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Last-minute user questions about Snow Leopard, part 2

Snow Leopard is being released tomorrow, and a variety of last-minute questions about the operating system has come forth. Yesterday, I posted a few of the common questions, and today we have several more regarding Boot Camp, space saved with the insta

Written by Topher Kessler

Snow Leopard is being released tomorrow, and a variety of last-minute questions about the operating system has come forth. Yesterday, I posted a few of the common questions, and today we have several more regarding Boot Camp, space saved with the installation, and which programs will work with Snow Leopard. These questions may help peoplethink about what might be needed before upgrading.

Will it affect my Boot Camp installation?

Installing Snow Leopard should not touch your Boot Camp installation. Just be sure when you install it that you do not inadvertently format and install to the Boot Camp partition if you choose to do a clean installation. Snow Leopard includes updates to Boot Camp that lets the Mac partition be read from Windows, so Boot Camp should be enhanced by this OS upgrade.

If you are concerned about your Boot Camp installation, you can back it up using Winclone (, which is a utility much like Carbon Copy Cloner and SuperDuper that will clone your Boot Camp drive to an external source or another partition.

Will my new computer come with Snow Leopard preinstalled?

It usually takes a week or two for new computers to arrive with a new OS release, so until then expect newly purchased computers to be supplied with a drop-in upgrade DVD. This will especially be true for computer inventories in Apple stores and at other retailers. Computers purchased shortly before August 28, the OS release date, will qualify for the $9.95 "up-to-date" program, and most people with valid Leopard purchases can upgrade to Snow Leopard for $29.

Will installing Snow Leopard save me any space?

On the technical specifications pages for Snow Leopard, Apple is advertising the new system will save about 7GB of drive space (less than half that of Leopard), and require 5GB of free space for installation (down from 9GB for Leopard). While Apple has not documented support for HFS file system compression, there has been rumor of compression used in Snow Leopard that can help reduce the footprint of the installation beyond having PowerPC and other unused code removed from the system. If this is the case, then some people may see additional free space gains.

Should I repair disk permissions before upgrading?

Since Snow Leopard will replace most of your system files with optimized binaries, and since the installer will run as "root" and therefore overlook any permissions on the drive, you should not need to run a permissions fix before installing Snow Leopard. Despite this, if you are at all concerned about permissions, performing a fix will not hurt anything so go ahead with one beforehand for extra precaution. Generally, I recommend permissions fixes before applying incremental updates, but for Snow Leopard, I recommend that you at least run a permissions fix after its installation to ensure files are readable when booting to the new operating system. I also recommend that you run a hard drive verification before installing (as I did), and repair any errors that may arise before continuing with the install.

Will Snow Leopard work with my current applications?

This is one of the biggest concerns for any system upgrade, and for Snow Leopard, most applications should still work. If you are currently running any PowerPC applications, be sure to install Rosetta if the developer does not have an update that is native to Intel. In fact, for more seamless compatibility, you might choose to install Rosetta regardless of what applications you use.

If there is some vital program you use that has not been confirmed to work in Snow Leopard, wait until it has been updated to install Snow Leopard. If you wish to test out Snow Leopard, be sure to make a full and restorable backup of your system (either cloned or through Time Machine) so you can test the program's functionality in Snow Leopard first thing, and restore to Leopard if there are problems.

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Topher has been an avid Mac user for the past 10-15 years, and has been a contributing author to MacFixIt for just over a year now. One of his diehard passions has been troubleshooting Mac problems and making the best use of Macs and Apple hardware both for family and friends, as well as in the workplace. He and the newly formed MacFixIt team are hoping to bring enhanced and more personable content to our readers, and keep the MacFixIt community going here at CNET. If you have questions or comments for Topher or the other MacFixIt editors, feel free to contact us at

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