Why I’m not upgrading to Snow Leopard (yet)

September 2, 2009 at 5:10 am 11 comments

[Update 10/28/09, I’ve upgraded to Snow Leopard and Lyx works fine if, as a commenter suggested, you “get info” then click the “Rosetta” option. I’ve had no other issues with Snow Leopard and can recommend it, even for people who use Lyx a lot].

[Update 12/7/09, The current version of Lyx works fine running as Intel native].

| Gabriel |

Snow Leopard was primarily aimed at cutting out the kruft and both speeding up key apps (e.g., a much faster Finder and Mail client) and providing opportunities for application developers to get even more juice out of it in the future (e.g., Grand Central and OpenCL). I think it’s totally laudable that Apple (and for that matter, Microsoft with Windows 7) is taking a step back from the relentless march of bloatware to emphasize core performance issues and take advantage of new hardware architecture (esp. multicore and big GPUs). Unfortunately this low-level stuff can create some incompatibilities, especially if there is a debate between the OS and app developer over API standards or the app developer just decided to ignore API standards.

The issue that kills it for me is that Lyx is unstable under OS X 10.6. So my choices are to a) give up Lyx and write raw LaTex b) run Lyx in a Ubuntu virtual machine or c) hold off on upgrading to Snow Leopard until Lyx gets patched, which should take a few months because this is low-level stuff and their team doesn’t have many Mac people. (Note that I’m not complaining, the Lyx team is generally very good about providing up-to-date Mac binaries rather than the usual thing of just directing you to the gruesome twosome of Fink+X11). Although it breaks my geeky heart, the obvious answer is “c, stick with 10.5 for now.” I’d consider the virtual machine work-around for something I use once in awhile, but I use Lyx several hours a day and that’s just too much hassle / performance hit to deal with.

Fortunately Stata (10 and 11), TextWrangler, TextMate, Smultron, R, and Crossover are all reported to work perfectly. If you don’t use Lyx (or anything else that’s buggy under 10.6, like SPSS 17), it’s probably a good idea to upgrade as it looks like a great version of the OS. However if it would break your favorite app, just wait it out. This especially makes sense given that all you’re getting right now is fairly small things like a faster Finder, better VPN+Entourage support, and snazzier QuickTime — the really amazing features of 10.6 (OpenCL+GrandCentral) won’t actually do anything until application developers rewrite their code to take advantage of them.


Entry filed under: Uncategorized. Tags: .

Stata2Pajek Weighting, omitted variable bias, and interaction effects


  • 1. Fred  |  September 2, 2009 at 8:32 am

    Gabriel, if you do give up Lyx, I would recommend TeXShop. I made the transition a while ago, and I’m glad I did. It is a very slick package and routinely maintined.

  • 2. Joseph Gentle  |  September 23, 2009 at 2:21 am

    I’ve been using LyX on Snow Leopard for awhile now. The instability you’re referring to under snow leopard is a crash in a process forked for autosaving. You can just ignore the error and keep working — lyx continues to work just fine.

    It is annoying though – the box pops up every 4 minutes and it takes focus from whatever you’re doing. I’m hoping for a fix soon.

  • 3. cuche27  |  September 24, 2009 at 10:59 am

    A temporary solution is to run LyX with rosetta. In the application folder, rigth-click on the LyX icon, open Informations panel and click “open with rosetta”

  • 4. gabrielrossman  |  September 24, 2009 at 3:39 pm

    cuche27, interesting tip. i’ll test it out and if it works i’ll update the post. since lyx isn’t that processor intensive i think the performance hot of rosetta would be an ok compromise.

    • 5. Dennis  |  October 4, 2009 at 8:06 am

      gabrielrossman: Did you already test LyX with Rosetta on Snow Leopard?

      I’d really like to upgrade because I’ve seen the performance improvents on other machines.

      • 6. gabrielrossman  |  October 4, 2009 at 9:53 am

        not yet. i didn’t want to do it on my own computer because i figured it would be hard to roll back to 10.5 if it didn’t work. i was going to do it on the computer of a family member who already uses 10.6 but it’s taken me longer than i thought to visit them. sorry about that.

  • 7. Syronious  |  September 25, 2009 at 6:36 am

    The other option is to turn autosave off, or change the interval to 60 minutes, in which case, the problem goes away or is diminished..

  • 8. Dennis  |  October 29, 2009 at 1:26 pm

    Hi Gabriel,

    thanks for the upgrade. Today I’ve tested LyX with the Rosetta option enabled on my sister’s MacBook Pro. There were no crashes, but it seems LyX runs not so smooth like it did on 10.5.

  • 9. Dennis  |  November 5, 2009 at 7:09 pm

    Here’s a link to a binary that tries to solve the Snow Leopard issues:

    Works great so far!

  • 10. Dennis  |  November 5, 2009 at 7:10 pm

    I made a mistake with the HTML tag:


    • 11. gabrielrossman  |  November 9, 2009 at 5:10 pm

      i’ve been using the build you linked to for a week and it’s great — both fast and stable.

The Culture Geeks

%d bloggers like this: