16 votes

Is Catalina a good upgrade yet?

Tags: apple, macos

43 comments

  1. [13]
    nothis
    Link
    I mean, that's about it, isn't it. I have a handful of 32bit apps which I won't just drop because of Catalina. Interestingly enough there isn't a single feature, otherwise, which makes it enticing...

    If you’re still reliant on 32-bit apps, then this could disqualify upgrading before you’ve even looked any deeper.

    I mean, that's about it, isn't it. I have a handful of 32bit apps which I won't just drop because of Catalina.

    Interestingly enough there isn't a single feature, otherwise, which makes it enticing to upgrade. Operating systems are super boring right now, which is a good thing because their only job is to not get in the way.

    6 votes
    1. [4]
      tindall
      Link Parent
      Not to be That Person as usual, but, this is a big reason us free software people are so adamant about being able to see and compile the source code ourselves. Recompiling for different pointer...

      Not to be That Person as usual, but, this is a big reason us free software people are so adamant about being able to see and compile the source code ourselves. Recompiling for different pointer widths (e.g. 32 to 64 bit) is usually trivial and almost never impossible, and it's usually possible to even move the same software to different architectures (e.g. x86 to ARM, which is a transition Apple is planning in the future which will break a ton of proprietary stuff forever.)

      9 votes
      1. [3]
        nothis
        Link Parent
        I think the problem lies in the threshold between "small update" and "the developer has basically forgotten that thing exists". So we're talking about software where the developer isn't even in...

        I think the problem lies in the threshold between "small update" and "the developer has basically forgotten that thing exists". So we're talking about software where the developer isn't even in contact with the community anymore or cares too little to even bother to put it on his todo list, even if it literally takes half an hour. Software like that exists.

        And then, of course, there's companies who won't update some old version of their software to force users to buy the new version, even if there would otherwise be no reason to upgrade.

        3 votes
        1. [2]
          tindall
          Link Parent
          Right... but if the software is open source, you don't need the original developer to do anything. As long as even one user has the (honestly, pretty minimal) technical know-how to re-compile the...

          Right... but if the software is open source, you don't need the original developer to do anything. As long as even one user has the (honestly, pretty minimal) technical know-how to re-compile the program for x64 (or whatever new architecture) and distribute the newly compiled binary, everyone gets to use it.

          Case in point: I use Manjaro Linux on my Pinebook Pro, which is an ARM machine. No software compiled for x86 will run on it. I can use a ton of software written by people who had never tried to build it on ARM - probably never encountered an ARM laptop or desktop - because that software's source code is available and I can ask my package manager to compile it.

          4 votes
          1. nothis
            Link Parent
            I just realized I skimmed over the literal point of your entire post, apologies! You're right, of course! I guess, for some software I could go and compile it myself, but I'm way too inexperienced...

            I just realized I skimmed over the literal point of your entire post, apologies! You're right, of course!

            I guess, for some software I could go and compile it myself, but I'm way too inexperienced with handling more complex build processes, which always seem to have a catch. To the point where that afternoon spent wouldn't be worth the OS upgrade.

            3 votes
    2. [5]
      vord
      Link Parent
      I would definitely say all of the exciting, pioneering technology is happening primarily with open-source operating systems at this point. I'm not really in the Apple ecosystem, but based on your...

      Operating systems are super boring right now

      I would definitely say all of the exciting, pioneering technology is happening primarily with open-source operating systems at this point. I'm not really in the Apple ecosystem, but based on your comment and the article, I get the impression that Apple is hitting a period of stagnation, which kinda sucks if major Apple upgrades are still paid. That's still a vast improvement over the shit-show that is the current state of Windows.

      which is a good thing because their only job is to not get in the way

      This is a fantastic feature a GUI: the less you notice it the better it is...and OS X's is hands down the most consistent in that regard. However, I would argue the operating system as a whole is the single most important part to continually advance, even if its advancement is transparent to non-technical users. The operating system is the literal core of the system, when the core stagnates, tech that is built on that core stagnates as well.

