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Slipstreaming OSX install discs

04/18/09 | by Adam | Categories: Macintosh

The short of it is that you can't.

Slightly longer explanation: one of the generally unheralded positive things about Microsoft Windows is that you can use various tools -- including one from Microsoft themselves -- that allow you to build custom install discs. This includes the ability to add later service packs to one's install disc, meaning that they don't need to be downloaded and installed one by one should a reinstall of the operating system be required. When I installed Boot Camp on my MacBook, an XP install with Service Pack 2 already applied was required. You couldn't install XP in its original form and then upgrade, it had to be SP2 from the get go. As I have a bad habit of buying software, frequently when it's new, all I had was the original XP release CD. With slipstreaming I was able to build a new one and move along.

Apple has never supported this. There was a third party tool called "Slipy" which performed a similar task but it seems to have disappeared from the internet, leaving only dead links in its wake. So, if your OSX partition goes south while you don't have an internet connection and you do manage to reinstall from the OSX install disk you smartly brought with you, that's as far as you can go. No patches, no updates, no nothing. It's vanilla OSX for you, baby.

There is an argument to be made that what you really need is a complete backup; that merely reinstalling the operating system won't get you anywhere. After all, if you don't have any internet access you won't be able to download and reinstall any of the required software anyway, and who carries around DVDs of absolutely *everything* necessary to restore their portable? Besides, in these days of high speed internet, 800 MB downloads are chickenfeed and don't take that long.

Frankly, no. That's a needless waste of time and bandwith. Most of the software I use could easily fit onto a second single DVD and when traveling I'm more inclined to trust a static piece of plastic in a CD wallet than a delicate external harddrive.

There's a further argument to be made that since, at least in the case of OSX 10.5, the install DVD is dual layer and doesn't fit on a single 4.7 GB DVD, this is pointless. It's true that writable 8 GB media is expensive and the drives capable of doing it are still thin on the ground, but darn it, it should be possible. With BluRay media available now -- albeit still not officially supported on the Mac -- that's an utterly arbitrary limit that's begging to be superseded.

I do like my Mac but sometimes it's Microsoft that gets it right, not Apple.

 

9 comments

Comment from: DD [Visitor]
04/18/09 @ 17:27
Comment from: Robert Douglass [Visitor]
Robert Douglass

Allow me to enlighten the readers-

There is a VERY SIMPLE solution to the backup issue-
1) After creating a pristine Boot Camp partition on a Mac, and after properly loading WindowsXP (or Vista), and all the patches and updates, then just back the WHOLE BOOT CAMP PARTITION up using either Apple’s Disk Utility (image); or download and use Winclone, a free Mac program that will also back up the whole partition.

2) If you then load the backup onto your main Mac partition, it will get backed up as part of Time Machine.
Quite simple, ‘eh?

04/18/09 @ 17:39
Comment from: huxley [Visitor]
huxley

One of the other comments might have mentioned it, but you could just download and save a copy of Apple’s combo updaters, that will cover most patches and updates in one fell swoop. The Combo updater for 10.5.6 will update you all the way from 10.5.0!

04/18/09 @ 18:22
Comment from: Czar [Visitor]  
Czar

Would completely disagree. Slipstreaming for Mac users is a complete pain. I left Windows long ago for the simplicity of the Mac OS, since then I decided to put XP on my Mac. I can’t stand it because it is far too complex. That is why I purchased a Mac. Sorry, but have to disagree with you here.

04/18/09 @ 23:43
Comment from: Alec [Visitor]  
Alec

This is really silly.

All you need to do is take the original OS on one disk and the latest combined updater on the other disk.

You don’t need to bother with slipstreaming at all on a Mac. It’s built in.

04/19/09 @ 06:43
Comment from: Joe Anonymous [Visitor]
Joe Anonymous

Yes, it is a minor inconvenience, but since I can’t remember the last time I had to reinstall Mac OS X, it’s an inconvenience that just doesn’t matter much. If I had to reinstall my OS as much as my Windows-using friends do, it might be more of an issue.

However, if you’re going to present the positives of slip-streaming, you need to present the negatives, as well. Why would a user bother when it takes just as long to do it as it would take to reinstall the OS and add the updates on the target machine, anyway? Then, there’s the risk of error (leaving something important out) or making a mistake in setting it up.

And what happens when someone messes it up and calls Apple support? The customer says they did a clean installation and Apple works on that basis without realizing that the ‘clean’ installation is actually a modified, incomplete installation - and wastes time trying to fix a problem that wouldn’t have occurred if the customer had done it Apple’s way.

It’s a lot of bother for no real benefit. But if you want to chalk it up as a plus for Windows, go ahead - they need something to crow about, I guess. Maybe Lauren will want to create a slip-stream disk to go with her $799 cheapo POS hardware.

04/19/09 @ 09:42
Comment from: Anonymous [Visitor]
Anonymous

Bill,

For your situation, it would have made MORE sense for you to build a slipstreamed XP disc! In your corporate training center, I’ll assume that you have ump-teen Dells that are all similar. You just build a single, slipstreamed disc with drivers, software, etc. for your environment and your done. Yes, I’ll agree that M$ didn’t do very well with the reinstallation approach but think about it…they have THOUSANDS of devices that integrate into their OS whereas MAC OS X is limited to Apple-specified hardware.

I’ve built a slipstreamed XP disc for my company and it took about a day or two but you can’t imagine how much time and effort it has saved me down the road. I even went so far as to suppling drivers for roughly 5 or 6 Dell models on the single disc before running out of room.

My next XP slipstream will most likely upgrade to SP3 with AV software and the same driver set for those models. All it takes, Bill, is a single licensed copy of UltraISO or something similar for PC and some reading to achieve this, although it’s not light reading.

OS X, I wished it was as easy but apparently it isn’t. Taking 10.5 to 10.5.6 would be really nice but oh well.

04/29/09 @ 16:31
Comment from: Rance [Visitor]
Rance

I agree about the need to slipstream. I have a Mac Pro that originally came with 10.4.x, I purchased Leopard when it came out, so that would be 10.5.0. I’ve since upgraded the video card in my Mac Pro, however, drivers only appeared in 10.5.6. As I sit right now, if I had to reinstall from scratch, I would be using a 10.5.0 disc, thus, I probably wouldn’t have any display. It’s speculation, as I haven’t gone down that path yet (hopefully ever), but I’d rather have a slipstreamed Leopard disc ready to go.

(Yeahyeah, having a 10.6. disc would cure my woes, but due to software, i’m stuck at 10.5.x…)

08/18/10 @ 16:59
Comment from: Sean [Visitor]
Sean

Apple has a System Image Utility as part of the Server Admin Tools package (a free download) for each version of OSX that allows you to add updates, programs, etc, to an install image.

10.5: http://support.apple.com/kb/DL831
10.6: http://support.apple.com/kb/DL1032

05/20/11 @ 16:18
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