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Thank you Apple (commandcenter.blogspot.com)
129 points by zdw on Sept 22, 2012 | hide | past | web | favorite | 129 comments

It had surprised me when Lion came out that the installation was done by an "app", not as a bootable image. This is an unnecessary complication for those of us that need to maintain machines. Earlier, when updating a different machine, I had learned how painful this could be when the installation app destroyed the boot sector and I needed to reinstall Snow Leopard from DVD, and then upgrade that to a version of the system recent enough to run the Lion installer app. As will become apparent, had Lion come as a bootable image things might have gone more smoothly.

Lion and Mountain Lion installers contain images which can easily be converted to ISO:


and there are many more options and approaches:




I think the point isn't that is impossible to be able to do a clean install of an OS and apps (Time Machine included) you have already paid (premium!) for but the fact that it is non-trivial and very much involved - all the things for which the Apple system stood against. Most of the newer Apple products are a black box which cannot be fixed unless even the technically competent users take extra efforts(^).

And this is coming from Rob Pike[1].

edit: (^)Or you take it to the Apple Genius people, who just have the correct tools.

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rob_Pike

> I think the point isn't that is impossible to be able to do a clean install of an OS and apps (Time Machine included) you have already paid (premium!) for but the fact that it is non-trivial and very much involved - all the things for which the Apple system stood against.

I'm not sure I agree?

Apple's always optimized for the average person's average case. "Those of us that need to maintain machines" aren't the average person engaged in the average case activity; they're engaged in a corner case activity and should have the knowledge to swing the non-trivial (but still trivial) ISO extraction method.

This is a small inconvenience for a small section of their customer base with a big upside: updating one OS version to the next over the internet is dead-stupid easy for the non-technical majority.

It beats the hell out of what for years has passed as Microsoft's version of selling you an OS upgrade over the internet; paying for a download of an .iso, figuring out what to do with an .iso, burning it, and using it is easier for the "those of us that need to maintain machines", but way out of reach for the non-technical majority. It's optimizing for exactly the wrong case.


I fail to see what is "non-average" about wanting to restore a machine from a Time Machine backup after a hard drive failure. Time machine is the only backup solution an average user will ever use, and is supposed to be a backup solution, not a placebo. As indicated in the article, it doesn't actually work for the the most (or second most) common case.

Rob Pike is most decidedly average in this case, he is most interested in working on his projects, not understanding the trivialities of maintaining the Apple Macintosh. Just like most people who have work to do that doesn't really revolve around shuffling boot disks around.

The "experts" (that, those who read macrumors regularly), will, of course, have not trusted time machine and will have a carbon copy cloner backup they can clone onto the new drive. They're ok. Meanwhile, the "average" folk who trust that an Apple provided backup solution... I dunno, backs things up... will be screwed.

Is windows worse? Maybe, but you know what -- as shitty as their incremental backup to a series of .zip files is -- at least it takes a complete image of the boot drive by default as part of the backup.

many things are wrong with this story.. FYI: the Lion installation app, as well as ML installer, is just a wrapper application with preflight functions for the installer. This app wrapper contains the disk image of the Lion installer that functions just like any other disk image of OS X. To find the disk image for lion in the "Install Lion.app" app wrapper, you right click on the app and click show contents, find a resources folder and bam, there it is. The disk image can be burned to DVD or restored to a flash drive using disk utility. No excuses now, they didn't fail anyone. He scratch his SL install disc, not apples fault.

Your last paragraph is just totally wrong. Ever since MS has been selling Windows online, they've also been providing a tool which will put the ISO onto bootable DVD or USB (your choice).


They point to this tool pretty clearly as part of the purchase process.

So with MS you can do it anyway you like: Installation as an app, or an ISO which you may trivially burn to a DVD or flash to a USB drive using a tool that they also provide.

FWIW, Apple also ships a tool inside the Lion and Mountain Lion installations that does the same thing, writes a bootable disk from the recovery partition onto a USB flash drive. It's found at "/Applications/Utilities/Recovery Disk Assistant.app"

Why can't you have both? In Ubuntu, you can update your OS version from the update manager, but you can also download the *.iso and do a clean install. After they tack on payment and drm to the system, what about this can Apple not emulate?

What about this does Apple not emulate? I download and pay for the upgrade, I right click, show contents, resources, and voilá there is a perfectly good disk image sitting right there for me to burn to disk or write out to a USB stick.

That is so incredibly un-user friendly and undiscoverable, it is absurd. How would my mother know to do that? Why didn't customer support have Rob do that?

Your mother would simply bring her machine to a genius bar at one of the Apple stores where they have all the required tools and media to re-install her computer. She wouldn't have had a tech come out to her house to replace it.

My mother does not live near an Apple store; the closest one is in the next state. Nice thought though. How exactly are consumers supposed to know which official support channels are the good ones, and which are the bad ones?

