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Apparently, OS X 10.7 Lion isn’t “For The Rest of Us”

I approached the WWDC Keynote with a bit of apprehension. All indications I’ve seen pointed to Mac OS X 10.7 Lion including many different aspects of iOS. Gestures, Launchpad, full screen apps, the Mac App Store… to me, they were annoying extras, but they were easy enough to disable/avoid and didn’t offset some of the new, more useful features like Versions and Mission Control.

However, Apple did one thing to ensure I’ll likely never have Lion on my MacBook Pro.

They made it download-only.

It’s long been a beef of mine that Apple seems to market its iDevices under the assumption that everybody has a constant broadband connection without data caps. Their new iCloud service is a testament to that; there are going to be a lot of unhappy iPhone/iPad users discovering they’ve eaten up their data usage for the month when iOS 5 comes out.

Unfortunately, Apple is extending this theory for OS distribution. While possibly more prevalent than uncapped wireless data plans, broadband service is still not available everywhere, especially not in more rural areas and downloading a 4GB software update over dial-up does not sound like a good time. Furthermore, in many instances where you can get broadband, many telecoms are capping and/or throttling their data throughput as well. A large download like this can eat up a good portion of your allotted data. So already we’re behind the 8-ball.

Even if you do have broadband service at home, if you want to do any of these things, this “download only” OS makes them much more difficult:

Upgrade a single machine: The main people affected by this are those who, like myself, either have no broadband access at home or have a data cap on their service. So, in order to update, you have to go somewhere with free WiFi and try to download from there. Ever try to bring a 27” iMac into a Starbucks? They look at you kind of funny.

Upgrade multiple machines: Got multiple machines you want to update? Even though you’ll only have to pay once, it’s still a 4GB download for each machine. Combine a multi-Mac household (such as a family with a main computer, one for each of the kids, and maybe an extra MacBook Pro thrown in the mix somewhere) with a capped data plan… you’re in a world of hurt if you want to stay current.

Upgrade a non-networked machine: Believe it or not, there are still a lot of people who don’t have their computers hooked up to the Internet. Whether it’s that Mac Pro you keep in your garage music studio, a MacBook you keep at your summer home so you can download photos into iPhoto and transfer them to a portable hard drive, or something else, rather than simply popping a DVD into the optical drive and installing, you need to bring that computer back home/to the nearest hotspot and then install.

Replacing a crashed hard drive: This one really hurts. Let’s say that a year from now, the hard drive in your 2009 Mac Pro running Lion completely fails. You had Time Machine running, so you at least have all your data available to migrate back. To install Lion, you’ll now need to:

  1. Install & Migrate from your 10.6.x DVD.
  2. Download and install the 10.6.x Combo Update (1.15GB to get to 10.6.6, which is the first version of the Mac App Store)
  3. Download the Lion installer – at least 4GB, probably closer to 5GB once we figure on updates and patches to get to 10.7.2 or whatever the version is at the time..

So right there, it’s 6GB just to get back to where you were. With a DVD, all you’d have had to do is pop in the disc, install and migrate, and download the OS updater, which would be a fraction of the amount of data and time involved.

Rolling back to an earlier version: Apple doesn’t always get it right; sometimes an OS update causes more troubles than it solves, forcing users who need that “broken” feature to go back to a previous version. In 10.5.x and earlier, you’d perform an “Archive and Install” then manually download the Combo updater for the version prior to the most recent. With 10.6, it’s even more straightforward; just install right over the current version before downloading/installing the Combo Updater. How’re you going to do that with Lion? You can pretty well guess that the download version will be the most recent, with no ability to get an older version. So when Apple makes a mistake, you have to live with it until they fix it.

Of course, these are just a few examples. Other situations, such as repair of a work machine on the road or the maintenance of a lab of computers, are variations on one or more of those themes. All of them valid, and all of them now more difficult.

A Reasonable Solution

I understand Apple’s potential reasoning for wanting to go with this “download” model: less physical inventory, better control over distribution, “green” distribution, et cetera. This download model allows for all of that.

However, as outlined above, that model doesn’t necessarily work for all users. Not everybody is a family of four who stay comfortably within Apple’s walled garden, checking email, watching YouTube videos, and making iPhoto albums for Grandma (not that there’s anything wrong with that, per se).

There are many people like me who tinker, who fix, who create, and who do things “outside the box” with our Macs that don’t fit this paradigm. We are “the crazy ones, the misfits, the round pegs in square holes” that used to be championed by Apple. Now, they’re cutting us off at the ankles because the way we use our Macs require a little more flexibility when updating/installing the operating system—flexibility that existed up until now.

Give us the option to make our own installer disc/thumb drive a la the way Ubuntu does. Let us download a disc image and install it on the drive or the DVD we want to use in case things go wrong. Heck, charge us an extra five bucks for the privilege, if absolutely necessary.

Just give us our installer discs back!

The opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of Other World Computing.

M. Chris Stevens
the authorOWC Chris S.
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  • It would help tremendously if Apple would allow more control over the download process.

    For example, I have satellite Internet service. I could easily manage a 4GB download if I could limit the timing of the download and/or the amount of data downloaded per day. It might take several days to complete the download, but it would work just fine and wouldn’t kick me over the data limits.

    • On the plus side, the Golden Master was released and it appears the “make a disk image” option championed in other comments is still available, meaning that once you get the download, you can at least have something to install from in case things go wrong.

