Upgrading my Powerbook to Tiger has proven somewhat painful. It took four tries, and I’m still not convinced that everything has upgraded correctly. Here are some notes that I took during the upgrade process. Note that my MacOS install is a bit weird, because I don’t like keeping my files in the Apple-proscribed locations. So many of my problems might be of my own doing. YMMV.

  • Don’t bother with “Erase and Install”. I first tried backing up my disk to an iPod and my data partition, then did an “Erase and Install”. The Install worked, but I couldn’t run the Migration Assistant as it couldn’t see the iPod, nor the data partition. I think that I must have a file on my disk that is triggering a bug in the Migration Assistant, but I have no idea what. So you might just want to do an upgrade, or “Archive and Install” if you have enough free disk space. I eventually did an “Archive and Install”, and it’s upgraded OK, but everything seems to be running a lot slower than 10.3. Tim suggested blessing the iPod, which might have been worth a shot. But I assume that if I can boot from the iPod, it’s probably already sufficiently blessed?
  • When the Installer gets to “Installation Type”, click “Customize” and unselect all of the extra languages, printer drivers etc. Otherwise it takes an additional 20 minutes to install 1.1GB of translations: Swedish, Portugese, Brazilian Portugese, Japanese, etc… You also need to select X11 in this screen, otherwise I think that it won’t be upgraded (I guess there are more Swedish/Portugese/etc MacOS users than X11 users?)
  • Make sure to remove all your startup scripts/programs before upgrading. I had a 10.3-only version of Quicksilver that ran on startup, which caused problems after I rebooted into 10.4.
  • Tiger doesn’t include iLife or iWork - you have to pay extra for those. If you do a clean install, then you’ll need to grab iPhoto etc off your Panther disc, I guess using something like Pacifist.
  • Even if you do manage to get the Migration Assistant working, it won’t upgrade /Developer. So you’ll need to reinstall Xcode. Tiger comes with Xcode 2.0 (in the Xcode folder on the disk, it’s separate from the main install process), but Apple has since released Xcode 2.1.
  • It appears that Apple wants you to reregister even though you are upgrading the OS. Very annoying - why should I have to give them my phone number and tell them how I intend to use my computer? So you might want to disconnect your network cable after you reboot. Or you could register using sjobs@apple.com :-)
  • One of the new features of 10.4 is Spotlight - useful if you don’t know where all your files are, but unfortunately it appears to permanently index your hard drive. I have chosen to go back to using slocate instead. To disable Spotlight, you need to add this to /etc/hostconfig:


To remove the menubar icon, you need to remove (or move) /System/Library/CoreServices/Search.bundle. See this hint for more. You could also try a tool such as Spotless.

  • Another new Tiger feature is Dashboard. This seems to take up a fair amount of resources, but only once you have first started it. According to this hint you can remove it by doing:

defaults write com.apple.dashboard mcx-disabled -boolean YES

Or you could try DisableTigerFeatures which will let you disable both Spotlight and Dashboard.

  • Another weird feature is that the Finder no longer considers applications as special-case bundles. So if you have “Show all file extensions” checked in your Finder preferences, you will see the extensions of applications, e.g. “Terminal.app” whereas in Panther the Finder would just show “Terminal”.
  • I can’t remember if this was the case with my original 10.3 install, but in order to install applications, I had to do this:

chmod g+w /Applications /Library; chgrp -R admin /Applications /Library

Otherwise I couldn’t work out how to install the new KisMAC.

  • At first I thought that Tiger had messed up all the colours in my X11 applications. Turns out that it’s a feature of openssh 3.8 to only use trusted cookies, thereby denying applications full use of the X Server. I run lots of old applications that don’t like this, and so I have to use ssh -Y for logging in to certain hosts. More details here.
  • To update fink, you need to choose “10.4-transitional”, not “10.4” as I initially assumed.
  • After upgrading, Ethereal gave me the following error:

No fonts found; this probably means that the fontconfig library is not correctly configured. You may need to edit the fonts.conf configuration file. More information about fontconfig can be found in the fontconfig(3) manual page and on http://fontconfig.org

This was resolved by running sudo fc-cache.

  • There is no ext2 support for 10.4 yet. The person who wrote the old plugin is too busy right now. Perhaps I should help him…
  • Even if you do an upgrade, Apple conveniently adds some more bookmarks to your Safari install. Thanks!
  • I don’t use mail.app (mutt has far more features), but if you do, you might want to delete your old 10.3 indices after upgrading: see here for more information.
  • All my file type associations were messed up after my upgrade. For instance all Powerpoint files were set to open with Keynote, even though they were set to open with Powerpoint prior to the upgrade. Weird. I still haven’t been able to get .m3u files to open with anything other than iTunes, even using RCDefaultApp. Which is very annoying because under Panther, I had an Applescript to take care of listening to m3u files from eMusic. Update: worked it out, needed to use XCode to set CFBundleDocumentTypes. See this thread.
  • tar and rsync now support resource forks, which is nice. But fink prepends /sw/bin to your $PATH by default, which means that you might end up using the non-Apple versions of tar and rsync. You might want to edit /sw/bin/init.sh to append, not prepend.
  • With Panther, I could automatically plug in my iMic and this would become the default sound device. With Tiger, the internal mic/speakers on the Powerbook become the default sound devices whenever the iMic is unplugged. I managed to fix this by installing SoundSource, but unfortunately that program takes up valuable menu-bar space. Still looking for a permanent fix.
  • The graphical progress bar on startup no longer represents any real boot events (see man WaitingForLoginWindow). So you may as well boot in verbose mode instead: sudo nvram boot-args="-v".
  • I had lots of problems with Bluetooth: my headset kept disconnecting intermittently. Removing my preferences and rebooting seems to have helped (~/Library/Preferences/com.apple.Bluetooth.plist and /var/root/Library/Preferences/blued.plist).
  • Here are some other useful links:

The above might make it sound like Tiger is a pain to install. Well it was for me; YMMV. So would I upgrade again? Probably not. Even though MacOSX still offers the best desktop UNIX environment, I don’t use many of the >200 new features in Tiger. But here are the features that I have found useful so far:

  • Updated toolchain. This was the main reason why I upgraded: gcc 4.0.0 and make 3.8.0.
  • /usr/bin/*util. In particular textutil looks like it could be useful.
  • Airport Preferred Networks. Finally! You can now edit your list of wireless ESSIDs. It took me a while to work this out though - you have to go to “Network Preferences” → “Airport” and then under “By default, join:” you can select “Preferred networks” and edit the list.
  • Adaptive Screen Dimming (a.k.a., dimming the screen when on battery power). I’m amazed that Macs didn’t already do this.
  • Safari 2.0 seems a bit quicker than 1.3. But the new RSS features are pretty limited - NetNewsWire is much better.