Mac Tips: OS X: Are You Ready?

OS X Has Landed. OS 9 is Dead.
This article was last updated on 4/12/05. Since then, it has become a no-brainer. Switch to OS X.

Mac Operating System X is here, and it's changing the way we Mac. Here's the history of the first major milestones:

September 2001 10.1 Puma still getting sea legs
August 2002 10.2 Jaguar the real deal
October 2003 10.3 Panther even better
April 2005 10.4 Tiger greatest thing since sliced bread

It's ready for prime time, but are you ready for it?

The first trick is pronunciation. OS X is pronounced "Oh Ess Ten," not "Oh Ess Ex." Microsoft even named the first OS X version of Office "v. X" to avoid it being pronounced "Office Sex." Those pesky Roman Numerals doomed the Roman Empire, so let's not let it happen to us. OS X is great and all, but it's no "Oh yes Sex." Call it by it's official pronunciation: "Oh Ess TEN."

OS X is a major evolutionary leap, solidifying the Mac as the tool of choice for discerning users, media creators and developers. Built on a Unix core with the latest Mac interface ("Aqua"), it marries the graceful Mac environment with the power and reliability of Unix. It retains the Mac's famously logical usability yet gives power-users access to advanced functions and command-line control.

OS X gives us protected memory (crashed apps don't kill others), preemptive multitasking, desktop CD/DVD burning, OS-level multiprocessor awareness, direct networking with Windows, and it's open-source (kinda). For more on the X geekspeak, see

BUT, it might not be for everyone. Those who rely on OS 9-era third-party hardware, including PCI cards, audio interfaces, SCSI accelerators, video cards, printers and scanners should check to make sure that they are fully compatible with OS X. Call the manufacturer of your device and ask "Is it OS X-ready?" and if not, "When?"

While OS 9 applications will run in OS X (in "classic mode"), many of the benefits of OS X would be missed, and compatibility is not guaranteed. OS X applications are separate apps, unlike the "fat" apps that worked on both Power PC and 680x0 Macs during the last major transition. Until all of your main applications are OS X native, stick with 9. There are OS X versions of all major applications including the last one to be released, Quark XPress (Summer 2003).

Recording Studios in particular waited longer than the rest of the Mac community, because most audio production applications were among the last to be released due to finicky compatibility requirements. There are now OS X versions of Pro Tools, Emagic Logic Platinum and Digital Performer. The "first generations" of these apps have been updated with "dot releases" (.1, .1.1, etc).

Basically, if it ain't broke, don't fix it. But keep OS X in mind when making new hardware and software purchases, because all roads lead to X. If you want to start learning, install it and don't commit to it, since you can reboot into OS 9 at anytime, if you have a model which wil boot into OS 9. Apple stopped making models that can boot into 9 in 2003.

The last version of OS 9 is 9.2.2. To check your present software for OS X compatibility, see Apple's OS X Support.


AD: Shop for OS X at

For info on the upgrade process from earlier versions of OS X to the latest, see this and this.

Another very useful link is how to switch between X and 9.

Some slot-loading iMacs have a major precaution to beware of before upgrading to 10.2 "Jaguar". You must upgrade your firmware or risk frying your motherboard!

OS X will be covered in future Mac Tips newsletters, so Silent Way's older tips apply to "classic" OS 9 and earlier. Check back here for updated recommendations.