After all this time, how can OS X Mavericks STILL be this bad?

Summary:David Gewirtz took the gamble and decided to upgrade from Mountain Lion. You know what? Mavericks is still buggy as heck.

OS X Mavericks (otherwise known as 10.9) released on October 22, 2013. We're now in July, 251 days later. Yesterday, Apple released 10.9.4 , the fourth major bug-fix update to Mavericks.

I took the gamble and decided to upgrade from Mountain Lion. You know what? Mavericks is still buggy as heck.

When I first got my monster iMac , I tried Mavericks and found it broke using most of my critical systems (like, you know, accessing the file server). So I downgraded back to Mountain Lion and I've had a rock-solid, reliable system ever since.

But when 10.9.4 came out, I figured what the heck? I didn't like the idea of running on an OS that didn't get the latest security updates and I figured that if Yosemite was going to come in the fall, perhaps the Apple elves had fixed what made Mavericks such a dog.

And I was also avoiding my to-do list. Doing an OS upgrade is always a good way to avoid what you're really s'posed to be working on.

So I went ahead and installed 10.9.4. I made a full Carbon Copy Cloner clone of my main volume, so I could, theoretically, once again downgrade to Mountain Lion. But the fact is, I want to be running the latest OS. To do otherwise makes me nervous.

But Mavericks is still a pig with lipstick.

The upgrade was easy. It took all of an hour to download and install. I booted back up ... and it hung. Finder was broken. As it turns out, I mount all the network shares I use on boot, which worked fine on Mountain Lion. On Mavericks, it just hung. I had to kill the Finder process. Eventually, I disabled mounting-on-boot and could get into the Finder.

Oh, but you should see how Parallels took to Mavericks. Remember I wrote a great article on getting Parallels to work with four monitors in Coherence mode ? Worked fine in Mountain Lion. Mavericks sent Parallels into spasms, literally. The Parallels screen bounced all over the screen, shifted back and forth, and otherwise made me feel like that day when the Master took over the Earth in Doctor Who and remade everyone to look like himself.

It was unpretty. Disabling Coherence did the job, because when it comes to using a Mac with Mavericks, who needs anything that's coherent?

Speaking of wackiness, remember when I wrote an article about how to get four monitors to work nicely on an iMac ? That was Mountain Lion also. Now, with Mavericks, my screens just randomly blink on and off. It's random, it's unpredictable, but its constant enough to render the computer virtually unusable.

As it turns out, Mavericks doesn't work well with USB DisplayLink adapters. The DisplayLink folks have done an upgrade to their driver, but apparently aren't getting much support from Apple (does this surprise anyone?) and so things don't work all that well.

When I unplug the fourth monitor (the one using the USB DisplayLink adapter), the blinking stops. I'll probably try to replace that approach with mirroring or extending the display to Apple TV. Stay tuned for a future update on that one.

Now look, I recognize that I'm running a complex system, but that's why I have a Mac and not, say, an iPad. I'm doing real work with this machine. Unlike Jason, who uses the Mac as a prosumer , and therefore can easily replace its functions with Windows, I use both Windows and Mac applications on the Mac.

There are some Mac-based applications that are important to my workflow. So I choose to use a Mac, not because it's an Apple machine, but because the developers of some very slick programs chose to develop for Apple machines.

I also understand that the vast percentage of Apple's income now comes from iDevices and not Macintosh. But as Jason also points out, Macs are not cheap machines, and it's inexcusable for Apple to leave Mavericks in the sad, sick state it apparently still is in.

No wonder people are leaving desktop PCs in droves. Between the wacky interface changes in Windows 8 and the execrable quality control Apple has practiced with Mavericks, desktop computing sure as heck isn't putting its best foot forward these days.

Are you still having problems with Mavericks? Post your notes in the TalkBacks below.

By the way, I'm doing more updates on Twitter and Facebook than ever before. Be sure to follow me on Twitter at @DavidGewirtz and on Facebook at Facebook.com/DavidGewirtz.

Topics: Apple, Mobility

About

In addition to hosting the ZDNet Government and ZDNet DIY-IT blogs, CBS Interactive's Distinguished Lecturer David Gewirtz is an author, U.S. policy advisor and computer scientist. He is featured in The History Channel special The President's Book of Secrets, is one of America's foremost cyber-security experts, and is a top expert on savi... Full Bio

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