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ATPM 11.06
June 2005



How To



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How To

by Sylvester Roque,

How to Catch and Install a Tiger

You may or may not have noticed that I missed last month’s column. With my original project idea in shambles and the deadline fast approaching I was completely at a loss for ideas.

While cruising several Mac forums in search of inspiration, I noticed that there was a lot of excitement about the anticipated release of Mac OS X 10.4 (a.k.a “Tiger”). The excitement was almost palpable. Sometimes, it almost reminded me of proud parents anticipating the birth of their next child.

Here and there, scattered among all the excitement, were questions about upgrading to Tiger. Most of the questions seem to revolve around how to upgrade as painlessly as possible. For what it’s worth, here’s my take on some things to consider if you haven’t already upgraded.

Can I Unleash the Tiger?

By the time you read this Tiger will have been available for about a month. In fact, Apple has already released an update to Tiger. The release of the update doesn’t change the fundamental question, “Can I upgrade to Tiger?’.

Before you attempt to unleash the Tiger, make sure your current system meets the minimum hardware requirements. In fact, it’s probably a good idea to have a system with a little more power than the minimum requirements. There’s a difference between running an OS and running it well. My recently departed Blue and White G3. for example, ran Jaguar but there were times I wished it had run a little better.

Suppose your system doesn’t meet the minimum requirements. Is it worth making the necessary upgrades? Think about this carefully. Every hardware upgrade has a cost and a benefit. The cost is in time and money needed to locate, purchase, and install the necessary upgrades. The benefit is that the upgrade may not only allow you to run the new OS but also allow you to run programs that are incompatible with your current system configuration.

Should I Unleash the Tiger Now, or Later?

Now that you know whether you can upgrade to Tiger the question is whether to take the plunge now or later. Notice I didn’t say the question was whether you should upgrade. Eventually updates become a necessity. When was the last time you saw new software for System 7?

Those of you who are happy with your current OS may decide to take a wait-and-see attitude. Those of you who are not happy with your system may choose to upgrade. In the end, I decided to upgrade now. Here are some steps to follow for a relatively painless upgrade. These steps assume that you have at least the minimum hardware.

Phase One involves examining the software that you already own for potential problems. Even with software as solid as OS X, each upgrade brings the possibility of problems. This can be especially true for utility software.

In the process of examining your software you may find it helpful to decide what software is mission critical. This is software you must have working immediately to keep your life running smoothly. I’ll leave it to you to decide what software falls in that category

The second category is software that is not exactly mission critical but that is important to you. In other words, you can wait a few weeks or longer for updates to this software. You need to have Tiger compatibility, but it’s not a top priority.

In the last group of software I included things that I could do without. In other words, if this software were never made Tiger-compatible it wouldn’t bother you that much.

Gather the Necessary Information

Now that you have organized your software by degree of importance, where do you turn for compatibility information? How do you know whether your critical applications have been updated?

One of my favorite places to look is MacFixIt. Each time there has been a major update to OS X the fine folks at this site have kept a kind of running tab of any compatibility issues reported by fellow Mac users. In addition to the initial report explaining a problem, new information is posted as it becomes available. There is one caveat. For some of the more useful content you must be a subscriber.

If all you want to know is whether your favorite application has been upgraded, check out VersionTracker. A recent search for Tiger compatibility resulted in a list of more than 500 titles that had been updated. Another excellent list of updated software is at Macintouch.

The manufacturer’s Web site is a good place to start. In fact, if you want to know their future upgrade plans sometimes this is the best place to go. Don’t let the number of updates available give you the wrong impression about Tiger’s stability. While some updates were necessary to fix compatibility issues, many seem to have been done to take advantage of Tiger’s new features.

Phase Two involves taking the plunge. If you have gotten this far I hope you find the following hints helpful.

First of all, before you do anything else, back up your data. Most OS updates don’t eat your data, but I have encountered situations where my own mistakes caused a loss of data. If you lose data it’s not my fault.

If you have the extra drive space, consider creating a bootable copy of your existing OS on another drive or drive partition. This way you can keep the old OS around until you are certain everything is functioning well. Apple’s Disk Utility can be used for this purpose by using the Restore option.

When you boot from the Tiger installation DVD, run Disk Utility and verify the drive that you are going to install Tiger onto. Don’t go any further until you resolve any problems that are identified. If you are not going to erase the drive, be sure to verify permissions.

Before you run the installer, keep in mind that some users are finding that disconnecting any unnecessary devices is a good idea. This seems to be particularly true for external FireWire drives. This is not something new to Tiger. Other users have reported similar problems with previous updates.

This is also a good time to make sure that Apple programs such as Mail and iTunes are in their default locations. These programs often do not update properly if they have been moved.

I usually take the occasion of a major upgrade to do such things as completely erase the drive first or modify the partition scheme. This is usually not necessary, but it is a convenient time to perform such tasks. Before you do anything like that remember to back up your data.

The next step is to run the installer and decide the type of installation that you wish to perform. Depending upon the speed of your system, type of installation, and options you choose this may take some time, so be patient.

I had a backup of my Panther installation on another drive, so I chose to start from scratch and then migrate my home folder and applications using the Migration Assistant. The first time I ran the program, it hung. The second time everything went perfectly.

No matter which update type you choose, run Repair Permissions when you are finished. This seems to resolve a lot of issues and is not something that is new to Tiger.

Final Thought

Using the procedure that I have described, my upgrade to Tiger has been relatively painless. While I haven’t tested all of my software yet, most of it works fine using the Migration Assistant. I did have to remove some software that shipped with a USB drive enclosure because the extensions it installs cause Tiger to hang on shutdown. I haven’t even checked for an update because that software isn’t very important to me.

I’m also downloading an update for Microsoft Office X that I had never installed. Under Tiger, the keyboard stopped working in Word even though it works in other Office programs.I haven’t seen other reports of this exact problem so I think the update will fix it.

Until next time. The door to the lab is open. Enter if you must.

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Reader Comments (1)

Paul Pollock · June 1, 2005 - 19:42 EST #1
I did a complete backup to an external firewire HD. Then upgraded 10.3.9 to 10.4

No trouble at all. Things went smoothly, and most software worked. THe only programs I needed to upgrade was Solscape and TechTool 4 to TechTool 4.0.4 (Micromat is adamant about this, r4.0.3 will corrupt the file strcture of a 10.4 drive to create an eDrive.

Have fun !

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