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I'm a big fat Mac Newbie!

I got my first Mac this summer, a sleek black MacBook some call a BlackBook. At the time, it was cool to say that you paid the “Black Tax”, which is the extra $150 you pay when you chose a black MacBook as opposed to the regular white one. The only technical difference between the two was the $50 hard drive upgrade, so the remaining $150 was the “tax.” Not sure if this is still true, it looks like the Black Tax is now $50 (based on upgrading a white MacBook to the 120GB drive standard on a black MacBook).

I digress.

I have since gone and bought two iMacs and through whatever set of circumstances, the Mac OS X install disc that came with one of those computers was laying around my desk the next time I wanted to install Mac OS X Tiger on my MacBook.

Now, why I needed to re-OS my system is the subject of another story entirely. Rest assured that I was forced to uninstall a pre-release copy of a beta OS in preference to the tried-and-true Mac OS X 10.4, “Tiger”.

For weeks, I’ve been trying to install Tiger, but I kept getting a confusing message during the first steps of the install which basically said, “This software can not be installed on this computer.”

What? Did the beta software mess up my drive? I avoided an explicit reformat at first but even a clean format of my partition yielded the same message. Hmmm… was the volume format “new” or somehow incompatible with Tiger, I thought?

I avoided a repartition since I had an absolutely beautiful boot camp partition running Windows XP. In OS X, I was able to run this windows partition from Parallels or I could choose to reboot and load it natively. It was awesome. But, in my continued desperation, I decided to, sniff, blow away the partition table completely in a reckless attempt to “start over” from as close to scratch as I could imagine.

Still, “This software can not be installed on th is computer.” Arg!

Then, a funny thing occurred to me and I ejected the OS X install disc and saw something like this:


Whoa! Wait a minute. Are all OS X discs not created equal? This is a major shock for a Windows user like me who, aside from “restoration discs” that some manufacturers ship with their computers (like Dell and Gateway), Windows install discs are generally valid for all possible hardware. But not these discs. Notice the iMac on the front:


Oh, this was a painful lesson to learn. iMac is clearly marked on the front, yet I tried to install this disc onto my MacBook for weeks and weeks. If only I would have realized this earlier, I could have saved myself so much trouble.

So, I went into my MacBook packing box (I can’t bring myself to throw it out… it’s just so pretty) and I opened up the little gray flip-out box that had the original discs and manuals. Sure enough, the Mac OS X install discs had MacBook clearly labeled on it.



Now, when I eventually upgrade to Leopard, I’m sure that the copy I’ll get in the retail store will be valid for all Apple hardware, but I suppose this is just not true for the discs that ship with new machines.

This makes perfect sense in hindsight. How else could Apple users with hardware that comes out after the initial release of Tiger get full and latest device support on the disc? A download? Nah.

If the disc had said “restoration disc” on it, perhaps I would have treated it more carefully and realize that it was for a specific computer since this is how things work in the Windows world.

Back to the drawing board. TextMate, rails, ecto, bleh. Install zombie I am.


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You can fix this, See this article http://samsite.ca/blog/?p=32

That's a shame. But didn't you ask anyone for help?!

One thing you should know about the Mac community is that Mac users tend to bend over backwards to help each other. Most people who switch to Macs are surprised at the amount of genuine help and community available to Mac users.

Consider posting a question to the comp.sys.mac.system news group (using a news reader like Unison, MT-NewsWatcher, or even just Google Groups) the next time you are struggling with a Mac issue and need help. The folks there tend to be extremely helpful!

I didn't ask anyone for help. I should have. Part of me wants to suffer the ways I did in the old days, before the Internet... such suffering always leads to a greater understanding than if I had the answer handed to me.

Then again, in this case, I should get over that and just ask around. I mean, by Crom it's 2007!

Thanks for the tip.

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