Why did Apple customer support steer him down an "edge case"?

”I think the point isn't that is impossible to be able to do a clean install of an OS and apps (Time Machine included) you have already paid (premium!) for”

Huh? Mac users don't pay for OS X licenses, they only pay for upgrades. Time Machine is included in the OS, free of charge. OS X applications, and especially Apple's apps, are often cheaper than similar software on other platforms.

Let me clarify: You pay a premium for the entire ecosystem - hardware and software.

Also, there are a lot of Mac apps not made by apple of better quality and inexpensive.

Yeah. I remember going through Snow L -> Lion. I wanted a clean system so had to make an ISO. Process reminded me a linux install from USB from 10 years back.

And I lost iPhoto. Because suddenly my Macbook Air stopped being eligible for free iPhoto.

I had an annoying scenario recently.

I reinstalled Snow L on an older machine and then could no longer reinstall iphoto. I'd paid for it on my app store account but there was no way to install the older version (and I couldn't upgrade to the newer version).

Once again reinforced the danger of the cloud hosted licensing model; software I paid for wasn't actually mine to keep/use.

> And I lost iPhoto. Because suddenly my Macbook Air stopped being eligible for free iPhoto.


iPhoto is part of the iLife package, a paid product. It is not part of OS X, but when you get a new Mac the latest version is thrown in for free.

Maybe I've gone through too many OS X installations in my time but this neither surprises nor frustrates me in any way...

Haha, yes - I lost my iWork apps likewise.

If I remember correctly, when I upgraded from Snow Leopard to Lion I too lost my iPhoto, but that was because a newer version was required than the one I owned, so I had to re-purchase it.

Also, Lion did actually come on an installable USB drive (which is more expensive than the App store Installer app). Not Mountain Lion though. Creating bootable disks (USB or DVD) from the installer app is trivial.

Also his other point about losing all installers is actually a point in favor of the app store distribution model. They're always there unlike a physical disk which can go bad on you.

Time machine and Migration Assistant errors he rightly cribs about though. It is imperative that they work right.

All in all it's strange that one of the people who did seminal work in the early days of UNIX and C comes off looking like lost layperson. You'd expect him to be able to be able to deal with this way better.

> You'd expect him to be able to be able to deal with this way better.

You can be able to do something, and still find convienence in paying someone else to handle it for you.

(This does not in any way excuse anything he encountered. That is and will always remain inexcusable.)

Apple is aware of those problems and hard at work fixing them. All current Macs, for example, now come with Internet Recovery, meaning it is possible to boot them into the recovery manager (and from there it’s possible to run Disk Utility, the Terminal or the installer), even with a completely empty HDD. All the iLife apps you get with your Mac (and all apps you buy in the App Store) are automatically tied to your Apple ID, meaning you can download them as often as you want. You cannot even buy any software on CDs from Apple anymore (the lone exception to that is Logic Studio).

I assume (hope!) that all Time Machine bugs have been fixed, but do not know. It seems weird that even the latest version of OS X Lion would come with those bugs, so I’m not sure what’s going on there. At any rate, the experience he had is unacceptable.

I have a "non current" macbook air that I've been wanting to do a security clean install on forever but it doesn't qualify for internet recovery for some reason. Its a 2010 Macbook Air. How do I do a secure wipe of the drive and reinstall ML on this thing?

It’s pretty easy: http://eggfreckles.net/notes/installing-mountain-lion-clean/

I have used this procedure many times, it works like a charm.

However, I do want Apple to provide a more obvious way of doing just that. It would be great if their tool for creating a bootable recovery manager worked just with the OS X install app as a source.

But to be honest, I do not think that doing a clean install is a good idea for the most people and for defect HDDs, new Macs at least come with internet recovery (but the older ones are still a problem).

The reality is that Disk Utility lies. There is a recovery partition it hides from you. What you're describing is impossible without a relatively huge EFI partition, or net boot.

On the most recent macs, it works even on an actual empty HDD. The core utility is baked into the firmware, and then downloads the rest of itself (the hidden partition part) over the internet.


Oh biscuits. I see. Thanks for the info/link.

I think there's one thing he didn't try that would've saved him some work. The path he took was (skipping some early steps):

1. Backup under Snow Leopard via Time Machine

2. Replace drive

3. Install fresh copy of Snow Leopard

4. Upgrade to Lion

5. Attempt to use Migration Assistant to restore from the Time Machine backup taken in step (1).

This failed at step (5) and he ended up having to do lots of manual work to copy his data and apps out of the TM backup.

I think if he restored from the the Time Machine backup after replacing the drive, then attempted the Lion upgrade, he'd have been successful. Minimally, it would've been a combination of well tested scenarios. I'll bet not as much testing went into using Migration Assistant under Lion against Snow Leopard TM backups.

