My Mountain Lion Install: a Travelogue

I installed Mountain Lion (ML) on my MacBook Air (MBA) as soon as the new OS was released. Here’s the procedure I used, with notes and observations. 


1. The first thing I did was to take a look at my /Applications folder, sorted by date, old to new. I was looking for any apps dated 2010 or older that looked like they needed to be either updated or cleaned out. Most of the apps I found simply needed updating, line Scrivener, Calibre and TextWrangler. When in doubt about Mountain Lion compatibility, I checked the RoaringApps website, which has neen updated for ML.

I knew ahead of time that if there were some apps that weren’t going to work in Mountain Lion, as with the previous Lion install, the OS would notify me. Still, a survey to size up the /Applications folder is always a good idea before an OS upgrade. Note: ML’s Gatekeeper grandfathers the apps in your /Application folder, but will ask if an app is okay to launch. From then on, Gatekeeper prefs apply to downloaded apps. (System Preferences -> Security & Privacy -> General)

ML App check

Previously installed apps simply get a quick alert on first time launch.

2. I don’t run Parallels Desktop on the MBA. If I had, and it were older than v7, I would have it updated it first, before upgrading to ML. That’s the advice from Parallels posted on July 25.

If you’re currently using Parallels Desktop 7 for Mac, be sure to check for updates to ensure you’re running the latest build and Mountain Lion ready. This is easy to do – simply go to the Parallels Desktop menu, select Check for Updates, and install the latest build. For those currently using an older version of Parallels Desktop for Mac, before you upgrade to Mountain Lion, be sure to upgrade to Parallels Desktop 7 for Mac.”

3. Once I had my MBA in what I thought was a good state, with all the recommended Lion updates, I did a Time Machine backup. That’s so that if something went wrong with the Mountain Lion update, I could do a “Restore from Time Machine” and be back where I was.

4. Next, I downloaded the official ML 10.8.0 file via the Mac App Store. It was 4.34 GB, and took about 30 minutes to download. I was pleasantly surprised that it was free. That’s because I had previously downloaded the GM via my OS X Developer account, and it was recognized. (My Developer ID and Apple ID are the same.) I could have used the GM, but occasionally, there are very minor differences between the GM and the release. (To the best of my knowledge, there aren’t any this time.)

Mt Liion & MBA

Mountain Lion on a MacBook Air & SSD is fabulous.

5. When I finished downloading, a file called “Install OS X Mountain” was dropped into /Applications and launched. The first thing I did was quit that app because it’ll be erased later, and there’s good reason to preserve it. I made a copy of that file on my external Time Machine drive, then disconnected it so that when Mountain Lion went looking around for any copies to delete, it wouldn’t find it.

6. Later, I will use the file “Install OS X Mountain” to extract the .dmg file I’ll need to make a bootable USB Flash drive. The file I need for that is inside, in the Package contents, in the folder: SharedSupport. It’s called InstallESD.dmg. (Here’s how to find it: Right click the installer app to “Show Package Contents,” then drill in to the Contents folder. (See below.)

Here are some excellent instructions, by Erica Sadun, for making a bootable Flash drive.

ML Package Contents

The installer’s Package contents

7. I relaunched the installer and walked through it. That was the easiest part. After about 20 minutes, the install was done, and when I came back from dinner, the MBA had rebooted.

The first thing I saw was a notice that my version of Little Snitch was incompatible, so I went ahead and upgraded to version 3 (Preview). Little Snitch is a kernel extension and user app combo that monitors outgoing connections. It’s for fairly advanced users, and it takes some getting used to. But I give it my highest recommendation because it provides huge insights into what’s going on with your browser.

8. Finally, I went to the Mac App Store and updated the 2011 MBA’s firmware to support PowerNap and also grabbed some updates to the voices I used to announce the time: Serena, Emily, Fiona. Karen. I love hearing a female voice with a British accent announce the time, and the refinements in Mountain Lion are noticeable.

AirPlay icon


AirPlay Icon

9. The first thing I checked out was AirPlay Mirroring to my Apple TV (2G) and Panasonic Plasma in the living room. After you install Mountain Lion, you’ll see a small icon in the Menu bar, familiar to any iPad user. After setting a password on the Apple TV system, I was able to easily connect and with the MBA and throw the image of its desktop over to the TV. It worked perfectly, and was simply beautiful. I think this is going to be the signature app of Mountain Lion.

AirPlsy vis ML

A glorious sight.  Imagine the possibilities.

iOS-ification Ain’t What it Used to be

My initial reaction to Mountain Lion is that it’s a tight, clean, and very friendly update. I am very pleased with the iCloud integration of Reminders across the MBA and iPad, and a coherence of look and feel there is rather more marked by utility and friendliness than some awkward concession to merging the two OSes. How about that?

Mountain Lion reminds us that all the UNIX-y goodness of OS X is still there, but better visual harmony between iOS and OS X is a good thing. I’m sure I’ll be exploring that theme in the future. For now, Mountain Lion was a painless, well conceived install. Of course, there will be issues down the road. For example, I’m not fond of Safari, and I’m even less fond of merging the address bar and the search bar in Safari 6, but I digress.

The journey continues.