      However, there is still that matter of downloading it in the first place. Just another instance where Apple’s “download only” model winds up being a bit short-sighted.

  • When I saw the Jobs keynote, I couldn’t help wondering if Apple plans on using their huge cash reserves to buy a phone or cable TV company. This whole approach by Apple requires South Korean standards of internet infrastructure, and I don’t think even Apple can do that on their own simply by breaking the existing system with new demand.

  • Oh, please. Boo-woo-hoo. You don’t have to download more than ONCE. Just burn a damn DVD. All of the points you listed are backwards, non-applicable to the VAST majority of people and for those who get left behind…hey, Snow Leopard is not a bad OS to be left behind on.

    This is one of the lamest articles I’ve ever read and I sincerely hope this is not representative of most OWC/macsales folks. :/

    • You certainly have a right to your opinion; to someone in Southern California where high-speed Internet is fairly ubiquitous, I suppose my position may seem unusual. However, the fact that you disagree with an opinion does not negate said opinion’s validity. There are plenty of people both here in the Blog comments and via our other social media outlets that happen to agree with me—and those are just the vocal ones.

      I’ve never said that online distribution, in and of itself, is bad and should be gotten rid of. Broadband users, go right ahead download away. What I am merely suggesting is that another option be made available for those of us who don’t have fast internet service, even if it means a nominal surcharge.

  • Chris, for what it’s worth, our area has only two viable options for internet that I see as usable: 1) AT&T (which is looking to cap connections), and 2) our lone cable provider (who wants you to pay $50/month, or $55 if you want cable), and in this area we have had cable outages…

    I ditched AT&T about 3 years ago (fed up with them and their so-called ‘service and support’ – try getting a real person who isn’t working from a script in an outsourced locoation), so my internet connection so far has been local WiFi spots or the local library (which has fairly decent speeds, but tends to cap you if you are using the ‘net heavier, I’ve found). So I use my PowerBook (old, but with OWC’s products, it gets 95 percent of what I need done) at a local WiFi for my internet, email, etc. And yes, after my brother donated me his ‘old’ 24″ iMac last fall (when he got a new one), I have lugged the iMac to a local cafe (non-Starbucks), after asking the staff there (I eat there often, since I use their WiFi) first. I also do my iMac updating more to the evening hours when they have less traffic.

    For the 10.6.7 update, at 1.06GB (not 800MB, James N) it took so long that I wound up taking the PowerBook with an external (OWC) drive to the local library (plus used a download manager that allowed me to pause and resume my download later). Then I took the external back and hooked it up to the iMac at home. It took long enough (in 2 or 3 trips) for the 1.06GB; I shudder to think of 4GB of download – I expect that will take several days, maybe a whole week with my work schedule!

    I’d agree with the comments you/others made, Chris, about Apple being out of touch with the real world away from the coasts (where ‘high speed internet’ actually means what it says). Give me a DVD disc, or even a thumb drive with Lion, please!

    • Good to see I’m not the only one – your situation is pretty darn similar to mine. With unacceptable choices for home broadband, I also have found a WiFi hotspot in a local establishment and do 99% of my upgrades there.

      However, my hotspot just so happens to be in a pub; it’s like Starbucks with beer. It’s not the most convenient solution and I don’t think I’d have the chutzpah to drag an iMac there…

  • There is another large group of people who Apple have totally abandoned with this download only plot and that is all of us Mac users who live in countries where Apple has still not provided an App store.

    In my own case I live in Cyprus having retired there from the UK some years ago. Cyprus is a full member of the European Union and a Eurozone currency member but for years our requests for a store have been ignored, Now it seems our three MacBooks and 2 iPhone 3GSs will become obsolete much sooner than expected. As for upgrading to an iPhone 4, forget it, no IOS5 available.

    I also fear for the future of the Apple Premium Resellers in those countries where no App store is available (yes, they exist). The owners of these businesses have invested heavily to Apple’s own benefit yet they like the users have been abandoned and will find their businesses and investments dying as no-one in their right minds is going to buy a product for which software is not available.

    I have heard excuses for the delays in setting up an iTunes store being related to copyright problems but this same argument cannot be applied to the App store as only Apple’s own copyright is at issue.

    I can only hope that this is major oversight by the grey suits at Apple and that Steve Jobs will step in and correct this problem sooner rather than later otherwise Apple will become known as the company that became too big to care. It is even possible that this situation could be viewed as fraudulent in some countries and Apple could well find themselves in court defending an illegal and indefensible position.

    • Ah, yet another situation I wouldn’t have possibly thought of, mostly because I don’t happen to live there.

      While I’ve begrudgingly accepted the App Store for my iOS devices (Yes, I’m aware of jailbreaking – I did so on my iPod Touch for a while, but it didn’t do much for me, so I switched it back), personally, I’ve never been that excited about the Mac App Store. Fortunately, most of the software I use is either only available in stores (e.g.; Adobe Creative Suite) or is shareware available by direct download from the authors (usually via a reliable site like MacUpdate).

      Hopefully, Apple will see that there are many Mac users who this online OS distribution model fails for (whether it is lack of broadband or lack of a Mac App Store entirely) and offer an “offline” solution.

