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Installing OSX and a few of the issues I had..

This week Mountain Lion Apples new OSX operating system upgrade was released into the wild. Statistically speaking Apple users are more likely to perform an immediate upgrade of their OS than Windows users and most of us will be looking to carry on down the path Apple are taking with OSX.

Since the invent of the App store upgrade which was introduced last time out from Snow Leopard to Lion the obligatory trip to Covent Garden or Regent St. Apple store in London isn’t needed any more the App Store is the place to get the update now.

Apple are pretty good and recent releases have not broken the bank, the last few getting cheaper and cheaper, this is probably more to do with the micro payments thinking of its only £14.99 compared to what has historically been an expensive Windows Update cost. This brings you into the new OS, new ideas and new adventures.

I initially decided to just run an upgrade on my MacBook Pro always interested to see how OS’s cope with in place upgrades and all the software I have installed, i’ve been running the same Lion install for about 12 months so it’s fairly embedded. However Long term due to that embeddedness and crud on the install the intent was always to do a clean install and freshen things up.

Upgrading the OS

Upgrading the OS is not really that much of a chore, Mountain Lion is available int he App store at $19.99 or £14.99 depending on what side of the pond you are on. Pay for the software, Click on Install The package downloads a few Gb of content and then kicks in the install process, files are copied to a location the Mac can see after reboot, the device reboots and starts the upgrade. Asks a few questions, reboots and you are done, the install process is about 20 minutes the initial download well that depends on your internet connection.

Just as a note, if you want to do a clean install, read on, there are instructions on how to do this.

As upgrades go, this was pretty painless as Apple have obviously a tried and well tested process here with lots of feedback from the developer program. This is a stage you just have to get right, if you screw this up people loose data and reams of blog posts are written about the data loss and FUD kicks in.

Post update i did find the Mac a bit sluggish, Chrome was slow to load, Google Drive took about 15 minutes to start up. However I do have a lot of software and on a device which has been used and used for over a year this in my mind is to be expected. I’d go some way to also expect that had i kept using it for a while that would stable out.

Clean Install

While Apple don’t provide the boxed install DVD to do a clean install any more it is still possible, just needs a little thought put into the App store install process. It’s interesting that as part of the App store install there isn’t a built in facility to create a USB disk as part of the installation.

Lifehacker have a great guide for getting the installer onto a USB stick which i followed there are the “easy way” and the “Diy” option I prefer the DIY option.

Creating a USB and performing a clean install does what it says on the tin, it formats the hard disk and starts from scratch. I’m using Google Drive so all the files i’m worried about are stored in the cloud however you may want to run a backup using Time Machine if you think you have data or apps you might not get back.

Creating a Bootable USB

  1. Download Lion from the Mac App Store—but don’t install it yet, because of the disappearing installer issue noted above.
  2. Find the installer in your Applications folder and right-click on it then select “Show Package Contents.” Head to Contents > SharedSupport and look for the file called “InstallESD.dmg”
  3. Open up Disk Utility from your Applications > Utilities folder and drag the DMG file into the sidebar on the left.
  4. If you’re burning to DVD: insert your disk, select the DMG file in the sidebar, and hit “Burn.” Skip to step 6.
  5. If you’re burning to USB, you’ll need to first format the drive properly:
    • Insert the disk and select it in the sidebar in Disk Utility. Select the Partition tab, select “1 Partition” from the dropdown menu and choose “Mac OS Extended (Journaled)” for the format type.
    • Click the Options button and choose “GUID Partition Table”—this will make the drive bootable and formatted correctly for the Mac. Hit Apply to format—which will completely erase—the drive.
    • Now click the Restore tab and choose the contents of your DMG file not the DMG file itself as the source, if the contents are not showing, double click on the DMG in finder.   and the contents of the USB drive in disk utility as the destination. The reason for this is you will get an error at the end of the restore should you just choose the core DMG and USB device within restore and not the contents of the folders.
    • Hit the Apply button to make it happen.
  6. Finally, to boot from your install disk/drive and install Mountain Lion, restart your Mac and hold the Option key down when you hear the startup chime.

