The Snow Leopard Chronicles

I’m hardly the first or only person to encounter problems with Snow Leopard, but maybe if I tell my story it will save one or two people some grief.

As far as I can tell, most people who upgrade should have no trouble with Snow Leopard. Allow an hour to make the change and enjoy. Personally, I’d wait a few weeks so that Apple has time to publish at least one round of patches/updates, particularly because I didn’t really see any advantage after the update. Maybe it boots and shuts down a bit more quickly, but that’s about it.

After the Snow Leopard upgrade there were all sorts of pop-up acknowledgment windows. You know the kind: you don’t really read them, you just click OK. But once I did, I couldn’t start any applications. No Firefox, no Mail, nada. I had to reboot. TIme after time. It turned out one of the popups should have given me a hint of a known problem with kcSync. I finally Googled it and found the fix. I depend on 1Password, a great utility for managing passwords and keeping them synchronized across multiple devices. I knew in advance I’d have to upgrade to a beta version, but it wasn’t that simple. The kcSync problem (a MobileMe issue) was the villain.

But my big problem was that I use my honkin’ Mac Pro (11GB RAM, 2.5TB disk + 3TB Drobo) as a serious development machine. After the install I found I couldn’t run Apache, MySQL or PHP. Ugh. Because the versions of Apache and PHP previously supplied by Apple weren’t particularly recent, I had installed and configured custom versions of all the standard LAMP utilities. Installing Snow Leopard caused them to stop working.

Ten hours later, I’ve finally got a reliable development machine again. I’m also glad of one thing: Because Apple now ships fairly new versions of Apache (2.2.11) and PHP (5.3.0) I’ve moved all my code and dev sites to run in that more-or-less standard environment. No longer do I have two or  three versions of Apache and PHP running on my system. I still forget where things are, but at least they’re only in one place. I also installed a sweet 64-bit version (5.1.38) of MySQL, which seems much faster than the previous 32-bit revs.

A special thanks to Super Sysadmin Tim and folks on Twitter (@walterchisenski, @mrblog, @jrnoded) for helping me find things along the way. May your own upgrade be smoother.

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