think it must be written in visual basic or something. This is not the OS's fault, but it sure behooves Apple to fix this sort of problem because it reflects poorly on them. The apple address book is also kinda slow, and the new iSync public beta is way too slow. (hopefully they'll address that in the final release.) MS Office X is ultra-slow and a piece of crap to boot! Fortunately i can revert to running Office 98 in os 9 emulation, which is both faster and, frankly, better designed and more useful software.

    4) Windows has always put a premium on a quick UI, and it's one of the things they've done right in the past; but i have a Sony Vaio running Windows XP (Xcrement-Polish) with the same amount of memory as my mac and a "faster" processor, and it's a slow puppy. Slow to open a folder, slow to launch an app, slow to shut down, slow to connect to the network. Slow all over, in fact. The original poster of this thread admitted that he had to go in and hotrod XP in order to get decent performance out of it. that's comparing apples to lemons. out of the box, OS X is faster.

  • Yes, it's slow. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by BitHive ( 578094 ) on Thursday November 07, 2002 @06:11PM (#4620385) Homepage
    Our college just replaced the original iMacs in our general purpose computer labs with new flat panel iMacs, running OS X. Each machine has 384MB of RAM. The machines are beautiful, but slow! Kerberos logins take from 40 seconds to two minutes, applications will bounce around in the dock for an eternity before launching, sometimes they keep bouncing higher and higher and never launch. Stopping in to check your email can be a 10 minute commitment. The UI also feels laggy, and does anyone else feel like its novelty is wearing off?

    I haven't dismissed OS X yet. When it's matured as much as Windows 2K has, then I think it will really shine.

  • by daeley ( 126313 ) on Thursday November 07, 2002 @06:14PM (#4620419) Homepage
    I beg to differ. A significant percentage of the Mac user population screams if somebody in Cupertino doesn't wipe his/her hands after going to the bathroom, much less when Apple 'does something wrong.' Many longtime Mac users are among the harshest critics of Apple, not unlike the way some family members or friends feel they have carte blanche to bag on others in the group, doing so with a vehemence that would surprise you.

    Of course, they will defend the platform to the death against outside attack, but that's something different.
  • by Pootie Tang ( 414915 ) on Thursday November 07, 2002 @06:14PM (#4620429)
    What, did that west coast move cost more than expected?

    This is the second flamebait ask slashdot in as many days. Just like the "OSS or commercial more expensive?" thing from yesterday, this is way too generic a question.

    What do we have for tomorrow's ask slashdot? Better color: red or blue?

  • Fair comparisons (Score:4, Insightful)

    by srussell ( 39342 ) on Thursday November 07, 2002 @06:15PM (#4620438) Homepage Journal
    IMO, there are two ways this can be answered without getting too mired in sujectivity.

    Buy a Mac. Run some apps. Install Yellow Dog on it. Run some apps.

    Buy a Mac. Spend the exact same amount of money on the best PC you can get. Run some apps on the Mac. Run some apps on the PC under your favorite operating system.

    Personally, I think #2 is perfectly fair, since Apple stopped allowing clones to license the OS for third-party hardware, and I think #2 is what most people are complaining about WRT speed. I doubt that most people get to the second half of #1 -- if you're buying Mac hardware, you're doing it to run Mac software.

  • by Logic Bomb ( 122875 ) on Thursday November 07, 2002 @06:18PM (#4620476)
    Have you considered the speed of the drive and the differences between HFS+ and either FAT32 or NTFS? While I'm sure Finder code has something to do with it, HFS has always been slow for dealing with large quantities of files. Perhaps if someone tried this using MacOS X with a UFS volume...
  • by Van Halen ( 31671 ) on Thursday November 07, 2002 @06:20PM (#4620508) Homepage Journal
    Something I've noticed is that there are very widely varying accounts of OS X's speed on various hardware. To some people it's unbearable, while to others it's snappy. Let's try to take a look at some of the factors:
    • Opinion. Yes, most Mac lovers will tend to rate OS X as faster than Mac bashers will. Part of it is blind allegiance to or against the cause. The other part, I think, is that UI responsiveness doesn't seem to matter to many folks beyond a certain point. So what if your window resizes in 0.2 seconds rather than 0.00005? Yeah, if you sit there resizing windows nonstop, it'll hurt, but for most people that's not a big deal. What makes OS X great for many of us is that it allows us to work faster overall, regardless of whether certain things take a second or fraction thereof longer than on other platforms.

