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Apple's Disc-less OS X Installation Sucks

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Tagged As: Apple, Blog, and Software

With OS X Lion (10.7), Apple decided to cold turkey phase out the notion of the installation DVD opting instead to utilize recovery partitions on hard drives or upgrades via the App Store. This ... really pisses me off.

After patching my system to 10.7.5, I encountered monstrous instability with kernel panics and arbitrary freezes and reboots occurring roughly every other day. Often times, I didn't even need to be present but would be watching TV from the sofa and hear the computer behind me die and reboot while idling. So I went about attempting to do the usual deed of downgrading by re-installing the system and just patching up to 10.7.4 and waiting for a series of fixes to 10.7.5 or simply the release of 10.7.6.

But no. I can't just stick a DVD in and do a clean install. I'm required to reboot off the recovery partition. The first time I did that, I realized it was automatically "helping me" by downloading all the latest patches and whatnot from Apple resulting in a rebuilt 10.7.5 system that continued to have problems. So then I opted to do it again, this time with the Internet disabled. No dice there either. The recovery partition whines about not being able to see home to Apple for updates. I even selectively turned it on and off hoping to let it authenticate with the mothership but disconnect prior to a download. The recovery partition continued to whine that it could not proceed. Just how does Apple expect anyone to recover if they're away from a broadband connection?

There are, of course, tricks to making an install disc. You're supposed to connect external media to the device and do a recovery while installing to an alternate drive than your primary. Then you interrupt the recovery and reboot normally whereupon you find and save the InstallESD.dmg file that was downloaded from Apple. That image is supposed to be usable from either an external hard drive or a flash drive to boot from and then reinstall your system without an Internet connection.

Besides, whether the recovery partition is "unmountable" or not, it's still rewriteable media. Did we learn nothing about getting exploited during an OS installation due to active network connections? Did we learn nothing about live update systems being exploited? A system administrator needs a physical, read-only medium from which to recover and the opportunity to apply patches without requiring a live network connection from an unpatched system.

I bought this from you Apple. I shouldn't have to hack my way to obtain a copy of my purchase in order to do rudimentary system maintenance. If this is the future of things ... I may be abandoning Apple too.

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