I'm not a fan of Time Machine. I just use Carbon Copy Cloner to make a bootable version on a USB drive. If things go wrong I boot from it and clone it back to the internal drive.

I think it's interesting to point out that this is Rob Pike.


I find it funny that he works for Google but doesn't know how to use it... half of those items he complained about could have been solved by a quick Google.

Interesting in that his industry veteran status gives this merit or interesting in that his employment makes him a shill?

Interesting in that when it comes to computers, he knows what he's doing.

Does he?

Not a knock on Rob Pike, obviously a very smart dude, but knowing computers at one point doesn't mean you've invested the time to keep up with them since. My dad was a network engineer in the 90's and early 00's and I learned a lot from him, but these days, when he needs to pick out a laptop or something, he asks me. I'm more connected to it than he is now, because he has other things on his plate.

If Rob Pike can be said to be too technically unfamiliar for an Apple product, then there is something very very wrong with Apple's expectations of their users.

Is he too technically unfamiliar? Or is he trying to leverage assumed domain knowledge in an incorrect way? I mean, I'm not a programming languages expert. I couldn't work on Go. But I do know that the bootable OS X installer is within the app package upon which he was casting aspersions; I've used it myself to reinstall OS X and to install it on different machines.

Some friends of mine who are professionals in other fields have noted (not about me, I hope, but I know that I'm guilty of this at times as well) that "computer people" have no end of cases where they think their preexisting knowledge is enough to solve a problem when it has little or no bearing on the topic at hand (politics, biology, whatever). I see no reason that can't also be true within the computer field as well. Because a pretty cursory Google would have explained all the things people elsewhere in this thread have explained about how to actually do this--but he didn't do it, relied on his own previous knowledge, and it didn't really apply.

It doesn't really sound like he got himself into this situation because he struck out on his own and broke something.

It sounds like he got into this situation by calling up and trusted customer support and doing what any normal consumer does: then calling the fixup guy who is supposed to do this stuff professionally.

They said to make a backup and everything would work. He made a backup and it didn't work. From there, everything got worse.

I know that is pretty much the opposite of what I, an undoubtedly overzealous "technology guy", would try to do. Though, as a technology guy I probably would have said "Fuck it, lets install linux" not even halfway through the trouble he was having (and if it were still 2003 and the linux distro I was trying to install were Gentoo, the effort required between the two probably would have just about evened out).

Sticking with it and trying to work with customer service is a very "normal trusting consumer" thing to do.

He is definitely connected. He is part of the team behind the go programming language.

The world of computers is large enough that expertise in one area doesn't make you connected. An immunologist doesn't necessarily know about new surgical techniques.

If he had someone who knew about Apple, or even if he searched google for 'bootable lion usb' he could have had his problem fixed in 20 minutes (disk utility to 'restore' the main .dmg from the installer onto his other USB stick)

Wonder why he posted a photo of the inside of his iMac as if it was foreign to him then.

Interesting in that when it comes to computers, he [Rob Pike] knows what he's doing.

Clearly not. For one thing you just don't erase a working drive with your data on it until the repair is successful. If it's some warranty thing and they are going to take the drive then you at least make a 1:1 image of it using dd or equivalent block copy first. If they are replacing it with the same size just dd the image back for that matter.

The worst part is this repair is trivial for anybody that knows what he's doing. You just order a replacement drive from newegg (or wherever), mount the new and old drives using target disk mode or external enclosure, and copy the disk. Then you swap the drives. This wasn't an Air or something difficult, just unscrew the case and replace the drive. Or if you really don't want to take it apart yourself have the repairman do the swap.

It's really easy, especially with a second Apple available. I did it just a few weeks ago for a family member, the only actual time investment is opening the case to swap the drives.

Considering that Google does not exactly have a competing product with OSX, why should he be a shill?

IMHO not having install media as the default option is a problem. It doesn't matter if all the media does is boot up a network stack and FTP it from somewhere and then run it but recovery scenarios aren't something you should have to twist yourself into a loop to solve.

One of the advantages of the App Store model is that software is (AFAIK) easily redownloaded and reinstalled, so much so that I know people who have re-bought Aperture (for $80) on the App Store just for the convenience (plus then it can go on multiple Macs).

Why Rob Pike wouldn't fork over $80 for Aperture and save himself the hassle is beyond me. You can say "it's the principle of the thing; I've already paid for it!" but really? What is your time worth?

iWork can be had on the App Store too. Photoshop obviously can't but Photoshop should be recoverable somehow (right?).

These days I have a box with the few disks I need (Win7, MS Office), I store my personal files on Dropbox and any media gets stored on a hard disk. If my Macbook Air got stolen or just died I'd be up and running within 2 hours of getting a new one.

The only real annoyance for me is changing what computer your iDevices sync to. THAT is a major PITA. If you are migrating machines it's not so bad (but harder than it should be). But otherwise you need to backup, wipe it and reinstall everything and even then you lose all your iOS folders and so forth.

