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Macminicolo | Upgrade to Lion Remotely

Upgrading to Lion

What you need to know.

Apple has released the next version of their OS X operating system. The new release is called Lion. Usually when Apple releases a new operating system, it's quite a process of getting hundreds of Mac minis upgraded here in our data center. However, this time around it is a little different. Customers can do it all remotely.

Lion has been released thru the Mac App Store. In order to install it, you'll need an Intel Core 2 Duo processor and Snow Leopard (or Snow Leopard Server) 10.6.8. If you need a newer machine, just contact us and we'll talk about the options.

Installation Steps

First, get a good backup. Ideally, this is a clone to another hard drive. You could also push the data to a home machine, another online server, or to Dropbox.

Next, download OS X Lion from the Mac App Store. ($30) If you are running Snow Leopard Server, you'll also need to download the Server application. ($50) These downloads will be placed in your "Applications" folder and should remain there for the upgrade.

Once downloaded, just run the "Install OS X Lion" application. You'll be prompted for an admin account, and the process will begin. Lion first does a small install, and then restarts and finishes the upgrade.

The good news is that this should all be automated and can be done without any interaction from Macminicolo. We tested upgrades from Snow Leopard and Snow Leopard Server. The process takes about 25 minutes, and when it's done you'll be able to log back into the machine with Screen Sharing or Apple Remote Desktop. In fact, if you keep your ARD window open, it will just reconnect on it's own. Be sure to give everything enough time to upgrade. A Remote Reboot in the middle of the install would not be good.

If you are upgrading to Lion Server, you'll have a few more settings to fill in when the machine comes back (machine name, support contact, etc) and then it will restart once more with your services running. From our own testing, most running services have upgraded well. But please, please get a backup of your install as there is always something amiss and you'll need your data to rebuild that part.

Again, this should all be able to run remotely according to our tests. However, if you do come across any problems, or machine just doesn't come back, just put in a ticket at and we'll take a look for you.

Some other notes:

Apple puts a lot of development hours into making the upgrade smooth. It's meant to be an upgrade path and for the most part, it does well. However, it is possible to do a clean install. To do that, you'll need to put in a support ticket with us and we'll schedule a time with you.

If you don't need Lion, or if your server is in production and critical to business, consider waiting a bit for the upgrade.

A while back, I did a post on upgrading from Snow Leopard and Snow Leopard Server . However, I didn't address upgrading from Leopard. As far as I can tell, you have two options. First, you could upgrade to Snow Leopard and then upgrade to Lion. This could be messy, but I don't see why it wouldn't work. Your other option is to buy Lion from another computer (since you need 10.6.8) and then we can do a clean install for you on your machine.

If your upgrade is taking longer then expected, it's best to just give it a little longer. If even more time passes, let us know and we can take a look. It's not a good idea to do a remote reboot in the middle of a install.

Apple has posted a PDF for Upgrading and Migrating to Lion Server. Be sure to read it careful as there a quite a few changes. PDF Link

It should be pretty straightforward, but if you have any other tips or warnings you learn as you upgrade, I hope you'll let us know. We'll update this page as needed.

About Macminicolo
Macminicolo, a Las Vegas colocation company, has been hosting Mac minis since their introduction in January 2005. They are the leaders in this niche market and are known for their personal service. They currently host hundreds of Mac minis for satisfied customers located in 36 different countries around the world. Get more info on our frequently asked questions page.

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