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Everything You Need to Know to Install Tiger
Pages: 1, 2, 3

Get Rid of the Trouble Makers

Now that everything is backed up and all of the software is taken care of, you'll want to disable or remove any potential components that could interfere with your brand-new operating system. What are they? Well, it's difficult to precisely put a finger on them, but hacked video cards are the first to come to mind. Should you have installed additional, non-Apple memory as well, be ready to take it out later on should you notice any issues with your Tiger installation, as Mac OS X is sometimes picky about the specifications of the modules it relies upon--don't do it right now, though, as it might well not be needed.

Now would also be the time to disconnect any peripherals from your computer, with the exception of your Apple keyboard and mouse. This includes disconnecting any hubs, iPods, external drives, and so on, even if they have theoretically been approved to stay connected to your machine through restarts. This will avoid confusing the installer, will probably make your installation faster (fewer volumes to scan and chose from) and will, generally speaking, avoid any corruption issues. Should you encounter an issue with the installation, not having any connected peripherals will also help you narrow the problem down. For example, you'll be sure that a kernel panic isn't caused by a faulty hub, as these are likely candidates.

Starting the Installation Itself

Now that we have discussed for hours how you should prepare yourself to install Tiger, you might want to start the actual process. Just make sure that you have all the discs you need and that these are clean, free of scratches, dust, and fingerprints; and then insert your installation disc into your optical drive.

From here, you can proceed in two ways. The first one, favored by long-time Mac users, is to restart their computer while holding down the C key, which will force the computer to boot from the disc. The second one, favored by AppleCare agents, is to double-click on the Installer icon, prominently featured in the install disc window, to authenticate and to restart your Mac. The goal of this little application is, among others, to restart your Mac properly, pointing it directly at the installation disc so that you can avoid finger cramps. It is also the first occasion for our dear design teams to showcase the new cool Tiger graphics they came up with. So it's worth opening!

I would also advise you to have a look at the "Read Before You Install" file but ...

The First Stages of the Installation Process

Whenever you boot your Mac from the installation disc, you might notice that your computer takes a longer time to start up. This is normal, as it needs to load the necessary components from a much slower drive than if it were booting from a hard drive.

Should you see a prohibitory sign at this point, or should your computer keep booting from the hard drive despite your attempts at using the disc, you might want to check that your firmware is up to date, that all your peripherals are disconnected, and that the disc is squeaky clean. You can wash it with warm water and mild soap in extreme cases, but make sure you don't damage it and dry it thoroughly before even thinking of putting it back into your computer. Bad installation discs are very uncommon but do exist. Before asking for a replacement and crying over a lost day, you might want to try booting up another Mac from them and see whether it all goes well.

Should you try to use the Mac OS X Installation disc that came with another, recent Mac, that someone around you purchased, do yourself a favor and get yourself a real Tiger installation set. Indeed, these discs can contain some device-specific files (it's not always the case, but it can be) that can lead to glitches with your installation.

The First Boot into Tiger

Your computer should now be booting into Tiger for the first time. You should see a rather mundane progress bar for a little while, followed by a new, spiffier language selection screen. In the rest of the article, we are going to assume that you pick English, but this actually doesn't really matter. Simply select your language of choice and continue.

Note that the language you pick here will not affect your ability to use your Mac in another language later on. However, it will determine how the installation procedure and the first boot will happen, so it is a good idea to chose a language you are comfortable with.

Should you make a mistake and pick one you do not understand a word of (like, for me, Chinese), notice that the fist "back" button after this window is actually a little backwards-facing arrow, allowing you to go back easily--a nice touch we can only thank the Mac OS X engineers for.

Once you are past this window, you will be thrown into a very familiar Installer setup. Like any good tour guide, let me point out three things to you: the first is the cool, glossy menu bar, entirely stripe-less; the second is the new Apple menu design that looks definitely more in line with the current Apple logos; and the third is the new energetic blue that highlights the menus--whether one likes it all or not is a matter of taste, but I must say that I welcome this change as it wakes up my computer screen a bit.