      Along these lines, some people can put up with a much more sluggish UI - thus the "I run OS X on my Mac Classic and it runs fine!" posts. And on the other end of the spectrum, anything less than instantaneous is unacceptable to some people. Again, I think allegiance one way or another can play a part in this.

    • Jaguar? When someone says OS X is slow, make sure they're talking about Jaguar. If not, it's pretty meaningless because Jaguar did come with major improvements in speed. I was skeptical, but I noticed the difference immediately after I installed. Not an "I think it may be faster" placebo effect, but measurable results. My time from login to when I could actually do something went from 30-45 seconds down to 2. Why was it so slow in 10.1? No idea, but thankfully Jaguar fixed that. Applications open in one or two bounces instead of 6 or 10. Plenty of room for improvement, but fast enough that I don't find myself waiting for the machine much these days.

    • Installation. Before installing Jaguar, I'd read that installing some of the extra localization packages and Japanese fonts can slow things down considerably. I made sure those were unchecked, so I can't comment personally on the difference, but I have no complaints with my setup!

    • Hardware. Obvious. The biggest factor being memory, the next biggest being machine model/CPU. If someone complains about OS X being slow when they're running out of memory, well, duh.

    That said, my own personal opinion is that it's fast enough for me. I run it on a G4 733 MHz tower and a 600 MHz iBook. In general, speed is such a non-issue that I never think about it. I have plenty of things on my wishlist for OS X to improve, and while speed is there, it's not terribly high. I don't find myself ever frustrated by a lack of speed with anything. I use iMovie, iDVD, XDarwin, Mozilla/Chimera, Quicken, iTunes, Terminal, and plenty more pretty extensively. Again, take my hardware, OS version (Jaguar) and personal biases (like Mac, OS X) into account.

    Even so, lately the iBook has been taking several seconds to login, where it used to be about 2 seconds when we first got it. Not sure why, but cleaning out ~/Library always seems to help. If not that, then it's probably something in /System or /Library. I'm not too thrilled that OS X seems to exhibit its own version of "registry rot," slowing down over time. I'd like to say that sort of problem only afflicts MS users but it's not my experience with OS X. Hopefully they're working hard on fixing and optimizing this stuff - and before it gets to a point where I do think it's too slow!

  • by mbogosian ( 537034 ) <> on Thursday November 07, 2002 @06:21PM (#4620522) Homepage
    Of course I think Mozilla is bloatware, but that's me.

    Amen to that. Chimera [] is the Galeon [] of OS X. (If you're tired of waiting for Mozilla, but like the rendering engine, try one of'll never go back.)
  • by Antity ( 214405 ) on Thursday November 07, 2002 @06:24PM (#4620558) Homepage

    Apple doesn't care very much about European customers. So it's quite hard here to find any store in your neighborhood at all you can have a look at MacOS X in.

    (Let alone pricing outside the US, which is just horrible)

  • SlowER, really (Score:2, Insightful)

    by brass1 ( 30288 ) <`ten.tahw' `ta' `MF1qrLpQKwrlS'> on Thursday November 07, 2002 @06:26PM (#4620578) Homepage
    My observation is that the comments about X being slow are really related to OS X being slower than, usually, OS 9 on the same hardware. This is, of course, true but it is a lot like saying that Winders NT/2000/XP is slow when compared to Win95 on the same hardware. Unfortunately, features aren't free.
  • by MrChuck ( 14227 ) on Thursday November 07, 2002 @06:27PM (#4620593)
    The original OS-X was NeXTStep 1.0 and trust me, as the owner of a 25MHz cube, it's slower than the 300MHz laptop I'm using now. Even with the cube running NS 3.1

    NeXTStep 5.1 (aka OS X 10.0) was a bit slow. Unoptimized, but important to get out the door so developers would get some pressure to compile for OSX which they had ignored for the 4 month Beta period. This strategy of pushing developers was successful with the 128kb Mac that forced developers to use the consistent, common ROM routines rather than writing their own UI as DOS had taught them to do.

