Lion OS X Review

All you people out there that drink the Kool Aid and are going to hate me for giving anything that Apple did less than a 5-star rating aren’t going to like this, but I’m going to say it anyway.  I typically love Apple products, have two iMacs, an iPad, and an iPhone, and, despite my opinions about this version of OS X, still think that it far surpassed any version of Windows that I’ve used.  There are some things about Apple’s new version of Lion OS X 10.7, though, that a lot of people won’t know before upgrading, and people should be informed before making this update.  A lot of what I’m about to say is opinion, but it’s based on the experiences that I’ve had with Lion after using it both at work and at home for a little over a week.

SMB Problems

The biggest problem with Lion that I have had (and it’s huge) is the way that it connects to Windows servers (update: I found a temporary solution).  In order for an Apple machine to connect to a windows network, it needs to use a connection called SMB to communicate.  With Lion, Apple decided to do away with their previous method of connecting via SMB in favor of their own in-house method.  The problem is that for some users, it just plain doesn’t work.  I connect to a 2008 Windows File Server at work via SMB using Active Directory, and there is something about the way that the SMB connection works now that has made it so that my iMac cannot connect to the file server.  There is one application (MU Commander) that I have found that will get around this limitation, but it doesn’t allow me to actually work on a file and save it…it simply gets around Lion’s deficiencies to let me view the file, but in order to open it, it copies it to a local temporary drive, and I can’t save what I’m doing.  This means that when I’m working on a file that has other linked files (like InDesign) I can’t access the linked files at all.  This is a major problem, and Apple has not addressed the issue at all (see my post of the Apple Discussion Forum).  There are many things about my job that I actually can’t do since upgrading to Lion.  I upgraded because I figured, what the heck, it’s only $30.  What could go wrong?  Well…I didn’t anticipate anything like this.

Target: MacBook

With this release Apple appears to be specifically targeting MacBook users.  Gestures is one of the biggest benefits about this release, yet that’s something that doesn’t impact an iMac or Mac Pro user at all (unless you own a trackpad…for some reason).  They added some gestures that work on the Magic Mouse, but they are limited.  Add to that that they changed the one Magic Mouse gesture that I actually used (two finger swipe to go Back and Forward in a web browser) so that it jumps between full screen apps, as if I’m running a bunch of them at once (which I never am).

Launchpad

Launchpad is overhyped, and frankly, they took an aspect of the iPad that I didn’t like and pushed it to the Mac.  The small screen of an iPhone necessitated icon-driven applications.  Running on the same iOS platform, the iPad used the icon-driven approach as well.  But, when you have hundreds of applications, this is not a convient way of navigating.  You need to remember where you put the icons in order to open an application, and if you can’t, then you need to revert to search.  In Launchpad, you don’t even have the ability to search.  You are limited to an icon-driven environment with only one level of available folder structure.  Launchpad also interprets uninstall files as Applications, so if you have the Creative Suite installed, you will get an uninstall “App” for each program in the Creative Suite.

Mission Control

Mission Control is basically Spaces and Expose combined together, gives you the ability to drag and drop windows into different Spaces, and see a quick overview of everything that’s going on on your Mac at the same time.  It’s helpful in some ways.  If you’re a huge user of Spaces, you’ll probably love it.  If you don’t use the Spaces concept, you actually won’t like it because it makes your Expose windows smaller.

Security

I’m told that there are a lot of sercurity enhancements in Lion.  I have no idea what they are, but apparently my Mac is harder to hack into now.  Hooray.  Keep making me safer.  But, I prefer security enhancements being pushed to me through Software Updates.

Conclusion

At the end of the day, there’s really nothing about Lion that I love, a few things that I like (and are growing on me), but there is one thing that I hate: the SMB issue.  For professionals, this should be a deal breaker.  Wait to upgrade until you are sure that you will be able to connect to your file servers.  I’m sure that as things like full screen applications, Versions, and other parts of the OS get more widely adopted, I’ll end up liking Lion more.  However, the SMB issue needed a fix yesterday, and I won’t be a happy camper until it is.

Share your experiences with Lion in the comments.  If you find a fix to my SMB problem, I will declare you my best friend for life.  (Update: my IT guy wins the title)

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About Luke

My name is Luke, and I'm the Online Media Manager for a technology company, photographer, husband, and father. You can see a snapshot of some of my work at LukeCoburn.com. I cheer for the Red Sox and am completely in love with my wife and four little princesses.

23 Responses to “Lion OS X Review”

  1. rebel1804 August 2, 2011 at 2:02 pm #

    I love Lion for its full screen capabilities. The magic mouse does have limited features compared to the trackpad but I was able to compensate for that by using hot corners. The SMB problems never really bothered me because I am on a tiny all mac home network. Overall Lion fells like a “Snow Snow Leopard” to me.

