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Build a better Lion installer

Aug 22nd 2011 9:00 AM EDT

Apple now offers a US$69 USB installer for Lion. It comes on one of those tiny white USB sticks we first saw with the MacBook Air. I have not used one of the Lion installers, but I have one that came with my MacBook Air: it's only 8 GB, and (this is the really disappointing part) it is not rewritable. When you mount the drive in Disk Utility, it appears like a read-only DVD, not a USB drive, which means that the drive which came with my MacBook Air is now just as useless as my Snow Leopard DVD.

I assume that the Lion USB installer is also 8 GB and not rewritable (I haven't used one personally), which makes it a pretty bad deal. $70 for an 8 GB, read-only USB drive? If you haven't purchased Lion from the Mac App Store, subtract $30, but that still means you are paying $40 for an 8 GB, read-only USB drive.

For $40 you can buy a 32 GB USB drive from Amazon. Or, if you prefer tiny and easy-to-lose USB drives, you can get an 8 GB Verbatim "Tuff 'n' Tiny" drive for $15. Or grab a normal looking 16 GB USB drive for $20 (that's double the capacity for only $5 more).

But what if you want more than just a Lion installer? What if you want an installer and an emergency backup drive that you can boot from and actually use? What if you want something that will be far more useful than a drive you just stick in a drawer until you need to reinstall OS X?

Slip Streaming Away

For a moment, pretend that Apple had not released Lion yet, and you needed to reinstall Snow Leopard on a Mac, but all you had was an original Snow Leopard DVD from when 10.6.0 was first released. What would you do? Chances are that the process would be something like this:

  1. Install Snow Leopard 10.6.0.
  2. Run Software Update to download the latest Combo Pack for 10.6 and other important updates.
  3. Wait for
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Filed under: OS X
Tags: Disk Utility, features, lion, USB flash drive
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