  • This morning I was going to say basically bash on OWC for this post… well mostly for spreading a bunch of FUD and then taking 4 very valid points and responding to them with more FUD, but I refrained… the whole “lets be as outrageous as we can and see how many comments we can get” BS just annoys me. In fact I’d pretty much sworn of visiting this blog again just like I did TUAW a year ago… but then this afternoon I decided to finally install Lion DP4.

    Only I wasn’t about to install a DP on my primary machine so I figured I’d just install it on my mini server which already has multiple boot drives hooked up and is easy to roll back. Only DP4 wouldn’t install over OS X Server. I tried but it would just throw up a warning saying “Check the App Store for the Server Tools download”. Well I’ve never associated that machine with an App Store account so maybe that’s why… Why would I want an App Store account on my freaking server anyway?

    So I figured I could just install OS X 10.6 over one of the bootable clones I have of the primary boot drives. No luck, OS X won’t install over OS X Server… ok.. format the clone back to bare… NOW install 10.6 on it… and NOW migrate the admin user profile from OS X Server… YAY… I now have 10.6.

    Ok, so now look around to see if I have a combo update lying around for 10.6.7 because that’ll at least be a little quicker than using software update… no luck, the last one I have saved is 10.6.5. So download the combo update… run the combo update and NOW I can finally install Lion. Well I’m 3 hours into the process and Lion now says it has 25 minutes left to go… maybe because I’m installing it on an external USB drive. :( :( :(

    Yes, I’m sure it all “puppy dog tails” if you happen to already be at 10.6.7 and are simply upgrading… but seriously, this is a major PITA and I truly hope this process gets better when Lion get’s released to the public.

    • Well “glad” to hear it Jon…that this isn’t as easy or not all meets the eye. And honestly, we have never set out with a post idea based on an outrageous position on a industry topic or aspect with the primary intent of gaining traffic or comments. It just so happens that our coverage of topics or perhaps singular author opinion gets people talking because there is a position taken which affects some and for the others that aren’t affected…well it can perhaps be seen as a non issue.

      I’m personally surprised at the # of comments this one post generated. And looking at recent comments from Terry B and Jim R….the post supports their situation. For others, it’s kinda like NIMBY…and I’m in that group on this situation as I have high speed access because I don’t live out in the farmland like Chris does ;-)

      Hope you continue to keep coming back and contributing!

    • As Grant just mentioned, this article was not an attempt at “being outrageous” to gather page hits. Frankly, I could do without much of the attention this brings – it’s taken about an hour or so out of my mornings just to keep up with the comments…

      I wrote this article as a long-time Mac user who just so happens to be “left out” because my situation does not fit in with Apple’s newly-chosen distribution method and I didn’t feel I was the only one. Judging by at least half the commentary both here and on other social media outlets, I was correct in that assessment. It wasn’t a matter of FUD, just a simple statement of evidence as it appeared to me.

      While I’m sorry that your Lion upgrade proved so troublesome, I hope that it least gave insight to some of the potential problems that some people may experience. Can you imagine your experience over dialup or having to do it in a Starbucks?

      Oh, and Grant… I live next to a bog, not in farmland. Less manure, more mosquitoes. :-)

  • Actually, there’s one major abandonment by Apple of the “no broadband” segment of the population that happened (silently, as far as I can tell) a few years ago, and that’s the discontinuation of the Apple USB modem. I passed my older MacBook to my Dad, who has no broadband options where he lives, and I was mighty happy that I had already bought that modem since it’s long gone from the Apple Store catalog. I have not been able to find Mac-compatible third-party hardware to replace this; what do people in the Apple Stores tell customers who want to buy a new Mac but who don’t have any Internet access except through dialup? “Get with the 21st century”?

    • Ah! That’s another good one. I forgot all about that! I’ve been using an original AirPort base station (one of the old UFOs) to connect via dialup. Before that, I was connecting via my old WallStreet and using Internet Sharing.

      I would be interested in hearing what an Apple Store representative would say about that; my guess is it would be similar to what we’ve heard here – satellite service, move to a different location, et cetera.

    • Apple actually got rid of the USB modem since they we’re the first to bring Wi-Fi to the home back in 1999 with the first iBook. I almost never used the built-in modem as I connected wireless via dial-up via the original airport. Granted, nowadays it’s much harder to find a wi-fi router with dial-up. Just a quick search shows many people having issues like the hardware is not readily available.

      So… ya it would be nice if everyone still played nice with dial-up, but sadly it’s just not the case. I long ago gave away the original airport I had to a friend who still uses it. Perhaps you can still find one an eBay.

    • Regarding the Apple USB Modem, it appears this modem is no longer supported in Mac OS X 10.7 even if you already have one that is working under 10.6.x My “Compatible USB Modems” page lists some alternatives here:

      As for downloading a major OS update, Apple wants as many users as possible to be introduced to the Mac App Store, and also saves time and money by not having to replicate a golden master for the initial release. I’m confident installer DVDs will be made available after a little while. Apple has to make these anyway to ship with new systems. If you need a DVD, just wait a few weeks and they should become available. What you can’t do is buy one the same day Lion ships, they are not going to be stocked on day one.

  • Point 1) The bootable install image has been found.

    Point 2) All that time spent whining in your post and in all of your responses, could have been better spent looking for the bootable image.

    Point 3) You guys are sullying your reputation with these antagonistic posts lately.

