Mountain Lion Upgrade is Done!

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I mentioned a few posts back that I was holding off on OS X 10.8 (Mountain Lion) until the first major patch was released. Well, 10.8.1 is here, and so I took the plunge.

“So far, so good.” is my verdict, though with a few qualifications on that statement overall.

First, upgrading. As I had recently reinstalled 10.7 due to a goof in deleting pref/kext files, I had already removed all applications that I didn’t run or need. This is a good thing, as not every app out there is ready to roll on 10.8. SoundSource, a small tool used to flip which output (headset, speakers, etc.) audio is played through, for example, isn’t available for Mountain Lion yet. So I do suggest going through your installed apps and properly uninstalling any you don’t use, don’t need, or don’t want. Use an app delete utility (like AppDelete or CleanMyMac) to completely uninstall them, as just dragging them to the trash can leave bits of the app behind.

After you clean up what you no longer need, have a look at what’s new in OS X 10.8. There are many new features, several of which you will probably want to shut off. For example, I don’t want my Mac to natively talk to Twitter or Facebook, as I have several accounts (home, web, work) that I use those services with, and don’t want anything automatically posted to the wrong one. So before you even start downloading Mountain Lion, find out what features you will use, which you won’t, and make plans to turn off the unwanted ones.

Make a backup of everything on your Mac. You could use Time Machine, but I prefer a 3rd-Party tool such as CrashPlan or ChronoSync. It’s rare that a 10.8 upgrade causes any kind of issue, but it has happened, and you should be prepared.

After that, provided you’re on 10.6 or higher, head to the Mac App Store (Apple menu, App Store) and purchase Mountain Lion for US$19.99. The software will first download – which could take some time as it is a 4GB file – then pop up a window offering to begin the upgrade. Close all applications except the upgrader, and you’re ready to roll.

The upgrade itself happens in two parts. First the upgrade app will configure settings and write out new files within your OS X session. This prepares the Emergency Recovery system and sets the Mac’s boot system to load up the rest of the installer. When that’s done, you’ll see a prompt to reboot (the system will reboot automatically in about five minutes if you do nothing here).

Once the Mac reboots, you will automatically see the OS X installer come up. If you have used FileVault, you’ll be prompted for your disk password, but otherwise the process is completely automatic. A progress bar tells you about how long you have left before the upgrade is complete, and like all progress bars, it lies. For my iMac, it took about 40 minutes to perform the upgrade, start to finish. The MacBook Air took about 30.

In my case, after the installer was done, I found myself at the normal Emergency Recovery screen. Varied reports say that you may or may not see that screen when the install is complete, but if you do, all you need to do is go to Apple Menu and choose Restart. This will reboot the Mac into the newly-upgraded OS.

All settings and preferences that exist in both 10.7 and 10.8 were maintained, and the new feature sets were in their default configuration. This means that you will need to — for example — define your settings for the new Notifications Area, but not change your display and power settings.

One special note on 3rd-Party applications: GateKeeper is a new security system in OS X 10.8 that blocks any app from running if it does not have a signed Apple Developer signature on file. This means that many apps will be unable to run, unless you change your GateKeeper settings in System Preferences. Turning GateKeeper off is a matter of some debate, if you’re unsure, then you should leave it on. Apps already installed to your Mac should run fine, and you can set exceptions and/or turn it off later if necessary.

And there you have it. Mac OS X Mountain Lion installed and ready to roll. I’ll be blogging more about features and settings in future posts, but I can indeed verify that the upgrade process is smooth and easy.

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