Lion is, as has been well-publicized, not being offered in stores on any install media – to emphasize all of the shiny new imported-from-iOS features, users have to download and install it from the Mac App Store. That said, Lion will be eventually also be available on a USB drive for $69 if you still want a physical copy or don't want to back the installer image up to one yourself.

We’ll talk about the installer itself more below, but the main wildcard in the Lion install process is the roughly 4 GB download from Apple, which takes quite a bit of time over a fast connection (and will take the better part of a day on a slower DSL connection). I’m writing this before the fact, but I’m willing to bet that the load on Apple’s servers is making the wait even more irksome for Apple’s early adopters.

A 3.49 GB download is a big one, but it’s slimmed down significantly from the Snow Leopard installer (my standard 10.6.3 Snow Leopard DVD is about 7.3 GB in size). This isn’t the product of optimization on Apple’s part, but rather the effect that the download-only decision has had on the rest of the OS: many components that were previously bundled (whether by default or optionally), including print drivers and the Java runtime environment, are now downloaded on-demand. Whenever you install a program or device that needs to make use of one of these elements, Software Update pops up and prompts you to download and install it. This can be annoying (what do you mean I need to wait for a separate download before I can play Minecraft?!), but it seems reliable enough, and it does ensure that you’re using the most recent version of whatever component it is that you’re downloading. Other disk space savers include the removal of many older OS X wallpapers (some of which have been with the OS since its inception) and the decision to make the Windows support files for Bootcamp a separate download (as they already are for Macs without optical drives).
 



Annoyances aside, I do think the move away from physical media is the right one for Apple to make – it reduces cost, it enables them to drop optical disk drives from more of their computers going forward, and it brings greater parity to the OS X and iOS install processes, one of many steps that Lion takes toward the potential merging of the two operating systems.

For those of you who are attached to an install disk for one reason or another, accessing the .DMG file within the Lion installer and burning your own DVD is fairly trivial for even a moderately technical user. The installer, like other App Store downloads, is dropped in your Applications folder. Right-click (or CTRL-clicking, depending on your setup) the installer, click Show Package Contents, go into the Contents folder, then the SharedSupport folder, and burn the .dmg file you find here to a DVD (or copy it to a USB stick) with Disk Utility.
 
It’s not something every user will want to do, but advanced users or people who reinstall their OS often may want to take advantage of it (especially since Apple's official line, in the event that you need to reinstall OS X to a brand-new hard drive, is to first install Snow Leopard, and then install Lion). It should be noted that this is also the easiest, most convenient way to do a clean install of Lion, which is not offered as an option in the standard installer.
 



Once launched, the Lion installer will ask you some questions about setup, spend some time unpacking files to your hard drive, restart your computer, and then do the rest on its own - OS X’s in-place OS upgrades are usually a bit smoother and a bit easier to recommend than Windows’, though that can vary based on the amount and type of files on your hard disk and your specific configuration. I never ran into issues throughout my testing, but your mileage may vary.
Introduction Recovery partition
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  • VMFnet - Friday, July 22, 2011 - link

    I just installed Lion on a OCZ Vertex2 SSD and it still doesn't support TRIM. I guess support for this feature is limited to stock Apple SSDs only. Reply
  • Sapan - Friday, July 22, 2011 - link

    Thanks for the reply. It is a shame that there still is no TRIM support.

    In the mean time I would recommend checking out a 3rd party program called TRIM Enabler:
    http://www.groths.org/?page_id=322

    Though the program is designed for Snow Leopard it works for Lion, but they are making a new version for Lion.
    Reply
  • mdlam - Friday, July 22, 2011 - link

    I love how these diehard Apple fans are trying to resolve their discomforting feelings of exorbitant expenditure to Apple by

    A: Unreasonably denigrating other competitive alternatives.
    B: Exaggerating the usefulness of certain proprietary tools.
    C: Empathizing with the company's goals/missions/values

    All to resolve the realization that they are paying more money than what they are getting, which is...

    A totally outdated OS made to look streamline
    A pretty cool looking computer that uses tunnel fans (which are extremely loud) and likes to overheat.
    I used Snow Leopard on my Mac Mini for about 2 months and hated it. I think people force themselves to like OSX just because their laptop looks cool.
    Horrible graphics speeds. Their BEST video card that you can fit into a their $4500 Mac Pro, is a ATI 6500 series, which is like a 100 dollar card, and offers pathetic performance for gaming--I had a 6950 2gb and that was barely enough. You can argue that Mac pro's should be used for graphics design and other things and not gaming. If that's the case I don't see why they don't put a FireGL or other designer cards in. In any case, who buys a $4500 computer that comes with a bullcrap video card? Some people are IDIOTS.
    Reply
  • mdlam - Friday, July 22, 2011 - link

    Edit: A $170 dollar video card, 6870 1gb...Which is a complete piece of garbage card that is 30% slower than the 5970 1gb. Guess how much the upgrade is? $200.

    Post is based off of cognitive dissonance theory
    Reply
  • parlour - Monday, July 25, 2011 - link

    Macs don’t seem to be the right choice for you. That’s alright. Just don’t claim that everyone else has the same needs as you. Reply
  • sjinsjca - Saturday, July 23, 2011 - link

    The test with the SSD is intriguing but there's a possibility that the FileVault performance hit might be less in the case of a conventional hard disk.

    Reason: hard disks are slower than SSDs, so there would be more idle states in which the OS could be performing encryption/decryption tasks.

    Worth a spot-check.
    Reply
  • EnerJi - Sunday, July 24, 2011 - link

    That's a great point. I'd also love to know if the performance impact decreases with an HDD. Reply
  • johnmacward - Tuesday, July 26, 2011 - link

    What annoys me is the fact that the recovery partition doesn't keep a copy of the Lion installer for instant re-installation - and with a bit of Apple magic even a copy that updates as the OS updates.

    A download each time is a possibly expensive prospect considering we all have data caps of some kind.

    It also turns a reinstall into a shockingly long 4 hour job which is a major pain.
    Reply
  • luca108 - Tuesday, July 26, 2011 - link

    Small detail, but in the review you said you could only launch Launchpad by clicking the dock icon or using spotlight, but you can also set it as a hot corner. This is what I personally do... top left corner set for Launchpad and I can quickly get in and out of it to find my apps and utilities.

    I'm not suggesting it's quicker than using an apps stack on the dock... actually, its the exact same. But it definitely is faster than clicking the Launchpad dock icon or using spotlight to launch it.
    Reply
  • Thrakazog - Tuesday, July 26, 2011 - link

    Does anyone know if Lion extended trim support to 3rd party SSD's, instead of only the ones apple provides ? Reply

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