      This also is completely dependent on how you define an operating system. In our modern modular era, it's very hard to define the line between "operating system" and "application." Is a backup solution a part of the operating system? Is it filesystem support? Remote access? Browsers? What if those can be expanded/replaced by other applications? Is the operating system the total sum of all available applications for that operating system? It's too complex IMO to define clearly.

      Many features that are included with OSX would likely be classed as applications on Windows or Linux. Linux features are often easily replaceable with alternatives, so a Linux install can afford to be more bare-bones by default as it provides easy access to virtually any type of application for free. OSX benefits indirectly from this as well for the tech-minded, as OSX retains its BSD core. Windows by contrast feels virtually useless out of the box, and getting a Windows system into a reasonably usable state requires a fair bit of tinkering and installation.

      Dropping 32 bit support is no joke either....many Linux distros have tried already and faced substantial criticism, and while now they often exclude it by default, they also retain the ability to install it again easily if you really need it. I get that one aspect of Apple's whole brand is the whole "dropping legacy to bring the platform forward," but this method of dropping 32 bit support the way they dropped the headphone jack is harsh. 2 years is not a lot of deprecation time for such a massive backlog of backwards compatibility. From a technical perspective, this is almost as harsh as the initial transition to x86.

      4 votes
      1. [2]
        Kraetos
        Link Parent
        ? Apple hasn't charged for macOS since 2013!

        which kinda sucks if major Apple upgrades are still paid.

        ?

        Apple hasn't charged for macOS since 2013!

        9 votes
        1. balooga
          Link Parent
          Arguably, if they started charging for it again, the quality might improve. The OS has had its ups and downs but as others in the thread have mentioned, we're definitely in a valley right now....

          Arguably, if they started charging for it again, the quality might improve. The OS has had its ups and downs but as others in the thread have mentioned, we're definitely in a valley right now. Apple's software QA the past few years has been relatively terrible.

          — Mac user since 1988

          2 votes
      2. [2]
        hamstergeddon
        Link Parent
        I've been using a Hackintosh for the past few weeks on Catalina and I am pretty impressed with how "out of my way" macOS feels compared to Windows. Also way more consistent than my linux...

        I've been using a Hackintosh for the past few weeks on Catalina and I am pretty impressed with how "out of my way" macOS feels compared to Windows. Also way more consistent than my linux experience has been in general (although maybe that's my fault for using KDE rather than some more simplified/basic like XFCE). My only real gripes are the misc quirks of using a "windows" keyboard on a Mac and a few behavioral things that required some configuration and/or applications to iron out. Aside from that it's a pretty solid experience.

        6 votes
        1. Douglas
          Link Parent
          My disappointment with Windows is how messy it feels nowadays compared to its previous versions and Mac. For example, they have the Microsoft Store with their Microsoft Apps, but you can still go...

          My disappointment with Windows is how messy it feels nowadays compared to its previous versions and Mac.

          For example, they have the Microsoft Store with their Microsoft Apps, but you can still go get non-Microsoft App versions of the programs you want to use (Spotify, Slack, Discord), and god help you if you ever want to switch. After having issues with Spotify, it seems to be a known issue when it comes to uninstalling one or switching to the other.

          And then the privacy options, if you disable them (like Cortana or Search Privacy Settings), the OS leaves behind residual husks that just don't function since you're not using them, instead of removing them outright.

          It just feels like they're in a half-committed state to the newer things they want to implement.

          9 votes
    3. [2]
      onyxleopard
      Link Parent
      If the maintainers haven’t updated them yet, are they ever going to?

      I have a handful of 32bit apps which I won't just drop because of Catalina.

      If the maintainers haven’t updated them yet, are they ever going to?

      4 votes
      1. nothis
        Link Parent
        Probably not? It's still a somewhat significant amount of work to look for alternatives and "is this 64bit?" hasn't been something I watched out for in the past, for programs that do their job....

