Q&A: MacFixIt Answers, Lion edition

MacFixIt Answers is a weekly feature in which we answer questions e-mailed in by our readers. We welcome alternative approaches and views from readers and encourage you to post your own suggestions in the comments.

MacFixIt Answers is a feature in which we answer questions e-mailed in by our readers. This week readers wrote in asking numerous questions about OS X Lion, including ways to set up dual-boot environments, options for clean installs, whether or not Rosetta could be hacked to work, and options for re-downloading the Lion installer either for different Macs or for creating a boot DVD after you have already installed Lion. We continually answer e-mail questions, and though we present a few answers here, we welcome alternative approaches and views from readers and encourage you to post your suggestions in the comments.

Question: Sharing data between operating systems in a dual-boot environment
MacFixIt reader "Dietmar" asks:

I was planning to do a dual-boot of Snow Leopard & Lion, and would create a third partition for data that both OS should use, and that I don't want to duplicate (e.g. documents, music, etc.)

Two questions:

No. 1: Is it necessary to use a different User Name and Password for the Login of the two systems? I would differentiate the home directory names (since they can't be changed after installing), by giving them an additional "S" or "L", but I'm loath to have different Login-Names every time I change the OS. Am I in trouble, if I don't?

And question No. 2: Is there a way to make both OS share things like Mail, iCal, Address Book? I expect to jump a lot between the two OS in the beginning, and would love both OS to find the same Mails in the same location, so I don't get confused with syncing issues. I assume creating only one home directory for both OS (not that I would know how to achieve that!) is not a good solution, since Preference Settings are unlikely to be compatible.

Answer:
The two installations will have their own user account setups, so accounts on your Lion partition will have separate home folders from those on your Snow Leopard partition. Therefore when you set up each OS you can set whatever username and password combination you would like (there is no need to keep them separate).

While you technically could set up each OS to share home directory resources, doing so is not recommended and may lead to problems. Lion's versions of Mail, iCal, and Address Book (among other applications) are updated and have new features and different ways of handling their data than the previous versions, which may result in odd problems if you continually use the same data set back and forth between two versions. Besides this type of incompatibility, setting up the folders to be shared is not necessarily a simple task. It is definitely doable, but would require a special setup and testing to ensure that the programs from both systems would have proper access to the resources.


Question: Extract Rosetta from Snow Leopard for use in Lion?
MacFixIt reader "pmajewski" asks:

Will Rosetta, extracted from the Snow Leopard installation DVD, work in Lion?

Answer:
This is a clever idea, but unfortunately no. The support structure and libraries for the translator will not work. I tried doing exactly this and the translator tool would exit with a segmentation fault, without any logging or diagnostics messages to indicate any troubleshooting routes to take.


Question: Installing Lion on multiple machines
MacFixIt reader "Larry" asks:

If I create the dvd installer, does this mean I can install lion on my laptop as well as my Mac Pro, without needing to buy another download?

Answer:
Apple allows you to install the one purchase on multiple machines, so if you log in to the Mac App Store from any of them then you should just be able to download the installer again without having to pay. If you have the installer on DVD, another disk partition, or even copied directly to your other Macs and run from there, you won't need to re-download it.


Question: How to re-download the Lion installer
MacFixIt reader "Mark" asks:

I just downloaded and installed Lion but cannot find the installer file in applications. Any ideas?

Answer:
The installer is deleted by the system after the installation is complete. If you go to the Mac App Store and press the Option key while clicking "Purchases," you should then be able to download the installer again. (If the installer file already exists on your system then the App Store will not let you download it again.)


Question: Installing Lion on a Mac being sold
MacFixIt reader "William" asks:

I have a Mac Mini with Lion installed, and I am getting it ready to sell it. My question is, Can I use Disk Utility to erase the HD without destroying the Lion restore partition? Or what procedure do you recommend to deliver the Mac Mini with a pristine Lion install?

Answer:
Erasing the hard drive with Disk Utility will wipe all data off of it, including the operating system; however, doing this is the only safe way to ensure that your data is fully deleted (preferably secure-erase the entire drive to prevent any files from being restored with file recovery utilities). To ready a Mac for sale, wipe it with Disk Utility and then install a fresh copy of the operating system. The installation procedure will restart the system automatically; when the screen goes black, press the power button to shut it down (it should shut down immediately), and there you have it, a system that is fully wiped and ready for the new user. When it next starts up the setup assistant will launch and have the user set up a new account.


Question: Performing a clean install with OS X Lion
MacFixIt reader "Chris" asks:

I don't believe this question has been posed yet, but is it possible to do a "clean install" of Lion after making a boot disc/usb from the installer .dmg, or is Lion strictly like a Delta/Combo update that requires Snow Leopard to install it? I realize it says it requires OS X Snow Leopard, but if you can make a installation boot disk, is it possible to just install Lion? I like doing a fresh install with each major release, so this information would be very helpful. Thanks for your time.

Answer:
The only reason why Lion requires Snow Leopard is that in order to get Lion (for now) you need the Mac App Store, which is only available in Snow Leopard. To make an installation boot disk, follow these instructions , and you can then reinstall Lion at any time and perform a clean install.



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About the author

    Topher, an avid Mac user for the past 15 years, has been a contributing author to MacFixIt since the spring of 2008. One of his passions is troubleshooting Mac problems and making the best use of Macs and Apple hardware at home and in the workplace.

     

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