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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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  • by spoot ( 104183 ) on Thursday November 07, 2002 @05:42PM (#4619971) Homepage
    but this damn thing is to slowwwwwwww
    • by sdjunky ( 586961 ) on Thursday November 07, 2002 @05:48PM (#4620046)
      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
  • 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.

    • 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.
    • 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 MoxCamel ( 20484 ) on Thursday November 07, 2002 @05:57PM (#4620187)
      Mozilla for OS X is the slowest OS X app I have. I still use it cause I'm totally addicted to tabbed browsing, but I sure wish it were faster.

      (I know this is not an OS problem, it's a bloaty Mozilla problem)
    • by Anonymous Coward
      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.
    • Doesn't Objective-C suffer from the same performance problem as Java in that there is no early-binding by a linker of the explicit functions/methods that will be called in an application?

      Is late-binding the largest cause of poor performance in OS X? And, if so, does this mean that GNUStep is a bad idea?

      • 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 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.
        • 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.
  • 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 Faggot ( 614416 ) <> on Thursday November 07, 2002 @05:54PM (#4620139) Homepage
      When performing calculations, applying Photoshop filters, etc Macs are just as fast or faster than P4s of double the clock rate. Where Apple traded its speed is in the workings of its interface, and I think it was a good decision.

      Certain things do not need to happen instantly. In addition, doing them not-instantly allows plenty of eye-candy rendering and a soft user interface. Apple has tuned their OS to be fast to the program, and soft and comfortable towards the user.

      • 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 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 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.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 07, 2002 @05:45PM (#4620007)
    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?

    No matter if they have, no true Mac user would ever say so, and you know it.
    • I am a die-hard mac user. 10.2 is slow. It's always been slow, since the beginning.
    • Okay, I've got an indigo iBook (G3 366) running 10.2. I've run OS9 on it, as well as the public beta of X, 10 and 10.1. I've got a 900 MHz Athlon that has run 98, 2k and RedHat 7.3. So I've a bit of experience here with various systems at less than top-end speeds.

      10 was unbearably slow. 10.1 was better. 10.2 is useable. I actually think for most native apps, it's faster than similar tasks in MacOS 9 were. It's certainly more versatile - I can get into SMB shares and the like. But that's not what the question was really asking.

      So, how does it compare with the other OSes? Well, I certainly haven't done any real tests, but for just average use I find it pretty similar to my Athlon 900 except where things like MP3 player visualizations ore 3D performace go (and what can you expect when you're comparing a Rage 128 Mobile 8MB with a GeForce 3 TI 200?)

      The big slowdown on MacOS X was always windowing, but this has been vastly improved with Quartz Extreme. I don't have enough graphics card to get the full benefits from it, but even on this old machine, resizing and moving have been much faster. In fact, it seems to perform better in that respect than XWindow on the Athlon, not that I find that terribly surprising.

      I don't notice a big difference. In some cases, it seems a little faster. In some, a little slower.
    • 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 evanhr ( 610024 ) <evan AT stanries DOT com> on Thursday November 07, 2002 @05:46PM (#4620016) Homepage
    I used to have time to take a shower while waiting for 10.1 to boot in the mornings. 10.2 has it down to a few sips of coffee. Maybe it was that goddamn Happy Mac hogging memory all those years. Who'dve thought?
  • by 2nd Post! ( 213333 ) <> 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 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

  • 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.
  • VERY Slow (Score:5, Funny)

    by avandesande ( 143899 ) on Thursday November 07, 2002 @05:48PM (#4620049) Journal
    I asked my mac to get me a beer from the fridge, and I am still waiting.....
  • duh (Score:3, Funny)

    by be-fan ( 61476 ) on Thursday November 07, 2002 @05:48PM (#4620051)
    You'd think, with all the informative stuff that's been posted on Slashdot about how Mac OS X is slow, people would get a clue by now. Is Mac OS X slow? Is Mac OS X slow? That's like asking, is RMS hairy!
  • 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.

  • LCD iMac (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Triv ( 181010 ) on Thursday November 07, 2002 @05:48PM (#4620057) Journal
    I have an LCD iMac, and no, it's not slow - meaning: it does everything I need it to any I rarely notice the CPU usage go above 70% (unless I'm burning/Ripping a CD or, oddly, dialing in to my ISP). Personally, that's all that matters - I don't care how it compares to a PIII or whatever. It works great and that's that.

    However. I WILL say that OS9 is noticably faster (albeit WAY more unstable), particularly when gaming. Q3:A runs great under OSX but is a damn sight snappier booted into 9. Same thing with DiabloII, Starcraft or Baldur's Gate II.

    However (again). That could be because 3DFX support in OSX is a wee bit buggy - DII or BGII will run with 3d acceleration on but unplayably slowly. Don't have that problem in OS9. Go figure. :)

  • well (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Auckerman ( 223266 ) on Thursday November 07, 2002 @05:50PM (#4620081)
    "have you noticed operations that seemed slower using Mac OS X compared to similar operations on other operating systems?"
    Simple answer, yes. Complex answer: Those systems aren't running Windows. Mac OS X is always RESPONSIVE. If a splash screen comes up, you can still pull another application in front of it. If an app is running a huge calculation, you can still web browse. iTunes doesn't skip. You can play DVD on your background (you have to set your background color to a specific value, start up the DVD, then hide the DVD player). You put a really pretty fish tank OpenGL screensaver as your background. Running many mpeg4s at the same time doesn't choke the system. It keeps going, in fact if you just add ram, like with any Unix system, you can throw any number of big jobs at it, and it will keep going.

    That being said, you have to wait for the genie effect to take place. Because it's a friggen animation. Same with icon removals from the desktop. If you aren't running QE (which from what I know is most of the OS X installs today), you get a big CPU hit on moving windows, resizing, and putting in dock. But it still keeps going. I'm really quite amazed at how well it works, day in, day out.

    Am I unpleased, no. Do I even consider other OS's. Not anymore. Can it be made faster, sure.
  • 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.

  • 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...
  • Speed (Score:5, Interesting)

    by WatertonMan ( 550706 ) on Thursday November 07, 2002 @05:54PM (#4620136)
    OSX is a memory hog - even worse that XP. So if you are running it with less that 3/4 of a Gig of memory, invest in the memory. I think you'll change your opinion on speed then.

    It still isn't as fast as Linux or XP (IMO), but has enough polish that I still prefer using it. There are some things that count more than speed. I think OSX does well on those.

    I must ask though why these rather generic OSX discussions keep coming up on Slashdot. They seem more appropriate for some forum rather than "news for geeks." Don't get me wrong, I love OSX. I can't wait for 10.3 which will probably be the final reason to pick it over other OSes. But does it really justify all these topics?

    • 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.
    • Re:Speed (Score:5, Interesting)

      by drinkypoo ( 153816 ) <> on Thursday November 07, 2002 @07:13PM (#4621078) Homepage Journal
      But does it really justify all these topics?

      The real question: Does it really justify the aqua-fresh toothpaste (wonder if that's where the name actually came from) look of slashdot's mac section?

      OSX justifies all the topics because it appears to be exactly what we (the people of the geek republic of Terra) have been asking for all along; A major-vendor (Apple is close enough) operating system which supports current desktop apps through a new API, legacy desktop apps through a virtual machine, which looks really great, and has Unix at its core. Unfortunately, it comes from Apple, which means it only runs on expensive custom hardware, which makes it useless to most of us, who will have to wait for Linux to reach a more mature level. It's interesting that OSX is more useful as a desktop Unix than Linux is (for the non-technically-inclined user, someone who may be technically competent but not used to ripping things apart and making them work when they're broken) even though it's fairly new, whereas Linux has many years on it and still has a lot of stability, speed, compatibility, and usability problems as far as the desktop goes.