I don't like the iMacs because they're not built for replacing hard disks (amongst other things). The Mac Mini however is. If this had happened to me I would've been shelling out money to avoid the hassle and the whole thing would've been over in a day or two.

The moral I get from this post isn't how Apple is making things harder than they need to be (which they clearly are): it's that you shouldn't get caught up on the small shit that doesn't matter.

>>>> Why Rob Pike wouldn't fork over $80 for Aperture and save himself the hassle is beyond me. You can say "it's the principle of the thing; I've already paid for it!" but really? What is your time worth?

Well, the trouble with that approach is that money votes. When you pay this extra $80 you reinforce the behavior.

And you wouldn't want to reinforce the behavior of providing a time-saving service for money?

I don't want cloud service providers forcing me to buy an application a SECOND time, by limiting my access to installer.

And I'd really prefer not to pay second time. Because that reinforces the behavior of profiting by screwing people up. Maybe it saves my time. But it is unethical.

They didn't limit access to the installer, he was trying to bring it back from a Time Machine backup. If he had the original disc it would work fine.

Same thing really. He couldn't reinstall application that he owned. Because access to the installer was convoluted.

You bought it on a CD, keep the CD.

Before downloading apps was the norm, no company would issue a second copy of something you bought.

Well, before advent of app store I NEVER had a case than I couldn't reinstall application that I've purchased.

And with the app store, in just a year or so I already had a couple of cases when I lost access to an installer. One was that I lost iPhoto, with OS upgrade on Air. Another, temporarily, for around a week I had no access to XCode installer [because of some screw up in the store].

And they wonder why people pirate.

Yeah. Pirating is almost an ethical choice in these cases :)

Unfortunately pirated packages are often filled with malware. Not exactly what you want. So a much better choice is just going with open source. Picasa, instead of iPhoto, etc...

I am not sure if pirating something you bought is actually technically illegal or not.

You are not buying the disk with the data, you are buying a license to run the software. Even when you pirate it, the license should still apply.

The copying (distribution) is still illegal, and you're probably guilty of "conspiracy" to do it.

Is copying it to your own disk a distribution?

I understand than with P2P networks, you are distributing the file while downloading and that's when they get upset.

I think more than one media companies actually tried to pass the "copy from disk to memory" as requiring a license. I'm not sure how the law views it.

Re: downloading, the EFF's Fred von Lohmann says it's probably infringement[1], and so do the media companies, of course.

[1]: http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2009/09/p2p-downloading-i...

It is much like torrenting a movie you already own the DvD for, because it is easier than ripping your entire collection one by one.

Ethically I think it is obvious such a thing would be completely reasonable. Technically almost certainly not.

> What is your time worth?

Less than my self-respect? The iterated prisoner's dilemma cautions us against letting someone profit by screwing us over. And the very idea of Rob friggin' Pike embracing learned helplessness is very depressing. Of course, so is the idea of him not having the source to his system, when he wrote quite a bit of it.

Newer Macs have Internet Recovery, which connects to Wi-Fi from EFI firmware and downloads a recovery image. So you can do exactly that, except without the install media...

I mentioned in another post - you can't always redownload. They don't keep older versions so you're screwed if you can't upgrade (I have an older machine stuck with Snow L).

If you purchased it from the Mac App Store it is kept around and you can re-download older versions.

http://imgur.com/m7tLP that is a screenshot of my App Store purchases, notice that Mountain Lion and Lion are both available...


Snow Leopard wasn't sold in the App Store and thus will not be available. You should have physical media for Snow Leopard.

Sorry, wasn't clear there - I have the physical snow leopard, iPhoto was the problem. I have the same screen as you but instead of the install button it says "Requires OS X v10.7".

Right now you might have access but who knows when it'll be taken away and you'll be back to torrenting the content you paid for.

Actually I won't be torrenting anything due to having multiple backups in place. Just like I used to do with physical install media.

When I had issues doing an install of Lion (I wanted Lion on an external HD before I upgraded to ML), I just drove out to an Apple Store and booted off one of their network images.

What Apple should really do is ship an app with OSX that lets you create recovery boot media (either on DVD, a thumb drive or a full on external HD). That would make things so much easier for everyone.

It doesn’t ship with one, but you can download it here: http://support.apple.com/kb/DL1433 (That link is placed on this page about OS X recovery, so it’s not hard to find: http://www.apple.com/osx/recovery/ – though it’s important to note that this wouldn’t have solved his particular problem. You can only use this app on a system that already has Mountain Lion installed, so you have to think of this before you encounter the problem – or have a second Mac at hand with the right OS.)

Current Macs also come with Internet Recovery, meaning it’s always possible to boot into the Recovery Manager, even with an empty HDD.

