I Made The Leap
By Bill Diffley
Washington Apple Pi Journal, reprint
Recently I upgraded to OS X. I thought a review of the
process might be encouraging to those that haven't. I'll
start with my reasoning, continue with the preparation,
onward to the process, results, and a few thoughts. The
point of this story is not so much instructional as it is
meant to be encouraging for those of you still sitting on
the fence. If your time is limited feel free to scan the
middle part. Most of those steps, while interesting and
relevant to the final thoughts, were applicable to me.
My delay in switching to OS X, like many others, was due
to the lack of OS X applications. Without applications there
was no reason to switch. I waited, they came, and I
switched. My needs are fairly simple and straightforward. I
need Internet capability, web access and email. Having two
teenage children made AOL access a necessity. I track the
family finances. I write letters, use spreadsheets and
database for a variety of tasks. I listen to music. And I am
learning the ropes of movie editing. The two teenagers are
in high school and must exchange a variety of documents with
classmates for school projects. Guess what program that
would mean. Along came Office X, Internet Explorer,
AppleWorks, Quicken, AOL, iTunes, and iMovie. All were
native to OS X. I need Windows for a couple of programs for
work. Virtual PC was imminent for OS X. The time had come.
And the preparation began.
The computer in question is an iMacDV, 400mhz, 128k ram,
13 GB hard drive. I could not make the processor faster
without much effort. I could and should increase the memory.
It was/is cheap. I bought 512 MB more and I now have 640 MB
of RAM. I could not increase the size of the hard drive
without much effort. It was fine until the movie editing
began. I could, however, buy a big external drive. Some time
before, as the iMac has a DVD-ROM internal drive, I had
purchased a LaCie FireWire CD-RW drive. So I matched with it
an 80 GB LaCie FireWire hard drive. I got a mac.com
[iTools] account. I transferred data to Zip disks
and to the new external drive. I purchased the
aforementioned programs I had wanted/needed, including Mac
OS X, of course.
It was an expensive process without a doubt. To a large
extent the items I purchased are all items that would be of
assistance with any future computers so I justified the cost
to some extent. Certainly such purchases would not be
necessary to all. I then put aside a day to make the change.
One more note. I wanted to make the leap to Mac OS X without
looking back to OS 9. Here we go.
I insured my data backups one more time. I made notes of
my Internet setting (RoadRunner cable). I put in the Mac OS
X CD and opened the installer. I read the latest Read Me
file and, naturally, accepted the agreement involved. A
couple of steps later I was given the choice of reformatting
the hard drive as part of the installation process. My
finger lingered over the mouse button for some amount of
time. Click! And the installation began and finished. I
forget the time exactly. Seems like 15 to 30 min for the
whole process. Restart and I was up and running with Mac OS
The Internet set up guide came up and I answered the
questions. Internet Explorer was part of the installation. I
launched it and was online. This was good. I had, though,
forgotten to copy my favorites. However a lot of bad was
left behind with the good so it was not a complete loss. So
I continued. I launched the Mail program. I have Earthlink
for when I travel (constantly). I insured the Earthlink
account was activated in the Mail program. I entered my
mac.com account. I cannot remember the exact details but I
do remember it was not too tough. The help menu was
sufficient. I do remember there is an extra setting in the
set up for the mac.com account to send mail. That took a
second trip to the help menu. I was thereafter able to check
and send mail. This, too, was good. So I continued.
Next came the applications. AppleWorks came first. It is
near and dear to my heart and held the place of honor. It
installed easily and worked. So next I tried Office X. It
installed easily and worked. On a side note: I have tested
its compatibility with Windows Office files from friends,
including PowerPoint. The files open flawlessly. My
compliments of Microsoft. Up to this time I had been using
Palm Desktop (and before that Claris Organizer). I had saved
that database. I imported it into Entourage. It was all
there. Again, my compliments to Microsoft. I set up my email
accounts in Entourage. It was easier after my recent
experience with the Mail program. Entourage worked as
advertised. I installed Quicken 2002 and imported my 2001
data. It was all there. I put in a Zip disk and it showed up
on the desktop. I turned on the hard drive and it showed up
on the desktop. In effect everything was working in a grand
manner. This was very good.
I then downloaded AOL for Mac OS X, installed it, and
launched it. It worked. I downloaded a beta version of Palm
Desktop. The beta aspect made me a little leery. It worked
pretty well. And so it essentially lived up to the beta
name. I think there will be a finished version available now
so that will be a near term project. In summary, so far so
good. Everything works: applications, Internet, peripherals.
So I tried a couple more items. My daughter and I both
had AirPort cards installed earlier. That's another story. I
bought the new AirPort base station. I plugged it in and
installed the software. I answered the questions in the
setup and bingo I'm on the wireless Internet. I then made a
couple of minor adjustments on my daughter's iBook and bingo
she's on the wireless Internet. I will now cancel our second
phone line and pay for the base station in less than a year.
I bought a new cable modem (after receiving instructions
from RoadRunner on preferred modems). With a very simple
call to RoadRunner I was up and running with the new modem.
I will turn in the rented modem and pay for the new one in
ten month's time. Excellent!
The next step was the first falter. I ordered Virtual PC
with Windows XP. Running Windows XP on top of Mac OS X was
just too much for my 400 MHz G3. XP ran like molasses or
quit or froze. I returned that version and bought Virtual PC
with Windows 98. It is stable but quite, almost painfully,
slow. But it works and will do the trick. As a comparison I
run Virtual PC with Windows 95 on my trusty 266mhz PowerBook
with 68 MB of RAM and get better results.
Finally, my thoughts. My 400mhz G3 must be near the low
end of processors capable of running Mac OS X. I think Mac
OS X is optimized for the G4 and future processors. I would
hate to even think of running it with less than 256 MB of
RAM. A graphics oriented application like Photoshop would
likely be, again, painfully slow. But the good news is that
the native programs I run work just fine. They seem to run
at just about the same speed that they did under Mac OS 9. I
am sure the extra memory helps. All the peripherals worked.
The Internet connection worked even with the extra
complications of a cable modem hooked up to an AirPort base
station. Everything worked. I am up and running Mac OS X. I
do not even have Mac OS 9 installed. I am ready for the now
and the future. My compliments to Apple.