Friday, September 29, 2006

An open letter to programmers of Mac OS X applications

Dear Programmers,

I would like to start off by saying, "thank you." Thank you to those guys who have, since the inception of the Darwin BSD Linux Mac OS X, have been writing so many useful bits of software that have saved me time and money; I really am most grateful. For more or less the first time, I am seeing sites that advertise pieces of Mac OS and Linux software that are not Windoze compatible; you have no idea how happy this makes me.

But... And there is always a "but"...

But, I do wonder if you might start writing efficient software that doesn't take up 86,000,000,000 times more space on my hard disk than it needs to. You know, there really is no reason why my aplications folder, which on OS 9 was about 500MB, now needs to be 13.08GB (not including the additional 2.14GB in the Application Support folder): I have fewer major applications than I used and, really, those applications haven't improved so much that they need to occupy quite so much of my hard drive. Oh, and, Apple, this is for you: what, precisely, are Console Logs that they require the use of 6.82GB?

And now, application performance: oh, dear god. When is someone out there going to consider making a web browser that doesn't suffer a major memory leak? They all do it, apart from Safari, which then doesn't support Java editors properly. And since when did a fucking web browser need to take up 70% and more of the processing power of two—count them, you fucks: TWO!—G4 chips; chips that were specially designed to do massive number-crunching? What do you do when someone only has one chip, eh: use 140%?

And, fucking hell: memory usage! Skype: why is it, precisely, when I have not used you for days, do you need to have 270MB of physical memory and another 834MB of virtual memory, eh? You're using about three times more RAM, at rest, than Photoshop is. I mean, seriously, what the fuck?

So, how about it, application programmers? You used to write tight, efficient programmes that ran with the tiniest amount of memory possible; why don't you go back to pretending that 32MB of memory costs £90+VAT and start programming for that scenario, eh? Why not pretend that a 2GB hard drive is over £240 and make your code a little tidier? Please, have a go, why don't you? Push the boat out: write software that doesn't require a fucking supercomputer with its own cool-room to run these apps. We cannot all afford to buy a new Mac every two years. And besides, one of the selling points of Macs was that they have a long shelf-life.

Oh, and another thing: all of you major application houses that require the online web registration that makes it so incredibly difficult and fiddly for me to swap in a larger hard drive as my main system disk, stop it. It's really fucking annoying.

So, write good, efficient code, plug the fucking memory leaks and keep up the good work, OK? Thanks for listening.

Best regards (as long as you do what I say),



Anonymous said...

have you tried using "top" from the command line? on my linux box , skype is using 4.9% of my 500mb of memory - which is 25mb.

Devil's Kitchen said...


I was using Apple's Activity Monitor which is pretty much the same thing. But thanks for the "top" tip: top is slightly more informative than the AAM although it doesn't, unfortunately reduce the requirements 9just adds another process running)...


Anonymous said...

The Console logs should get trimmed down at night - it's an Unix thing. Unfortunately, that doesn't happen if you switch your Mac off or put it to sleep in the evenings.

And the memory thing... it's not as bad as it looks. A lot of that memory is due to the system frameworks, which are shared between all applications.

Anonymous said...

Something funny must be going on, and I suspect that what dewi mentioned is something to do with it. I have FreeBSD running happily on a laptop with 192MB RAM and a 20GB disk.
By the way, I did read your comments on the Samizdata iTunes post, thanks.

Pogo said...

go back to pretending that 32MB of memory costs £90+VAT

Bloody kids!! When I were a lad 1MB of memory cost over quarter of a million quid + VAT!! Not that there was room to plug it into the machine mind you! :-)

Ee.. You don't know you're born!!

Anonymous said...

Well I still have a magazine in which a 4K RAM upgrade for a Commodore Pet (yes, 4 kilobytes) was advertised at ONLY £499.95 - but then I'm 41 and was a microcomputer hobbyist pretty early on.

Meanwhile, as dewi says, much of the memory being used is actually shared between other running applications.

I'm with you on the memory leaks though. It's about time more people were running modern garbage collected languages like Haskell. Of course, garbage collection was invented for Lisp back in the 1960s, so it does seem that the art of programming is advancing at a glacial pace.

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