I just discovered that Catalina has at least one redeeming feature: Apple have licensed a bunch of high-quality commercial fonts for use on macOS, you just need to manually activate them in Font Book:
I’ve been using Macs since about 1993, and I think this is the first time I have ever rolled back to a previous operating system. It was a relief to go back to Mojave. As to iCloud, well, it would be nice if that worked. If anyone has trouble with it, look for Howard Oakley’s utility called Cirrus. It may help.
I’ve been using Macs since 1983, and Catalina has the worst word-of-mouth I can recall. Fortunately, a cagey retired developer like myself never upgrades until at least version n.n.2; by that point I could tell that Catalina was the disaster Nontroppo describes, and I have avoided it completely.
Nor have I ever trusted iCloud. I put as little into it as I can get away with (but I must trust it with some things, being a three Apple device owner. Mostly I’m happy about that, but iCloud is a bummer.)
I must confess, I’m curious about this. I’ve only been using macs since 2009 and I’m not very techie but I haven’t had any issue with any of the OS updates. Can someone give me any examples of why Catalina is a disaster?
Well, Michael Tsai is one of the most respected and best-known names in the “Mac universe”, and one of his programs, SpamSieve, often receives plaudits. Some of the others mentioned in that blog post (Marco Arment, John Siracusa) as well as contributors like Howard Oakley are very well known names. I think they are likely to be running fairly new machines.
I can’t really remember the details of the problems I had (and I am running machines only a couple of years old) because I have largely erased the experience from my memory. However, I do remember that some people experienced Apple Mail failures (one friend of mine had to install Outlook just to be able to send and receive email). My brother had to spend several days and some time on the phone with Apple Support (one tech and his supervisor) to try and sort out his difficulties with Catalina. I seem to recall that it was reported on MacRumors that Apple realised that the roll-out of iOS and MacOs last autumn was so badly botched that they convened a meeting to overhaul their procedures to ensure better co-ordination between the teams working on various elements. Will I be upgrading to the next OS after Catalina? Not until it is well bedded in, I can assure you.
No, I didn’t think you were doubting anything. And maybe you have been lucky. That is one of the mysteries of problems with software. Over on the DEVONthink forums there are various tales of woe regarding iCloud, and widely differing experiences. For some people it “just starts working” for no apparent reason, while others cannot seem to get reliable sync no matter what they do. Others have no problems at all.
I sometimes wonder if it depends to some extent on various utilities and tweaks that some use and others don’t, or left-over stuff hanging around from previous installations, both of system software and applications or utilities. I have a friend who used to work in IT and was sometimes called in to “make things work”. If he was successful he was often asked what he had done, and would reply that he didn’t know, because he didn’t know what had been done before he arrived.
I’ve found Catalina to be a complete dog, with frequent crashes with Apple “Pro” apps like Final Cut Pro, followed by restarts where the keyboard and mouse are frozen. That’s on a 20015 5K iMac with 24GB RAM, and 512GB SSID. When I tried to re-install the system, it crashed so badly that I had to take it in to my Apple-guru from whom I’d bought it to get him to sort out … it’s been better since, though I’ve had to get a new mouse as it kept dropping the connection with the one I had. But I still don’t entirely trust it not to crash
My late 2011 MBP running High Sierra 10.13.6 is perfectly Stable, and I never had any trouble with my former 2015 13" MBP running Mojave. I’ve never had any problems with Mac operating systems going back to early 1990s and Mac OS 8 right up to Catalina!
Perhaps if you only use notarised software from the App store, and don’t do anything too advanced, you may not notice too much disruption from the bugs and sheer stupidity of the security system. I’m a scientist, and I use a lot of command line and other tools optimised via scripting. Software randomly refuses to run, and you have to add/remove/add/reboot/readd to try to get the Catalina authorisations to hold. But really on top of that, performance has just been slowly getting worse and worse. I’ve ended up resorting to rebooting every few days, something I never used to do for months on previous versions of macOS. Even for simple writing in Scrivener, I see more beachballs than I ever used to. Performance has suffered with Applescript (I author some Alfred workflows to integrate with Bookends reference manager), and the fact they killed off the automation team is indicative that large parts of what used to make macOS so unique compared to Windows or Linux is dying a slow death.
