If your Mac problem is a little less common — your hard drive has failed or you’ve installed a hard drive without OS X, for example — Internet Recovery takes over automatically. It downloads and starts Lion Recovery directly from Apple servers over a broadband Internet connection. And your Mac has access to the same Lion Recovery features online. Internet Recovery is built into every newly-released Mac starting with the Mac mini and MacBook Air."
Anyone wanna guess how that mechanism works? Micro kernel on some internal flash memory?
Perhaps this works in a similar way?
Internet Recovery doesn't even require a working hard drive, so it's an entirely different system.
There's just enough code to initialize the network interface/s, grab an IP, and download a file from an HTTP/S server. Once the file is downloaded, it's executed and you have the beginnings of a bootstrap procedure for your OS installer.
WANbooting has been around for almost ten years now, so the idea isn't that new.
This was probably even technically possible with PowerPC machines, as they used OpenBoot firmware just like Sun SPARC machines did. I guess they wrote the EFI code necessary to do the same thing.
Could a dual boot system (Lion + Ubuntu) be confused with "hard drive without OS X" and be taken over by the Lion Recovery automatically?
Hope this doesn't means that only OS X should be installed in a Mac.
edit: thank you
Interesting that the USB stick version is so much more, I assume it's really only for those upgrading from pre 10.6, so it's similar to the cost of Snow Leopard + Lion + cost of media
I'm curious how (/if) the license ties in to the App store. Hopefully they don't make you tie it to a single account once your computer is running.
If authentication is handled like other App Store software, you may have to enter your apple ID and password to run it after it's copied, but there shouldn't be a limit on the number of computers.
While it's convenient for certain unusual situations, I'd rather have a USB stick than internet recovery, simply for speed reasons.