Apple’s Lion Operating System: Not Ready for Prime Time


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I grew up using Apple computers, spent ten years complaining about PCs, and finally converted back to Apple in the past year. Which makes it disappointing to recommend strongly against upgrading your Apple OS X operating system to 10.7, the latest version that Apple is calling Lion.

For me, with a relatively new MacBook Pro (2009), the upgrade has been a disaster. After upgrading, I’ve been relegated to booting up only in “safe mode,” dealing with innumerable application conflicts, and now having crashes, which were rare in Snow Leopard, Apple’s prior operating system. And I’m not alone, as many others are complaining, detailing numerous flaws and conflicts, or racking up all the applications that are now incompatible with Lion, such as Carbonite and, in some instances, Dropbox.

What have I tried to do to correct things, other than uninstalling the system (which, by the way, does not come with a disc and is only available as a download)? Lots. I’ve checked in frequently with Apple’s online support (useless on my issue), surfed around the web for people with similar problems who may have found a solution, tried uninstalling things, and finally just stewed. Unfortunately, Apple’s online support has been abysmal. Well aware that there are a good number of folks like me, Apple’s support forum still has no good explanation or solution. Others who are dealing with the problem suggest “PC-speak” solutions, which are a set of instructions that use words like kernel or config or that suggest uninstalling drivers or installing third-party software. Drivers and additional software? I thought I was using an Apple, which is supposed to “just work.”

Apple makes a big deal about its tag line of “It Just Works.” Sam sometimes teases me in the office whenever I cannot do something on my Apple and he completes it quickly with a PC running Windows 7. When he one-ups me, he says “Windows, it just works.” Now, after wasting two days on Lion, I’m left concluding that “Lion, it just sucks.” My recommendation is to wait at least 1-2 months and then reassess whether to upgrade your Apple. By that time Apple will hopefully have the kinks in its flawed operating system worked out.


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  • Terry Henderson

    Get Your Facts Straight ! Both Carbonite & Dropbox (Latest Versions) Are Fully Lion Compatible !!

    • I believe they both updated about a week after Lion went live, and just a few days after Greg drafted this post. The mistake is mine for scheduling it today, instead of last week.

      • Carbonite upgraded four days ago, August 18, when they notified users by email of the availability of the update. Dropbox, I believe, upgraded just this week, but it’s not often available as an update immediately within Dropbox unless you look for it. But, as Sam notes, I wrote this review prior to these updates. Since that time, I’ve finally been able to get Lion installed properly, but only after using Lion’s built-in utility/recovery program which, I have to admit, was nice to have available.

        My problems were not isolated but were often reported by others. Some problems, however, may be isolated to my particular MacBook Pro, which dates from 2010.

        • It Just Works. Just not for you, Greg.

          Seriously, though. Windows “just works” for me, and has since XP came out. I like Apple computers, too, but I’ve never found them to be any more reliable or secure than Windows. Both of those things depend more on technological competence than the operating system or hardware—although I admit OS X is a bit more friendly to the technologically incompetent.

  • That seems to happen a lot with any operating system upgrade. That said, I admit that I have avoided upgrading to Lion based on fear of these issues. I remember when Snow Leopard came out two years ago there were similar issues that took a few months to resolve.

  • Matt

    My two installs (mid-2009 MBP and 2010 iMac) “just work.” No hiccups, no crashes, no problems.

    It’s up to developers to take advantage of the pre-release developer builds to test and resolve compatibility issues, but even then you can’t guarantee there won’t be some bugs.

    Also, you can get a USB Thumb Drive with Lion on it if you want to avoid downloading it.

  • Chris

    I have had no problems whatsoever on my 2009 Mac Mini at work or my iMac at home.

  • I’ve had Lion running on three computers from day one without a single problem.

  • Good advice from Gregory. I have reverted to Snow Leopard 10.6.8 Combo after an unnerving experience installing Lion over the Combo. My Mac Book is in the get lost box for a few months. Gone back to using Windows 7 for anything serious. Lion problem was desk top short cuts and icons shifting around with each boot. From forums, a known bug. There were workaround solutions suggested there, but I prefer to wait until Apple sorts it out. The Apple Brand Experience for me on this occasion was abysmal. I do not like Lion being released over the Internet. It has put me off buying another Mac Book. Or another Apple product.

  • My experience is that Lion is a memory hog. Spotlight and Safari 5 are the worst offenders. The memory management is broken, requiring a reboot every so often. Problems are managable with 8GB RAM, but it slows to a crawl with 4GB or less.

    If you upgrade, expect to spend a lot of time figuring out why it doesn’t “just work.”

    My advice: Stick to Snow Leopard until Apple fixes the problems.

  • ploogman

    Maybe a hasty article – Lion upgrades have not been a problem for any of my users