  2. LukeCoburn August 2, 2011 at 3:36 pm #

    @rebel1804 Are you on a MacBook? The reason that I ask is because I’m on a 27″ iMac, and full-screen, though amazing in some apps, can feel a little overwhelming in others. Plus, it’s limited to the apps that Apple has put out…and Chrome, cause they’re just cool like that, I guess.

    I agree with Snow Snow Leopard…not sure if it warranted all the hype when so little changed. Then again, OS X is so far ahead of Windows that it’s hard to keep hitting homeruns with each new release.

  3. rebel1804 August 2, 2011 at 3:45 pm #

    @LukeCoburn I am on a iMac also. MacBooks aren’t powerful enough for me. I am not much of a fan of the app store because I like to have solid copies of all my software.

  4. LukeCoburn August 2, 2011 at 4:04 pm #

    @rebel1804 Funny, I love the app store for the way that they’ve changed licensing agreements. The ability to put any of my purchases on any Mac that I own is fabulous. The $30 that I spent putting a new OS on two iMacs is nothing compared to the $250 it would have cost me to do two machines running Windows for Windows 7.

  5. 5Roses August 4, 2011 at 7:12 am #

    @LukeCoburn There is a workaround for the SMB problem. If you react to this comment, I will get in touch.

    I am an iMac user too. For me Snow Leopord was good enough and with Lion I got the following extra’s:

    PRO’s:

    – Security fixes, great (I think), because (as a former Window user) I am not feeling to have to protect myself as I go on the internet.

    – Mission Control looks good. I did’nt use Spaces but I think I will start to use it

    CON’s:

    – SMBX is HORRIBLE. I can’t use my WDTV Live mediaplayer anymore. A reason to downgrade to Snow Leopard again!!!!

    – It’ll takes ages to start up my iMac. I think it’s part of Lion keeping track of programs when it closes and it will start up those programs again when it starts up again. IF I SHUTDOWN MY iMAC, I AM AWARE THAT IT CLOSES MY PROGRAMS! IF I WANT TO KEEP THEM ALIVE, I WILL PUT IT IN HIBERNATION!!

    – Launchpad is typecally something for the iPads, iPhones etc. It brings me (as an iMac user) nothing, because I had my programs allread in a map in my dock.

    – The way Apple has altered the GUI of Mail is not my GUI. There are good elements, but overall it sucks. I went back to the classic GUI.

    – The way Apple got rid of SMB in favour of their SMBX looks like Microsoft. Only Apple stuff will work on it. Bad Apple.

    Because of my good experiences with the update of Mac OSX, I blindly installed it. Next time I will wait and be more carefull. I have lost a bit of trust in Apple.

    5Roses

  6. LukeCoburn August 4, 2011 at 8:21 am #

    @5Roses Yes, I share your (lack of) enthusiasm in pretty much the same areas. I think that Apple will fix the buggy things over time, but I’m really hoping that they get this SMB thing fixed ASAP. What’s the workaround that you’re referencing? I’ve seen (and tried) a few that I’ve found around forums and such, but so far nothing has been a valid solution.

  7. LukeCoburn August 4, 2011 at 8:21 am #

    @5Roses Yes, I share your (lack of) enthusiasm in pretty much the same areas. I think that Apple will fix the buggy things over time, but I’m really hoping that they get this SMB thing fixed ASAP. What’s the workaround that you’re referencing? I’ve seen (and tried) a few that I’ve found around forums and such, but so far nothing has been a valid solution.

  8. 5Roses August 4, 2011 at 9:08 am #

    @LukeCoburn Do you have Skype?

  9. 5Roses August 4, 2011 at 9:17 am #

    @LukeCoburn I have got a public email address indeprullenbak@gmail.com you can use. But reply here first, then I will have a look.

  10. LukeCoburn August 4, 2011 at 10:57 am #

    @5Roses It would be best to just post here in the comments. That way the information will be available for anyone reading the post. Thanks for your input!

  11. 5Roses August 4, 2011 at 12:59 pm #

    @LukeCoburn Can you, as a moderator, get rid of my post with my email address?

    I have looked on the internet as well for a solution to SBMX. The most promising solution seemed to be: installing Samba3. So I did.

    You have to install Xcode and MacPorts first. Installing XCode and MacPorts ain’t that difficult, Then you can install Samba3. I can now reach/use my files on my Windows 7 PC again.

    My only problem is: I can’t see my files using the WDTV Live mediaplayer.

    Conclusion

    You can join your Windows network if you use Samba3.

