A Mountain Lion ate my MacBook Air

A Mountain Lion ate my MacBook Air

Summary: Mountain Lion DP1 is actually a pretty compelling release, but it's still a developer preview which means that it has some nasty bugs. As I learned this weekend.


A Mountain Lion ate my MacBook Air - Jason O'Grady[Disclaimer: OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion is a Developer Preview. It isn't even a public beta, which means that it's not for production use. It's not fully baked and you should expect anomalies. If you decide to dance with Apple's latest cat, only install it on a secondary Mac and only one one that's completely backed up. Expect to lose everything and factor in the time reformat and reinstall your HDD or SSD with a clean copy of Lion -- like I did.]

Disclaimers aside, Mountain Lion DP1 (see my first look), a.k.a. OS X 10.8, is actually a pretty compelling release. It unifies a lot of iOS features, has more social features, integrates iCloud at the Finder level, and comes with better security. But it's also a developer preview, so some features aren't fully implemented and some things are buggy -- as I discovered over the weekend.

Wanting to be up on Apple's latest release I installed Mountain Lion on my MacBook Air 11 which is my second/backup computer. My production computer is a MBA13 and I mostly use the MBA11 as a second machine for couch surfing, day trips, that kind of thing. It's mostly a clone of my MBA 13 but I save anything important to the cloud. That being said, it's the perfect development machine so I installed Mountain Lion on it last week.

I don't use my MBA11 all the time (maybe an hour per day and a few hours on the weekend) but my experience with ML so far has been decent. In fact, I was surprised about how many apps worked flawlessly in Mountain Lion. Example number one is the excellent 1Password from Agile Bits.

One of the biggest challenges with testing early, major OS releases is password management. Since I live on the cloud and use Web dashboards for just about everything 1Password is an integral part of my life. In prior OS X testing 1Password had a habit of not working (at least initially) which severely hampers my ability to log in to websites. With Mountain Lion, it just worked which made my life (and testing) much easier. Agile Bits said in a Tweet that it works because 1Password takes advantage of Apple's native extension APIs.

I was playing with Apple's latest kitty while I was upgrading the SSD in my MBA13 (more on that later) when things went south. I was using my favorite eBay client -- iSale -- and it was a little crashy. I'd write a little, quit (to force a save) then relaunch, do a little more editing and quit. This was working pretty well for a while but then the application started unexpectedly quitting more than was practical. I figured that I'd reboot to clean out the cobwebs.

And she never came back.

After restarting my MacBook hung on the grey Apple screen for what seemed an eternity. After waiting about 20 minutes I shut it down with the power button, waited and tried the same thing. Nada. Then I tried overnight. Nothing. I then ran Internet Recovery (Command-R at boot) and tried repairing the disk permission with Disk Utility but this hung (after fixing a few things) with the spinning wheel icon.

I couldn't re-install Mountain Lion from Internet Recovery because it couldn't see my WiFi network, so I was basically out of options. Faced with the prospect of losing my iSale document, I finally pulled the plug and elected to take the "nuke and pave" option. I ended up booting from my Lion flash drive, reformatting the SSD and re-installing the relatively stable Mac OS 10.7 (non-Mountain) Lion. Patching it up and calling it a day.

The lesson here is obvious, but worth repeating. They're called Developer Previews for a reason. ML DP1 is not production class and shouldn't be used as such. Only install it on a secondary, backup machine that doesn't contain any live data. And only if you can afford the time to reformat your drive and reinstall all your data. So even if your machine is a spare, time is precious and it also has a price.

That being said, I can't wait to test Developer Preview 2.

Topics: Apple, Cloud, Collaboration

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  • Nice disclaimer

    Windows 8 DP was a preview too yet that didn't stop people from ripping it apart and calling Windows dead in the water. According to this Mountain Lion is dead in the water.
    Maybe next time write that disclaimer to every Windows post.
    • Disclaimer: I don't think Win 8 will be dead in the water.

      It was called dead in the water based on what it tried to do, not on what it failed to do flawlessly. There is a BIG difference.
  • Quit to save?

    "I was using my favorite eBay client ??? iSale ??? and it was a little crashy. I???d write a little, quit (to force a save) then relaunch, do a little more editing and quit."

    I can't believe a tech blogger could write those sentences with a straight face. Having to quit an application to force a save sounds like a hint that something is very wrong with the application, the OS, or user training. Or does iSale behave that way by design?
    • No, quit to relaunch a flaky application

      @chmop Mac OS X Lion (and presumably Mountain Lion) saves your work automatically when an application closes. He was quitting in order to restart the application. Saving before you quit is not necessary. A better way to word it would have been, "quit (which forces a save) then relaunch."
      • You are putting words into the author's mouth

        or more correctly, you are re-writing his blog for him because you don't like the implication of what he actually wrote: "quit (to force a save) . . ." Of course he'd naturally relaunch if he wanted to try to continue to do his work.
      • Aren't they the same thing?