    Point 4) You guys are what, a couple hours outside of Chicago, and don’t have broadband? I’m about an hour outside of Charlotte, NC and I’m having my ultra broadband (50 Mbps!) from road runner installed next week!

    Maybe I can send you a bootable Lion disk! Lol

    • Point 1) The bootable install image has been found.
      Actually the instructions for the creation of a bootable install disk for the developer’s preview version have been created. Before Lion is actually released, there’s no way to know for sure that the method will still work with the post-release version. Granted it is unlikely that the method will change, but it is highly likely that the download itself could be tied to your Apple ID for licensing purposes and may only work on machines where the original Apple ID of the download would need to match an Apple ID entered to activate. The long and the short of it is that A) we just don’t know what the case will be once released and B) those users who don’t have access to broadband internet still need to get that download in the first place.
      Point 2) All that time spent whining in your post and in all of your responses, could have been better spent looking for the bootable image.
      As I already pointed out in my last response, to have a legal, licensed copy of Lion the insinuation form Apple at this point is that the copy needs to be downloaded through your Mac App Store account. We’re not in the practice of showing the public how to knowingly or unknowingly pirate software.
      Point 3) You guys are sullying your reputation with these antagonistic posts lately.
      The point of this point was to voice a personal opinion, bring the issue of that opinion to the light of the public, and spark an open debate on the topic. As you are the 68th comment on the issue, I’d say the article was quite successful in doing so. ;-)
      Point 4) You guys are what, a couple hours outside of Chicago, and don’t have broadband? I’m about an hour outside of Charlotte, NC and I’m having my ultra broadband (50 Mbps!) from road runner installed next week!
      While Chicago itself is quite urban and has easy access to the grid, some places in Illinois are much more rural and not so lucky. Woodstock itself is near to very rural farming / agricultural areas. While many of our employees (myself included) live within areas that broadband internet is available, some (including the author) do not. The fact remains that about 40% of computer users in the United States are still using dial-up for one reason or another and 4GB takes quite a while to download for those users. It is those users that this post gives voice to.

  • From

    “OS X Lion includes a built-in restore partition, allowing you to repair or reinstall OS X without the need for discs.”

    If this is the case, it should be easy to copy the partition to another disk for back up. It doesn’t get around downloading the original file, but it should make reinstall simpler.

    The real problem with the WWDC announcements is that Steve Jobs like to talk more about icing than the cake. Critical information is left out, leading to questions that, more often then not, are not answered until the product ships. And in some cases, not even then.


    • Yeah… I saw that… shades of Windows there, isn’t it?

      It’s an okay idea in theory, I guess, but the way it’s presented, it won’t do much if the drive the recovery partition is on dies. Copying this partition to a DVD or flash drive would help, but I would think the process would depend on its implementation.

      Doable? Quite probably, but it would again be a workaround for a problem that should be addressed out of the gate.

  • Rather than repeat myself over and over and over, I’m going to try and respond to the major talking points in one fell swoop.

    Talking Point 1: “You can make a bootable disk by opening up the installer, extracting a .dmg and burning that to disk.”

    Considering that this information is based on the installer for the developer preview and not the final version, we have to see if such an option is still available for the final release.

    Even if it is, that’s an awful lot of effort for a bootable disk. While I, personally, am not adverse to this, it’s still not an ideal—or officially supported—solution.

    Plus, it doesn’t resolve the “broadband issue.” You still need to download a 4GB file from Apple.

    Talking Point 2: “If you don’t have broadband yet, get it.” or “If you can’t get broadband, move.”

    If cable or DSL isn’t available where you live (read through the comments, it isn’t just me…), then all you’re stuck with is satellite or possibly ISDN. Even in “the boondocks,” satellite service isn’t always a viable option. I know; I used to have it. For the expense, the speeds we got were just not worth it, and the data caps they later added would negate the value any speed increase. As for ISDN, the available plans and associated fees are just not cost-effective for most people.

    And moving just to get broadband – that’s just not a realistic option at all.

    Talking Point 3: “The Lion release is a month away, there might be changes.”

    I certainly hope there are; most specifically, a sanctioned option to create a bootable install disc. However, unless the problem is brought to light, it can’t be fixed—squeaky wheels, grease and all that.

    Talking Point 4: “You’re blowing this out of proportion.”

    I don’t believe I am.

    Apple announced its OS. They showed off the new features. They clearly said that the install is only available via download. I merely pointed out a flaw in the model as presented and gave instances where it fails.

    As I said before, I would rather point out a potential problem and find out that they already have a solution planned than not say anything and find out it wasn’t addressed.

  • Thanks for some of the options/info/discussion posted above on the 10.7 installer and updates. I was also wondering about this since I am (like a few others evidently, it’s amazing I thought I was the only one ;-) ) still on dialup internet living in a rural area. I work at a University and have in the past brought in my personal mac to do updates, etc. So I’d definitely be interested in knowing about the cell modem internet 20GB for $20, sounds interesting as the Sat. connection is still too expensive.

  • Spot on post!

    I really don’t like this download-only solution we’re currently being told about. There are just way too many things, some of which you mention, that are prohibitive in such a scenario.

    Another scenario to consider is, how will corporations upgrade their Mac OS?
    The office where I work has only about 12 iMacs running everyones apps.

    1) Not all the employees even have an Apple ID. Fair enough they can get one for free but imagine the corporation with more than 12 Macs and having less than tech-savy users using them… their IT dude is sure going to be busy.

