Just as the Mac world is getting excited about Mountain Lion, I am undertaking a rolling program of updating our lab computers to Lion. This is much more complicated than it used to be with a disk in hand. Although I do like the lack of useless boxes in my cupboards. Lion renders quite a lot of useful software unusable. Hence my reticence. But seeing that Mountain Lion is probably worse and largely untested, and that some machines can’t update, I decided to go for it. Lion also breaks the driver for our electrophysiology software Axograph. A manual solution, following update to version 1.4, involving removing and reinstalling the drivers, solved that little puzzler.
The difficulties arise mainly because the App store is a pain for enterprise users. To get Lion on a machine I need to buy a voucher code from Apple via the Institute and our Apple vendor. After getting a serious looking encrypted pdf (and a key in a separate mail to the same account – somebody explain to me how this provides security?) one enters the code and then make the download. The problem is that I do this all via a single app store account. App store accounts are associated with machines, and the App Store gets confused if you have used another account on a given machine already. Also, I bought 5 vouchers, but can apparently install Lion anywhere from the same account. More confusion.
A second problem comes from the need of Lion to install a recovery partition. As I found out, after 4 smooth updates, some partition tables (including, and I think this is amazing, a Boot Camp partition of Windows) prevent the install from creating the new partition, and it fails. I suppose I should be grateful that the reversion to Snow Leopard is transparent and allowed someone to work with the recalcitrant iMac straight away.
I followed Apple’s advice and installed a bootable version of Lion onto an external drive (lucky I had one ready to format lying around!). There are some reports that this failed, so I kept searching. I found a bunch of complaints and some flaky solutions – including manually making a small partition for the recovery drive. Although it’s easy to do this in the Disk Utility (I made a 10Gb partition, about 13 times too big but what the heck), this process corrupted the Spotlight index and gave me this error in the App Store:
“You have updates available for other accounts”
The explanation is here.
As I write, the iMac with the naughty partition table has just ‘chimed’, and another Lion cub is born. So the manual partition trick is the way to go.
A note of interest is that the more recent Macs will not accept Windows XP . I think that’s fair. They supported it for much longer than their own contemporary, OS 9!