Which is great, except when I did it, it just... didn't work. Would download the recovery OS, then just shut off.

I had to make a two hour drive to get to an Apple store where I could actually get a reinstall after my HDD broke.

My Mac Pro running 10.8 has some issues such as applications with blank icons, pixelated icons, etc. I was told to boot into safe mode (which I tried about 5x) and it hangs at about 1/4 into it.

It seems pretty silly to include a "safe mode" that won't even allow someone to use it. I always end up holding the power switch in for a few seconds until I reboot into normal mode, which apparently includes having blank/pixelated icons :-/

Disk utility's repair disk and repair disk permissions functions, which are run as part of a safe boot, can take quite some time to complete their job.

I would just wait.

However, if you would really like to know where your boot is getting stuck, do a verbose boot, which is the same thing as a safe boot, except it replaces the gray Apple screen fairly (and usefully) verbosely.

Sounds like he had a bad day. Oh well. Probably as much of an unproductive waste of time to write this long, passive-aggressive blog post.

Sounds like he had a bad day.

Did you read the whole thing?

It took weeks to get everything working again properly.

Because I could prove that I had paid for the software, Apple agreed to send me fresh installation disks for everything of theirs but Aperture, but that would take time. In fact, it took almost a month for the iWork DVD to arrive, which is unacceptably long. I even needed to call twice to remind them before the disks were shipped.

That's why app stores exist... you think Microsoft would have been faster if they sent you MS Office?

Yeah, that sucks. Good thing that doesn't usually happen to Apple products, right?

I'm mostly amazed that the person being sent to replace the hard drive with a blank one didn't think to bring installation media...

I'm also having one of those days ... I just updated Ubuntu on a newish machine and now have no sound and snow on the screen where video had been. Some days I hate computers and hope they're just a passing fad.

You seem like a smart guy, but heres an FYI: the Lion installation app, as well as ML installer, is just a wrapper application with preflight functions for the installer. This app wrapper contains the disk image of the Lion installer that functions just like any other disk image of OS X. To find the disk image for lion in the "Install Lion.app" app wrapper, you right click on the app and click show contents, find a resources folder and bam, there it is. The disk image can be burned to DVD or restored to a flash drive using disk utility. No excuses now, they didn't fail anyone. Time machine has never failed me. The only time things get dicey is when you encrypt, using vault or etc, large file sets or systems. All you needed to do from the first go is 1) back up to time machine, 2) install new drive, 3) restore the time machine backup with option at boot (snow leopard install disc might be required, but you scratched your disc, not apples fault), if disc is scratched for DVD install, there's a good chance you could have still restored a usable copy of it to a flash drive or a new DMG on your desktop using disk utility. 4) restore the disk image of lion from the install lion.app, the DMG you were unaware of and bitched so much about, to the flash drive and 5) upgrade your SL to lion using option at boot. Also, before backing up a dying drive, make sure to repair permissions using disk utility. Also, if you kept your old drive, you can buy an enclosure for 30$ and turn the drive into an external disk and restore your original installation. And not the time machine backup. Works every time even with dying unrepairable drives.. Cheers.

I have to laugh at hose of you who fault Rob for following anything but the most mainstream recourse in resolving his crisis as proof that he's to blame, didn't do his homework, etc. Consider this: despite the (somewhat strange, in my mind) phenomenon of various Plan 9 alumni (and Google employees in general) using Macbooks for daily use, the fact that these folks are proven experts at bringing up ports of their own research operating systems on new machines from just their hardware documentation should key you into the fact that these Apple products were purchased with all the expectations of an appliance! I.e., not things to be mucked around with, but the result of a commercial transaction that ought to be judged on its capacity to perform as advertised and supported if necessary.

Getting a closed, commercial product (with a baroque unix base) to bend over backwards to perform basic functions like backup and installation is not a Plan 9 user's of fun. I would hazard a guess that the greatest reason Rob got burned could have been the naive expectation that programs will perform their designated task simply and correctly?

Considering Apple's user-base, on the other hand, idiot proofing the system seems to be a much higher priority. Which is the main reason why I still don't understand why Plan 9 people can stand to use Macs.

After witnessing my dad's troubles with TimeMachine, I bought a copy of SuperDuper!.

It's amazing software, and it saved me once now, it's been only a year since I've been using it. Hard-drive fails? Plug in external one, and use your computer as if nothing happened.

Their "smart update" feature is very useful.


I wanted to blog about something similar myself, but currently lack a blog. Apple's rejection of physical media is, I would argue, extremely harmful.

I have an old, 2008 Macbook (not Pro) 4,1. The old white plastic kind. Lion performs atrociously (at best) on it, so around half a year ago I installed Linux on it. Recently, I got around to buying a new laptop (a Lenovo), and wanted to restore OSX on the old Macbook in order to give it to family.

