ContentsTo make things as simple as possible we have split this article into several sections so you can jump right to the section you most want/need to learn about. So as a side note to those who wish to read the whole article, be warned some parts and information is repeated multiple times.
Introduction to Mac OS & Requirements
The Simple Upgrade Installation (from Snow Leopard)
Making Your Own Bootable Media
The Completely Clean Installation
1. Introduction to Mac & Requirements
The first implication of primarily distributing Lion through the Mac App Store is that it means users must be running Snow Leopard . A side issue is that to ensure a smooth upgrade, Apple released a software update for Snow Leopard, meaning users must also be running 10.6.8 – the most up-to-date version of Snow Leopard.
Distributing Lion through a digital platform does pose some problems for a subset of users that have sub-standard internet connections. At roughly 4GB (it is slightly less) Lion is undoubtedly a very large download for anyone on dial-up or slow broadband and those with minimal download caps of 15GB or less.
2. The Simple Upgrade (from Snow Leopard)
This section will nonetheless go step-by-step through the process of doing an upgrade installation of Lion, also pointing out some customization options.
Step 1: Is Your Mac suites ?
Lion has some requirements that might mean your Mac cannot run it, although generally, if your Mac is running Snow Leopard you won’t have a problem. To check all you need to do is click the Apple icon on the top left corner of your display. It will open up a menu, from there select the first option ‘About This Mac’ and it will open a small window.
- First is that in the processor field you have one of the following: Intel Core 2 Duo, Core i3, Core i5, Core i7, or Xeon.
- Second requirement is the version it should be 10.6.8. If you do not have this version go into the ‘System Preferences’ app, click the ‘Software Update’ icon, select ‘Check Now’ and follow the prompts.
Step 2: Purchase And Download of OS X Lion
Purchase and downloading Lion is as simple as going into the Mac App Store, finding Lion and click on purchase button.
Once the download is done, the Lion Installer will automatically open – ready for instructions from the user.
Step 3: Pre-Installation Preparation
Now comes the part where you have to go through some steps, with some (minimal) options on how Lion installs. Let’s go through each of those steps:
The ‘welcome’ screen
Yes, this is that inevitable, pages-long license that you must agree to before continuing on your Lion installation journey.
Most users just need to press continue on this step, but the Installer does give you the opportunity to Install Lion to another disk if you so choose. For this section we won’t be changing the drive, but this option becomes useful when we discuss Clean Installations in Section 6 below.
Choosing which hard drive to install to is the last pre-installation step you need to go through, now the Lion Installer gets to work in ‘preparing’ the computer for your Lion installation. This process is relatively quick and once done will restart the computer.
Step 4. The Installation
Once your Mac has booted into the full Mac OS X Installer, Lion is literally installing itself – this process doesn’t require any interaction from you. Depending on your computer this could take anywhere from 15 minutes to 40 minutes.
Step 5. You are done!
Login and enjoy your new operating system! If you want to learn more about the operating system be sure to check out our review of Lion too.
3. Making your own Bootable Media
Whether you just want peace of mind knowing that you have a copy of Lion if you ever need to re-install it or are wary of a complete hard drive crash which would render the recovery partition useless, making your own Lion DVD or USB Drive is fairly simple.
Step 1. Save the Lion Installation Files
The first thing to do is to make sure you get those Lion installation files – Apple automatically deletes it once you do an installation of Lion, so make sure you do this step before you try installing Lion.
The Mac App Store downloads the Lion Installer into the /Applications folder and it is named ‘Mac OS X Installer’. Copy this file to somewhere else for now, preferably an External HDD or separate partition.
Step 2. Find the InstallESD.dmg Image
What you copied over was an application, but technically all you need to create a bootable drive or disc is the Lion Installer image. This is located inside that application.
Go to the Mac OS X Installer.app file, right click and select ‘Show Package Contents’, open the ‘Contents’ directory and then the ‘SharedSupport’ directory. Inside ‘SharedSupport’ is that all important file named ‘InstallESD.dmg’.
Now you can go on to the next step and either create a bootable DVD, or bootable USB drive for installing Lion.
Step 3A. Create a Bootable Lion USB Drive Installer
You’ll need a USB drive that is larger than 4GB – a 6GB or larger drive is a requirement. The first thing to do is insert the USB drive, launch Disk Utility (just do a search in Spotlight for it) and select the thumb drive. From there you will want to click the ‘Erase’ tab (make sure you don’t have anything important saved, everything will be deleted), check that the Format is ‘Mac OS Extended (Journaled)’ and click erase.
The next thing to do is right click that thumb drive and select ‘Restore’, a window will pop up asking for a source – this is where the InstallESD.dmg comes into play. Locate that image and press Restore, give Disk Utility a little while and there you have it, your own Lion USB Drive.
Step 3B. Create a Bootable Lion DVD Installer
Using the DVD medium instead of a USB Drive is also an option and the process is similar. Insert a blank DVD and open Disk Utility, this time click on the DVD and select ‘Burn’ from the toolbar.
Find that same InstallESD.dmg image, select it and press ‘Burn’. This will take a while, depending on how fast your DVD drive is. Once done you have your own, home-made, Lion Install DVD.
4. The Completely Clean Installation
Unfortunately, Apple has made the clean installation a far tougher process with Lion and the way it works will differ depending on the method you choose to do a clean installation. I shall start off with the simplest method – this where you install it from Snow Leopard and install Lion to a different partition.
Installing Directly On To Another (Clean) Partition From Snow Leopard
All you have to do is follow the steps in Section 2 but in the step where the Installer asks which drive to Install Lion to, select “Show other disks” and select a clean partition to which to install to. Apart from this one difference, you can follow the steps outlined in that section.
Using this method, you would be able to subsequently copy your data from the Snow Leopard Installation (either manually or through a Time Machine backup) and then delete the Snow Leopard partition and resize the Lion partition. Finally because you are creating a new installation, there are some set-up steps in addition to what is outlined in Section 2. They are fairly self-explanatory so I have just used screenshots: