Return to Snow Leopard

Occasionally, in the pages of this blog I post about things that are not of and by themselves directly about vintage Macintoshes, but which are related in some way to vintage Macintoshes. This is one such post, and concerns itself with Mac OS X Snow Leopard.

Mac OS X Snow Leopard

Snow Leopard has always been one of my favorite releases of Mac OS X. It was a rare big cat indeed: a release largely dedicated to stability and performance instead of flashy new features. Snow Leopard was a move that only Steve Jobs, with his commanding technical and market authority, could have pulled off successfully. It was also, IMHO, the last “true” release of Mac OS X, before the creeping IOS’ification of Mac OS X began with Lion. My only real issue with Snow Leopard was (and still is) that it did not support the Power Mac G5, forever stranding my 2.3 GHz G5 Dual at Leopard, and in practical daily usage, Tiger, which has always been a favorite as well.

Released in 2009, Snow Leopard is now ten years old, and at that age, it almost qualifies for discussion in a blog dedicated to vintage Macs. However, this blog is dedicated to pre-Intel vintage Macs, and so technically Snow Leopard is out of scope no matter what its’ age. However, I am going to relax that restriction for this one post.

Why think about Snow Leopard now? Well, since 2011, my daily driver has been an early 2011 27” iMac, running Mac OS X Mavericks these days (I had to upgrade it from the Mac OS X Lion it came with in order to add a USB3 dock). My iMac has been in every way a satisfactory machine, and with a large and speedy SSD as its main boot drive, it has been very fast as well. However, the machine has slowly been losing that cutting-edge speed, and after eight years of faithful service, I had begun to think that a complete reload might be the best cure.

2012 iMac

However, that got me considering whether it might not be time for an even bigger change… reinvigorating my long idled 2008 Mac Pro, loading it with Snow Leopard (it still ran the Leopard that it came with) and going “back to the future”. The more I thought about it, the more I liked the idea of a sleek, optimized and at this point almost iconic version of Mac OS X as my main operating environment.

2011 Mac Pro (442x640)

SO… I have taken the plunge. I have reloaded my Mac Pro with Snow Leopard and have moved onto it full time. My Mac Pro is a beefy machine, and loaded with Snow Leopard, it really flies. The only restriction I have found so far is that there is absolutely no completely current web browser for it, which has had the practical side effect of requiring me to fire up my iMac whenever I need to access my bank, whose web site insistently requires that it only be accessed by the most current technology. Other than that, all is well in Snow Leopard land.

Perhaps I should say that all is better than well. Snow Leopard comes with a number of advantages for vintage Mac enthusiasts. Perhaps the most compelling of these is that it is the last release of Mac OS X to sport Rosetta PowerPC support, enabling access to my full arsenal of PowerPC programs, many of which did not make the transition to Intel. In case this has you thinking about it, no, Snow Leopard does not support the old Classic environment, so you cannot run those truly venerable Mac OS programs.

All in all, I am very happy with my new daily driver, and really enjoy the speed, stability and enhanced program set that it enables. Now I know that some purists out there will take exception to this move backwards, but please hold your fire. I fully agree that Snow Leopard is not as secure as Apple’s most recent macOS offers, but I practice safe computing, sit behind a substantial firewall and have experienced no issues whatsoever.

Looking ahead, it has been rather quiet here at the Happy Macs blog for the majority of 2019. This is not because I have not been busy with vintage Mac projects, but rather because some of them have been sizeable, and have taken quite a long time to complete. This, coupled with a demanding job, and a newly enlarged commute (which eats up far too much free time each day!) has slowed things down rather more than I would like. However, with several projects now complete, I am ready to start posting, and you should be seeing a small flurry of posts over the Christmas break.

In those posts, we will be delving into the Macintosh IIfx, Apple’s foray into Unix (A/UX) and even some new software that I have developed for the A/UX environment, which I will be adding to the Happy Macs Gopher site. Stay tuned!

5 thoughts on “Return to Snow Leopard

  1. You probably know that, but the Pale Moon fork of Firefox still has some Snow Leopard version. It’s not cutting-edge browser and the version itself is at least year old, but it’s still AFAIK the best possibility if you run Snow Leopard on a 64-bit CPU.

    • Thanks, I tested it yesterday in fact! Regrettably, my bank’s site doesn’t like it any better than the rest I have tried, but it is definitely a browser that is worth spending a little more time with. Thanks again for the tip.

      • Umm, how about wicknix’s port of Palemoon to 10.6, Arctic Fox? Or how about TenSixFox? Make sure to install PowerUOC for maximum js performance. Or…..get your PM to Lion and run full Firefox legacy from Parrot Geek. Or install a barebones Linux like, umm Puppy Xenial or Bionic or TinyCore and run Palemoon, Min, surf, luakit, or even Chromium in Virtual Box? It’s 2020 and we still have options.

      • Thanks for the response! Yes, I have discovered Arctic Fox, and it has quickly become my default browser. However, even it does not satisfy my bank’s web site. However, I have found a novel way around that at this point, and I will be posting on it in the next little while. In the meantime, I had not heard of TenSixFox, so I will check that out. Thanks again!

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