July 26, 2012
Here, Kitty Kitty Kitty...
by Chris Randall
Fuck you, I'm a mountain lion! - Mountain Lion.
So I spent the first four hours of yesterday dealing with Time Machine fuck-ups (I did a full snapshot instead of just the partial one I normally do, and it turns out my Time Machine drive wasn't big enough. Hilarity ensued.) After that, the Mountain Lion download from the app store, and install were painless as a major OS upgrade can be.
Did I say "major?" This update should really be called OS X 10.7.6 or something, as all it really does is give you a couple widget apps and tune the system to where it should have been for Lion. I mean really. Game Center for OS X? I can't speak for _your_ peer group, but I don't even need one hand to count the people I know that give a flying fuck about that. I don't even need one finger, as it happens, as I don't know anybody that does. And I know quite a few people.
On the whole, though, it feels much more solid than Lion, which was a wall-to-wall disaster. As a musician (or, well, anybody at this point) the first thing you want to do is turn off Gatekeeper. This is a safety feature that prevents unsigned installers from running. It is the first step Apple is taking in their push to make everything on OS X sandboxed in the same way it is on iOS, and to give them total control of the supply chain. Apple's general vibe towards 3rd party devs: "well, sure, you can still do whatever the hell, but honestly, the customer experience will be better if you just buy the Developer Account, sign your installers and apps, and sell them through the App Store." Not really, and it's only the first real move towards a completely walled garden. They'll use the excuse that they're trying to save customers from themselves, but at the end of the day, in my opinion, this is all about money.
I should mention at this juncture that if you're an exclusive AudioUnits user, your days are numbered. I don't have anything but rumors to go on, and my own experience in this business, but the sandboxing method they've chosen leaves plug-ins in general (for all apps that use them, not just music) out in the cold. When I think of the man-hours we've wasted on this stupid format, I get a little sick to my stomach.
In any event, aside from disabling Gatekeeper so I can actually run unsigned installers, everything else seems copacetic. My MOTU Ultralite Mk3 works fine, in both USB and FireWire modes (and this means all MOTU interfaces should work fine, since they all use the same audio driver.) Maschine works fine. All the audio apps I have, and all the plug-ins I have (too many to list in either category) work fine. Peter Kirn has coverage of the Native Instruments audio interface problem with USB, but I don't have any NI audio products to test it with. I've also read anecdotal evidence of problems installing some things due to changes in the Apple installer, but I haven't seen any myself.
So, on the whole, my advice is this: if you're still at 10.6.8 like you should be, Mountain Lion will be a safe upgrade. You should skip Lion entirely. I would advise waiting until 10.7.3 to upgrade, and like Lion, you absolutely must have 8gb of RAM or more. Both of these operating systems are useless with 4gb. If you're currently at Lion, and are not running a Native Instruments audio interface, I advise upgrading now, as Mountain Lion is a demonstrably better OS than Lion.
Edit: I've heard anecdotal evidence that other USB audio interfaces are not working. So perhaps I should say that if you're running Lion and you're using a FireWire interface, you can (and maybe should) go ahead and update. If you're using a USB audio interface, you should wait.