I figured off the bat I'd do a clean install of Mountain Lion. I have old Leopard installation media, but that's a dead upgrade path: you can't buy Snow Leopard media anymore, so you cannot upgrade it. Apple don't sell physical media for Mountain Lion either, so I went to a friend's house, logged into the Mac App store, purchased and downloaded Mountain Lion.

When I got home, the installer (which took an hour or so to image onto a USB stick) didn't work. I figured it might be balking on the HDD being Linux, so dd'd it. Nope. It turns out Mountain Lion is incompatible with my hardware.

This is where the vortex begins. I returned to my friend, and tried to get the Lion installer off the App Store (on my account), which I had previously purchased. No dice. Apple have removed Lion now that Mountain Lion is out.

I tried to install the copy of Snow Leopard my friend had. Not possible. As OEM media, it's got (very basic, admittedly) DRM onboard which restricts the installation to his hardware.

I tried to get the copy of Snow Leopard I had originally installed, when my previous employer had (kindly) purchased a stack of us personal copies alongside upgrades for work machines. Nope; they'd stopped using Macs and those were gone.

Being frustrated, I figured I'd install Leopard on the laptop and be done with it. Nope. The disc, it turns out, is scratched.

At this stage, I called Apple. I asked what I could do. I was advised I could purchase a physical copy of Lion off them, if I paid full price -- despite already having purchased it on the App Store. Frustrated, but at this stage just wanting to be rid of the device, I agreed. It turns out this was also not possible. Apple's support is in Australia, and NZ can't get the physical media (at least, I believe this to be the case; I may have conflated the issue on the phone with needing to get the media within a week).

The next day, I took the laptop to a Yoobee store (our Apple store equivalent). They told me they'd have to ship the laptop to the support centre to fix it.

So, to recap: I can't install Mountain Lion, because my hardware is too old. I can't get physical media for Snow Leopard or Lion, because Apple no longer sell it. I can't retrieve a copy of Lion from the app store and create my own, because Apple has removed it. I can't install Leopard, because my media is damaged (not Apple's fault) -- but even if I could, it's unsupported and with no physical media, there's no upgrade path. The only solution was to pay to ship the laptop off to a support centre. Ultimately, I was very lucky to find another friend on IRC who still had a Lion USB stick he'd imaged earlier, but the fact I needed to do this is... well, awful.

This is a _terrible_ customer support situation. I'll admit it's compounded by the fact I'm in New Zealand, and we have no Apple stores (fair enough: our entire population is less than several US cities), so support is harder to come by. I'll admit that, having installed Linux, I'm probably in somewhat of a minority. However, Apple's forced hardware deprecation, and removal of physical media, have made it almost literally impossible to restore a working copy of OSX on their own hardware.

You have a lot of patience. I would have resorted to piracy at around step 2 of the process.

wouldn't it simply be obtaining software via unofficial means rather than piracy since he already paid for it?

Indeed it would. Piracy it is not.

Depends if you're a member of Apple's legal team or not.

I haven't heard of Apple's legal team going after anyone for OS X piracy. Either you've purchased the Apple machine already, so whatever, or you're trying to make a Hackintosh in which case it's a bag of hurt anyway and probably not that lucrative to go after you. (Besides, the legal team is busy with Samsung, anyway - much more money in iPhone patents.)

Apple didn’t remove Lion from the App Store for me. I can download it without a problem. (It’s in my purchase tab, as is Mountain Lion. I’m running Mountain Lion.)

That's interesting. I tried for quite some time to find it (on both one friend's MBP w/ Mountain Lion, and another's with Snow Leopard, in case it wasn't present in the ML App Store), but couldn't. The support guy said they'd removed them from the store. I wonder if it's because you've already downloaded it on that hardware, or are running Lion currently (are you?)?

At this point it's academic; the laptop is gone... but if I did something wrong I'd definitely like to know :).

Ah, no, I figured it out. You can make Lion re-appear in your Purchase tab by option-clicking on the Purchase tab icon. I did that some time ago and now Lion is permanently visible for me.

Who thinks of something like that? If you do something stupid like that, at least support should know about it. For shame Apple, for shame! m(

I remember already being annoyed about that some time ago.

Thankyou for that. That'd have saved me a lot of drama :).

A bit of toothpaste diluted with water, and a gentle fingertip, may take that scratch out of your Leopard disc. Do less than you think is necessary, then stop and assess.

In part, it seems some people "have the touch" for such work. I've fixed up a few abused (by others) music CD's this way.

What I've done in the past is spin the disk on a drill, and drop a very tiny amount of superglue onto the surface. The super glue spreads out like a disk, and fills in any scratches leaving a nice even surface.

> you can't buy Snow Leopard media anymore

Yes you can, providing you call Apple.

