More on downloading software updates in Snow Leopard

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Macintosh
October 23rd, 2009 • 6:52 pm

Here’s another perfect illustration of the frustration generated by Apple’s decision to limit the user’s options when it comes to downloading software updates in Snow Leopard, already discussed in yesterday’s post.

Today, Software Update popped up with a new update for me:

Pro Applications update

Now, I am not a Final Cut user, but I am a Logic Studio user. Logic Studio is one of Apple’s “pro” applications, and so I apparently need the update. But of course, since it’s a sizable download (108.3 MB), I would like to download it just once and be able to keep a copy of it on a local hard drive, so that I won’t have to download it again if I ever need to reinstall Logic Studio or to install the update on someone else’s machine.

As indicated in yesterday’s post, the only option remaining in Snow Leopard’s user interface is now to go to Apple’s Downloads page on the web and download it as a stand-alone updater from there.

Out of curiosity, instead of going to the web page in question “manually,” I decided to use Software Update’s built-in menu command for this, mentioned in yesterday’s post:

Software Update menu

And believe it or not, it took me to this URL:

http://support.apple.com/fr_CA/downloads

Yes, I am a French Canadian, but I use English as my user interface language. Obviously, that does not count. But that’s not the worst. The worst is that this URL takes me to a page with zero results!

Software Updates FR CA

Good grief. If you are going to try and make a link to a web page pass off as a decent alternative for a built-in feature such as the “Install and Keep Package” command available in Leopard, at least you could have the decency to make sure that this link takes the user to an appropriate web page!

Alas, it’s obviously too much to ask.

So instead I went to the proper Downloads page myself, like a big boy. (I am, after all, according to Apple, a “pro,” am I not?)

Thankfully, since the update is brand new, it’s actually right there at the top of the list (which it wouldn’t be if I happened to need this update, say, six months from now):

Software Update online

But look at the file size! It’s now over 243 MB, instead of the 108 MB indicated by Software Update.

So I am trying to save bandwidth by going on the web to download the stand-alone updater and be able to keep it, and for this I am punished by Apple, who forces me to download a stand-alone updater that is more than twice as big as the one I apparently need.

Like I said yesterday, this is clearly due to the fact that, when you have to download things via the web, there is no way for the web site to determine what your machine actually needs, so instead you get the default update, which is the full one that also includes all the stuff you don’t need.

(In this case, I suspect that Software Update can see that I only have Logic Studio and not Final Cut, so it only needs to download the parts of the “Pro Applications Update 2009-01″ that are actually relevant to Logic Studio. Whereas the stand-alone updater available on the web also includes all the stuff for Final Cut itself.)

The bottom line here is that, by forcing users who want the stand-alone updaters to go through the web, Apple effectively forces them to download bigger updates, even though those who want stand-alone updaters are precisely those with tight bandwidth constraints. Makes perfect sense, does it not?

(Apple’s reasoning—although I seriously doubt that they put that much thought into the whole thing—might also be that pro application users are likely to be users with ample bandwidth. That might be statistically true, but that does not mean that the needs of pro application users with limited bandwidth should be ignored altogether.)

I guess I am going to have to give Rob Griffiths’s suggestion a try and run softwareupdate -d in Terminal instead. That means no visual feedback, no progress bar, even though visual feedback is actually useful and more than just eye candy when you have limited bandwidth, but such is our lot in Apple’s severely distorted reality, I am afraid.


One Response to “More on downloading software updates in Snow Leopard”

  1. Software Update Downloader – The Adventures of Systems Boy! says:

    […] that it doesn’t offer a great deal of things you normally get with the GUI. In particular, as Pierre Igot points out, you don’t get a progress indicator. Which really blows, I […]