Lion, first look

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I recently upgraded to Lion. Probably it would have been wiser to wait until 10.7.1 but I wanted the PDF "signing" feature so I went ahead anyway. Overall, things went really smoothly. Notes below.

  • As everyone now knows, by default Lion is an app store only purchase and doesn't come with any kind of media. Apple charges $50 extra for a USB stick, but as I imagine most everyone knows, if you dig around in the install package, there is a .dmg file and you can burn that to DVD. [*] This seems advisable but takes some time.
  • The actual install was pretty fast, say about 30 minutes or so on my Macbook Air.
  • However, Lion comes with a new version of Filevault which encrypts the whole drive. Turning this on took a while to encrypt the disk but that can happen in the background, so it's not too bad as long as you're happy to have the machine on for a while as it happens, or you're willing to have it happen over a few days. Apple offers to let you store the recovery key with them. I declined this offer.
  • New Filevault works just fine with old Filevault, so if you've been using old Filevault you can transition easily. Every so often you get asked if you'd like to unencrypt your old partition, but Lion doesn't make you.
  • However, if you want Time Machine to work well rather than badly—which is how it has historically worked with Filevault—you need to move to new Filevault, which means encrypted backups. There is a setting in Time Machine to encrypt your backup disk. This takes a very very long time if you have an existing non-encrypted backup disk.
  • Installing Lion blows away your existing—or at least, my existing—copy of Xcode 3. Xcode 4 is now free, but this means that you will be without debugger, compiler, etc. until you download another 3GB worth of Xcode, so something to keep in mind. There's probably some way to patch in the old Xcode but this seemed inadvisable.
  • I'm mixed on the new gesture support. Obviously, I want the old scrolling behavior, not the "natural" scrolling behavior (where the scrolling goes in the direction of your finger like with the iPhone), but that's easily turned off. Mission control seems like it should be really cool, but other than periodically swiping to see it happen, I haven't figured out what it's for. (Incidentally, just this gesture stopped working on my magic trackpad, but not my built-in trackpad, necessitating a call to Apple support. Strangely, changing it from three fingers to two and back again solved the problem.)
  • The UI changes are all pretty subtle. I can take or leave the auto-scrollbars and the rounded dialogs, buttons, etc. seem fine. Probably the most noticeable change is the way that apps keep their state. I'm used to using Command-Q to quit the app, but now this means that if I quit Preview, and then restart it I end up with all the same documents I had before, so I'm not sure this is that great. I guess I just need to learn to use Option-Command-Q or reset the defaults using the command line.

Anyway, this was all pretty smooth for a major OS upgrade (I really appreciate not having to run mergemaster). And the feature where you can take a photo of your signature and embed it into documents really is pretty cool. I may never need to print-scan-sign-scan-email again.


I have one odd thing with Lion. My MacBook Pro now takes a LOOOONNNNGGG time to boot. Not that I boot much, but pre-Lion it was like 10 seconds to interactive. Now it's windows-esque.

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