Mac OS X LeopardNative Instruments and MOTU have each posted compatibility update pages for Mac OS X Leopard. There’s not a whole lot of information yet (particularly form MOTU), but now’s the time to bookmark those pages!

Be sure to watch comments from readers for other helpful compatibility information — much of it positive at this point.

Native Instruments: Compatibility with OS X Leopard
NI’s latest versions of Kore, Traktor, Guitar Rig, and Kontakt are all good to go. But other software has some issues related to installation and dialog box operation. While it’s not reported on this page, we’ve also heard one person with a hardware problem. You should see patches over the coming weeks, with major updates in November and December.

Unleash a Leopard in your MOTU studio
Despite the title, actually, you might not want to unleash anything just yet. MOTU says testing is ongoing and hints updates for hardware and software may be likely. MOTU’s virtual instrument line is ready, though, and there are no significant issues reported yet. Best bet: bookmark that page and keep watch. That’s what we’ll be doing.

Tiger in your tank? I’ll say it now: while the issues are minor so far, I don’t recommend upgrading to Leopard on a critical machine. For folks with more than one Mac, many are having relatively smooth experiences, so on a second machine it could make sense. I’m expecting most of the rest of us will just wait a month or two; at least on the Mac updates are usually pretty speedy in coming and the OS itself looks solid.

Oh, yeah, and one other important thing: this is the first Mac OS X update that really doesn’t benefit music users, at least not out of the box. (There are some driver changes, but I don’t think there are yet devices that take advantage of them.) It’s actually good news, in that Core Audio and Core MIDI are mature at this point — you don’t want to regularly update the music and audio plumbing. But that means Tiger will be just fine for some time.

More Java bad news: While I know this interests a smaller audience, there’s been still more disappointments on the Mac Java front. First, Apple did not include Java 6 as expected, despite the fact that Windows, Linux, and other operating systems have had it since late last year and have even seen significant updates; Apple actually breaks their previous Java 6. It’s not just surviving with Java 5 that has people mad; it’s the sense that Apple has abandoned Java, once a priority for the company. At the very least, they’re not telling anyone what’s going on. Worse for music specifically, Apple’s broken, old JavaSound implementation hasn’t improved at all; it’s roughly equivalent to the ancient Java 1.3 implementation and has major playback issues. That’s really sad, because it knocks out the use of Java for sound, which could be really significant in education. I’ll be testing MIDI, as well, as I’ve been doing some development work with Java and Processing. There are some workarounds, but it’s still frustrating.

If we’re really lucky, we’ll see updates that fix one or both of these issues. And if we’re really, really lucky, someone will figure out how to get the open-source OpenJDK moving on Mac, which could eventually mean cross-platform, open-source Java on all platforms — and possibly with better multimedia result, which is what code artists most desperately need.