As always with the Mac OS X installer, menus are of little use--the whole Apple menu is grayed out, for example. However, you will notice that the new Utilities menu uses an icon-powered interface, probably in the interests of accessibility or language independence--which one, we will never know.

Note the very welcome adjunction of a Terminal that opens up a world of pre-installing possibilities for system administrators who might want to execute a script instead of taking care of partitioning, naming, and formatting by hand every time. It is also a good way for us, mere mortals, to remember which partition is the one we want to install Mac OS X on with a couple of cd and ls commands if we need to.

Also note that the set of commands available is limited, though so don't expect to be reading man pages and interacting with the GUI like you can do with the regular Terminal. We also now have a copy of System Profiler at hand that facilitates last-minute lookups and could actually turn out to be very useful if you are troubleshooting an issue with an AppleCare agent on the phone and need to answer one of these tricky questions they need to ask--quick, off the top of your head, how much VRAM is there in your Mac?

For now, select Disk Utility, as we will need it to initialize our drive and perform a clean install--sorry, Erase and Install. While the Mac OS X installer allows you to erase a drive on the fly while you make your way through the screens, I actually like to use Disk Utility instead, because it provides me with a better view of my drive structure and a couple of nice options like secure formatting and partitioning.

One thing to note is that the installer might not be able to know your keyboard's localization, especially if you pick another language--I, for example, use my Macs in English, even though I always order a French keyboard with them. This could prove tricky if you need to enter partition names or key combinations, as you might have to guess where a key would be on your keyboard if it were a U.S. one. Usually, not much typing is required at this stage, so this isn't too tricky--and the Tiger installer immediately recognized that I was using a French keyboard so you might not even run into the issue.

Initializing Your Drive

Users who are new to the Mac might be surprised by Disk Utility, so let me say quickly that, unlike most PC manufacturers that install Windows on a partition of the drive they "lock," Apple actually gives you full control over your hard drive and allows you to initialize it fully before applying a perfectly fresh copy of the operating system, directly from the CD.

Disk Utility lists all the available drives and volumes in a column, on the left-hand side of the window. The drives usually have cryptic names (like "ST380020A") while your volumes are indented and reflect the names you are familiar with and you see in the Finder's Computer window. Initializing a drive initializes all of the volumes it contains and resets the partition map to one single volume per drive. Alternatively, if you already rely on a partitioned setup, you can select a volume and initialize it without wiping the whole drive.

The settings in Disk Utility are relatively self-explanatory. The basic gesture would be to select your drive in the left hand side, switch to the Erase tab and to click on Erase to wipe all of your data on it and restore the drive to a factory default. There are, however, a few points you will want to keep in mind:

  1. Unless you have very good reasons not to do so, format the drive as "Mac OS Extended (Journaled)" and nothing else. If you are switching from a UNIX platform, do not worry, this will not (in the vast majority of cases, at least) impair your ability to use your favorite UNIX utilities and will allow your Mac OS X installation to work as expected. Formatting your drive as anything else could lead to issues--from unstable behavior to temporarily turning your computer into a posh paperweight.

  2. You need to decide now whether you want to install the Mac OS 9 drivers on this drive or not, as doing so requires you to initialize it. Not installing them will make the drive invisible to Mac OS 9, which, in a way, is a security bonus, should someone try to use Mac OS 9 to work around the Mac OS X security systems. The counterpart is that, should your computer be one of the few Mac-OS-9-bootable machines left, you lose this option, that can, in some rare occasions, be useful--for example, to upgrade the firmware of older peripherals and devices. As stated directly in the utility's window, this does not affect your ability to use Classic.