    My problem ain’t solved.

    Installation

    I used the first link (boxee) to install Samba3.

    If you download XCode (free download from Apple), it will install itself.

    MacPorts is a (free) download from SVN. This will also install itself.

    Samba3 is also free. If XCode and MacPorts are installed, you will have no trouble installing Samba3.

    I simply followed the instructions of the first link.

    Problems I stumbled upon:

    – name of Samba server: Look in: System preferences>sharing read the part under Computername.

    – because my mediaplayer ain’t working, I think I miss directions. I know a little of Unix and terminals but I don’t know anything of XCode, MacPorts or Samba3. That’s why I hope someone will come with

    a list of ALL the (monkeyproof) directions (script).

    Because I can’t use my mediaplayer, I think I will re-install it using the directions from the second URL (johnlarge). Now that I konow that most of the software will install itself, it doesn’t seem to be that complex anaymore. And it seems to be more complete.

    Links:

    http://forums.boxee.tv/showthread.php?t=38629

    http://www.johnlarge.co.uk/2011/07/19/osx-lion-samba-smb-shares-broken-xbmc-not-working/

    http://www.samba.org/samba/docs/man/Samba-HOWTO-Collection/install.html

    Goodluck

  12. LukeCoburn August 4, 2011 at 1:45 pm #

    @5Roses FYI – I deleted your comment, as requested.

  13. LukeCoburn August 4, 2011 at 1:49 pm #

    @5Roses Wow, that’s quite a process. I’m apprehensive to give that a go on my corporate network, just because I don’t know how it will “play” with our servers. I’ve read that some people have inadvertently caused network/server problems trying to fix this issue with Lion, and I don’t want to end up with one of those stories. But, this sounds like it could be a good solution for people on a home network trying to access personal peripherals. Thanks for posting! I hope some of the readers here will find this helpful.

  14. 5Roses August 4, 2011 at 2:11 pm #

    @LukeCoburn It is not that bad and I can help you if you wish. I like to use Skype. Send me an email if you want to 🙂

  15. noahcoburn August 4, 2011 at 3:36 pm #

    @rebel1804 hmm. if you need to have solid copies of your software, something tells me you’re going to hate the future of computing…

  16. rebel1804 August 4, 2011 at 3:53 pm #

    @noahcoburn Sometimes having a solid copy is more convenient then waiting for all my apps to download, especially if I am downloading a big app like photoshop.

  17. LukeCoburn August 4, 2011 at 5:07 pm #

    @rebel1804 But wouldn’t you say that the initial time that it takes to attain the hard copy is far less convenient than a simple download? Also, isn’t your investment safer in Apple’s cloud than in your own storage shelf?

  18. rebel1804 August 4, 2011 at 5:11 pm #

    @LukeCoburn That’s a strong argument, I must agree.

  19. imazer August 6, 2011 at 2:31 pm #

    Hey, just a casual reader here who wants to know if you’ve tried the process below that I copied from the very apple discussion thread you linked to:

    “Re: Can’t connect via SMBAug 6, 2011 3:39 AM (in response to upeace)

    Solution found for the avahi problem!

    Just change the port in the samba.service from 139 to 445, see below

    < !DOCTYPE service-group SYSTEM "avahi-service.dtd">

    %h

    _smb._tcp

    445

    _device-info._tcp

    0

    model=Xserve

    I’ve searched over days before i’ve found the solution FU APPLE!

    Just tell us and everything is ok, but changing without documentationi is NOT ok.”

    Could it be that simple?

    –imazer [who has no problem because his network is not Microsoft’s]

  20. LukeCoburn August 10, 2011 at 8:12 pm #

    @imazer I actually found this to be a temporary solution for me: http://fatwalr.us/2011/08/solution-to-my-smb-connection-problem-in-lion/ .

    To be perfectly honest, I didn’t understand what to do with the solution that you’re referencing.

  21. executivegifts February 11, 2012 at 3:04 am #

    So, basically, about half of these new features are things that Windows has had since ’98? Cool, got it. 🙂 Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not a die hard Windows user. I have a Windows 7 netbook, sure, but my old Vista desktop got Ubuntu and I’ve never looked back. 🙂 But Mac… :/

  22. DS November 21, 2012 at 5:24 pm #

    I can’t stand Lion. It offers no advantages to me and has changed the way mail and address book work without obvious benefit. Many existing programmes did not work on the new platform and needed to upgraded adding to the cost.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Solution to My SMB Connection Problem in Lion | FatWalr.us - August 10, 2011

    […] my recent post about Mac OS X Lion, I spoke a little bit about my problems connecting via SMB to a Windows File Server.  Well, […]

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