        "quit (to force a save)"

        "quit (which forces a save)"

        Looks to me like the meaning of both phrases ia nearly 100% identical.
  • Nice to see the tried and true...

    ...reformat, reinstall works just as well for Macs as it does for Windows. Maybe we're not so different after all. :p
    • The biggest difference is

      on a Mac it's a lot quicker job
      Laraine Anne Barker
      • I'm not so sure dat's true

        My business partner (who's a programmer) uses a Mac while I use a PC. I haven't noticed any improvements in time whenever he has to re-install his Mac over my re-installing my PC. Maybe that's because I hardly re-install my PCs though. They hardly ever give me dat much trouble.
      • "Dat" is not the point

        @ oscardetoy

        I suspect this is due to a small sample size, as I doubt your "friend" had to reinstall OSX. There is almost never a compelling reason to do so.
      • Not really

    • A better insight.

      OS X Mountain Lion and Windows 8 are judged on two different things (almost) altogether.

      OS X Mountain Lion is still the same OS X with added features and changes, while Windows 8 is trying to force you out of what you knew which is bad for businesses. Sure, Windows 7 was different from Windows XP, however, common features were still in similar places making it easier to adjust. Not even going to mention Vista as hardly any decent business wanted it as it was a disaster!
      Windows 8 will be harder to adapt and as a business, where a lot of them have older aged people who struggle enough as it is with a PC itself.

      Quite honestly, I've noticed older people get to know Mac so much easier and when it comes to upgrades, things are still in the same place.
      • indeed

        For many the switch from Windows 7 to Windows 8 might be more painful than the switch from Windows 7 to OS X.

        Pity, the article was very short on actual sharing of experience with Mountain Lion. We all know that using experimental software is dangerous if you have no clue what you do.
      • Good grief!

        "Windows 8 will be harder to adapt and as a business, where a lot of them have older aged people who struggle enough as it is with a PC itself."

        A desktop computer or laptop is a PC is a PC is a PC whether it has Windows, OSX, Ubuntu, Linux Mint, etc. as the OS. Many of us "older people" have many and or all of the above OSs on our Macs in virtual software, boot camp, as well as on Windows-based PCs and experience no difficulty or problems going back and forth between the OSs.

        As a business owner of three Apple computers and three Dell computers, OSX is not any easier or more difficult than the others.

        Close to the end of Vista's life and prior to Windows 7's introduction, Vista was as functional as any other OS. Besides, Vista was the foundation of Windows 7.

        Hopefully, when you get older, you'll be able to function with your future technology as well as us "older people" can with today's technology.
    • But...

      Yeah... except that for Apple it's called "Developer Preview" for Beta-testing... and for Microsoft it's called "Release Candidate" and sometimes even "RTM", ready for shipping :)
  • Mountain Lion

    You mention how well 1Password works with Mountain Lion. That's good news, I use it too.....for everything, like my iCloud/Apple ID, for instance. In-fact, I have it set all the way to "fantastic" 19 characters or more for these passwords. But how do you log in to your Mac running ML if you have to use your Apple/Me/iCloud ID, but you can't get to 1Password until you log on to your system? Now what? I don't plan to write down a 19+ character pass word and manually enter it every time I log in. If that's what they plan on people doing, guess I'll stick with Lion.
    • Not required

      It should be quite obvious...but no, you don't have to.
  • Nothing special here.

    As much as Windows 8 Developer Preview hasn't crashed on me yet, I'm not using ML's crash to judge it. Besides, I hardly use d W8 for anything worth talking about.
  • Always use crash-test dummies.

    I've been doing OS and app development for a very long time now, and I've learned that trusting a developer preview is about as safe as driving the wrong way on an Interstate highway: a crash is pretty likely. One simple solution that I use is to install developer previews and beta softwares in a virtual machine. When I get a new preview OS, I create a VMWare VM for it, and leave my computer's host OS alone. So right now on my MacBook Pro I have VM's for Ubuntu, Windows 7, Lion (10.7.3, for testing unstable apps), and Mountain Lion DP 1. If the Mountain Lion OS gets its knickers in a twist the very worst that happens is I have to recreate the VM, which is basically just a new installation. In most cases, all that's necessary is to reboot the VM, and that doesn't affect any work I'm doing in the main OS.
    • VMs

      Not to mention that you can just restore to a previous session.