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7/28/2011
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Ask Yourself These Questions Before Moving To OS X Lion

10 things to consider before upgrading to OS X 10.7 Lion.

Apple released its latest version of OS X Lion 10.7 to mixed reviews. Should you make the leap anyway? Here are some things to consider before making the switch from OS X Snow Leopard to OS X Lion.

Is your hardware compatible with Lion? Check Apple's technical specifications. Here are the general requirements:

A Mac with Intel Core 2 Duo, Core i3, i5, i7, or Xeon Processor
2 GB of RAM (double it if you can)
OS X 10.6.6 or later
7 GB of hard drive space

As always, you want to make sure your system exceeds those requirements. Meeting them is not typically sufficient.

For more, check out BYTE's How To article on preparing your Mac for OS X Lion.

Are you running Snow Leopard? You need to be to upgrade to Lion. So upgrade to that first. Unfortunately, that means a second purchase from Apple in addition to the $29.99. OS X Lion will set you back.

For step-by-step advice on how to upgrade, check out our How To Gallery on how to upgrade from Snow Leopard to OS X 10.7 Lion.


Make sure compatibility issues with current apps won't be a problem after you upgrade. Many programs and some drivers reportedly have trouble with OS X Lion. There are also known problems with Microsoft Office 2011 for Mac.


Just in general, take a mile-high view and ask yourself if you really want to upgrade in the first place. First movers are first to run into problems. Do you really need any of the new features in Lion? No reason why you can't use Snow Leopard while Apple irons out fixes over coming days, weeks, or months.


For an in-depth look at new features in Lion, check out BYTE’s OS X 10.7 Review.

One of the biggest changes to Lion is it supports Macs with Intel CPUs only. That means it doesn't support the Rosetta add-in previous OS X versions have--that plug-in allowed apps that worked for the PowerPC chip to work. No more. So do you run Intuit's Quicken? Check updates at Intuit and at other app makers to make sure they didn't make use of the Rosetta translation feature, no longer in OS X Lion.

To determine if your system has an Rosetta-based apps installed, run the Terminal and type this command:

system_profiler SPApplicationsDataType | egrep "Location|Kind" | grep -B 1 PowerPC


You also can simply count the number of apps that use Rosetta via this command:

system_profiler SPApplicationsDataType | grep "Power" | wc -l

Thanks to BYTE's Ron McCarty for that list tip. OS X Lion certainly is forward-leaning, but it's always a good idea to make sure your system has what it takes before jumping to a new upgrade as feature-packed and significant as this one.

IT pro Peter Baer Galvin is a senior contributor at BYTE. Follow him @PeterGalvin or email him at Peter.Galvin@BYTE.com.

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