Besides installing Mountain Lion, your installer disk/drive will have the host of handy utilities on it such as Disk Utility and Time Machine recovery. Note that when you install Mountain Lion, you’ll have a recovery partition on your drive in case something goes wrong. That said, it’s always nice to have a disc or flash drive handy in the event you need to perform a clean install.

You will notice a section in red above which deviates from the Lifehacker guid, i had issues where i’d be told that there was a script error right at the last part of the restore if i tried to restore the DMG and not the contents of the DMG file within the Disk Utility.

Installing with a Hard Disk Locked Issue

Having Rebooted from the USB stick, holding down the option key on the Mac option key

You will need to run the Disk Utility to format your disk if the Lion install was encrypted, I did however find a problem at this point as i was told that the disk was locked and needed to figure out how to sort this. Actually its pretty easy however involved closing Disk Utility and Opening Terminal which is included on the install image. provided me with the answer on this

From the Terminal:

$ diskutil list

Should show something like this:

   #:                       TYPE NAME                    SIZE       IDENTIFIER
   0:      GUID_partition_scheme                        *121.3 GB   disk0
   1:                        EFI                         209.7 MB   disk0s1
   2:                  Apple_HFS Macintosh HD            120.5 GB   disk0s2
   3:                 Apple_Boot Recovery HD             650.0 MB   disk0s3
   #:                       TYPE NAME                    SIZE       IDENTIFIER
   0:      GUID_partition_scheme                        *64.0 GB    disk1
   1:                        EFI                         209.7 MB   disk1s1
   2:          Apple_CoreStorage                         63.2 GB    disk1s2
   3:                 Apple_Boot Recovery HD             650.0 MB   disk1s3

Then format the disk in question. In this case, disk1. be careful here check the size of the disk, does it look like the size you have? 

$ diskutil eraseDisk JHFS+ name disk1

You should see this:

Started erase on disk1
Unmounting disk
Creating the partition map
Waiting for the disks to reappear
Formatting disk1s2 as Mac OS Extended (Journaled) with name name
Initialized /dev/rdisk1s2 as a 59 GB HFS Plus volume with a 8192k journal
Mounting disk
Finished erase on disk1

Once i’d completed this i closed the Terminal (use File Close) and than opened Disk Utility again and was able to partition the drive and then return to Installing the software.

Setting up..

Once installed Setup takes you through username, photo, and then something of a stroke of genius from Apple. Many people have two Apple Accounts an iCloud Account and an iTunes account a bit of a hang over from MobileMe and other such fragmentations. While the default for a new user is to have a single iCloud login just under the iCloud login box is a link which lets you setup your mac to have a separate iCloud and iTunes login. This is a spot of genius from Apple and means if your downloaded apps are not linked to your iCloud account you don’t loose out.

The rest of the setup i very iPad like taking you through setting up your iCloud and mail.contacts.calendar settings. Well thought out and simple enough to follow.

First impressions

The clean install was a lot quicker off the first boot than the upgrade however that was to be expected. A few things do come to note.

The first was just how nice it is when you have iCloud working. Contacts were synced up, calendars were ready, settings in safari good to go. The same can be said of the Google login on Chrome, extensions, bookmarks etc also loaded. This is the cloud working properly.

This also carries over to opening the App Store and not needing to hunt for all those apps you’ve installed and paid for again, they are all listed. Interestingly Updates are also done using the App store now.

The Notes App is a welcome introduction syncing over iCloud between my iPad and OSX and a good example of passing data between the two platforms.

However I’m going to have to find a replacement to the mail app. I’m not loving it and with Sparrow no more,Thunderbird ending its days I might have to look at Outlook?

Generally speaking however as with all OSX releases the changes are subtle, hot huge in the Windows XP, Windows Vista way however these are functionality upgrades which will i’m sure come more into their own when IOS6 is released later this year.


The in OS upgrade process works really well, and it was probably my setup which made a clean install a bit fiddly, i do think Apple should think about adding a create USB stick option to the installer, however like many I think there are many things Apple should do but never will. This is a nice upgrade, bit too much IOS to OSX however as i do find myself using IOS more and more on my Ipad is that such a bad thing?


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