When Mavericks was released last week, I updated my MacBook Pro (17″ Late 2011 vintage). The install went just fine, and I had no problems except that the UI seemed a bit laggy. Navigation in Vim seemed just a bit slower as did switching workspaces, but no big deal. Xcode was unusably slow, but I thought that was due to the recent Xcode update. All in all I was pleased with the upgrade until …
Friday evening I went over to the #TuftsHACK to talk about The Echo Nest API. This was my first time on Mavericks giving a Keynote presentation with an external display. My Echo Nest API talk has audio, video and lots of links to external web sites like the Infinite Jukebox. I had upgraded to the latest keynote this week, so before the talk I made sure that my slides survived the keynote upgrade. My talk was going just fine until I hit the first web demo. When I switched over to Chrome the browser appeared to be hung and wouldn’t accept any of my input. When I returned to the keynote presentation, I could no longer go to full screen – instead I received an error message telling me that I didn’t have enough VRAM to go full screen and that I should try to adjust the resolution. WTF? It is great fun standing in front of 100 impatient college students trying to debug a 10 minute talk. I ended up rebooting my computer and trying it all again … with the same error. Finally I gave up and limped out showing a few web demos from Thor’s computer. Really though, it was total Demo Fail.
I spent a few hours online this weekend seeing if anyone else was having similar difficulties without luck. When I tried to fire up TF2 (the only game worth playing), I got nothing but an icon in my taskbar showing me that it was really trying to start, but couldn’t. That was the last straw. I buckled down and carefully read Siracusa’s Mavericks review looking for new tech in Mavericks, especially tech related to the video system as suspects for my woes.
One new feature is that Mavericks now treats each attached display as a separate domain for full-screen windows. This lookedpromising in that both Keynote and TF2 are apps that create full-screen windows. This feature can be disabled in Settings -> Mission control:
After I did this, I had to logout and re-login – but since then, the laggy-ness is gone, TF2 works like a champ, Xcode is zippy again, and so far, no problems with full screen keynote (but I need to test this more to be sure).
Bottom line – if you are having trouble with full screen display apps, or Xcode performance, or are getting errors about not having enough VRAM, try disabling the ‘displays have separate spaces’ feature in Mavericks.