Some time ago now I purchased a lovely 24 inch aluminium iMac.  It came with OS X 10.4.10 – also known as Tiger.  On the weekend (well, last Friday to be more precise) the next major version of OS X – Leopard – was finally released to retail stores around the world.  I therefore decided to upgrade my iMac, and what follows is the story of that upgrade.

My Saturday began rather more unpleasantly than usual.  I had to get up at 6am to be at work by 7am.  Some work was being done that necessitated the shutdown of all servers in a particular datacentre I look after as part of my job.  I was tasked with shutting the servers down beforehand, and ensuring everything still worked after powering them on again.  That task was due to finish sometime around 12pm – I didn’t end up leaving till 1:30pm.

That caused me a fair degree of consternation.  I had decided to visit the Canberra computer markets in order to buy an external hard drive.  I needed the external hard drive to create a backup of my Tiger install, before upgrading to Leopard.  The consternation I felt was due to the time the markets close – 2:30pm.  I had just one hour to walk to my car, drive to the Exhibition Park in Canberra (EPIC) – a place I’d never before been – and find what I wanted.  It was around a 30 minute drive from where I was.

Fortunately I got to the markets before they closed.  I was unable to find a Firewire to SATA enclosure, so instead I settled for an USB 2.0 to SATA enclosure, and a Seagate hard disk. Thus equipped, I drove home.  If I had have been more organised, I would have written down the name of the Apple reseller I planned on visiting, and I could have gone straight there.

As it turned out, the local branch of the Apple reseller had run out of stock of leopard (if they had any in the first place).   I was told to try the city store.  I drove there after confirming they had plenty of copies of leopard in stock.  I would have nearly passed this store on my way home from the markets, which was somewhat annoying.  I bought the family pack of Leopard, since I also own a mac mini and a 12 inch ibook.  It is much cheaper to get the family pack (which allows for installation on up to five computers in the one household) than to buy even two single user copies of Leopard.

In between coming home from the markets and going back out to get a copy of leopard, I plugged in my new external hard drive, partitioned it identically to the internal hard drive, and configured my clone tool of choice – SuperDuper! – to clone my current install while I was gone.

Once the clone was finished, I booted from the external hard drive to confirm it was all ok.  Then I began the relatively painless upgrade to Leopard – a process that took around an hour.  At the end of the upgrade, I had Leopard installed, with all of my applications and settings intact.  In fact, if it wasn’t for clues like the different background on the login page, the 3D looking dock and the semi-translucent menu bar at the top of the screen, I might have thought I was still running Tiger.

Applications seem to load slightly quicker under Leopard.  The new finder interface is taking a bit of getting used to.  Other than that, I quite like Leopard.  It’s different enough so that one realises they aren’t running Tiger any more, yet similar enough that one doesn’t have to relearn how to use their computer.  All in all, I’m quite happy with Leopard.