    2) Imagine the sheer amount of data we’d need to download on ‘update day’. 12 * 5GB (round about) 60GB of data where 1 disc + multiple licenses would have cost us a fraction of the data and most importantly time.

    3) There are a lot of countries in the world that have less than stellar internet, I live in New Zealand, where we do have okay internet (10Mbit/s downspeed) however you sure pay for it in the hundreds of dollars to get a decent data-cap on your plan.
    iCloud is practically unusable but hey,… it’s only a nice-to-have service for those who can. But the OS itself surely shouldn’t be this restrictive and prohibitive to install.

    Ultimately I do believe Apple will have some alternate way to install this OS, I just cannot imagine that corporations and businesses will need to download a full OS per machine… and if that disc is made accessible to the public either via the Apple store or other avenues then I’d be okay with having and using that option.

    Great post!

  • YOU CAN HAVE A Mac OS X Lion DVD!!!!!

    When you download Mac OS X Lion from the Mac App Store, the install file is a package that contains the InstallESD.DMG for Lion!

    This can be burned onto a DVD and installed onto your other computers! Yay!

    • Just that sometimes we…meaning the blog team at OWC and not the entity nor others within OWC….don’t agree with a move Apple makes. Do we still love ’em? You bet! But hey, without commentary and controversy, what kind of enthusiasts would we all be?

      And at the very least, we’ve got you and others thinking about various topics….self and external examination of topics, events, actions, etc. always a good thing…at least to me.

      Or in other words, “if you have a problem and you don’t say anything about the problem, how does one expect the source to fix or at very least consider said problem?”

  • There was a lot more bitching when Apple Steve’d the floppy drive on the iMacs in favour of a USB port. Getting rid of a DVD after the optical drives on some of the laptops have already been Steve’d for more high speed data ports is nothing.

    In places where broadband is not ubiquitous, Apple or some enterprising Apple reseller will have a solution available.

    We got over the loss of the floppy drive, we’ll overcome this no DVD problem just as easily.

  • I have read silly commentary before but this is the silliest. You would think OWC could afford a broadband connection but with opinions like this maybe they can’t.

    • Dennis…read carefully….Chris is located in a rural area that cannot get broadband and even if he could, there are data caps to think of. The interesting thing is it seems like btwn here and on our social portals, it’s running 50% agreeing with Chris’s position and 50% saying no big deal, move, welcome to 2011, etc. This is just one man’s take….kinda like if you ask someone…Ford or Chevy?

      • Ditto on that — I’m lucky that, even though I live in a semi-rural area, I have access to very good broadband. Just a few miles away, though, it’s dial-up or nothing. Steve’s thinking here is (arguably) typical SoCal — broadband is everywhere and flows like sunshine, and no one has data caps (or if they do they make too much money to care).

        I actually was hoping that Lion would be the first on-a-thumbdrive release rather than optical. I knew downloads would be part of the picture, but I didn’t know they were going full-hog with it.

        That said, I’m still setting up a contingency plan for the very real probability that my company website — and all my sub-sites for my clients — will have to be rebuilt via another program and host since it seems all but given that I’m losing the hosting services via my iWeb publications. I kind of saw the writing on the wall when iWeb didn’t get updated with iLife ’11, but was holding out hope that there’d be some kind of interim update instead.

      • Growing up in a rural area, I completely understand the issue here. Before I moved I had Directway (this was about 7 years ago) and my data was capped at a gig a a day. I remember having the option to download XP Pro via the university I was attending at the time. I took me TWO days Because of the cap. So of course if you lie in an area where you can get 10+ Meg speeds, this won’t be an issue but there are a lot of areas where broadband isn’t available.

        In fact every time I visit family, all of my devices become paper weights until I drive a few miles out and can get signal again.

  • I wanted to point something else out. The US is way behind the curve on broadband availability. Worse, its speeds are very far behind other nations. It was 15th out of 30 in the 2008 ITIF Broadband rankings. In 2001, it was #4. I know in Washington, DC, you cannot get fiber optic internet even though it’s a big city. You have to live in one of the affluent suburbs to get it. Even the rich areas of DC do not have access to Fiber Optic internet. We don’t take it seriously in this country, and we should. We’re falling behind the rest of the world when it comes to technology. Broadband should be considered just as important a utility as phone service or electricity. Until we treat it as such, we will continue to fall behind. I hope this is Apple’s contribution to that goal. Instead of yelling at Apple for offering stuff for download, we should yell at our congress about improving the infrastructure of our nation!

    • That’s certainly one way of viewing it. In the US Broadband is taken seriously and your right it should be viewed as a utility. With that in mind, broadband has seen one of the fastest adoption rates compared to other utilities. If I’m not mistaken the last phone line installed in an previously unavailable location was sometime in the 1950s. That’s a long rollout.

      The US has a few more barriers than other countries in that we have massive existing infrastructure vs newly developing countries that leapfrog to newer tech, and also have smaller countries or areas to cover. Just think about the coverage in deep China where’s there’s nothing.

      We’ll ge there with broadband, just look at the 4-6 MBps we can get over 3G mobile. Decent. Not South Korea or Japan speeds, but decent.

  • Relax I’m sure they will have a installer for machines that got wiped.

  • it’s 29.99. So i think the 100 dollar you saved comparing to windows you can use it on download costs. I’m sure there is a downloadable copy that can be passed around.

