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OS X - Operating System General OS operation information and support

Mac "virgin" techie quesions


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hotlips69

 
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I'm an experienced Windows I.T. technician, but have never, ever used a Mac of any variety until today!

I've been given a used Macbook Pro A1278 (unibody) with Intel Core2Duo 2.4GHz. 4GB RAM. 250GB Hard Drive etc...

My machine currently has 10.6.7 which is the latest public release, but I'm thinking that the quickest way to master the O/S is to do a clean install and make it a dual-boot with Windows 7 and work my way through any obsticles during the installation!

1) Is it advisable to install Mac O/S or Windows 7 first and what is the easiest way to make it dual-boot at startup?

2) I don't have any disks with the Mac O/S at present...how upgradeable are each version of OS X, i.e. can you purchase 10.4 and upgrade for free to 10.6.7 or only to 10.4.11 ?

3) Are all versions of OS X exactly the same, i.e. will all genuine copies run on all mac hardware and do they have to be activated within so many days after install?
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Dysfunction

 
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1. You need OS X installed to run bootcamp, which will allow your dual boot.
2. You will need to either get restore disks from Apple, or get a full retail install of an OS. Don't waste your time with 10.4. The second digit range is a major release. So 10.3 is an upgrade from 10.2 etc. These are paid upgrades (last couple have been about $30).
3. There is no activation and no 85 digit serial number. As long as it's either the correct gray disk (restore) for your machine, or a black (full retail version) it'll work.

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Lifeisabeach

 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hotlips69 View Post
I'm an experienced Windows I.T. technician, but have never, ever used a Mac of any variety until today!

I've been given a used Macbook Pro A1278 (unibody) with Intel Core2Duo 2.4GHz. 4GB RAM. 250GB Hard Drive etc...

My machine currently has 10.6.7 which is the latest public release, but I'm thinking that the quickest way to master the O/S is to do a clean install and make it a dual-boot with Windows 7 and work my way through any obsticles during the installation!
When taking on a used Mac, or any PC really, it's always best to wipe the drive and reinstall the OS from scratch. You just never know what the other guy may have left on there.

Quote:
1) Is it advisable to install Mac O/S or Windows 7 first and what is the easiest way to make it dual-boot at startup?
Install OS X first, then use the Boot Camp Assistant to prep a partition for Windows. The supported method to pick which OS to boot from is to hold down the OPTION key on powerup/reboot, and then you get a list of bootable volumes. Another way is to install rEFIt. You'll get a boot menu on startup and you pick what you want to boot into.

Quote:
2) I don't have any disks with the Mac O/S at present...how upgradeable are each version of OS X, i.e. can you purchase 10.4 and upgrade for free to 10.6.7 or only to 10.4.11 ?
You can't upgrade for free from 10.4 to 10.5 or 10.6. You'll need to buy the retail disk. If you get off eBay, do NOT get the gray OEM version. The gray OEM ones are machine-specific and only work with the exact model they shipped with.

Quote:
3) Are all versions of OS X exactly the same, i.e. will all genuine copies run on all mac hardware and do they have to be activated within so many days after install?
Well there is only one version of each release. There is no "Home Edition", "Ultimate Edition", "Really Really Everything In This Edition Fer Real". The "10" in "10.6" means this is OS X (10), or the current generation of the Mac OS. It is a whole different beast from OS 9 and earlier, being built on a Unix variant.

The ".6" in "10.6" is the current release of the OS. The ".7" in 10.6.7 is the current update. And there is no activation. Apple operates on the honor system.


Please verify and include the exact model/year of your Mac and OS X version number (available from "About This Mac", then "More Info" on the Apple menu).
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hotlips69

 
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So you can easily update for free within the same "release version" i.e. you buy 10.6 and you can update to 10.6.7 or you buy 10.4 and you can update for free to 10.4.11 etc... ?

Where is the "OPTION" key???

During a clean install of OS X, are there any really awkward "Mac-esque" questions that I'll be hit with that I should research first?
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MightyGem

 
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Quote:
So you can easily update for free within the same "release version" i.e. you buy 10.6 and you can update to 10.6.7 or you buy 10.4 and you can update for free to 10.4.11 etc... ?
Yes. Click on the Apple logo in the top left hand corner of the screen and click on Software Update. That will tell you when updates are available.

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Where is the "OPTION" key???
Also known as the Alt key. Known as the Option key as it gives you "options" when starting up or opening some applications with it pressed.

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During a clean install of OS X, are there any really awkward "Mac-esque" questions that I'll be hit with that I should research first?
Just which Language to use and which drive to install on.
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chas_m

 
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Please see the essay linked in my signature.
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hotlips69

 
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I've just read the "essay" and it was interesting...

But...a couple more questions:

1) Does OS X have a good database of drivers which should automatically recognise everything on official Mac hardware or will I need to go hunting after the clean install?

2) Is OS X 32/64-bit?

3) How do I access the BIOS on my Macbook Pro? (do they have BIOS?)

4) Will Windows 7 recognise all/most of the Macbook drivers, and if not, can I get them from the Apple website?
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MightyGem

 
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1. Yes, for most things, although they may not be the lastest depending how long you've had OSX installed and how new your device is. Snow Leopard will show the latest printer drivers for any printers that you have connected, in Software Update.

