How to install Snow Leopard on Tiger (when it won’t read the DVD)

This post is in three sections; a sorry story of my adventures in upgrading from OSX Tiger to Snow Leopard, my thoughts about the why it happened and probably the useful bit – how I solved the problem, I’ll do this section first. So if you don’t care about my thoughts on the matter then just read the how-to.

How to install Snow Leopard on Tiger when it refuses to read the install DVD

My old Macbook (white Intel) does not like the Snow Leopard DVD. It either spits it out or fails complaining about “bad download” or “file missing” or other read DSC02068failures that essentially mean you can’t use it. It also means you can’t create a bootable USB drive cause it won’t read the DVD to copy all the files off it. Don’t waste you time, face it if the DVD is in the slot loader drive it is not going to work. Don’t bother with CD/DVD sharing either, Tiger doesn’t play as client. Here is my solution, basically get an external DVD drive. In my case I raided my PC hardware tools and dug out my emergency hard disk reader kit. A little device that plugs onto a Hard Disk and turns it into a USB drive. I then took a DVD drive from my ageing Dell and connected it to my Mac via the USB converter. That was it, worked like a charm. I did use it to create a USB drive (via the Disk Utility/Mac journal format/Restore) to continue the install process as I thought it would be convenient to have OSX Install on flash rather than drag my repair kit out.

I’ve a included a picture of my hi-tech setup, hopefully you can see the SATA/IDE to USB converter (complete with power too), my glowing USB stick with OSX now on it and my poor old Macbook getting Slow Leonard put on it.




Upgrading Tiger – a story of frustration

Ok so I’m a developer with a keen interest in developing Mobile applications well more PDA than phone but still. I wanted to write for the iPhone/iTouch as so joined the Apple Developer group, downloaded iPhone SDK beta and started to wrestle with, IMO, the disgustingly ancient Objective C. Then Leopard and the iPhone SDK were released but strangely I could no longer install onto Tiger, no, no I had to buy Leopard – (Apple –1 point)  . Well stubbornly I refused given that I’d heard the rumours of our Snow friend. When Snow Leopard (SL) was released they wanted £130 to upgrade from Tiger – ha (Apple –2 points). Finally my days in the wilderness ended when I was made aware of Amazon selling the full Snow Leopard for £20. I carefully checked the title and text and no mention of upgrade – ok I’ll do it for £20. Only when the disc turned up and I double checked the machine requirements did it say it required Leopard to be installed – argh it’s an upgrade in disguise. Amazon gave me the money back but assured me the details were those written by Apple (Apple –3 points). Fortunately (debatable)  Amazon then started selling the full box set for £90, ok my appetite whet from so nearly having iPhone development I paid up.

It turned up, so I dutifully spent my Saturday morning backing anything I thought was 1/2 useful and put the fresh DVD into the Macbook slot loader. Brrz, brzzz [auto eject]. Hmm, didn’t sound good. Try again, more noises then nothing. No DVD drive showing. Manual eject and try again. 3rd time lucky the install dialog pops up. Ok restart…spinning wheel…spinning wheel…no sound…turn machine off. Went through the process again. Finally after restarting the ‘select language’ dialog pops up, off we go. Progress bar makes it about 1/5 of the way – error bad download. Successive attempts all fail at roughly the same place with various read errors. Brilliant. Apple Support is fully of stories about CD/DVD sharing to remote install on Macbook Air/Mini, but nothing about Tiger (Apple –4 points). After many attempts at sharing via Windows 7, XP, etc I finally realised that Tiger was not going to see these shared drives. A normal network share doesn’t work either cause there is a Windows partition on the DVD so Windows effectively hides the install files from the Mac. I tried to used a Mac file reader for the Windows, grabbed the files and created an iso image. No go, when trying to use the Disk Utility to ‘restore’ it kept saying I needed to authenticate – which it turns out actually means invalid/corrupted file image (Apple –5 points). Oh this is hopeless I’m going to need Firewire access to another mac. I know I’ll call support and get their advice, closed on Sundays (Apple –6 points). I phoned the Apple Retail store – put on endless hold (Apple –7 points). Discovered that other people had reported that the Macbook didn’t like SL install DVD. Ah ok, now how do I get my PC drives to server up this disk? Then I remembered my USB IDE converter, in theory that should work with IDE DVD drives too. So I took out the *working* DVD drive my 10 year old Dell (yes Apple, imagine using components that last more that 5 years), and that did the trick.

My thoughts on this

So Apple ended the weekend on at least –ve 7 points. Oh yes Mac Fans, Apple really have some way to go to be considered better than anyone else. Am I being harsh? Well ignoring all the previous problems with the Macbook (broken case, failing Bluetooth) could Apple have foreseen these problems? They don’t have *that* many lines of Intel machines that someone couldn’t have taken a few sample copies of SL and tried upgrading from Tiger. Ok maybe they did and it’s a funny set of batches. But it seems well documented, so shouldn’t there be at least a support note? Shouldn’t there be somewhere I can claim my special Old Macbook friendly install DVD? Shouldn’t there be an option to buy these on USB now, not everyone owns lots of kit, they buy an Air (well I have my ideas why) but they shouldn’t expect to need other machines? I know upgrading Windows is often a scary prospect, mainly because you’re never sure if you have the correct drivers. But Apple only have a finite set of internal hardware to worry about, so surely they can at least ensure that their machines can read their OS Installs? So, in the immortal words of Delia Smith, “lets-be-havin’-you” Apple will you do the right thing and sort some of this mess out or are people going to need blogs posts like this, that recommend having at least one Dell in the house? Plus Apple, if you can see your way to arranging that I get some flowers for my very patient girl who spent a chunk of valentines listening to both a disk and fella make complaining whining noises, then that would help too.

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