        Probably not? It's still a somewhat significant amount of work to look for alternatives and "is this 64bit?" hasn't been something I watched out for in the past, for programs that do their job. It's a rather arbitrary restriction from a consumer POV. I get that Apple wants a clean slate and with iOS, for example, I kinda applaud Apple for pushing OS updates so strictly. But desktop is a little more "messy" by nature and it seems a bit rash to push for such a major cut just out of principle.

        5 votes
    4. NoblePath
      Link Parent
      If you have a compatible ipad, sidecar is darn cool.

      single feature

      If you have a compatible ipad, sidecar is darn cool.

      3 votes
  2. ubergeek
    Link
    It's alright. I upgraded, and the best thing it did was forcibly remove the corporate antivirus, and corporate spyware installed by my employer. The spyware re-installed itself, but is in such a...

    It's alright. I upgraded, and the best thing it did was forcibly remove the corporate antivirus, and corporate spyware installed by my employer.

    The spyware re-installed itself, but is in such a sandbox now, it's basically useless for corporate trying to screw with my machine in any way, because it has access to nothing.

    5 votes
  3. [10]
    Ember
    Link
    I'll hang on to Safari 12 and "legacy" extensions like uBlock Origin for as long as I can.

    I'll hang on to Safari 12 and "legacy" extensions like uBlock Origin for as long as I can.

    3 votes
    1. [7]
      emdash
      Link Parent
      Check out AdGuard for Safari. Yes, it’s a content blocker and not an extension, technically.

      Check out AdGuard for Safari.

      Yes, it’s a content blocker and not an extension, technically.

      1 vote
      1. [6]
        anahata
        Link Parent
        Content blockers are strictly better from a technical perspective, actually. They perform better and respect your privacy better. Plus they're available cross-platform (with cross-platform config...

        Content blockers are strictly better from a technical perspective, actually. They perform better and respect your privacy better. Plus they're available cross-platform (with cross-platform config syncing). This kind of thing is why I'm never, ever going to look at another browser. Nothing else supports this kind of thing.

        1Blocker is what you want these days, by the way. /cc @Ember

        5 votes
        1. [5]
          nothis
          Link Parent
          What's that and how does it compare to uBlock Origin?

          1Blocker is what you want these days, by the way.

          What's that and how does it compare to uBlock Origin?

          3 votes
          1. [4]
            anahata
            Link Parent
            I explained what content blockers are in my comment. What parts of it are unclear?

            I explained what content blockers are in my comment. What parts of it are unclear?

            1. [3]
              cfabbro
              (edited )
              Link Parent
              I believe @nothis was asking specifics, which you didn't get into. Browser-level blockers (e.g uBlock, Adblock+, etc) = typically cross-browser compatible, but often only blocks ads and some other...

              I believe @nothis was asking specifics, which you didn't get into.

              Browser-level blockers (e.g uBlock, Adblock+, etc) = typically cross-browser compatible, but often only blocks ads and some other select HTML elements, so need to be supplemented with separate tracking and script blockers.

              Content blockers (e.g. 1Blocker, AdGaurd, etc) = Most are Mac/iOS/Safari specific, but there are some for Linux and Windows as well. Blocks ads, trackers, some third-party scripts, and sometimes other stuff like adult content, if you desire.

              And the reason content blockers generally perform better is because they aren't written in interpreted langauges and run through the browser like Extensions/Addons are, and are instead usually compiled code running at the OS level. However the disadvantage with them is you cannot generally whitelist URLs on the fly like you can with traditional browser-level ad blockers.

              Also worth mentioning is network-level blockers (e.g. Pi-Hole) and hardware firewalls, which have even better performance due to them typically running on dedicated hardware, and filtering requests before they even reach your network attached devices. Though they have a similar downside to content blockers in that they cannot typically whitelist on the fly.

              7 votes
              1. nothis
                Link Parent
                Thanks, I honestly didn't quite get the difference between extensions and content blockers and thought 1Blocker was just another extension.