    10.1 involved lots of work to optimize libraries and make it a bit more than the "Hey, the OS built!" level of quality.

    10.2 (NeXTStep 6.1 more or less) is a fairly major step forward and is brisk enough for me. But then, I run a bunch of terminals, iCab or Opera (or mozilla), occasional PhotoShop and that's most of it.

    The kernel is finally enabled with debuging so ktrace works. I just wish the thing were OpenSource. Darwin isn't enough. Oh, and real IPv6 support (more than just "ping6") would be useful. NetBSD runs fine, but it would be nice to cvsup from apple, rebuild and go.

    Hell, it would be nice to cvsup from RedHat or Suse, run "make build" and go.

    If I need speed, I can log into the 8 way SGI at work (from the Mac) and do stuff there.

    But looking at the 166MHz BSD SPARC 20 that's the home server, I'm not sure why I need more than the power suckage and heat that 500MHz gives me except for gaming.

    I'd rather save the cash for a new machine and get a T1 or more RAM in the current machines.

  • by mikedaisey ( 413058 ) on Thursday November 07, 2002 @06:33PM (#4620662) Homepage

    Bah! he uses 10.1.5 instead of 10.2, and he didn't do enough homework to know that you login with >console at the prompt to get rid of Aqua. This makes his benchmarks valueless. He should do some homework.

  • by mikedaisey ( 413058 ) on Thursday November 07, 2002 @06:36PM (#4620678) Homepage

    No, it is not the same. He's saying that the GUI is not inherently slow to him at that processor speed--that is real data, even if you disagree with it. He's not saying, "it's fast if you use the CLI."

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 07, 2002 @06:38PM (#4620712)
    When someone buys a new computer and says "I don't find it that slow," it means its a snail. There has been no concept of "fast" or "slow" on PCs for at least 4 years. For typical computing (inclidng bleeding edge 3-D games) there is no noticible difference between my K6-II 400 MHz and my P4 2.6 GHz. Sure, compile times may be faster, and multitasking smoother (fewer skips in MP3s while crunching numbers) but you rarely notice the difference. Even with Windows XP or Gnome.
  • by WatertonMan ( 550706 ) on Thursday November 07, 2002 @06:46PM (#4620806)
    The speed difference between 0.5 and 0.6 is very dramatic. I was very wishy-washy about 0.5 and preferred OmniWeb. However 0.6 is at least as fast as anything on Windows.

    I did have some problems with some pages, but that appears to be a problem with the Flash plug-in for OSX. Download the latest one from Macromedia and that problem goes away.

  • by mgerber ( 19521 ) on Thursday November 07, 2002 @06:52PM (#4620866)
    I've got somewhat extensive experience using Windows XP, MacOS X, and Linux. These are my impressions based on a combination of subjective user experience and objective benchmark information I've found through research. I recommend that anyone seriously pondering this issue do their own research, particularly to back up the benchmark comments.

    First, let's get my biases out in the open: I am a Macintosh user by (recent, OSX only) preference who's also perfectly comfortable assembling Linux or Windows PCs from bare motherboard and case right on up. I prefer UNIX-based operating systems for their stability and openness, the more stable and open the better, but find Windows inevitably the best practical choice for some situations.

    I won't comment on disk and memory performance; others here have handled that ably, and I have no experience with MacOS X in very high load situations.

    Processor Performance

    This is the one that's subject to the most advocacy; raise your hands if you haven't heard the term "Megahertz Myth". Any hands up? Didn't think so. (Apple advocates aren't the only folks who like it; you'll hear it from AMD lovers, too.)