  • Macs have NEVER been “for the rest of us”.

    Macs are for the affluent, the more intelligent, the more educated, the more creative, the ones who “think different”.

    If you can’t afford what it takes to have a Mac, then get a PC. PC’s are “For the rest of us”.

  • These complaints are much ado about nothing.

    1. BACKUP #1: When you get your Mac, immediately make a backup or two onto another hard drive or SSD or Flash Drive. This base operating system usually is less than 10 gigabytes in size. This is easily accommodated by today’s hard drives and Flash Drives. You can easily make several copies onto other hard drives or even one drive. These make up your base drive onto which you can do future restorations.
    2. BACKUP, BACKUP, BACKUP: I do at least THREE BACKUPS of my primary drive.
    3. BACKUP, BACKUP, BACKUP: I do at least THREE BACKUPS of my data.
    4. BACKUP, BACKUP, BACKUP: I do a cloud backup of important data – in this case to MobileMe’s iDisk.
    With these backups, it is EASY to roll back an upgrade and EASY to start from scratch.
    All it means is MORE SALES of hard drives from OWCOMPUTING, more business for OWCOMPUTING!

    1. Apple’s 0.1 updates are HUGE already for nearly the past decade. Realize that the 10.6.7 combo update is 800 megabytes in size. These mega updates have been going on since Mac OS X 10.4.x. Apple has had a ton of large updates to Mac OS X’s components. Just see how large the printer updates have been.
    2. If you live in the boondocks, get Satellite Broadband. You can even get ISDN if you want more speed than dial up.
    3. If you don’t have broadband internet by now, you have been in the dark ages as far as Mac OS X updates for nearly the past decade. It no longer is an excuse to be limited by dial-up internet. Get broadband.

    1. A new OS is always a good excuse to get a new Mac. With a clone of the hard drive, you can spread the OS to your other Macs, easily.

  • Rather sensationalist much?

    So because the keynote gives little info (which is customary in the industry even) and you by your own admission refuse to pay the $99 to get more current and correct info, you decide to make a link bait blog post trolling for page views making wild assumptions that “Apple didn’t think of the rest of us”. Obviously this has to be something Apple has thought of, as broadband connections are even more problematic outside the US than they are in the US, and they aren’t in the habit of making idiotic business decisions.

    Posts like this seems to be a growing trend among OWC employees lately from my cursory view, so guess I will need to vote with my wallet about how I feel about it.

    • Hi Jeremy and thanks for expressing your opinion. Many sites perhaps wouldn’t approve a somewhat inflammatory comment…but as I moderate all our posts…and share moderation duty on comments….I felt it appropriate to show how two opinions are just that.

      You refer to another post, the iMac drive issue…which that and this still come down to a basic feeling by the poster…in Chris’s case…the OS distribution model now doesn’t work for him. Some agree with that, some don’t.

      But for sure….this wasn’t about any kind of page view intent…the blog does very well on its own merits. This was one user, regardless of being an OWC employee…expressing how in his particular situation…it seems as though Apple didn’t think of him..or others like him.

      None of us will ever know if Apple thought of circumstances like Chris’s…but we’re finding on our social portals a majority of agreement with his position. Here on the thread, many feel the issue will be resolved or perhaps a workaround already exists.

      So to me, it’s about communication. We don’t always have to agree with each others opinions or every move Apple makes…but to listen with courtesy…well…to me that’s the human experience.

      As Jobs says, they build stuff they want to live with, we at OWC live Macs too…some with differing passions and applications. We post from heart out of concern for the Mac platform, and out of concern for long term Mac advocates.

      Again, thanks for reading and we do hope you’ll continue to do so…even if you don’t agree with the author’s position.

  • I think it’s great people are voicing their disappointment over the download only decision. I had read today about the workaround .dmg solution and I’m already glad someone came up with it. I’m in Brazil and not a lot of people have a speedy broadband connection down here. Up until recently 1Mb connection it was all that was available in my area. Imagine installing Lion on the 4 family macs. It would take forever. Plus I always do a clean install every new major Mac OS X release. The download only option would be a nightmare. Hope someone at apple will read this eventually.

    • If that option is still available in the final release, that’s a decent work-around.


      a.) It’s still a work-around, and not an “official” option.
      b.) You still have to download the 4GB installer, which is a problem if you don’t have broadband.

      • I think what we have here, unfortunately, is OWC shooting their mouths off before all the facts are in (again). You guys need to spend more time getting your 2011 iMac turnkey program up (or getting that Apple firmware updater working!) and less time whining about things that your not even sure about.

        Apple is not in business to facilitate your business model. It seems to me you should allow for a little “fluidity”.

        And on a personal note, if you don’t have broadband in 2011, move.

        • Yes…and I encourage everyone with iMacs and Mac Pros to roll in there with their machines and do it better than the video embedded in this comment thread. Bring a lounge chair or even a hammock! ;-)

      • If they sold the upgrade as a disc, you’d either need to have it delivered or go to the Apple store to buy it. How about going to the local apple store with your laptop and downloading it using their wifi? As for keeping an install/boot disc around, I do think that’s a valid point. I would hope you’d be able to take the Lion installer and put it on a thumb drive or burn to DVD.

  • I think everyone should wait until all the facts are known as there are many inaccuracies in many of these posts including the original one. If you want to understand the options join the developer program so you have early access otherwise wait until all facts are known.

