Last night I took a trip to my nearest Apple store (a five hour round trip) and came home with a new Mac mini. This Mac mini came pre-installed with Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger, but in the box with the Mac was an OS X 10.5 Leopard CPU drop-in DVD disc. This gave me the perfect opportunity to experience the Leopard upgrade process!
Check out the Leopard upgrade gallery here!
Since this was my first Mac OS X upgrade I didn't really know what to expect. I've carried out countless Windows upgrades and a lot of Linux upgrades and know the process very well, but if I'd been upgrading a working Mac with data on it I might have taken more precautions than I did. This being a totally fresh Mac I simply shoved the disc into the drive as soon as it booted up and got going with the upgrade immediately.
Note: If you're upgrading a system with data on it I recommend that you take the necessary precautions to prevent data loss.
The Upgrade Process
Overall, the process was a flawless one. Pop the disc into the drive, click a few times, reboot, wait, select a few options and the job’s done. I didn't get the dreaded Blue Screen of Death (BSOD) that some had reported. One thing that did strike me as odd though was how long the process took - both the step where the disc was being verified and the actual installation process moved with a speed only slightly faster than continental drift. Compared to upgrading XP or Vista, upgrading Tiger to Leopard is mind-bendingly slow. Sure, I could have skipped the DVD verification process and saved 25 minutes, but I'd rather be safe than sorry. The actual Leopard installation process took 46 minutes and the final setup process was over in 3 minutes. This means that the entire process took 1 hour 17 minutes. The upside (I hope) is that reinstalling Leopard is not something you have to all that often ;-). Seriously though, this isn't something I'd like to do at the start of a day if I was expecting to get any work done before lunch time. This is a process you want to be carrying out when you've got plenty of time on your hands (and maybe a glass of red wine in hand). I'm glad I didn't run into any problems with the upgrade, especially the BSODs that some have reported, because it seems like a real bear to fix - I think I'd have just swept the Mac mini back into its box and sent it back to Apple. However, everything worked perfectly. After installing Leopard I checked for software updates and found a whole bundle of them. I downloaded and installed these without any issues (a process with took a total of 19 minutes). I expect that over the coming weeks that there will be many more updates coming down the tubes.
Leopard - Initial Thoughts I've only been using Leopard for a few hours so it's far too early to write any kind of meaningful review (although this hasn't stopped many others from doing so). However, here are a few initial thoughts and feelings I want to pass on:
- The "Time Remaining" display on the installation screen is useless and seems to be driven by a random number generator. I was initially told that the install process would take 2.5 hours.
- The registration information screen asks for a LOT of personal information, and filling in this info seems mandatory. I really couldn't see Microsoft getting away with asking for so much information and I'm surprised that Apple does.
- Even with the Mac OS it's clear that Apple is interested in selling services - .Mac is right up there in your face right from the start.
- Leopard is snappy, really snappy. Even on the lowly spec of the Mac mini.
- The interface has had a subtle but much needed face lift. While I quite liked Tiger, I always thought that the grey UI was a little bleak.
- While Leopard is undoubtedly different to Tiger, it doesn't feel (at least on the face of things) like users will be faced with a steep learning curve to get up to speed with the new OS. It's been a few months since I last drove a Mac but coming back to it, even on a different OS, has been pretty straight-forward.
Overall, I'm thrilled with the experience and looking forward to getting more hands on time with Leopard and my Mac mini. Watch this space for more thoughts and information. Thoughts?