Tiger includes a little-advertised, but major (to me) feature called Aggregate Audio Devices, which would let me create a virtual audio I/O that has all the inputs on all the devices I own. Between the 16 channels I have on one box, the six on the other, and the built-in stereo line inputs, that would make it possible (in theory) for me to record 24 channels at one time, instead of my current limit of 16 (or 18 with additional A/D hardware). This is the single most attractive reason for me to upgrade to Tiger. Spotlight and Dashboard are cool, and faster boot times and better file access are a plus, but getting more simultaneous audio inputs without spending boku bucks would be huge for my moonlighting business.
Eventually I’d also like to look into how hard or easy it will be to move Frontier into XCode, so we can get running on the Intel Macs when they come out, but at the moment that’s a little lower priority for me, since the Intel Macs are at least some months away.
So I did some testing over the weekend on what a move to Tiger would look like right now. I was both pleasantly surprised at how much actually did work, and disappointed that a couple of things that are absolute requirements for me didn’t work.
Here’s the run-down from what I’ve tested so far:
My VillageTronic VTBook DVI card just works, despite it being one of the things I was sure wouldn’t work. So much for expectation. Having three screens for working on code and audio is a go in Tiger. Yay!
align=”left” />My PreSonus FIREBOX and my MOTU 896HD both just worked, again a pleasant surprise, but I’d heard already that my audio interfaces would be ok. MOTU has had Tiger compatibility for quite some time now, and the PreSonus drivers actually ship with OS X, so I would have been surprised if that didn’t work. More on audio later though…
Another essential: Mail worked, of course (but only after an hour’s worth of importing over 300K messages). All of my hard disks worked, VirtualPC 7 worked (I just upgraded this week from VPC6), Frontier worked (phew!). MenuMeters even worked, and what would I do without them?
So what didn’t work?
The first major bummer was that Tiger was totally unstable until I removed the 512MB SO-DIMM that I’d installed in my PowerBook G4 late last year. I have no idea why, since Panther seems to be 100% stable with the very same RAM. All I can tell you is that before I removed the SO-DIMM, I could install Tiger without a hitch, but could hardly get through the personalization screens after booting on the newly installed OS. After backing off to my original, shipped-with-my-PowerBook 512MB, Tiger was solid as a rock, just like Panther.
But what about the software?
I’d heard reports, and seem to agree that Toast doesn’t work, although I understand that a (free?) upgrade will fix that. Lots of other widgets will need to get upgrades as well, and many not for free (though most for not much money).
I haven’t tested my video-hacking stuff yet, like MacTheRipper, MacVCD X, TyEditor or VLC. While I use them frequently, if any two didn’t work ever again, it wouldn’t be a deal-stopper for me. I can’t imagine that MacTheRipper or TyEditor would stop working, since they’re not talking to anything that’s very OS-dependent, and there’s an Xfree86 version of TyEditor anyway, that I’m sure still works. VLC is a wonderfully well supported open-source app that will undoubtedly work at some point, if it doesn’t already, and MacVCD X is probably one I could do without entirely.
By far, the biggest problem I had, and the one insurmountable glitch that prevents me from diving into Tiger right now is the fact that Tracktion 2 doesn’t work at the moment. There seem to be two problems — one deal-stopper, and one major bug.
First the bug — opening an edit when booted from my FireWire Tiger install causes Tracktion to try to cache (i.e. copy) all the audio data onto the boot disk, since it mistakenly thinks that the files are on a mounted network volume, no matter what disk the edit and its audio files live on, physical or not. For a 15GB project, this can take something like an hour — Oy!
I’m pretty sure that the “Oh – I must be on a network” problem will go away if I run from Tiger on my internal PowerBook drive, but I can’t test this yet, since I’m not willing to upgrade that disk until I know that Tiger will run all of my essential software.
But now for the deal-stopper: Audio playback in Tracktion 2 doesn’t seem to work at all. It apparently doesn’t matter which audio interface I’m set up to play with, I hear nothing, and after a few seconds, the app stops responding, and has to be Force-Quit. It also doesn’t matter if I use Tracktion 2 or Tracktion 220.127.116.11 — the last pre-2 release.
I read on the Tracktion support forum that Mackie is aware of the problems, and have a build in testing that fixes them, which will be released in 2-3 weeks (ouch).
My question: If Tracktion/Tiger is totally broken now, and you have it mostly, or for-pretty-sure fixed in the lab, why not just release a beta? We Tracktion lovers all ran betas of Tracktion 2 anyway for the last few months, so what harm would a couple more weeks of beta-mode do, especially if all us Tiger wannabes can finally get Spotlight, Dashboard, and most importantly Aaggregate Audio Devices now instead of later.
Come on, Mackie — throw us a bone here… 😉