For previous major releases of Mac OS X, I’ve generally waited until the 10.X.1 version was released, as the 10.X.0 version is often a bit buggy or unstable. But somehow I got a little too hyped about Lion (10.7) and installed it (10.7.0, that is) within the first couple of days. This was a mistake. There are many things that I like about Lion, and I think ultimately it will be a another great release of a great operating system. This is not a post about that. It’s a post about my woes, since upgrading.
To summarize the woes in a single sentence: I crash Mail.app and Safari’s rendering engine at least once a day, and, to prevent additional crashes of Mail.app (which would occur so frequently as to render it completely useless), I’ve had to change my mail setup in a way that makes it impossible to interact with my main work email account from my iPhone.
Luckily, according to Wikipedia, the last three major versions of Mac OS X have had their .1 releases out within a month, and usually their .2 releases out within a couple months after that. So, I’m hopeful that things will resolve fairly quickly. I hear that 10.7.2 has already been seeded to developers. (So, I presume that 10.7.1 will be forthcoming soon.)
Now, for the gory details. I’ll mention Safari’s issues first, because they are easiest to explain. And one of them may be the root cause of most of my problems.
Whenever I visit any of a number of secure websites (https) maintained by my employer, Safari’s rendering engine crashes or, in some cases, I get infinitely redirected between http and https versions of a page until Safari gives up and presents an error page. I suspect that this has something to do with the fact that my employer uses a self-signed root certificate to sign all of our other SSL certificates, because I have seen rumblings on the internets that this causes problems under Lion.1 But in any case I have “trusted” this root certificate in my Keychain, and regardless this should cause an error or warning, not a crash. Also, it doesn’t happen on every https site with a self-signed certificate (e.g. I can use webmail), just many of them. I’ve been working around this problem by using Firefox to interact with the sites in question, but usually not until after I’ve crashed the rendering engine again. It is possible that this self-signed root is the ultimate cause of other problems, too.
An issue too minor to list in my one sentence summary above: I can no longer login to my campus wireless network automatically with 802.11x (which depends upon a local certificate I have, signed by the aforementioned self-signed root). Instead, I have to sign in using a web interface every time I wake my computer from sleep.
Every day, I get an email from our campus’s spam filtering service, summarizing all of the mail that it has filtered.2 Every day, I click on this in Mail, or move to it automatically when I handle another message, and, as Mail tries to render the junk mail summary, it crashes.3 My current workaround is to view the message using webmail, and then to remove it from the inbox in Mail without allowing it to be rendered.4
I can’t use webmail to delete the junk mail summary message, or anything else, and I can’t use my iPhone to manage mail for this account any more, because I’m now using POP (which I haven’t used regularly since about 1997) to download my mail. I’m using POP because attempts to access the campus IMAP server result in Mail crashing every time. 5
And I finally moved my mail account back to our campus’s POP/IMAP mail solution because attempting to get mail to access our campus Exchange server also resulted in Mail crashing every time. (I’ve been planning to move my account off the Exchange server for years, though. Nice to finally have an excuse, I guess.)
In fact, even adding the POP server to Mail was no piece of cake, because Mail no longer provides a way to add a manually configured mail account until after it attempts to configure an account automatically. And (surprise, surprise) attempting to automatically configure mail accounts on my campus resulted in Mail crashing every time. So, I turned off the internet, let automatic configuration fail without crashing, fixed the default settings that remained, and then turned the internet back on.
With workarounds, none of these are complete productivity killers. But they are pretty annoying.
In addition to seeing how quickly Apple manages to address some of these problems, it will also be interesting to see how fast our campus computing support team can address them. If it were any other time of year, I’m sure they’d just recommend that people not update to Lion yet. But in the next two weeks we’ll have hundreds of students coming to campus with brand new Macs on which Lion came pre-installed. So far, though, not a peep out of them about Lion.
I think I heard we were transitioning away from the self-signed certificates, but I am unsure of the status of this migration. ↩
Which, I might add, is an order of magnitude better than shuffling it into a folder that I never get around to looking at, which is what happens with me and most spam filtering solutions. ↩
Interestingly, Safari can render the message using the webmail interface. So, this is not exactly the same mechanism as whatever is causing the Safari rendering engine to crash. ↩
If you drag a message other than the one currently being viewed out of the active mailbox in Mail, then Mail never tries to render it. ↩
For reasons that I don’t understand, the iPhone has stopped even downloading new messages from this account. It was downloading them for the first couple of days after I switched to POP (although, of course, marking them all unread, as POP doesn’t support setting mail status on the server), and then it just stopped. I haven’t really investigated though, because with no ability to archive mail or even mark it as read, I figure I’m better off waiting until I’m at my computer to look at it. ↩