  3. The Security Options button allows you to select a hard drive "scrubbing" method that will make your previous data harder to retrieve from your disk. Should you be in the process of "sanitizing" your computer, for example, after having worked on some confidential documents, you might want to have a look into them. Otherwise, feel free to skip these as they will mostly make the initialization process a lot longer--and by longer, we mean up to dozens of hours, depending on the security level you pick and the size of your drive--without making your installation more stable. Some people are in favor of zeroing drives when they first initialize them out of the factory and have experienced good results with it. If you are so inclined, it cannot hurt to try, but be ready to wait for a bit--and keep in mind that this is a bit of a stress test for your drive, too.

  4. Selecting a volume instead of a drive will reveal a new button, Erase Free Space, that also provides security options. This is probably a welcome addition for security-conscious users, although is it not very useful for us right now.

Note that the Help buttons, although present, do not lead anywhere, as the "Help viewer" application is not part of the set of programs that is installed on the DVD.

Once you are ready to initialize the drive or the volume, click on Erase. The process is quick and shouldn't take more than a couple of seconds. Once this is done, you can quit Disk Utility, which will bring you back to the installer.

Important note: Users with upgrade-only discs should not erase their drives now, as the installer may check for a valid copy of Panther later on during the process! Instead, skip this step and continue. You will be given another chance to initialize your drive later on.

Using the Installer

The first couple of screens are the usual mundane "Read me" and "License agreement" ones, that I strongly recommend that you read--yes, they are utterly boring, but it is always a good thing to know what one is getting into before agreeing to it. Luckily, Apple, true to itself, hasn't put any licensing checks in the Installer and the Mac OS X installing experience remains what it is: pure joy.

Once you are past these screens, you'll be presented with a list of drives available on your system. Selecting the drive on which you wish to install Mac OS X (the one you just initialized) should be as easy as clicking it, which will circle it in gray and add a little arrow on top of it.

As simple as it may be, this step is sometimes the cause of major headaches, when hard drives are unselectable--the symptom of which is a scary red warning sign on the drive icon. Should you encounter such an issue, restart your Mac, make sure that your firmware is up to date, that enough space is available on the drive, that it is properly formatted and, most of all, that all your peripherals are disconnected. Yes, peripherals can actually interfere with the drive selection process, as silly as it might seem.

Once the drive is selected, an Options button becomes available at the bottom left of the window, allowing you to decide whether you wish to preserve the settings already on that drive or not and whether you want to initialize the drive first. Since we just did that, the preservation settings will be grayed out for you. Here you can select "Erase and Install" again and "Mac OS X Extended (Journaled)"--notice the narrower selection. Sure, this is redundant, but this is a little idiosyncrasy of mine.

Once you have dismissed the sheet, a last look at the Installer window will convince you that everything is in order--it will write out in plain English what you have set up so that you can make sure that it is right.

Package Selection

You have now reached the trickiest section of the installation process, the package selection. If you are new to Mac OS X or do not wish to perform some UNIX magic on your Mac, feel free to skip this section.

Otherwise, you might want to hand-pick which packages you wish to install on your Mac. This might take a few seconds, but can make for a lighter installation and will avoid having to reuse the installer later on, should you discover that you wish to use some advanced feature, the supporting files for which you forgot to install.

In order to access the package selection window, simply click on Customize. You will notice that the number of packages to be selected has greatly diminished, a move I can only applaud, as the new choices are a lot more logical and straightforward.

Describing every sub-package, one by one, here would be impossible, so pay close attention to the description pane (located in the lower half of the window) that will give you detailed information on what every specific set of files does.

As a general rule, you will not want to install fonts for languages you do not speak or translations for languages you know nothing of, so these selections are relatively easy to make.

Selecting printer drivers is another story, and requires some more careful planning. As a ground rule, I would recommend installing the GIMP package and your own printer's drivers no matter what, even if you do not plan on using this specific Mac for printing. This can come in handy in the future, and these GIMP drivers are simply too good to pass up. This being said, if you use an iBook or a PowerBook and plan on traveling, I would recommend that you install every printer driver: this will be useful if you travel to offices, hotels, or airports whose equipment you do not know and need to print documents out of the blue.

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