    G3 and G4 processors run at far slower clock rates than P6-class processors. This much is objective. What Mac advocates like to claim is that G3 and G4 processors are much faster, clock for clock, than P6-class processors. The problem in evaluating this claim is that it's both false and true at the same time.

    The G3 and G4 are not faster than P6-class processors at typical integer and floating point operations. They're just not. In fact, they tend to run (slightly) slower, clock for clock, in SPECmarks. They're only faster in one specialized world. The catch is, that specialized world is a major one.

    Vector and matrix operations are useful in a ton of multimedia applications--most particularly image and video editing, but there are other applications as well. The G3 and G4 have much better vector units than P6-class processors. Not better, much better. This is why Apple always uses Photoshop as their benchmark: a G4 running well-optimized vector math is entirely capable of spanking a P6-class processor running at twice its clock speed or more.

    So the answer to this question is that there is no definitive answer. Mac advocates will claim that graphical operations are the slowest things anyway, and so optimizing them will give you the most performance benefit overall. PC advocates will make the generalist argument, and include the (true) fact that an application must be hand-optimized for the G4's vector unit to see these performance gains.

    Overall, most people think the G3 and G4 are slower for most purposes, and that the Mac won't have a serious chance at the top of the performance heap again until its next round of processor upgrades, coming next year.

    UI Performance

    This is the performance most people notice. I'll hit several areas of it, since there are tradeoffs.

    First, the good. Aqua's overall responsiveness is probably the best of the three major windowing environments. Any of them can feel like they lose clicks or take forever to process them at times, but it generally feels like it happens less with Aqua than with either Windows or X. (Note that in X it's heavily dependent on what your desktop environment is--but most people like to use either KDE or GNOME, both of which have responsiveness issues.) Aqua also redraws on application switching faster than Windows does, and at about the same speed X does, since it handles open frames in much the same way.

    Now, the bad, and it's significant. Aqua is the heaviest of the three major windowing systems; it has more and more complicated screen elements than either X or Windows. It is about as fast as Windows at drawing individual screen elements (both are faster than X under most driver configurations), but overall, it feels the slowest of any of them at general UI drawing tasks. There are also some operations--like scrolling or resizing complex frames--that are just embarassingly slow.

    Overall, I like Aqua for its stability and prettiness (fonts look better on Aqua than any other UI, period), but I can see why its overhead irritates many people, especially those who've heavily customized and optimized an X setup.

    That's my $0.02. Hope it helps.
  • Re:Powerbook (Score:3, Insightful)

    by PhoenixFlare ( 319467 ) on Thursday November 07, 2002 @06:56PM (#4620905) Journal
    "You mean it crashes all the time and sends your personal data to a marketing firm?"

    Not that I like Microsoft all that much, and you're probably just joking, but....

    I just upgraded from an almost constantly crashing Win98 install to WinXP Pro, and over the course of a few weeks so far, I have not had anything but single apps crash a few times...No reboot-requiring freezes whatsoever. Quite a nice break from Win98 freezing before it even finished booting sometimes :)
  • Re:Powerbook (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 07, 2002 @06:56PM (#4620908)
    what a joke.

    post from user who has obviously never used XP, gets a 5 for funny.

    objective post defending XP from someone who has obvious experience gets a 0.

    we'll have no objective evaluation of an OS here, this is slashdot.

    here, let me mention LINUX SO you can mod me up.

  • by inkfox ( 580440 ) on Thursday November 07, 2002 @07:01PM (#4620965) Homepage
    When performing calculations, applying Photoshop filters, etc Macs are just as fast or faster than P4s of double the clock rate.
    I'll start by saying that I'm a fan of the Mac. But there's little "etc" to your statement above. For select things which have been hand optimized to use the additional special instructions, there is a two-fold speed difference. But this isn't true of general case code, such as your typical spreadsheet calculation. No compiler generates anything like double-speed code without hand-tweaking, and this is very rarely done as it isn't cost-efficient. Doubling the speed of a recalc doesn't sell more copies of Excel.

    In addition to the above, the bus speed is most often the limiting factor with modern computers, and all but the rack servers are still limited to a 100MHz and 133MHz bus. The larger cache available on the higher end macs alleviates this somewhat, but doesn't solve the problem entirely.

    In addition to the above, consider that even if a two-fold per-clock increase were in place, you can get PC processors at more than double the lcock for prices competitive with Mac prices.

    What's more important is the Mac UI. It's laid out more conveniently, and there are standards which make mousing more efficient, and make the keyboard as effective as ever (contrast to the average Windows program, where the majority of the keyboard shortcuts aren't even listed, if they even exist).

    As you say, Apple has tuned the OS to be comfortable to the user. It has also made it more efficient for the user. Given that the majority of time time the computer is waiting for the user, and not the other way around, this is very significant.

  • by longsnowsm ( 564401 ) on Thursday November 07, 2002 @07:02PM (#4620970)
    I have been a Mac fan for a long time. But I left the Mac fold in 1999 when I dumped my 7500 as my own personal machine. Mac OS X lured me back into buying a Mac again last year(an iBook). I have to say it is a nice OS, but very very slow. It has the reliability, and features. It does not integrate an X11 server which I find to be a big short coming. There are open source projects that can add this ability, but still not ready for prime time last time I checked. With Max OS X I get the spinning rainbow beach ball more times than I care to count.

    I am at the point I prefer Linux for my OS of choice now. I may not get the seamless integration of the software, and the new hardware toys, but I can live with it. I am totally annoyed by the slow performance of OS X. Maybe if I had the newest, latest, greatest hardware that slowness wouldn't be a factor. I won't be spending any more money on Mac hardware. If Apple decides to go Intel and I can buy the OS for my PC I will try it again with the faster equipment, but as of right now I am done with it. The ibook is about to go to my kids for school.
  • by Tokerat ( 150341 ) on Thursday November 07, 2002 @07:02PM (#4620978) Journal
    At any given time, this machine is doing the following:
    • It's my web browser (Chimera and/or Explorer)
    • It's my web server, (Apache/PHP).
    • It's my webcam.
    • Running Photoshop.
    • Running Reason
    • Running LimeWire
    The ONLY time i have ever experienced ANY lag is when a transparent window tries to "Genie" into the Dock. Other than that, it occationally locks up in Explorer with the rainbow CD cursor, which can be fixed by clicking on another running application, the Dock or desktop space (i.e. Finder) included. I also run the same OS on my mother's 350Mhz G4 box, with nearly the same performance.

    It's not such a heavy load, but then again, think about these same activities on a 400Mhz Wintel machine. Ouch.
  • by JimRay ( 6620 ) <jimray@gm a i l .com> on Thursday November 07, 2002 @07:03PM (#4620987) Homepage
    Apple doesn't care very much about European customers....(Let alone pricing outside the US, which is just horrible)

    That's a brilliant assesment. In fact, Apple probably doesn't care about any of their non-US customers, which is why prices are so unbelievably high. Except in places like Japan, where the prices are nearly identical to those in the States.

    Hit and you'll see that a fully loaded iBook costs 231,100 yen. Convert that and you get US$1,897.

    A fully loaded iBook from costs US$1,849.

    Furthermore, you walk through Shinjuku or Omotesando, and you'll see more shiny Apples than you know what to do with. I've found brand new Macs in South America, too. Even had a repair job on a new powerbook and sat in on an Apple sponsored multimedia conference in Santiago, Chile.

    So before you go spouting off about how Apple dicks over their European cutomers, you might want to reconsider. You might want to think about why it is you Europeans love paying all those taxes--all that free healthcare and higher education has got to get paid for somehow. Take a look at those 20% luxury taxes on things like electronics you guys are paying.

    When I want socialized medicine, I'm moving to Europe. When you want cheap toys, you might consider a trip to the States.
  • Why should I care? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by nikkk ( 300983 ) on Thursday November 07, 2002 @07:13PM (#4621079)
    Well, I guess I'm a typical Mac user. I have a shiny new iMac and absolutely no idea how many giga-somethings-or-other are in there. I've always felt that comparing computer speeds is like comparing penis sizes. Winning the contest doesn't necessarily mean you get the girl you want. In short: Speed is not why I bought a Mac. It's a nice, friendly computer that does everything I want it to do without driving me nuts as Windows used to. What do I care if some other OS is a tad bit faster?
  • by dair ( 210 ) on Thursday November 07, 2002 @07:15PM (#4621101)
    The biggest problem with the OS X finder is that is was programmed in Carbon, and not Cocoa.

    The idea that Carbon is somehow slower or less efficient than Cocoa is a fiction - two of the slowest apps Apple have ever shipped (iPhoto and iCal) are Cocoa. It's frankly emabarassing that the Mac OS X 10.2 Calculator app (Cocoa) can't keep up with me typing "12345" on a 500Mhz G4.

    I hope Apple makes a cocoa version soon.

    There would be absolutely no point in rewriting the Finder in Cocoa, other than politics. The original Mac OS X 10.0 Finder threw away a lot of the subtelties that had built up over the years in the Mac OS 9 Finder, and starting from scratch again would undoutably have similar effects (for no real gain: the Finder has improved significantly since in 10.2 over 10.0).

  • by poot_rootbeer ( 188613 ) on Thursday November 07, 2002 @07:17PM (#4621127)
    Apple has tuned their OS to be fast to the program, and soft and comfortable towards the user.

    And that's exactly wrong IMO.

    In general, programs don't care if they have to wait a while before their work gets done (this is more true of arithmetic operations like applying Photoshop filters than for I/O bound tasks like repainting the screen buffer in Doom II).

    People, on the other hand, get frustrated easily when they initiate an action and there's a noticeable delay before the action actually happens...
  • by theolein ( 316044 ) on Thursday November 07, 2002 @07:26PM (#4621201) Journal
    I use a Dell Inspiron laptop (1.8GHz, 512MB RAM) with XP the whole day at work and I use a friends TiPB 800MHz with OSX 10.2 on occaision (I have an old 333MHz G3 PB at home with OSX 10.1.5).

    XP is very stable compared to previous MS OS's. I haven't had the OS crash on me once yet. But the UI is also considerably slower than Win2000 and more confusing. Much more confusing. And that, for me, is the major point about OSX. The UI is extremely pleasing to work with over long periods of time. It's smooth and very good looking. The large buttons and type don't hurt my eyes after sitting in front of the machine for 8 hours at a time. The simplicity and clean design of OSX make it easy to hit those buttons without having to pause and concentrate on hitting the correct link unlike in XP where i suffer a considerable amount of arm, neck and hand strain after long hours in front of it. The plain, simple idea of having *all* control panels in one place *without* the Windows mess of myriad unrelated dialog boxes makes it easier to change settings, without first having to find the settings. All programmes have the preferences option in the same place, which is another plus compared to windows. And if I need the detail, power and complexity of Unix the Terminal is a click on the dock away. The Console in WinXP has improved in usability and power (Tab completion, file dragging for paths, output redirection etc) but is still not close to a Unix shell.

    As for Applications, Photoshop and illustrator are more sluggish than in XP, except for redraw operations on large bitmaps where Altivec really shines, and I for one tend to work methodically in those programmes and appreciate a programme that doesn't run away from me.

    If I had the money right now, I would go and buy a TiPB with OSX immediately and only use the Dell for Windows tasks.

    My name is Theo Stauffer. I'm a Sys Admin for a small company and I would switch back to the Mac immediately if I had the cash :)
  • by Fugly ( 118668 ) on Thursday November 07, 2002 @07:32PM (#4621262) Homepage
    Apple doesn't care very much about European customers. So it's quite hard here to find any store in your neighborhood at all you can have a look at MacOS X in.

    (Let alone pricing outside the US, which is just horrible)

    Is it that they don't care or is it that European vendors don't care to carry them? Maybe my perspective is skewed living in the States but it seems that Apple must care about foreign customers given the great lengths they've taken building internationalization right into OS X.