Eh, you bought a working Leopard system, you messed with it (removed the OS and installed an unsupported alternative), you broke the original media sometime over the next 4 years, and you didn't make a backup, and chose not to use any other backup copy, of which there are many millions floating around the world. It's not all Apple's fault here.

He did try a whole pile of work-arounds, any of which would have normally worked if not for someone deliberately obstructing it.

So I may come off as a grumpy old man, and I do sympathize with the op ... but in this day in age, it's only that much more important to keep manual backups of serial numbers, passwords, installers ...

I trust Apple, Windows and Linux enough to not ruin my life, but not enough to keep me 100% safe.

Passwords: Personal & Business kept in LastPass and a copy in KeePass (synced in dropbox to 3 devices). Client passwords stored in Keepass + manual copies on digital client folders (secured files) + notes in a locked safe.

Games + apps: Digital downloads loaded into Raid 5 array, backed up on server, backed up onto DVD. serials/usernames/download links saved in cloud mail server + keypass

Documents: Saved to external HD, saved to raid 5, rsynced to private VPS, rysynced to downstairs server.

There is absolutely no excuse for losing passwords and misplacing things like that. That part of the story I believe it all the ops fault.

There were several articles recently where I was reminded of the Linux Genuine Advantage satire website:


> Did you wake up this morning and say "I wish someone would figure out a way to let me do less with my computer"?

There is no way he had a core duo system that is only 4 years old. Apple only made core duo MacBooks in early 2006.

1) He was specifically talking about his laptop.

2) You are wrong. Core Duo, not Core 2 Duo. There is a difference. Apple only sold Core Duos for a very short time in 2006, right after their switch to Intel. At the latest, he could have bought a MacBook with a Core Duo on November 5, 2006. After that date, Apple discontinued the last one. So his MacBook is at least nearly six years old.

Then I'm sure he meant Core 2 and made a mistake, because I'd sure he wouldn't miss the computer's age by 50% if he purchased it.

No, it’s pretty certain he meant Core Duo since (and that was the problem he was running into) all Core 2 Duo MacBooks support Lion while Core Duo MacBooks do not.

It’s easy to massively mis-estimate the age of the stuff you own. Happened often enough to myself, so I’m not really surprised about that.

Right, I definitely missed that, I read this article in three parts while making lunch and clearly skipped some paragraphs. It was my mistake that I though Lion was supported on these machines. I have an old Core 2 that runs Lion (poorly) but will not run Mountain Lion due to the crappy Intel graphics, not because of the processor.

All Core 2 Duo machines still run Mountain Lion. I have a 5 year old MacBook Pro purchased early 2007 that runs ML without issues.

2006 Core 2 Duos with the old-timey Intel graphics do not. I think anything less than the 1000 will not run ML.

I stand corrected.

Why didn't he call AppleCare back?

All he needed to do, with an Internet connection, was power on holding Command+R and the Mac does the rest (formats the new drive and creates a recovery partition, then, boots to it, and one of the options there is to restore the entire computer from a Time Machine backup).


He made this needlessly complicated, and really should have just called AppleCare back, as they could have easily walked him through these steps.

This post is riveting. No really. Bewildering to say the least. As the post drags on and on the reoccurring "Thank you Apple" takes on an increasingly sarcastic tone.

Regardless of the author's fluency with computers (who really cares?) one can only marvel at the sheer absurdity in squandering the better part of a day (or was that several days?) mucking around with OS updates. Really? What a colossal waste of time.

He is not merely "fluent with computers." He co-created three operating systems and at least one programming language, including the OS Apple managed to hinder him from installing. If your process is beyond him, your process is very, very broken.

Thing is, it doesn't seem to be beyond quite a few people here or elsewhere on the Internet. Appealing to authority is no way to prove a point. I wouldn't trust an architect to actually lay bricks.

I recently had problems migrating to 10.8 so I just formatted my computer and reloaded the data parts. Still not fun having to reload apps but I'm at least glad that app reloading is simpler than what it used to be when I used Windows. I've tried to kee my computing as data-focused as possible...and hope that big commercial packages, like Photoshop, do their job in surviving OS upgrades

In my experience, Time Machine works great. What doesn't work great are the absolute pieces of crap that Seagate and Western Digital are pawning off on us as viable backup solutions. They are just plain garbage. The controllers are unstable, and the drives are invariably refurbished. (And don't even get me started on the 2.5" drives with embedded USB controllers and no access to SATA ports.)

I went through a couple Seagates and a couple WD's, each of which would corrupt the Time Machine volume repeatedly. The last straw came when I had an internal drive failure on my MBP, and my existing Time Machine drive would not even mount, and Disk Warrior, Drive Genius, and TechTool Pro (in that order) were of no help.

I switched to using a Thermaltake USB3 dock, with 3.5" WD Enterprise drives. I have not had a single issue since. You get what you pay for in hard drives. If you are relying upon them for backup - don't go cheap. It isn't worth it!

