Nov 4 2007

Mac Ingenuity

Posted in Technical, Mac § 0 Comments

This may sound like a plug for the Apple "Switch" campaign. If so, I make no apologies.

So, I'm just a bit tardy on the Leopard upgrade, but do have the excuse of a huge push at work during the past week to deliver our first product alpha. Finally, this weekend, I got a chance on Saturday to diligently backup my PPC G5 in preparation for the Leopard upgrade.

I started off Sunday morning ready and eager to install and explore Leopard. After grabbing a cup of joe, I inserted the Leopard install DVD... and nothing. The drive mulled things over for 45-60 seconds then spit out the disk in disgust.


Ok, Let's try another DVD to make sure I don't have a bad disc... crap, same thing. Just for kicks I try a CD? That one works just fine, thank you very much.

WTF? I retry all said media in my newer MacBook Pro machine and an older G4 PowerBook. All media works just honkey dory.

So now what? I really want to get Leopard installed today and am not looking to be deterred. I consider driving to our storage facility to ferret out an old external DVD drive which I haven't needed in a couple years. But then I think, "Come on, we're dealing with Macs here, not PC's running Windows". There must be something a bit more creative that can be done, and besides, I'm feeling just too lazy to drive.

The thought of purloining a DVD-ROM drive from another machine briefly crosses my mind at this point, but that solution is as undesirable as rummaging around in the storage unit, and just plain feels so 10-years-ago.

Well, let's see here. I recall being able to hook two Macs together via Firewire to transfer data when upgrading hardware. I have an old G4 Mac mini that's been getting a free ride as of late and it has a DVD drive in it. Perhaps I can get some worthwhile use out of it.

I hook up the Mini's power, a keyboard, and a Firewire connection to the G5 and boot the Mini holding the T on the keyboard attached to it.

Shortly, the firewire external drive icon appears on the G5 desktop. So far, so good - I'm feeling like this might have a chance.

I feed the Mini the Leopard install DVD and... welcome to the installer. The DVD is mounted and the initial installer screen is inviting me to install by clicking the Reboot button. Yes, please, time to see if we can actually boot from the media in the Mini's drive connected via Firewire.

But you know what to expect next, right? Your first clue is, as mentioned already, that we're dealing with Macs here.

VoilĂ , the Leopard installer has booted and is asking me for my language preference.

A load of laundry later and installation is complete. So while I'm a bit miffed that the DVD component of the G5's SuperDrive is sucking wind, I'm quite pleased by how elegantly the Mac has allowed me to improvise.

Try that on a PC installing Vista. Or rather, don't. Get yourself a real system instead.