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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  • ebolamonkey3 - Thursday, July 21, 2011 - link

    Not seeing them :( Reply
  • LeTiger - Thursday, July 21, 2011 - link

    Ever fix the 17in Sata 3 bugs????

    Such a shame to belligerently cripple their flagship laptop...
    Reply
  • Conficio - Thursday, July 21, 2011 - link

    "There is one huge limitation though: running apps in full screen in multi-monitor setup is unusable."

    As full screen apps are essentially spaces, there is a huge need (and there was for a long time) to be able to manage spaces per screen. All that would be solved if I coul switch between the spaces in a single screen only or move around entire spaces from one screen to another. That would solve this issue and allow a more task oriented kind of work, where you open a space for every task (or project in a multi tasking sense) you are working on and you can open the various apps you need to work on that project. But then that is the opposite of opening all past docs in an app (?)
    Reply
  • Conficio - Thursday, July 21, 2011 - link

    "If you were able to include the location in the Quick Add, Quick Add would actually provide a great overall solution for adding new events, but now you need to add the location separately, which kind of defeats the purpose."

    This concept is as ripe as a green banana. I want to be able to mark the text in an e-mail in order to create an event (with link back to the original e-mail). That way I can work with the lazy people that send invitations in any other format than calendar.

    Byt the way go even one more step Appple, and scan all e-mail for addresses, contact info and events and highlight those and with a single click allow me to add the info to my address book or calendar (and with an option send to others in a iCal or vCard format). That would be real progress!
    Reply
  • teryan2006 - Saturday, July 23, 2011 - link

    umm… I've been doing what you describe, highlighting text in Mail in order to create an event since 10.5. (screenshot: http://cl.ly/25402N2W2E0n281W0r09 )

    Same thing with the email address and contact info. They've been in Mail ever since they added data detectors. http://cl.ly/3V2q0D1z1x1M1X2q0v1v

    If you hover near an email address, time, date, street address, there's a dropdown button that shows up. New in 10.7 is QuickLook style preview for URL in a message

    Did you disabled data detectors? Maybe that's why you're not seeing these things?
    Reply
  • name99 - Thursday, July 21, 2011 - link

    "I don’t find any use for Launchpad. It's one of the less successful iOS imports - it doesn’t fit in, nor does it bring anything truly new,"

    I think this was a foolish comment. The first sentence is fine, the second is not.
    Not every feature in an OS upgrade is targeted at the same collection of users --- I, for example, couldn't care less about full disk encryption.

    I know for a fact that naive users (precisely the people who don't understand the file system, a class you seem to accept does exist) are completely unfamiliar with the Applications folder. For THIS sort of user, Launchpad is exactly what they need --- an easily understood way to run programs they don't frequently run.

    As for you and I, we can just ignore it --- just I like ignore Japanese input methods, or LDAP support, or a hundred other aspects of my mac that aren't relevant to my particular situation.
    Reply
  • name99 - Thursday, July 21, 2011 - link

    To follow up on what I said, comparing Launchpad with a Stacks view of the Application folder kinda misses the point. The sort of naive user we're discussing doesn't understand that he may have apps sitting on the desktop, or in the Downloads folder, or in the Utilities folder of /Applications.

    The Stacks view you describe is limited precisely because it is based on PLACE, not on on TYPE, whereas what users almost always want is based on TYPE.

    The fact that it does not honor your pre-existing folder structure is, I would say, in Apple's eyes a temporary issue. Consider iTunes. iTunes doesn't create playlists based on how you grouped songs in the file system --- it assumes that your songs are stored in some bag in the file system somewhere that you will never look at, and imposes its own structure on that content. Launchpad is a vastly simplified version of that same idea, and part of the constant theme throughout Apple's past five+ years of UI work --- arrange content using appropriate metaphors in a high level app, NOT using a limited set of constructs at the file system level.
    Reply
  • hanssonrickard - Thursday, July 21, 2011 - link

    For example, then macbook pro 15" 2.4 Ghz Core2Duo from early 2008 does NOT support AirDrop.

    Here is compatiblitly list for it and maybe the article shouldbe updated with some kind of note that not all macs will support airdrop.

    Info from "http://support.apple.com/kb/HT4783"

    ----
    Macs that support AirDrop in OS X Lion

    The following list shows the earliest of each Mac model type that is supported. If your Mac is the same, or newer than the model listed, then it supports AirDrop.

    MacBookPro (Late 2008 or newer)
    MacBook Air (Late 2010 or newer)
    MacBook (Late 2008 or newer)
    iMac (Early 2009 or newer)
    Mac Mini (Mid 2010 or newer)
    Mac Pro (Early 2009 with AirPort Extreme card, or Mid 2010)
    ------
    Reply
  • makruger - Thursday, July 21, 2011 - link

    Too bad it won't run on normal PC hardware without becoming an iHack Reply
  • Sapan - Thursday, July 21, 2011 - link

    Does anyone know for sure if OSX Lion enables TRIM Support for 3rd Party SSDs?
    I know 10.6.8 enabled TRIM for Apple SSDs.
    Could you provide some background/link to how you got that info please?
    Reply

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