So, I’ve noticed that there are quite a few people out there writing rather detailed overviews and reviews of their experiences with Panther. Rather than repeat everything that everyone else is saying on the subject, I think I am going to point to a few places where you can find out more of what they have said, and make a review split into several mini-reviews, focusing on improvements that affect usability between the 3650 and the 12-inch, as well as a few wishes for 10.3.1 that I haven’t seen any mention of yet.
Here it goes:
Panther is fast. Zippy even, compared to Jaguar. Oddly enough, especially if you have an older G3 that doesn’t support all the advanced visuals of Panther. (My friend reports that his wife’s purple clamshell iBook works much faster than his newer white iBook with Panther installed). One of my largest problems with Jaguar had always been the Finder-spinning-beach-ball-scenario where some program or another has to work with the Finder to produce some task or another (like copying a file from the desktop to an FTP server, via Goliath, or opening a file on the desktop in Safari). Depending on what else the Finder was busy doing in the background, the time of day, the pull of the moon on the earth, and a myriad of other unknown factors, this sort of action could sporadically result in big spinning beach-ball of death in the Finder, and possibly also in the program involved, and either you just sat there and waited in the hopes that it would eventually complete the task, or you would have to Force Quit the program, restart the Finder, and try it all again. It also tended to happen from time to time when I was accessing the bluetooth status icon I keep in my menu bar (or whenever I was accessing any of the icons up in the menu bar). That doesn’t happen anymore with Panther.
However, there is an added feature that does cause some slow down from time to time: the local copy of the iDisk. If you go to System Preferences under Internet & Network, you will find a .Mac control panel. Now, if you have a .Mac account this is useful, if not, you can move on to the next section. Click on .Mac, and select iDisk. If you check the “Create a local copy of your iDisk” box, Panther does just that: it makes a duplicate of your iDisk appear on your desktop and in all of your Finder windows in the sidebar. When you first select this option, it takes quite a bit of time depending upon your connection to the internet and the amount of information you have stored remotely on your iDisk, to download all that information. After this initial sync, however, accessing your iDisk is faster than ever. It eliminated my need to use Goliath (which is still an extremely useful and powerful program that I highly recommend) to access my iDisk on a regular basis. Unfortunately, there are a few buggy things about keeping this copy of the iDisk on your computer. For example, every time it syncs, I receive an error message in the middle of my screen saying that there is a duplicate file name (with different capitalization) on the remote iDisk, so that file will not be synced to the local disk, as Panther does not support such duplicate file names. This pops up without warning in the middle of your screen, with no option to choose not to display the error again and no way of solving the problem through the dialog box that jumps up. Plus, since I now access my iDisk through the local copy, I am not even sure how to rectify the situation (although I assume I could use Goliath to do so). Also, when the iDisk is syncing, it does cause a certain slow down in overall performance, so I would recommend setting it to sync automatically for the first sync, but after that is finished set it to sync manually, so you can determine when you can stand to give up a little system performance and when you would rather not. Manually syncing is easy enough, as all you have to do is click on the little iSync-like button next to the iDisk in the sidebar of any open Finder window.