The number of bugs that go unfixed on Apple’s radar, or or opaquely closed without feedback, is startling. For some dedicated visual perception research toolboxes I use via MATLAB, hundred of basic bugs have festered and multiplied over the last few years, and so by now what was once a very vibrant community of macOS perception researchers has withered and died, forcing us to Linux and Windows for doing real work. If you need reliability and stability doing scientific research macOS cannot provide it.
Then there is the endless churn of new shiny toys and half-baked “good ideas” just left to rot. OpenCL compute is a great example, Apple develops something potentially great, but never really supports it for the long haul and it slowly dies to be replaced by something that sounds new and cool and proprietary. Rinse and repeat.
You always have moaning users on any system, but I do think the “quality” of the very visible long-time Mac professionals who used to be real “cheerleaders” and are now voicing significant criticism at the state of macOS is indicative of a real malaise (as you’ll see if you look around Tsai’s developer-focussed blog).
Yes I think this is a factor, “normal” users may still be OK on a newish machine for the most part. But developers or people who push their OS at the corners like me will hit the thousand little papercuts as macOS doesn’t get the love and care it used to. But for example, say you are a good user and don’t rely only on time machine but add disk clones to your backups – 10.15.5 introduced a major bug in APFS, that both extremely capable and smart developers of the major software tools reported to Apple during the beta, and Apple released anyway:
I’m not very techie, either. I only know enough to get myself into trouble on occasions. But I find it valuable to at least know enough to realise that there are problems that may affect me if I don’t watch out. And I think a problem with what is happening with MacOs is that people who are not doing unusual stuff are beginning to be affected by the underlying problems. Instead of everything “just working” the jobbing writer with no particular interest in software will suddenly find themselves the victim of a bug that stops them dead in their tracks. And they may know nothing until it is too late. When I rolled back to Mojave I was shocked to discover that my Time Machine backups had been rendered useless by something or other, and I still don’t know what it was, though I suspect filesystem changes. This was not reassuring. I also use Backblaze and CCC, fortunately.
2012 13" MBA, 2015 15" MBP, and 2017 13" MBP: no issues with Catalina or iCloud, but I am aware of numerous reports of Catalina-related problems for other users.
Curious to know where Apple is heading. For some years – for example, when the Air and Mac Pro were left to languish and Time Capsule was put to the sword – it looked as if Apple was giving up on the Mac and macOS. Even now it looks as though macOS is coming to the end of its lifespan, with whole macOS teams at Apple being disbanded (as already pointed out by nontroppo) and the evident multi-year push towards Arm. Did they, at one time, decide to drop the Intel Mac range and macOS? Did they then find a need to revive it, or at least keep it going for a few more years?
I suspect that macOS will be put out to grass pretty soon and that Arm-based “Macs” will be with us before too long … but will Apple be able to deliver Arm Macs that satisfy developers and the like, or will it be sufficient for them to gorge themselves on the home-user market?
Two things about that:
A lot of Apple’s success has come from its tech-user base evangelising about Apple products. Can Apple thrive (sure, it is super rich) without that choir continuing to sing the company’s praises?
What will become of Mac Scrivener if Arm replaces Intel and macOS withers on the vine? I can see some long-term benefits for L&L if Keith only has to develop for one core OS, but – even starting with iOS Scrivener – there will be a long way to go to match Mac Scrivener’s incredibly capable box of tricks. Will we all just have to accept a simpler Scrivener that runs on Arm Macs, iPads, and iPhones (much like Ulysses or Bear do now) and syncs through iCloud?
Re the fonts: been using them for a while now … personally like Founders Grotesk (for Scrivener) and Graphik (for email).
@Marc64 Not vastly different from my Dock (which presently has in it BusyCal, 2Do, Tinderbox, DEVONthink, The Archive and PDF Expert which are extra to you). No LaunchPad, because I use Alfred. I find the menu bar is quite revealing of “techieness”. Mine has Typinator, Dropzone, Keyboard Maestro, Moom, Mosaic, 1Password, Bartender, Hazel, PopClip and Default Folder X. Which is too much, really. Oh, and Calendar 366 II.
The strip at the top of the screen. It is where various “menulets” reside. OS ones include the clock, WiFi, and so forth. There are loads of nice utilities that can live there. If you try nothing else, I would try Pilotmoon’s PopClip https://pilotmoon.com/popclip/. Very handy, in my experience.