      On the other hand, MacOSX had NeXTStep to work with. While there was an x86 clone version of NeXTStep, as I understand it was fairly tightly bound to a small selection of hardware, making it a more similar product to MacOSX than it might at first appear, and of course it was best-known for running on the various NeXT slabs and cubes, which might as well have been next-generation macs.

      So yes, since it aims to fulfill all our dreams of what an OS should be (fast (maybe), easy (yes), powerful (certainly), stable (maybe)) it does justify this number of stories, and more. We have traditionally been informed every time a new linux kernel comes out, and MacOSX will directly touch more lives than linux will any time soon.

  • 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...
  • 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 banky ( 9941 ) <> 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. c o m> 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 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 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.
    • 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...
  • My observations (Score:5, Interesting)

    by thatguywhoiam ( 524290 ) on Thursday November 07, 2002 @05:59PM (#4620225)
    Disclaimer: I have a G4/466 (OS X) at home, and I regularly use a 1.6Ghz Athlon at work (Win2000).

    I think the question is really one of perceived speed. I noticed that on the AMD box, and Win2000, the common behaviour for screen draws is to wait until the operation is finished, then draw all-at-once. For example, IE, when loading a page, will remain exactly as it is (the current page you're on), until such time that it loads Slashdot, then draws it in one fast swoop.

    Now, OS X does this as well, but it tends to give more feedback. The browser window will turn white, then the banner appears, then graphics and text. I've timed both boxes - they render within a half-second of each other (again, subjectively). The OS X box could easily give the impression of slowness. But it isn't really.

    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. Quartz does a hell of a lot more work than the current Windows drawing scheme, and it looks a hell of a lot better. When OS X first appeared, many lamented the excessive eye-candy. Now we have a scheme where your normally-dormant hotshot GPU is helping out with drawing the OS. It makes a gigantic difference, and takes a major load off the CPU. But it is version 1. It will get better.

    I expect Microsoft to go through similar growing pains when they go for the photorealistic desktop in Longhorn.

    • 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 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 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 selderrr ( 523988 ) on Thursday November 07, 2002 @06:08PM (#4620339) Journal
    I recently installed OSX on a really slow machine : an original bondi blue 233MHz iMac with ONLY 96MB ram. Theoretically not even sufficient to even run OSX. Previously, the machine ran yellowdoglinux and was not usable at all : launching Konqueror took forever. I never succeeded in getting openoffice fully launching the wordprocessor.

    OSX On the other hand runs perfectly ! No hickups at all. Slow, admittely, but that's only due to insufficient ram. I auto-launch at startup :
    - apache/mysql/php/openssl suite.
    - Projecttimer
    - DynDNS client
    - Chimera
    - process monitor
    - terminal with at least 5 sessions
    - fuzzyclock
    - mail

    booting the machine up to ready-to-use point takes nearly 10 minutes. A drag. But once it is there, I can use all these apps perfectly well. Switch times are well under 1 sec. Occasionaly I launch MS Office and keep it swapped away. When activating it, it's there in less than 10 secs. Considering it needs 100MB on its own, that's nearly a miracle !

    Honestly : OSX is amazing in its speed. The gui is a tad slow sometimes with the fancyschmancy transparency in menus and all that (no QuartzEx here) but once you got you windows positioned and you're not dragging stuff around, it runs smototh enough for every average user.

    My tiBook667 on the other hand screams like a scramjet. Beats every other OS in speed for me. I work twice as fast on it compared to the WinXP P4@2.7Ghz next to it with a GeF4ti4600.

    In fact : I only use that PC for warcraft and DooM3 alpha :-)

    which brings us to the one thing that OSX sucks at : openGL drivers of the radeon series are poopy at least. Most PCs play games better than macs, but hey, you've gotta give'm something to do, right...
  • 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 ) <mghase@c s .> 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?

  • 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.

    • 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.
  • by goombah99 ( 560566 ) on Thursday November 07, 2002 @06:13PM (#4620407)
    I recently spent some time evaluating mac,athalon,pentium,athalon benchmaks using scientific fortran that i had written for protein structure analysis. We were buying a large 500 processor cluster so I wanted to get it right.

    Since I was buying a cluster my criteria was not single processor speed but speed per dollar what i found was mildy surprising. For programs that could take advatage of the altivec chip inside the G4, the mac was about a factor of 2 cheaper per run time than the P4 and athalons. On the otherhand with the Altivec turned off the mac was about a factor of 2 more expensive per run time. I note that this was not done on code optimised for the altivec but was just generic fortran passed through an automatic vector pre-processor program for compile time optimization.

    Of all the processors I tested, P3, p4, athalon, the P4 had the wildest variations in benchmarking. that is all the other proceesors seemed to have constant scaling factors in speed as the applications varied. but the p4 variev by over a factor of 3 from the others both faster and slower. I assume this has something to do with the very long pipeline, and the hyper threading, and the size of the caches. But even taking these into account I found it highly unpredictable which applications would run faster or slower (that is ones that might logically have more cache misses did not neccessary degrade)

    . In the end I decided the P3 has the most bang for the buck , though falling cpu prices might shift that conclusion to the athalon. The problem I encountered with the athalon was a higher down time for the cluster units due to thermal faliure., so thats a hidden cost. The apples NEVER failed in any thermal tests so thats a hidden plus.

    Now this analysis does not factor in other things like Graphics speed other factors more important to users than sceintific apps. However when I compare my molecular visualization grpahics before and after the release of 10.2 I have to say the mac is insanely fast for graphics now wheere before it was intolerably slow.

  • 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 ainsoph ( 2216 ) on Thursday November 07, 2002 @06:15PM (#4620446) Homepage
    Granted it only has 512mb of ram,, but this thing (Running 10.2, G4 400, blah blah) is afflicted with the dreaded "Spinning Beach Ball of Death".

    Lets check google..

    Ahh, here is one:

    Sour Apples []

    Everyone is talking about it. Check google groups for discussions among DV and print people.

    I spend more time here at work waiting for typing to catch up to those words being rendered on my screen, patches of my web browser window being blank, only to show up again when my cursor goes over the area. When I right click a file to choose "open with" I wait a a good 15-25 seconds for the highlighted area to get past the "Open" dialogue. It just sticks there. If I try and do something smart like hit a key, I go into "Spinning Beach Ball" mode. Not a very fun place to be.

    So all in all, while I like some aspects of OS X, I spend the day at work *craving* getting home to use my redhat machine.

    I know I am gonna hear: get more ram. which is true, but still, 512mb is fine on all my intel/amd based machines. I know the Apple demographic is all white, rich and owns 2.5 SUV's (that match their two wonderful white children!!), but dog slow with 512mb is just simply insane.

  • 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!

  • get more memory (Score:3, Interesting)

    by austad ( 22163 ) on Thursday November 07, 2002 @06:35PM (#4620675) Homepage
    I bought an iBook with 128MB of ram. Holy crap, it was the slowest machine I think I've ever use. OS X is a *huge* memory pig. It takes like 320MB of ram with and Chimera open. So with 128, it's just swapping all the time. The drive runs constantly. I bought a stick of 512MB from, and now it's actually decent. I wouldn't say it's blazingly fast, but it's very usable now. Seems faster than my old Sony PIII 550 laptop too.

    I'm sure the G4's are much faster, but I didn't feel like dropping $2500 for a laptop at the time.
  • It all depends. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by yunfat ( 200898 ) <{taran} {at} {}> on Thursday November 07, 2002 @06:46PM (#4620807)
    There are many intangible factors that could contribute to this discussion. I use OSX everyday and I love it, of course, I'm not compressing video or playing Quake 3. If you want to discuss productivity as opposed to raw computing horsepower, OSX wins everytime. Here's why:

    1) No viruses.
    2) I can clone my entire HD with a freeware utility (in other words, backing up is easy as pie)
    3) With .mac, its possible to synchonize user preferences among any number of macs... this means that no matter where I go, or what mac I am on, my bookmarks stay the same, as do all my preferences for all my apps (did I mention it remembers all my passwords for all the sites I visit also). Its now possible to have a meteor (leonidas style) hit my HD and have an identical install in less than 1 hour (from cd), no fussing about with configuring everything again.
    4) I can install or remove RAM in less than 5 seconds on any powermac.
    5) OSX.2 boots very very quick on dual processor machines... its about 15-20 seconds.
    6) Apple gives you, out of box, almost all the software you need to get productive, which in turn means very few installs from cd.
    7) 802.11 networking is built into the OS and every new mac... no drivers necessary.
    8) Almost every printer is supported in X.2, same with cd burners, again, no drivers or installs necessary.
    9) Its cool watching my linux friends not use the GUI.

    Sure I am biased, being a mac head, but what would compel me to use windows or linux... I hate installing stuff,I hate viruses, I hate it when my mom asks me why she can't open attachments (for fear of virus).
    About the only thing wrong with macs right now is the mouse, which imho would benefit from a few more buttons and a scroll wheel.
  • by AssFace ( 118098 ) <.stenz77. .at.> on Thursday November 07, 2002 @06:47PM (#4620821) Homepage Journal
    Especially the newest release - they sped up a lot of the UI stuff. Nice and snappy.
    Normal applications like e-mail, Word, that sort of thing, quick.
    Hard to say on the Photoshop stuff, and plus I don't really care if something takes half a second or a full second to do if I'm waiting on some complex PS thing.

    That said, I've only used the machines of friends and coworkers, I don't personally own a mac.

    I do think they are really pretty.

    But I do a lot of Java programming and the Mac is retarded slow with its Java compared to just about any other system out there. Even the newest one - the newest one seems to have even slower OpenGL somehow.
    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.

    All in all, I think the Mac is plenty fast, after all it is stupid to look at only the nominal speed of the processor. Look at Seti or Distributed net -there you can see that the G4 and G3 kick major ass, largely due to their much larger cache size.
    And for everyday use, the Mac seems like it is just fine.

    But when people say it is "better" I'm not sure I agree with them - I no longer think it sucks (OS X is pretty nice), but it isn't really of any use to me until either it becomes cheaper than a comparable PC system, or until it becomes faster than a comparable PC system.
    but right now, for my personal use of it, it is only prettier, and I don't really care about that.
    At least, I don't care enough to pay $2K more for a laptop that is snazzier looking than the one I sit here and type on, but slower and ill equipped for how I make my living.
  • 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.
  • by sakusha ( 441986 ) on Thursday November 07, 2002 @06:54PM (#4620883)
    I get tired of people stacking the deck against Macs by claiming Macs cost too much, then inventing some insane price out of thin air, like $4500. You'd have to build a pretty high end config, like a dualie 1.25Ghz with an Ultra160 RAID. Sure, you can build a wintel dualie hotbox and get up in the same price range. But I'm blazing along on a midrange dual 1Ghz machine, and oh man is it fast, and only $2500. So what is the point of attacking a Mac on price and claiming you can't get a machine except by paying $4500?!? Even an XServe doesn't cost that much.
    Anyway, I've had amazingly good performance in MacOS X, but there were a few rough edges at first. Finder was kinda slow on my old G3/400 and G3/500 machines, like sorting by kind in list view. They're getting some of the metadata stuff sorted out, the new Jag finder is all fixed up and speedy. The only laggy app seems to be the Terminal, which could use a replacement. But the core Unix apps have excellent speed. I put my old G3 into use with Apache & Quicktime Streaming Server, I'm amazed at how well it performs.
    Anyway, someone commented that MacOS X is hard on the apps but cushy on the user, or something like that. Right on. That was one of the Mac's big innovations, the GUI focused on the user. When I am running something like Final Cut Pro, I want every GUI screen gadget running full max. I want every single iota of computing power focused on ME and helping me get through the complex task. This is both the Mac's greatest feature and biggest CPU bottleneck. It's like the olden days of OS 9 before preemptive multitasking, when you held down the mouse, the whole CPU would hang until you let go of the menu. Whenever you were issuing commands, the CPU gave up control to the user. It was a CPU bottleneck, and we LIKED it, it gave the MacOS the immediacy of operation, a feeling of being in control that other OSes lacked. And I think they've translated that well into MacOS X. The system GUI still remains responsive, even when you're running CPU-intensive apps. Apps like Cleaner mpeg2 compression are as CPU-intense as it gets, it can compress 1 minute of DV video in 50 seconds on my midrange CPU. Cleaner is dual processor and Altivec aware, it maxes out both my CPUs, it's as hard a CPU workout as I have found. And it still leaves the system responsive, not locked up and CPU-bound.
  • by overbom ( 461949 ) <overbom@yahoo. c o m> 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 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 dramaley ( 20773 ) on Thursday November 07, 2002 @07:06PM (#4621013) Homepage
    I've noticed a general trend among people i'm acquainted with that their favorite OS feels fast to them, but any others are slow. For example, a Mac fan will think Mac OS is nice and speedy but will complain about Windows and Linux as being slow. Whereas a Linux user will complain about Mac and Windows being too slow.

    I have two theories on what might cause this. The first is that different systems spend relatively different amounts of time on various tasks. And since they don't work exactly as what one is used to, and most people tend to notice flaws fairly readily, the slower areas are easily noticed and the system feels slow. My other theory is that people notice the user interface differences and since they aren't used to it they want to complain, but not having anything specific to complain about they claim it to be slow. I don't know the real reason. Any other ideas?
  • 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 :)
  • 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 bperkins ( 12056 ) on Thursday November 07, 2002 @09:56PM (#4622176) Homepage Journal
    Other topics that are perfect for objective debate such as:

    Is Emacs slow?

    Is vi easy to use?

    Is perl a good language?

    Do you like RMS?

    Is your mother ugly?

    Is Christianity the best religion?

    Cowboy Neal?
  • Perception (Score:5, Interesting)

    by harlows_monkeys ( 106428 ) on Friday November 08, 2002 @12:49AM (#4623118) Homepage
    I think a big part of it is that quite a few OS X apps do things in a way that makes them seem slower than they are.

    Take IE, for example. It seems to wait to display the page until it has the whole thing ready to render. On a big slashdot story, that can take a while. Compare to, say, most browsers on Linux, which seem to display while the page is still downloading. Browsing seems way faster on my home system on a 144 Kbit/second connection with Linux than it does at work on OS X on a T3.

    On the other hand, I do have evidence that the Mac is actually slow. E.g., when I start to load a slashdot page at work, I often give up, switch over to the XP machine on the KVM switch, and go load it there, and finish ahead of the Mac. The XP machine is an ancient P2 400 with 384 megs of RAM, the Mac is an ancient B&W G3 300 MHz with about 600 meg of RAM, so the machines are comparable (both pathetic by modern standards, but comparable). So, it actually appears that the Mac is slow at browsing, and IE works in such a way to emphasize that slowness, making it seem unbearably slow.

    Also, a lot of apps, and Finder, aren't as threaded as they could be. While IE, for instance, is busy getting that big slashdot page ready to display, the dreaded spinning color-ball shows up, so you can't switch back and view the other pages you were reading.

    Finally, much Apple software IS slow. There's a thread on comp.sys.mac.advocacy about this right now, where someone was saying that the new generation of iApps seem slower than the previous iApps, and pointing out an apparent correlation between those written in Carbon (fast) and Cocoa (slow). However, other people have pointed out examples of fast Cocoa apps, so that is not the problem. Most interesting was someone who wrote their own photo manager, and compared to iPhoto. For some things, his is 2 orders of magnitude faster than iPhoto. Evidently, Apple simply used crappy algorithms in iPhoto. Apple's mail program is similarly problematic when mailboxes get large. A lot of people on comp.sys.mac.advocacy have given up on it and switched to Eudora, and report their Macs are nice and fast at mail then.

Order and simplification are the first steps toward mastery of a subject -- the actual enemy is the unknown. -- Thomas Mann