The road to Leopard – Part 1

It’s Leopard Day (Mac OS X 10.5 officially available) and the big question on everyone’s mind is “should I upgrade?” or “is it safe to upgrade?” Apple posted a nice list of the 300 “New” features of Leopard as well as a Guided Tour Video. So if you look at these and say, “hey I want that!” then you will want to upgrade. However, let’s be smart about it. As you might expect from any major operating system update there WILL be bumps along the way. Even Apple’s on wholly owned subsidiary FileMaker, Inc. has announced that FileMaker Pro 9 (the latest version) is NOT compatible with Leopard. So needless to say there will most likely be other apps on your hard drive that have problems with Leopard too. The good news is that most apps will work just fine.


What about Adobe products?

The other big question on everyone’s mind is what about my Adobe CS3 products? I’ll have the official word for you later today. I know you want to know now, but I can’t say until I’m allowed to officially say what works and what doesn’t. So check back later today for Part 2 of this post.


My upgrade strategy

Sure we now know about FileMaker not being Leopard compatible, but what about the dozens or hundred of other apps you have there? Not every company is going to have a timely announcement and hey let’s face it, you’re ready to upgrade and play as soon as possible. So here’s what I recommend to cause you the least amount of pain AND to really know what works and what doesn’t:

  1. If you don’t already have an external drive that is capable of booting your Mac, go buy one today!
  2. Use a program like SuperDuper, Carbon Copy Cloner or DataBackup to make a CLONE BACKUP of your hard drive. This should result in a bootable copy of your exact system on your external drive.
  3. Now let’s make sure it works, go ahead and boot from that backup drive! Restart and hold down the Option Key and choose your Backup Drive to start up from.
  4. Once your computer is up and running from the backup drive. Insert your Leopard DVD and install Leopard ON YOUR BACKUP DRIVE! Yes your Backup Drive, not your main internal drive.
  5. Once Leopard is finished installing on your backup drive, it should boot from it. Now YOU can test YOUR apps and utilities and see what works and what doesn’t. Don’t just launch your apps, go ahead and try creating some documents and editing. Do the same kind of work that you need to do daily. Test your printers, scanners, peripherals, etc. Make sure it all works!
  6. If you find something that doesn’t work, check to see if there is a Leopard compatible update for that app. If not, then YOU will have to decide if it’s something you can live without or not?
  7. Let’s say that you find something that you can’t live without that doesn’t work with Leopard and there is no update currently available. Guess what? All you have to do is boot from your internal drive and you’re right back where you were before you installed Leopard.
  8. Let’s say that everything works fine and you’ve tested it all and you’re sure that all of your apps and peripherals work. Then all you have to do is install Leopard on your internal drive and you ‘re good to go.


This is the approach that I plan to take and I’ll continue to post what works, what doesn’t and any workarounds that I find. MacFixIt also lists some good advice on what to do BEFORE installing Leopard. Check it out here.

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