                Thanks, I honestly didn't quite get the difference between extensions and content blockers and thought 1Blocker was just another extension.

                2 votes
              2. anahata
                Link Parent
                Fair enough. I should point out that 1Blocker does support whitelisting URLs. I have a few whitelisted in a few different ways to work around some bugs.

                Fair enough. I should point out that 1Blocker does support whitelisting URLs. I have a few whitelisted in a few different ways to work around some bugs.

                1 vote
    2. [2]
      nothis
      Link Parent
      Sorry to be that guy, but why not switch to Firefox?

      Sorry to be that guy, but why not switch to Firefox?

      1 vote
      1. anahata
        Link Parent
        Firefox doesn't integrate with the OS, it doesn't feel native, the UI is a mess, memory usage is still ridiculous, it doesn't integrate with other devices running other operating systems, ...

        Firefox doesn't integrate with the OS, it doesn't feel native, the UI is a mess, memory usage is still ridiculous, it doesn't integrate with other devices running other operating systems, ...

        2 votes
  4. [6]
    anahata
    Link
    Music.app is GARBAGE. Every time I open it, I find several new, different bugs (I wish this was an exaggeration but it's really not; every. time. I open it, it fails in a new, bizarre way)....

    Music.app is GARBAGE. Every time I open it, I find several new, different bugs (I wish this was an exaggeration but it's really not; every. time. I open it, it fails in a new, bizarre way). Immediately after Catalina's release, I found at least one distinct bug every day for a week. I cannot remember the last time an Apple software update has so totally and completely failed like Music.app has (which is not surprising since it's not actually Apple; it's the Beats devs, who Apple acquihired). It is so bad that it is utterly unuseable. It's to the point that I don't even bother listening to music on my Macs or controlling my HomePods with my Macs; it's all through my phone or tablet. I tried getting iTunes back via Retroactive, but I'm noticing bugs there, too, especially around Apple Music.

    I really hope we see a software update that either brings iTunes back (which would really be a Scott Forstall-level event) or that makes Music.app actually fit for purpose. Right now it's a waste of disk space.

    3 votes
    1. [2]
      emdash
      Link Parent
      There's also not just bugs, but, like, really bizarre legacy iTunes features that have been ported across that just aren't as good as competitors, like Spotify: If you select a single song on...

      There's also not just bugs, but, like, really bizarre legacy iTunes features that have been ported across that just aren't as good as competitors, like Spotify:

      • If you select a single song on Apple Music and play it, once the song is over, your music stops. That may sound "technically correct", but isn't how most people listen to their music today: Spotify will keep playing other songs afterwards, as it sees fit. Most people don't want discontinuity, they want audio queued, ready to go in the background, constantly.
      • Got a legacy iTunes music video you purchased from the iTunes Store in your library? Once that music video is complete, you'll still have a big-ass image of the next song's album cover in an open window on screen. Why?
      • On Music.app on iPhone, I find the search functionality just so inconveniently placed and frustrating. It's an entirely separate tab. The way every other music app works these days is you've got search/filter inline with your music library. It should be omni-present across the interface and it just isn't. Also it has that annoying segmented control where you can search your library or Apple Music. Just give me blended results so I don't have to tab-hop constantly.
      • Only Apple Music has frustrating "Keep up next"/"Clear up next" modal dialogs when you try and override your play queue.
      3 votes
      1. anahata
        Link Parent
        A few of those are matters of opinion. The first, third, and fourth I find useful. Where else would you put a search dialog in the current Music.app UI? There's nowhere to go with it besides the...

        A few of those are matters of opinion. The first, third, and fourth I find useful. Where else would you put a search dialog in the current Music.app UI? There's nowhere to go with it besides the bottom. This is consistent with other iOS apps.

        1 vote
    2. [3]
      babypuncher
      Link Parent
      It's also a memory hog. I've watched it use 750+ MB just to play music on my MacBook Air. Wine support for 32-bit Windows apps on Catalina can't come fast enough so I can switch back to foobar.

