Time Machine has a problem with my external hard disk. It all began when the backup reached the 1 TB barrier: Time Machine “failed to create a directory”, or whatever the exact message was. The disk had around a Terabyte of free space left when that happened and even using Disk Utility to “repair” the drive didn’t help. Neither did formatting the disk and starting with a fresh backup fix the problem. I have now disabled Time Machine and copy my files manually to the disk – which, very unsurprisingly, does work. So it’s not a hardware problem but very obviously some weird bug in Time Machine. As Steve Jobs would have said in a different context with a different meaning: “This is huge.”
The 27″ iMac i5 now has temperature problems. Even in idle state, the cooling fans begin to work heavily and produce a lot of noise. SMC and PRAM resets only postpone the noise production a bit but have not fixed it. This is a serious problem.
After a couple of days of using Mountain Lion, the overall performance of the system does not feel any better than it did with Lion. The Mac felt really fast when it was still running Snow Leopard, but with Lion and Mountain Lion it feels not much different than a PC with Vista. It’s still okay, but not good.
I still haven’t tried the new Contagion drivers, so I don’t know if the RAT7 problems have been fixed. In any way, that is not a direct Mountain Lion problem and it’s not essential – only annoying.
Still, the Time Machine and cooling fan problems are troublesome show-stoppers and I need to decide how I am going to deal with this.
Update: The beta driver 1.1.45 fixes the Cyborg RAT7 compatibility problems – so far, everything appears to be working normally again. That’s the good news. The bad news is that Mountain Lion, just like its predecessor Lion, randomly ejects my backup hard disk or loses the connection to it – regardless if I connect it via USB or Firewire. When I connect it to my virtual machine with Windows 7, this problem does not seem to occur. However, I don’t have enough time to spend on a thorough analysis. When I read how many other people have issues with their non-Apple backup disks, I tend to say that Apple broke something in their software.
Finally. The Mac is re-installed with Mountain Lion and all my major applications are restored. Even the Steam games are back on the Mac. Only BlitzMax and some other developer tools are yet missing, but that’s not a big issue. At least the functionality of the system has been restored.
So far, the only loss is the Cybort RAT 7 — when it’s plugged in, it makes Mountain Lion behave weird. The latest Mac software for the Contagion was 1.1.42, and it doesn’t help with Mountain Lion. I found a link on their website that pointed to a 1.1.43 software version, but either that link was a typo or the software was not on their server yet. Anyway, I’ll sit the Cyborg situation out for now. HP also do not have Mountain Lion compatible software on their servers, but Apple ships a working driver with ML. Other than that, most stuff seems to work just fine with ML – even Microsoft Office 2008 and Adobe Photoshop CS3 (although the CS3 applications can no longer establish a connection with Adobe’s update servers).
The system feels good enough. After all those updates, I’m no longer sure if it’s actually any faster than Lion or more stable. Or slower and less stable. At least the Mac works and is still being supported for a few more months – until the gods in Cupertino in their infinite wisdom decide to drop the support for Late 2009 iMacs in the next incarnation of their operating system. Well, at least for my machine that time has not come yet. And when it comes, I’ll probably not be in the mood to shove more money down Cupertino’s throat. But I will cross that bridge when I get there. For now, Mountain Lion is a go and seems to be a good enough update to stay in Apple land for a bit longer.
An update regarding Gatekeeper: I was advised that there seems to be a mechanism built in to “authorize” specific apps or add exceptions for certain apps. You have to disable Gatekeeper, launch and execute the application and once that is done, you can re-enable Gatekeeper and henceforth it will always run that application even though it is unsigned and coming from an unknown source. Not necessarily a beautiful and intuitive solution – I would have preferred a dialog in the style of the “login items” dialog window – but it seems to do the trick. Or so I’ve been told, because I actually haven’t tried it myself yet.