2. Snow Leopard is 64 bit, but some Applications are still 32 bit.

3. Macs have EFI, not BIOS:
Unified Extensible Firmware Interface - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

4. If you install Windows, then it should have it's own drivers. Your devices should use the Windows drivers if you are in Windows, and the Apple drivers if you are in OSX(I think, )
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chas_m

 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hotlips69 View Post
I've just read the "essay" and it was interesting...
Thanks!

To expand on MightyGem's answers a bit:

Quote:
1) Does OS X have a good database of drivers which should automatically recognise everything on official Mac hardware or will I need to go hunting after the clean install?
No hunting required, even for most name-brand third-party peripherals. It Just Works.

Quote:
2) Is OS X 32/64-bit?
It's 64-bit, but can run in 32-bit mode for machines that require it (such as the 2006/2007 Mac minis). Apps can run in either 32 or 64 bit mode without restriction or conflict.

Lion (the upcoming OS X 10.7 upgrade coming next month) will be the first version of OS X that cannot run in 32-bit mode.

Quote:
3) How do I access the BIOS on my Macbook Pro? (do they have BIOS?)
As MG said, no BIOS. And no real need to ever access EFI, either. Like some other aspects of OS X, it's there for the very few that might have a real need, but 99% of us will never have cause.

Quote:
4) Will Windows 7 recognise all/most of the Macbook drivers, and if not, can I get them from the Apple website?
When you set up Boot Camp, the software will install the needed drivers to the Windows install to get to use things like the video card and the firewire port correctly. No worries.

In short, as I said in my essay -- Apple has thought about this, so you don't have to so much. Enjoy.
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hotlips69

 
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Impressive answers from everyone, particularly chas m.
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hotlips69

 
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I've decided for security purposes to securely wipe (at least 3 writes) the hard drive before attempting my clean install.

Can you recommend any free software that would let me do this? (I've tried booting from a good Windows one, but it doesn't seem to like the Mac!)

Am I correct in thinking that if I hold either the "c" or "alt" down when I power up the mac, it will let me autoboot whatever DVD is in the drive regardless, and if not, how can I make any DVD autoboot if I want it to?
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chas_m

 
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Disk Utility, already included on both your boot drive and the OS install disk, can do the wipe for you. To invoke Disk Utility from the DVD, just startup from the DVD as though you were going to install from it, but AFTER the first question about what language you're using, ignore the next screen and look in the menubar, there will be a command for Disk Utility. Open it, pick the drive, choose erase then choose advanced.

As for your second question, holding down "c" at boot will force the Mac to TRY and boot from the DVD drive first. Option (what you call "alt") on the other hand will simply show you a list of all bootable devices part of or attached to your computer, and you can choose which one you'd like to boot from (for that boot only).
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hotlips69

 
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I've been playing around with downloading & installing programs and generally tinkering around to try & improve my knowledge, but I've a query I can't seem to figure out despite doing numerous google searches:

I've got a single .dmg file, which I believe is an Apple image file of some sort (similar to an .iso presumably) that I need to get onto a DVD so that it will autoboot.

I've currently got this on a memory stick, but have tried burning to a DVD (on my PC) as a file, but it's not autobooting on my Mac as it should.

I've downloaded ISO Buster which supports .dmg files, but have no idea what to do with it to get it onto a DVD in a bootable format.
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Lifeisabeach

 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hotlips69 View Post
I've been playing around with downloading & installing programs and generally tinkering around to try & improve my knowledge, but I've a query I can't seem to figure out despite doing numerous google searches:

I've got a single .dmg file, which I believe is an Apple image file of some sort (similar to an .iso presumably) that I need to get onto a DVD so that it will autoboot.

I've currently got this on a memory stick, but have tried burning to a DVD (on my PC) as a file, but it's not autobooting on my Mac as it should.

I've downloaded ISO Buster which supports .dmg files, but have no idea what to do with it to get it onto a DVD in a bootable format.
Assuming it is supposed to be a bootable disk image, you'd need to burn it with Mac software. There are a number of freebies… SimplyBurns is one of the better ones.
Download SimplyBurns for Mac - Burn CD/DVD media. MacUpdate.com

I'm not familiar with this one, but it comes highly recommended.
Download Burn for Mac - Easily burn data, audio, video disks and more. MacUpdate.com

Or since you have a memory stick (USB flash drive, I assume?), just try this trick:
Search for Simplicity: Make a Bootable USB from a DMG


Please verify and include the exact model/year of your Mac and OS X version number (available from "About This Mac", then "More Info" on the Apple menu).
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HelpdeskRules

 
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I'm also an experienced IT Technician and only became a MacBook owner around a year or so ago.

The first thing I did after purchasing my brand new MB was to upgrade the RAM and HDD - one to make it faster and 2 to experience upgrading the hardware on a Mac.

I then setup Boot Camp to see what that was all about and after a week or so (just for the experience) I wiped the hard drive and re-installed Leopard. A few weeks later Snow Leopard came out so I upgraded to that - all went without a hitch.

I now use VMWare Fusion rather than Boot Camp as it means I can continue to use the programs on my Mac whilst in another window access the things I need to use in Windows for work purposes.

OSX Lion is about to be released in the next few weeks so the best thing to do with regards to upgrading is to wait for that to come out and start afresh with that OS.

My Personal WebSite: www.helpdeskrules.co.uk - Follow me on Twitter: @helpdeskrules
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