      It's also a memory hog. I've watched it use 750+ MB just to play music on my MacBook Air. Wine support for 32-bit Windows apps on Catalina can't come fast enough so I can switch back to foobar.

      1 vote
      1. [2]
        vord
        Link Parent
        Not sure if it's the same as on Linux...but 32 bit wine on Linux requires 32 bit support from the OS. Probably easier to create a 32 bit Windows VM at this point if that is the case.

        Not sure if it's the same as on Linux...but 32 bit wine on Linux requires 32 bit support from the OS.

        Probably easier to create a 32 bit Windows VM at this point if that is the case.

        4 votes
        1. babypuncher
          Link Parent
          This was the case on macOS, before Catalina While this would be easier to implement, it's far from a practical solution for people like me just wanting to run a small music player. CodeWeavers is...

          Not sure if it's the same as on Linux...but 32 bit wine on Linux requires 32 bit support from the OS.

          This was the case on macOS, before Catalina

          Probably easier to create a 32 bit Windows VM at this point if that is the case.

          While this would be easier to implement, it's far from a practical solution for people like me just wanting to run a small music player. CodeWeavers is working on a solution that runs 32-bit x86 instructions within a 64-bit process. It's still experimental, and it's unsure whether their work will be pushed upstream to Wine or remain exclusive to their Crossover product.

          3 votes
  5. [8]
    scot
    Link
    I finally upgraded 2 days ago. The only thing I got smacked on was when I discovered I had been using Dreamweaver CS5 to update a few websites I manage. I don't do a ton of work with it, and so it...

    I finally upgraded 2 days ago. The only thing I got smacked on was when I discovered I had been using Dreamweaver CS5 to update a few websites I manage. I don't do a ton of work with it, and so it never occurred to me that this could become a nuisance. Any suggestions on a decent html/css editor? (I've been accustomed to entering html elements by typing them in manually, like a psychopath, for years, but I'm open to other editing interfaces).

    3 votes
    1. [5]
      aphoenix
      Link Parent
      VSCode is free and pretty good. It may be overkill for your usage, and it's an Electron app, which means that it uses tons of CPU and RAM even though it shouldn't. Other than that, it's pretty...

      VSCode is free and pretty good. It may be overkill for your usage, and it's an Electron app, which means that it uses tons of CPU and RAM even though it shouldn't. Other than that, it's pretty good.

      If that doesn't tickle your fancy, you could use something like Sublime Text, which is a very good notepad replacement.

      Alternately, if you are a student (or potentially an alumni, I've heard) you could qualify for JetBrains' IDEs, which are pretty good.

      7 votes
      1. [4]
        scot
        Link Parent
        That's great. I'm going to look into all of them. I knew I could count on Tildes to find an educated answer. Thank you for your suggestions.

        That's great. I'm going to look into all of them. I knew I could count on Tildes to find an educated answer. Thank you for your suggestions.

        3 votes
        1. [3]
          daturkel
          Link Parent
          I didn't realize Dreamweaver was even still around—what features do you use? Is your site static? If so then as aphoenix said, pretty much any editor you're comfortable in will do. If you like...

          I didn't realize Dreamweaver was even still around—what features do you use? Is your site static? If so then as aphoenix said, pretty much any editor you're comfortable in will do. If you like previewing, you could always use the language of your choice to serve up your site directory locally: https://gist.github.com/willurd/5720255

          2 votes
          1. [2]
            scot
            Link Parent
            It's crazy how as I have gotten older, I've become a dinosaur. Use it or lose it definitely applies to web development and software updates. I was using Dreamweaver out of habit. I like to see the...

            It's crazy how as I have gotten older, I've become a dinosaur. Use it or lose it definitely applies to web development and software updates. I was using Dreamweaver out of habit. I like to see the html and I've learned a lot by pulling apart css templates and snatching bits from ww3 online. I save out my changes and open the local file with Firefox to check for errors before uploading to my hosting service. All of these recommendations make me think its time I invest a few hours into teaching myself new tricks and joining the modern world!