    Just because the keynote mentioned it installed in place doesn’t mean there is no reboot – the Keynote is a marketing presentation not an in depth technical review of the installation process or practice.

    The one thing I do agree with completely is just to offer options. My in-laws are on mobile wireless that takes many hours just to get point upgrades for example so some type of physical media would be cool.

    I can’t really comment on specifics due to the NDA of the developer program.

    • Not everybody is a developer and/or has the disposable income to join the program just to get “inside” information.

      While we won’t know what the final results are until Lion is made available to the general public, we can use what information has been made available to the public (such as information given at the WWDC Keynote) to at least get an idea of what we’re looking at and comment from there.

      At 35:50 or so in the Keynote video on Apple’s site, Schiller says that Lion “installs right in place, no rebooting from an optical disc.” One can take that to mean that it installs right over 10.6 without the need for installation media. If there are other options, they aren’t mentioned, for better or for worse. However, given the limited information we, then non-developers, have, I would much rather say “hey, there’s a potential problem here” only to find out that there was a solution all along, than to not say anything and find out too late that there wasn’t.

    • “Just because the keynote mentioned it installed in place doesn’t mean there is no reboot”

      The Lion install reboots from a “hidden” boot image on the hard drive.

      While not rebooting from a DVD, it is still rebooting to run the installer.

  • The Mac App Store downloads the INSTALLER. you can put the installer on any DVD, thumbdrive or hard drive that you want

    • Yes, but will that installer be bootable? Having an installer does no good to a downed Mac if you can’t boot to an OS so you can install it.

  • I agree that everyone does not have broadband access or that their may be caps on their service and this is a problem. My guess is that Apple will allow users who have purchased via the Mac App Store to either have media sent or go to an Apple Retail store to pick up media or have the OS installed there.

    You would hope that there was some thought by Apple about how this would work and the fact they specified it was Mac App Store only was to minimize what other options might be available.

    Just a guess though.

    • We can only hope there’s a resolution to this issue that we haven’t been informed of yet. That’s entirely possible, as Apple often underplays little glitches like this. Who knows, maybe someone at One Infinite Loop has read this (or some other blog that’s identified the same problem), has passed it on up the ladder, and they’re working on it as we speak. I couldn’t tell you.

      But I sure can hope.

  • One more thing — what if you have a system with Leopard installed (but capable of installing Lion), what then? Will you have to install Snow Leopard (for MAS) just to install Lion? Surely that can’t be the case…

    • Another good point! I was taking the “Best” scenario, but this is also a concern. I know several people who didn’t go to 10.6 from 10.5, but were looking forward to 10.7 to make the jump.

  • OWC hit the nail on the head. I was “queasy” about the download only and you folks put it into words. In fact, for some reason I wasn’t thrilled with much that came out yesterday other than the part of icloud that will let me sync my contacts for free. I for one think I will keep all my documents safe and sound here at home. To many examples in the last year of “cloud” issues and the loss of data. Not just Apple but throughout the computer industry.

    • Glad to see you agree, Marty. However, I’ll reserve my reservations about iCloud for the next episode of OWC Radio.

      However, I must point out (for legal purposes) that the opinions expressed in the article above were my own personal ones, and not necessarily those of Other World Computing. DOn’t blame them for my ranting… :-D

  • Does anyone use dial-up anymore? I can get 3G modem with 32Mb/s (theoretical) for 20$ / Month with 20Gb monthly datacap, after that the speed lowers down, and they even give me the USB modem for free.

    • Roughly 40% of US internet users is on dial-up. There are simply some rural areas that can’t get broadband. And you’re correct, there’s better wireless options in some case for these rural users.

    • Yes, there are. I, personally, happen to live in an area where we can’t get DSL or cable (too far out) and cell service is mediocre at best – calls are frequently dropped. Dialup or satellite are about the only option that many in my neighborhood have, and digital satellite service has its own issues (data caps, substandard speeds, service interruptions due to inclement weather).

    • Some of the users I help out are on AT&T’s so called DSL “Broadband” which is so slow, it can take an hour just to download a simple Mac OS security update.

      The last time I did a speed check on their connections it was in the range of 50-90kbs down. (Yes, slower than an EDGE connection on a GSM cell phone)

      I have to burn larger OS updates on a CD for them.

      Yet, I still can’t convince them to switch to Comcast cable internet which runs for me at 10,000-15,000kbs down.

      • Yeah, Those aren’t great speeds, so you can imagine that over dialup… ick!

        Hopefully, that “burn a disc” option suggested earlier becomes a reality, so you can bring it to them that way.

  • Last year, I was with a small group of photographers, we were traveling in Bhutan, which is a tiny country landlocked between Bangladesh and India. The 1st night we arrived, my buddy’s macbook died. His drive was not bootable. Lucky for me, I carry a Mac OS disc and within 15 min I had rebooted to the DVD, ran Disc Util and he was back up and running but not completely, missing apps he needed he was still unable to use the machine. I carry a spare hard drive which is a clone of my MacBook drive, made a few days before I left for the trip. I carry the two required screwdrivers and can swap out my own drive in about 5 minutes. With a download only solution for an O/S, I can’t imagine how I could recover from a serious error out in the wilderness with the understanding that NO internet would be available for several weeks and maybe only a very slow wi-fi signal for email. – I fully agree with you, we will surely see a DVD solution or we will have to make one ;-) You can see my photos of the experience at

    • The Mac OS 10.6 footprint is small enough that I could clone the OS installer DVD over to an 8GB USB stick to carry around for emergencies to boot an Intel Mac from.

