Thursday, July 21, 2011

Moving to OS X Lion with a Clean Install

As I am sure you Mac users are well aware, OS X Lion was made available yesterday morning as a purchase through the Mac App Store.  There are a few tutorials out there in regard to doing a clean install, but I thought I would document my process since it may help someone else.  My existing setup:

  • White Macbook Core 2 Duo, 2.16 GHz
  • 120 GB 5400 rpm hard drive
  • iLife '09
  • OS X Snow Leopard
My goal by the end of the day yesterday:
  • 500 GB 7200 rpm hard drive
  • iLife '11
  • OS X Lion
For the hard drive upgrade, there are two great sites:
  • For the purchase: Other World Computing.  Their site allows you to pick your Mac model and then pick from compatible hardware.  I settled on this which gave me the hard drive, as well as an external USB enclosure to put my existing 120 GB drive in for back up and data transfer purposes.
  • For the hard drive replacement: iFixit.  I used the steps found here to replace my hard drive in about 5 minutes.  Super easy!
Before swapping in a new hard drive though, there are a few things that I had to do first:
  • Export browser bookmarks
  • Export Contacts
  • Consolidate my iTunes library.  I followed the steps from this Apple KB article (specifically the part about consolidating if I wanted to copy it to an external drive for the transfer).  This will move everything iTunes (music, etc.) into your iTunes folder.
  • Download OS X Lion from the Mac App store and burn a bootable DVD.  I followed the steps found here to do this.  When done, you can leave the DVD in the drive.
  • Make sure I know where saved application/game data was stored (I didn't want to lose my Plants vs. Zombies progress!).  In general, it seems like the path to application data on a Mac is /users/[username]/Library/Application Support/[application_or_publisher].  For example, the Plants vs. Zombies data I was looking for was located in the directory /users/matt/Library/Application Support/Popcap.
  • Backup anything else crucial in the event that this existing hard drive dies in the swap process
  • Deauthorize/Deactive licensed software (including iTunes... although I did this last)
Now, after shutting down, swapping hard drives and leaving the OS X Lion DVD in the drive, I did the following:
  • Hold down the 'c' key upon boot, this should allow you to boot to the DVD
    • Note: It took a LONG time for me to reach the actual Lion installation screen -- so you may need to be patient.
  • Once at the Lion installation, I had to run the Disk Utility.  This allowed me to format the new drive as Mac OS X Extended (Journaled).
  • After the format completed, I installed Lion -- so far so good!
  • NOTE: I'm not sure if this affected moving my iPhoto or iTunes library (as mentioned below) but I named my hard drive and username the same as my previous install so that all of my file system paths would remain in tact -- so if you have the option, I would recommend doing the same.  If you end up going with the external hard drive for your old one though, you will need to rename it upon connecting it to your Lion install -- my machine got a little confused with two drives with the same name!
Now for the unknown -- how do I get my photos from iPhoto '09 to iPhoto '11, and how do I transfer my iTunes Library with minimal fuss?  This ended up being A LOT simpler than I expected:
  • Since I had a brand new install of iPhoto '11 with no existing photos (this becomes way more complicated if you do have existing photos, so don't try this if you do!), I was able to simply remove the new iPhoto Library, and just copy over my iPhoto Library (the entire package) into the Pictures directory.  Then, upon launching iPhoto it let me know that it would need to upgrade my photo library, and it would no longer be accessible by older versions of iPhoto.  Fine with me!  When it opened, all of my photos, and events were in tact.  Victory!
  • Similar process for iTunes: I simply replaced the existing iTunes directory in my Music folder with the one from my old hard drive.  When iTunes launched, it briefly displayed a message that it was updating my library, but when it was done, all of my songs, album art, playlists, etc. were there! NOTE: I purposefully named the new drive the same as my old one, and also used my same username so the paths to my files would be the same.  So, I'm not sure if this would work if they weren't.
Beyond that, it was just copy/pasting data and setting preferences... not bad at all!

Hopefully this makes sense, but feel free to ask questions in the comments.  As always -- I will not be responsible for any damage that may occur due to following steps outlined in this post.  Your mileage may vary!


ttownscott said...

So how's multitouch working on the trackpad? As I remember that vintage of macbook did not have multitouch.

Matt Augustine said...

Hi! I'm not sure when they first introduced multitouch on the Macbook track pads, but mine seems to be capable of it. So far I've used it for right-clicking, scrolling (which the inverse is taking some getting used to!) and swiping between pages in Launch Pad. So all in all, I like it, but I think getting used to all of the gestures is going to take a little bit.

Sam said...

Hey Matt, nice breakdown. I'm pondering getting Lion for my iMac and Tivian's macbook but after messing with it at the Apple Store, I'm not completely sold. I'm feeling like Snow Leopard may have been the apex of the OS X trajectory. What's your take?

Also what's the benefit of doing the clean install (besides the "factory-fresh" psychology of it)?

And no SSD upgrade?

Matt Augustine said...

Hi Sam! Thanks for stopping by :) My take is that Lion is a little bit of an experiment, more so than a solid upgrade. I haven't had too much time to play with it yet, but overall, it works for what I use my Mac for.

Really, one of the main reasons I upgraded is because I'm planning on getting the iPhone 5, and utilizing iCloud, so I wanted to make sure I had the latest OS to make sure I could take advantage of all of that.

Regarding the clean install -- I had to do it since it was a brand new hard drive, but I also like the chance of just starting with a clean slate, and only re-installing what I really use. However, I've heard positive things from people that have simply done the in-place upgrade. So, if you don't feel like doing all that work to start from scratch, I wouldn't bother!

Ah, good ol SSD. I was considering at least buying one of those hybrid drives, but I really wanted the capacity (500GB at least) so I knew I couldn't obtain/afford straight up SSD. The reason why I didn't do the hybrid was because, being my first HD replacement, I wasn't sure what to expect, and I wasn't exactly sure if Lion would support it/detect it for the clean install, so I wussed out and took the safe way out :)

It's good to hear from you friend! Hopefully we can catch up some time soon!