            2 votes
            1. daturkel
              Link Parent
              Even though technology evolves very quickly and web development has seen especially rapid growth (see the recent Tildes post Old CSS, New CSS), there's something to be said for doing certain...

              Even though technology evolves very quickly and web development has seen especially rapid growth (see the recent Tildes post Old CSS, New CSS), there's something to be said for doing certain things the old way!

              HTML and CSS are still the core languages of the web and don't require any special tooling. The workflow you describe is very similar to mine—the only reason it's nice to use a local http server even for simple static sites is that it makes it easier to have relative paths in your html that won't work if you just open the files in your browser.

              1 vote
    2. [2]
      sleepydave
      Link Parent
      Brackets is an open source Adobe side project made just for this type of webdev. Has lots of cool little features that streamline and link the HTML/CSS workflows as well.

      Brackets is an open source Adobe side project made just for this type of webdev. Has lots of cool little features that streamline and link the HTML/CSS workflows as well.

      2 votes
      1. scot
        Link Parent
        Holy hand grenades! I just checked out brackets and wait, hold up. I can click on an ID in html and it will jump to the relevant parts in my css? Where has this been all my life? Or a better...

        Holy hand grenades! I just checked out brackets and wait, hold up. I can click on an ID in html and it will jump to the relevant parts in my css? Where has this been all my life? Or a better question might be, which cave have I been hiding myself in all these years? I had been using the "find" feature in Dreamweaver and often pulling my hair out to navigate to the css code that was controlling the desired element.

        2 votes
  6. [4]
    teaearlgraycold
    Link
    Can anyone explain the rationale behind Catalina switching the default shell to zsh? At my org we are recommending everyone stick with bash since all of the onboarding materials are based around...

    Can anyone explain the rationale behind Catalina switching the default shell to zsh? At my org we are recommending everyone stick with bash since all of the onboarding materials are based around it.

    If there's a concrete reason to use zsh over bash I wouldn't mind porting over our documentation before it grows too large for that to be feasible.

    2 votes
    1. [2]
      jtvjan
      Link Parent
      They had to keep using Bash 3.2 (2006) since versions after that are licensed under GPLv3. Zsh is licensed more permissively. There's a pretty big chance you won't have to update your...

      They had to keep using Bash 3.2 (2006) since versions after that are licensed under GPLv3. Zsh is licensed more permissively. There's a pretty big chance you won't have to update your documentation as Zsh has very similar syntax to Bash.

      8 votes
      1. Diff
        Link Parent
        Why not just publish the source for bash or just not modify it? It's not like they're total strangers to publishing source code.

        Why not just publish the source for bash or just not modify it? It's not like they're total strangers to publishing source code.

        1 vote
    2. Greg
      Link Parent
      I've read that the change was made to avoid dealing with the GPLv3 license on newer versions of bash. I also found this discussion on StackOverflow helpful in knowing what to expect from the...

      I've read that the change was made to avoid dealing with the GPLv3 license on newer versions of bash. I also found this discussion on StackOverflow helpful in knowing what to expect from the change.

      I replaced my primary machine a couple of weeks back and so far I've noticed no meaningful changes to my workflow, either in the CLI or the GUI. Not to say you'll necessarily have the same experience, but as @nothis said, the Catalina update is boring, and that should be considered praise when we're talking about operating systems!

      5 votes
  7. ali
    Link
    Catalina also caused me problems with anaconda, forcing me to reinstall my environment And I had a weird problem with jekyll. I don’t remember 100% but it was something about the Xcode CLI being...

    Catalina also caused me problems with anaconda, forcing me to reinstall my environment
    And I had a weird problem with jekyll. I don’t remember 100% but it was something about the Xcode CLI being in a different location now.

    1 vote