    Also, international pricing is a tricky thing with tarrifs, exchange rates, etc. Has apple shown disinterest in foreign customers in other ways?
  • Re:Powerbook (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Jeriki ( 563090 ) <apfe5917.uidaho@edu> on Thursday November 07, 2002 @07:37PM (#4621304)
    Funny, the only time I've seen an XP box crash was a hardware failure. And I run a CS lab that has 20 XP boxen.
  • by axxackall ( 579006 ) on Thursday November 07, 2002 @07:48PM (#4621368) Homepage Journal
    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.

    And Gentoo/PPC on G3 powerbooks (without AltiVec) makes a way better (faster) optimization results than Mac OS X.

    So no Macs aren't slow

    Especially when Linux/PPC (namely Gentoo) is the OS installed on that Mac :)

  • by tim1724 ( 28482 ) on Thursday November 07, 2002 @07:55PM (#4621419) Homepage Journal
    (Let alone pricing outside the US, which is just horrible)

    Don't forget that US prices do not include taxes, but European prices do include them. Computers are taxed as luxury items in most European countries, and as such can be taxed at rates up to 20% (or possibly as much as 25% in a few unlucky countries). Find out what your country's tax rate on computers is, apply that to the US prices, and then compare to the European prices. It will probably be a lot closer.

    (Note that American prices are shown without taxes because taxes vary from state to state and in many states they even depend on what county or city you are in! Also, one typically does not pay sales taxes on items purchased via the web from companies located in other states, so we can escape taxes entirely by being careful about where we buy things.)
  • by Master Bait ( 115103 ) on Thursday November 07, 2002 @08:07PM (#4621485) Homepage Journal
    Jaguar is a step in the right direction. I remember the olden days when NeXT made the Dimension, with an Intel i960-based card exclusively for the Display PostScript interpreter in 24 bit. I wonder if one can assign the Display PDF to run exclusively on a single CPU in a dual CPU Mac setup. That would provide a speedy and consistent interface not bogged down by the other processes.

    +1 bonus

  • No, it's not slow. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Refrag ( 145266 ) on Thursday November 07, 2002 @08:07PM (#4621487) Homepage
    I have four computers on my home LAN. The Windows 2000 boxes are a Pentium 2 233 with 96MB RAM and a Pentium 3 600 with 384MB RAM. The two Macs are an iBook [] 600 with 384MB RAM and a PowerMac G3 [] 450 with 512MB RAM.

    In my opinion, both of my Macs are faster than the Windows boxes. I run only OS X. I don't even have Classic installed. Both platforms have the occasional hiccup where I'm waiting on the computer to do something. However, I get this more frequently on the Windows boxes than I do on the Macs. It's usually Explorer that I have to wait on in Windows -- including the Start Menu. On the Mac, it's probably manual window resizing most of the time. I rarely do this though, I generally use the zoom widget which is far superior to Window's maximize widget. Window dragging on the Mac is also faster than on Windows. Well, I guess they're both really the same speed, but Windows takes a while to refresh the screen where the window was and on the Macs that is not a problem.

    None of my Macs are new enough to support Quartz Extreme [] -- my newest Mac was built in 1999. I'd see better performance on the new iBooks [] due simply to the fact that they have better video cards [].
  • by slashdot_bites ( 593238 ) on Thursday November 07, 2002 @08:18PM (#4621566)
    Could be that the people are egocentric and feel threatened by the "other" OSes. They don't want to admit their OS sucks at something. I also find validity in your claims however. So this is my $0.02.
  • by Pflipp ( 130638 ) on Thursday November 07, 2002 @08:31PM (#4621631)
    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.

    Then why does Apple use Mach at its core, and not a second generation MK like L4?

    The answer is easily guessed: because NeXT used it back when there was no second MK generation at all, and MacOS X is a rewrite of NeXT (proven a.o. by the screenshots of the MacOS X Server betas).

    When rewriting, it's a lot of easier to just change the important stuff (UI GOODIES!!!) and leave the unimportant stuff (kernel) as unchanged as possible.

    They may have been speed-hacking Mach allright, but they didn't throw it away entirely just because too many software depends on its APIs.

    That's my guess. But I guess I'm right ;-)
  • by zapfie ( 560589 ) on Thursday November 07, 2002 @08:38PM (#4621675)
    Either you are extremely simple-minded, or have absolutely no trolling ability.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 07, 2002 @08:51PM (#4621755)
    Hardly out of MS's playbook. MS pushed back 2k for 2.5 YEARS to make sure it was a solid performer out of the gate. 95 and XP have also been 100% on "1.0" releases.

    Apple really stole the playbook from Open Source with it's "release early, release often" philosophy. That's great for free crap, but very BAD for users that payed for what they thought was professional quality stuff.
  • by myowntrueself ( 607117 ) on Thursday November 07, 2002 @09:58PM (#4622186)
    But wouldn't the p4 only be able to take advantage of that 3x memory bandwidth if you gave it the rambus it craves? (and put some fans on the memory too)
  • by Halo1 ( 136547 ) on Friday November 08, 2002 @05:22AM (#4623923)
    The reason the kernel is slower than under Linux, is mainy that the Mac OS X kernel is designed to deliver the best overall performance, not the best optimal performance. This means that when you put a machine under heavy load, the speed of those kernel operations under Linux takes a sharp nosedive (way below the Mac OS X numbers), while those of Mac OS X stay more or less the same. This is quite important for semi-realtime applications such as audio/midi processing, digital video etc.

    The fact that it is based on a microkernel doesn't matter, because the Mac OS X kernel is not a microkernel anymore. The whole kernel runs in one address space (so no message passing between different kernel components), just like in Linux. They still kept the different parts of the kernel more or less distinct in the source, but this is simply for easier maintenance.
  • Good Grief (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Turbo_Steve ( 199000 ) on Friday November 08, 2002 @07:17AM (#4624132)
    This old chestnut. STILL?

    I haven't found anyone who I consider to be sufficiently experienced in both macs and PCs to be able to make this judgement call!

    I have a little bit of Mac experience and a little bit more Windows experience and a smattering of linux. (i.e. I support 80 mac users, 12 Linux Servers, 20 Linux users and about 1200 PC users as a member of a team of 8) in a banking environment: these users are possibly the least technical people you can imagine.

    Watching someone with no computer experience at all sit down at a bunch of different interfaces is VERY interesting: The thing that apple have got really really right is only having one mouse button. Everything is straightforward and one clickable. OS X is the easiest thing in the world to get going with when you know nothing.

    Mind you, watching a user sit down at WindowsXP was an education: It really is surprisingly intuitive once you explain the concept of a "start" button to them (i.e. "All your programs are in the start button") and it is far and away better than any previous version of windows. People just have trouble with the "right click" and "object-properties" concepts. Once they have got the idea of thinking in terms of everything being an interactive object, instead of a "flat-TV like model" they are well away, and actually seem to find the Mac approach a little frustrating.
    Linux is just a pig. Sorry guys, it is getting better and better all the time, but in the usability stakes it is still playing catchup. By 2005, I expect Linux will be the desktop OS it wants to be. It is soooo close...but to watch a new user sit down at it with 10 minutes of coaching....they still look just as bewildered by the time they log off and walk away.

    With regards to software installs.....XP vs Mac...and windows 2000, you put the CD in...the software installs. It really is that simple.

    Speedwise, we found OS X on any G3 machine is quick enough....but somehow 'feels' sluggish. That is all I can describe it as. The OS responds visually to a click almost immediately...but you still end up waiting for results. It is more a problem with the user interface than the actual OS. Saying that, on the newer G4 machines (with a good amount of RAM) it feels great. Truly stunning.

    Windows2000 look and feel is awful. The OS just holds you up when mousing around.
    WindowsXP....again....if your PC is an Athlon with plenty of RAM XP feels great. Run it on anything slower, and it starts to feel bogged down.

    A long post, but as we have just done a usability study on all these OS's I felt it was valid input. Hope you all agree.

No extensible language will be universal. -- T. Cheatham