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The Life of OS X

November 29, 2013 - Dave Hecei
osxsNear the end of October, Apple released the tenth version of the Mac operating system. The new version is OS X 10.9 also known as Mavericks. All previous OS X versions were code named after large cats like Puma, Panther, Tiger, Lion, etc. The latest version starts a new naming scheme based on California landmarks. This decision was likely brought on by Apple’s latest marketing push to promote the ‘Made in California’ label on their products.

The very first version of OS X started life back in the spring of 2001. Actually, OS X started out as a free ‘beta’ version that was more of a preview than a working OS. This was back in the OS9 days of Macintosh history. OS X itself came from Apple buying NeXT Computers, the company that Apple co-founder Steve Jobs started after being pushed out of his own company. The core of the NeXT OS became OS X and Steve eventually returned as CEO of Apple.

Over the years, OS X has evolved into one of the premiere operating systems in personal computing, at least in my opinion and I don’t think I’m alone. After the initial beta of OS X, the cost of OS X was right around $150. Then it dropped a bit to $130. When Snow Leopard, OS X 10.6, was released, Apple touted it as more of a refinement upgrade to Leopard, OS X 10.5. The cost of Snow Leopard was under $30. Then came Lion and then Mountain Lion, which was priced under $20. The latest OS X Mavericks completely breaks the mold. It is available for free.

Well, that’s not completely true. If you have any Mac capable of running Mavericks and it is currently running OS X 10.6.8 or better, then you can download and install OS X 10.9 Mavericks for free. If you currently are running a Mac that meets the requirements but is running an OS before 10.6, then you have to at least buy a copy of 10.6. It can still be found on the Apple Store web site for $19.99. After you’ve installed 10.6 and updated to 10.6.8, then you can get 10.9 using the Mac App Store app, which was not available in OS X before 10.6.8.

Now the big question is whether to upgrade or not. You really have to take a look at your system and decide if it is even necessary. If everything you do works and works well, do you really want to mess it up? As the old saying goes, ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.’ If you have an older Mac, or older peripherals (hard drives, scanners, printers, etc.), then you will need to make sure they are compatible with Mavericks. If not, then you will have the expense of replacing them.

Upgrading your OS over time is sometimes a requirement. If you want to run the latest iLife and iWork apps, they only run on Mavericks. If you were to get a new iPhone or iPad, they require the latest iTunes app, which as you might of guessed, requires a newer OS X. The latest iTunes needs at least OS X 10.6.8 to run.

Since Mavericks is free of charge, it won’t cost you anything but disk space to download it. There are several articles out there on how to download 10.9 and put the installer on a USB flash drive, which is a great thing to do if you want to install Mavericks on more than one machine. Why download 5+ gigabytes of data more than once. Check out this article from MacWorld. You will want to at least have a backup of your data just in case things go wrong. The ideal thing to do is to have an external drive and use a cloning tool like Carbon Copy Cloner or Super Duper to make an image of your Macs boot drive. This will allow you to wipe your drive and go back to your old OS quickly, just in case you find Mavericks isn’t for you.


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