Leopard: things I like and things I dislike, a developer perspective

It's more than a full day working on Leopard right now. So, here are my first impressions on what I like and what I don't like from a developer perspective.What I like:
  1. Time Machine. Easy, almost everyone paid lip service to TM. But it's still impressive when you look at it
  2. Dtrace and Instruments. This is a joy for developers. More on this in next posts, in the meanwhile have a look at Bryan Cantrill blog,  dtrace creator 
  3. Spaces. Another easy one. Bye bye buggy Virtue Desktop, welcome pre-organized spaces (yes, you can assign applications to predefined spaces)
  4. Terminal. You won't need anymore iTerm to tail logs in tabbed windows.
  5. Calendar icon now shows the real date and not 17 of July!
  6. Ruby/Rails out of the box. Very nice to have ruby/rails integrated. Well, I would have preferred a java 6 virtual machine, but it's nonetheless a nice feature. Not as much as the Calendar icon, but a good one :). Jokes aside, is nice that ruby apps on apple are also Dtraceable
What I don't like:
  1. No Java 6. No workarounds: but java 5 looks very fast, and rumors are that we will see java 6 very soon. (hopefully with fast opengl rendered Swing, working Java Sound and a lot of dtrace probes)
  2. PostgreSql from MacPorts failed to compile, and I still hadn't had time to see why
  3. The 3D Dock looks ugly. Easy workaround:  simply type "defaults write com.apple.dock no-glass -boolean YES" and then a "killall Dock" in the command line
  4. The tranlucent menu looks ugly too. This isn't easily and completely solved right now
  5. Skype works only the first time! This happens because Skype self-modifies itself after the first launch, and the app signing mechanism break. Either wait for Skype folks to solve it or reinstall with the firewall disabled. More info here
  6. Intellij Idea 7.0.1 can't be assigned to a space :(
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Migration Assistant, thank you very much!

Yesterday I received a shiny new MBP. Being my 5th Mac with OSX, I thought I almost knew all of the basics. Well, I was wrong.

I was almost ready with my rsync scripts and a great dose of patience to migrate all my stuff to the new beast when one of my colleagues pointed me to Migration Assistant. For me, that was one of those misterious icons you never use, probably being there for obscure reasons I certainly don't need to cope with, like Grapher (/Application/Utilities/Grapher.app), or ODBC Administrator (/Application/Utilities/ODBC Administrator.app), or [Put your favourite example here]. You know, that kind of stuff even Steve Jobs doesn't know exactly why is there or what is for.

Well, it turns out that Migration Assistant is really really useful and it does really really work. All you need is a firewire cable, then:


  • you connect the old mac with the new one

  • you start the Migration Assistant (/Application/Utilities/Migration Assistant.app), or, even better, you choose to "migrate data from another mac" during the setup procedure wizard

  • you (re)start the old mac keeping the T button pressed: that makes your mac go in "firewire disk" mode. You will see a fancy firewire logo moving on your screen when it's ready

  • you choose from a wizard what you want to migrate (Users, Applications, and so on). I selected all the checkboxes

  • you wait :)




And then you will have a new mac, virtually identical to the old one. Same desktop, same apps, same stuff in the trash bin, same history in the browser, same network options, same items at startup, etc. I had only 3 minor issues, and here are the workarounds:



  • Some icons on the Dock was broken, showing a question mark. I just clicked on them to solve this :)


  • Alfresco didn't work anymore. Looking at the logs, it was really a postgres problem: the postgres user didn't migrate (in fact, it wasn't even selectable in the Migration Assistant wizard, probably because the UID was to low or too high to be in the normal user range, who knows?). This is really a piece of cake, just recreate the postgres user and group with the same UID/GID with Netinfo Manager (/Applications/Utilities/NetInfo Manager.app) or using the shell.


  • The admin user wasn't anymore an admin! The user data correctly migrated, but OSX was confused and, although it had the Admin checkbox correctly set, couldn't act as an administrator (sudo for example didn't work). Being the only Admin user, OSX don't let you unset/reset the checkbox. The workaround here is simply to create another Foo admin user, then unset and reset your real Admin user Administration checkbox, and then delete the Foo admin user.





This time, the god of system administrators smiled at me and I had an up and running laptop in a few hours (just about 2 hours for 50Gb on the 400Mb firewire) and a few minutes to fix minor issues. Well done!
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Ok, you say you believe in god…

A lot of people say they are religious, or that they believe in god. But what do they exactly believe? There are different "levels", and terminology is ALWAYS important. Simplifying a bit - philosophers will forgive me - you can be


  • Theist - A theist believes in a supernatural intelligence who created the universe and influences the fate of the creation, especially the human kind (answers prayers, does miracles, punishes sins, etc.). This is the "classic" god of Judaism, Christianity and Islam

  • Deist - A deist believes in a supernatural intelligence who created the universe, setting up the initial laws, but is not involved in human affairs. This is the Locke, Voltaire, Diderot position.

  • Pantheist - A pantheist doesn't believe in a supernatural god, but uses god as a synonim of Nature, Cosmic intelligence, and so on. This is the Spinoza's god

  • Agnostic - The agnostic thinks that he can't possibly know, and so is skeptic. He doesn't take a clear position, nor he wants to

  • Atheist - The Atheist believe there is no supernatural god. He doesn't call nature god and usually thinks that theists are the root of all evil in the world



Richard Dawkins says pantheism is "sexed up" atheism, and deism is "watered down" theism. The difference between Pantheism, Agnosticism and Atheism is quite subtle if you think about it, and usually unreligious people can't say exactly what term best describes their beliefs.

It is not so common that Scientists or Engineers are Theists/Deists. This obviously doesn't prove anything in a sense or the other, because scientists are by no means any better than other people (I don't agree with Dawkins on this point), but it's interesting. My (small) numbers - I led different software teams - are that in Software engineering at least 80% of people err between pantheism and atheism. What are yours?
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