      • That’s a valid point… unless you’re relying on an app that’s 10.7-only. They may not exist at the exact moment, but you know they will somewhere down the line.

  • Keep in mind this is purchased software linked to you Apple ID account. So copying the software and transporting it elsewhere could be construed as piracy. We’ll all have to wait it out to see what Apple has in mind for those that need to install from some type of disk.

    • There’s also the possible issue that the installer will only launch on a Mac OS that has been logged into the Mac app store authorizing it to run.

  • Two things Apple needs to do to satisfy those without broadband and those with a need for install media: inlude a utility in the App Store download to burn a DVD or external installer. In addition anyone would be able to make one of these at the Apple Store, possibly for a cost, as well as be able to buy a physical copy from Apple and have it shipped.

    • Personally, I’d prefer the second option; I can’t get broadband (DSL or cable) where I live—too far out. But, as I have a MacBook Pro and a hotspot within driving distance, I could live with the first option, too.

    • This is a “work-around” and not an actual “authorized” method of creating a legitimate physical installer disc.

      However, it’s an option that’s good to know, in case Apple doesn’t come through. Hopefully, the final release also has this DMG available.

      • Chris,

        You talk about being the person that likes to ‘tinker’, but discount this posters option because it’s unofficial? I would argue most of the service that OWC provides is ‘unofficial.’ (I have no problem with that).

        I have no concerns with Apple announcing a download-only option because I also understand there will be a workaround, either official or unofficial to install it from thumbdrive or disc. I’m betting official.

        As for the: what about dialup users, please, think of the children! I would say that Apple has the math in front of them on who their customers are, if it fails to reach their populace then they’ll have to make changes.


        • “Unofficial” workarounds are fine for the “advanced” user, but I think most “everyday” people would prefer an “official” solution to a pretty obvious problem.

          I’m not adverse to creating a disk from a DMG, and I am fortunate in that I have a MacBook Pro and a place with WiFi just a short drive from me. However, that doesn’t mean this distribution model isn’t still flawed; consider those in even more rural areas and/or those with desktop machines.

          I certainly hope that Apple offers some sort of non-download option for those without broadband as well as an option to create a bootable installer DVD from the downloaded version. That way, everybody is happy: those with a fast connection and those without.
          It’s about making the Mac experience better for everybody, not just those fortunate enough to have a fast connection.

  • I cannot see Apple making Lion download only *without* having an option for disk access. That’s just ridiculous. I expect them to have burning to disk as part of the installation.

    • I would certainly hope so. However, I haven’t seen any indication anywhere on Apple’s site to indicate this, and that’s what concerns me. Well… that and the fact I’d have to download a 4GB disk image in the first place.

      • I guess we’re part of the lucky ones… We live in a rural town outside of Portland, Oregon, and enjoy two FiOS lines; one 35Mbit/35Mbit for work (the garage “datacenter”) and a 25Mbit/10Mbit for home. Installing on my new laptop this past weekend meant downloading 1Gb in updates for 10.6, and that took 4 minutes. ::happy sigh::

  • 1. OS X 10.7 has not been made available yet. Although “download only” is the way that it was presented, there are too many real world questions for which the answers are unavailable that will most likely cause Apple (Steve) to change their (his) mind and provide 10.7 on DVDs or flash drives.

    Let’s wait until the release next month before getting concerned.

    2. What’s wrong with taking a 27″ iMac into Starbucks?

    • 1.) I would love for Apple to change its mind and offer a bootable, physical media option. Heck, I’d be happy with one of those nifty USB keys like they use for the new Airs

      However, making noise now can’t hurt the process for getting them to change.

      2.) Ugh… thankfully that’s just a prank. If they were serious real-world users, I’d be mighty PO’d at them.

    • ” OS X 10.7 has not been made available yet. Although “download only” is the way that it was presented”

      Note that the WWDC keynote specifically pointed out that Lion will NOT be made available on DVD.

      Maybe what they were not saying is that it will be made available on a USB stick. :-)

      • A USB stick would be great — plus it would have the added benefit of being upgradable. That is, if they put out 10.7, and they prep a million of them, and then after shipping half a million they realize they need to use 10.7.1 instead, it’s a matter of just re-loading the thumb drives rather than trashing and burning new opticals.

        For that matter, I’d deal with a short delay between ordering and receiving if I knew the installer was being prepped “fresh” as it was ordered rather than a big backlog being held in place.

        I dunno. Still too many variables.

  • All you’ll need to do is copy the download to an external drive. Or, if you really want an ‘install drive’, you could restore the disk image it downloads to an external drive or flash drive. You’re really freaking out over nothing. You still get an install disk, it just happens to be a disk image instead of a physical copy.

    • A bootable disk image would be great. However, as presented in the Keynote, Lion’s installer is downloaded and starts installing in place. No rebooting.

      That would lead me to believe that whatever is downloaded likely won’t have a bootable OS in it.

      Plus, we’re still dealing with the fact we still have to download it in the first place… while minimized in the article, that’s still a major sticking point – not everybody has (or has easy access to) broadband and 4GB is pretty darn steep.