Everyone should also have a remote backup anyway. Anyone relying on local hard drives to secure their data are completely naive. Not that I DON'T use a local, it's great for quick and easy file backup and transfer, but I sure as hell don't rely on that $100 drive to work correctly and with remote backup, I'm sure not going to spend more than that on a local drive. If your data doesn't exist in three places, one remote, it doesn't exist. Ask Francis Coppola about how well having one local backup worked out. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/entertainment/7019644.stm

Anyway, you're right about everything you said in your post, but just so people know, you can pay $20K for a backup array and if you don't have a remote, one fire makes that backup meaningless. Crash Plan, Carbonite, Backblaze, etc etc (AWS Glacier anyone?) all these services are so cheap you'd be insane not to just drop the $5 a month if your data is valuable.

If you use FileVault on your main drive or on your Time Machine, here are some tips I picked up on Lion, which might make your life easier. Things may have changed, but should still apply to Mountain Lion.

On each machine you have, download the Lion Installer app via the App Store. The app seems to be different for different models of Mac. From experience, it seems one model Mac might not be able to use the installer from a different model Mac. Open the app package and burn the ESDInstall.dmg to a USB stick to use as an installer.

Using the USB installer, erase the drive as a single partition, and perform a clean install of Lion. This ensures the recovery partition is created on the drive.

Launching the USB installer again, format the main partition and then restore from your encrypted Time Machine.

The partition you are restoring to is unencrypted so when the restore is complete, reboot your Mac, and manually enable FileVault (if you want it).

It really seems like the entire point of this article was the author declaring, boldly "I don't know how to use OS X," and that's Apple's fault.

They're not without issue, but I've done every single thing he's complained about not being possible……except installing an OS over Target Disk……but that's a stupid idea anyway.

Same here for the AppStore, which happily took my money and I still can't download Mountain, because I am in the "wrong" country.

Linux is running fine instead.


Can someone advise me on the point in the article about how Time Machine is insufficient to backup one's entire computer?

My wife's Macbook Air uses Time Machine to backup, and I haven't done any other sort of backup with it. If her hard drive crashes, will she lose information, or is Time Machine reliable enough to restore her entire laptop? I just assumed it was good enough. If this isn't true, and if she loses any information, it's not Tim Cook who will need to deal with her wrath...

The first time I restored from time machine, it was pure accident: the logic board on my 2004-ish ppc iBook died, and my new 2008 macbook offered to migrate. I plugged in my firewire time machine drive and was off to the races.

Since then, I upgraded that macbook with an intel 160 gb SSD, and restored from a time capsule back up. No problem. I updated to a retina MacBook, migrated from a now time capsule back up of essentially the same system, and it died. Hardware failure. Proved, with Apple, o. Apple sold me a new one, but had to order what I wanted online. The sold me a temp. Out of paranoia, I built the system back from scratch and just restored my home folder. Then, when the new retina came in (third retina if you're counting), I again rebuilt, and restored just the home folder from time machine.

I have also kept using the old 2008 MacBook. Ultimately, I think I should have not tried switching the backup from the '08 to the retina. In the end, I abandoned that backup and just started new backups for both systems.

Through all that I have never lost a file.

I also have an iMac with a USB time machine disk. I have restored from that disk (after screen and hard drive were replaced under warranty) and the restore hung at "less than a minute remaining." I rebooted, things were weird, I rebooted into single-user mode and ran fsck. Rebooted, all files good, reinstalled 10.8.2 from app store because coreaudiod was acting weird.

As far as I can tell, all files still good.

I also backup everything to CrashPlan (family plan, so worth it), but have never had to go hunting through it to get anything.

Time machine gives me the heebie jeebies but has not failed me despite my worst efforts.

From reading the article it sounds like he didn't try doing a Time Machine restore until he got to Lion/Mountain Lion, but the Time Machine was created in Snow Leopard.

If he had installed SL, run Time Machine restore and then run the upgrade to Mountain Lion I don't think it would have thrown any issues.

I've restored from various Time Machine backups in the past without any issues. I'm a happy Time Machine user.

I've successfully restored and migrated from my Time Machine backup, so I don't think there's currently any widespread issue.

I've done several full system restores from Time Machine.

Thanks guys, I'm relieved to hear both of you have done it!

> When you assume, you put plum paste on your ass

I don't get it...

Ume. I got it. I got. Hey, guys, I got it.


I don’t think that word is pronounced the way the blogger thinks it is…


The "Thank you Apple" title sounds like a gushing fanboi love letter. I almost didn't read the post (which is quite good, glad I did).

I just think the title should be a little more clear (like add a "not" at the end).

Rob Pike is a Canadian :)

I was spec'ing out a new macbook pro and saw that memory is now soldered in, and the SSD drives have proprietary interfaces. I am, how shall you say, displeased...

I learned something today.


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