I got my copy of 10.4 delivered yesterday afternoon and got it installed, so I've been able to play with it the last day or so. Here's my initial impressions and notes. Cliffs Notes: See Overall. Hardware Tested On: QuickSilver G4 733, 1.25 GB PC-133 memory, 120 GB Seagate Baracuda V (7200 RPM, 8 MB buffer) IDE drive, 1 20 GB partition for the OS and programs, and 1 100 GB for my other stuff, Pioneer DVD-R/W (OEM), AirPort wireless card, ATI Radeon 32 MB AGP video card, Microsoft Natural Keyboard Elite (USB), Microsoft Wheel Mouse Optical (USB), Belkin 2-port USB/Sound KVM switch, and a Sony 17" LCD. I'll try it out on my G5 and a G3 iBook I have lying around. System Requirements: The 10.4 system requirements say their thing, but they don't tell you that you need a DVD drive installed as well to install it, since at least my copy was all put on a single DVD disc. Luckily for me, I had purchased an OEM Pioneer DVD-R/W drive last year for my QuickSilver from NewEgg.com, so I wasn't SOL when I went to install it. In an ironic twist in the markup department, this is the same model of DVD-R/W drive that comes with the G5, and it was almost $100.00 cheaper. If this OS were adopted, by the system requirements' logic, anything below an iMac DV, B/W G3, or certain clamshell iBooks would need to be replaced, but I'll need to test this and see if either FireWire Target Disk Mode or NetBooting can cheat the FireWire/DVD requirements for computers that don't meet the minimum requirements. Installation: I must say, installing Tiger was surprisingly quick for ~1.8 GB of data being processed and upgraded, as my total installation time took roughly 35-45 minutes; much faster than any OS X installation I've done off of optical media. I still had to run through the Setup Assistant, but since this was an upgrade installation, it wasn't as long as when I did a clean install (obviously). I trimmed down the installation to have the OS itself and X11, but I removed the language localization files and all printer drivers except for HP-brand printers. I'm going to play around with the NetInstall feature on my XServe G4 (if I can get a licensed copy of Tiger Server) to see if it can just upgrade the OS to selected computers over NetBoot instead of blasting everything and starting from scratch. After reading extra documentation on NetRestore, it looks quite doable. I just wish there was a way to script the backup process so that the backup process was automated as well. According to Mike Bombich (of Carbon Copy Cloner and NetRestore fame), it is doable as a terminal script, but it may be a pain to create if the target image is going to be created and backed up to a network resource. "Network Install enables client systems on your network to automatically discover a server-based disk image and install its contents on their hard drive. Network Install can run completely unattended, providing a streamlined installation and upgrade experience for your users. You can also use scripts to invoke specified actions before or after the installation of a software package or system image, such as the installation and configuration of additional software. Network Install is the perfect tool for operating system upgrades, giving you a standardized method for upgrading all your Mac clients to Mac OS X version 10.2, whether from Mac OS 9 or an earlier version of Mac OS X." - MacOSXLabs.org Dashboard: Rocks. Definitely something worth keeping in the Dock. It was a little challenge to find out how to customize Dashboard, but you can customize it for your area by clicking the italicized i in the corner of certain widgets (e.g. weather, clock, etc.). I disabled the keyboard shortcuts to Dashboard and Expose however, since I have enough room in the Dock, and I've hot-keyed other functions from my MS keyboard to do other tasks anyway. I was glad though that Apple didn't try and over-ride this when I installed 10.4, since the MS keyboard software isn't supported for this particular keyboard. Now if it could only give me traffic reports before I brave I-5 every night, but I guess the WSDOT live feeds will do. Little Annoyances: Ok, there were a couple of annoyances that came up, but fortunately they're just minor ones that can't be reconfigured in a few seconds. For instance, all my AVI files were reset to open under QuickTime Player instead of VLC as previously configured, but that was easily fixed. Also, my default browser was changed from Firefox back to Safari, but that was easily fixed as well. Also, I have my keyboard and mouse set attached to a KVM switch, and so every time I boot, I get an annoying prompt called the Keyboard Setup Assistant that sees it as an external keyboard, and wants to set it up, but says that the external keyboard is inoperable until the assistant has run. I just close the window and log in; I'm not seeing any reduced functionality on my keyboard because of this. I had Norton Anti-Virus previously installed on my system, but Tiger somehow wanted to think that it was still there, as I still had a reference to it in /Library/StartupItems. A quick search and delete of the related files caused this problem to go away permanently. The VPN issue with the Cisco client as Jon pointed out is there as well. I noticed that Tiger also added a number of additional sound effects that play whenever certain events take place (such as files being sent to the Trash, emptying the Trash, etc.). While I told the OS previously to not do this, this was easily turned off in the Sound System Preferences. Performance: As always, performance in OS X is like a fine wine; it gets better with age. Windows aren't as choppy as they tend to be in Panther, even when scrolling. Initially, I noticed that Spotlight was taking a long time to index my hard drives after I finished the installation, but that was because it had hung. Restarting the computer allowed the indexing progress to proceed smoothly. Once the drive is indexed, it does its intended purpose: to make searching your drive for items much faster than if it was not indexed. Spotlight: Rocks. Thanks to Spotlight, it is also much more detailed, and even organizes your search results by file type. Of course, this is customizable as well. In summary, Spotlight is to the OS as the Google toolbar is to Safari and Firefox. Mail: Mail has undergone quite a face-lift, and I must say that it looks a lot better than its previous incarnations. Performance is much smoother, and everything looks a lot more organized. The core functions are still in their same places, so there's not a whole lot of learning to do. All my rules and settings remained intact, and the only thing Mail did on its first startup was migrate all my mail so that Mail more efficiently work with it. Enterprise Integration: IMO, this is the most enterprise-friendly version of OS X to date. For starters, the Active Directory plug-in is much more refined than it was in Panther. You no longer need to specify the AD forest that the computer will be a part of, as it automatically detects this when you input the domain. If you have a home directory specified for the user in AD, you can have Tiger not create a local home directory on the computer and instead, use the user's home directory on the network. I'll need to test this with a couple of accounts to see if this is truly the case in our environment. Tiger now has built-in support for SMB-based home directories now as well; this was previously not supported in Panther. I was reading up on 10.4 Server, and Tiger Server now comes with its own flavor of Software Update Service, as it can now push out the updates from the Server end, instead of relying on Apple Remote Desktop to do this. I'm glad this is the case now, since ARD is a little broken when it comes to pushing out updates (at times, certain updates just hang on the ARD console, and you can't reboot the computer that has the console running, or else the update process aborts). I've noticed that even though the proxy server caches many updates, when things are cleaned out, updates such as combined OS X updates have to be downloaded all over again. Tiger Server also looks quite promising in many areas, as it is now able to create custom NetBoot/NetInstall images much more easily, now without the help of the NetRestore Helper application. This utility, called the System Image Utility, also allows for things like deployment of OS upgrades and other types of software. In a nutshell, a lot of administrative-level tasks with the Macs have improved, and can now be consolidated and run off of my XServe with Tiger Server. On a related note, an analyst at my job showed me that the new version of Virex (7.6) now comes with an ePO component that can be installed into the computer, so computers can now be administered off of the same ePO server that the Windows computers are administered from, and can receive regular anti-virus definition updates as well. Virex 7.6 (from NAI) now comes with background virus scanning, and is now much more aggressive with its scanning policies than Virex 7.2 was if you allow it to do so (can we say Virex 7.2 is pretty much dead weight?). Thanks to him for showing me this new version. I've been reading up on Tiger Server, and it appears that now you can define permissions for files and folders by using permissions obtained from Active Directory. I'm hoping that Apple hasn't forgotten to send me my evaluation copy of this. Application Compatibility: Outside of the Cisco VPN Client issue, I haven't seen any compatibility issues with Tiger so far. I do have Office 2004 installed with the latest service packs, and so far I'm not seeing any problems. Other Nifty (and trivial) Things to Note: The Calculator program now tells you what was updated when you go to update your currency values. New Applications: The new Automator program comes with the ability to automate common tasks, and has some pretty nifty things you can do. The OS now comes with a built-in graphing calculator that works by simply plugging in an equation, and the Grapher will automatically create the graph (this may come in quite handy as I progress through my math classes ), either in 2-D, or 3-D. The OS now comes with a built-in Dictionary/Thesaurus program, so you no longer have to rely on Sherlock to look up words. Network Compatibility: So far, I haven't seen any problems with my home Wi-Fi connection (connected to an AirPort Extreme Base Station using WPA encryption along with a networked printer), and everything is running smoothly. Overall: I think that this OS is well worth the money, even more so than previous versions of the OS. There are some minor annoyances that come along, but fortunately it's not anything to write home about.