Archive for October 29th, 2011


Back to Snow Lion: Why Lion needs some work

In hindsight, I’m not sure why, but I upgraded my fantastic 11″ MacBook Air from 10.6 to 10.7 the day that Lion was released.

At first, I liked the changes.  I still think that Mission Control is a nice improvement over Spaces and Expose, but otherwise, there aren’t many compelling new features for me in 10.7.  Still, change is inevitable, so I may as well get used to the backwards scrolling, the noticeable drop in performance, and all of the other new changes, or so I thought until I started using 10.7 day-to-day.

Since August, I have been using 10.7 on a 24″ iMac, my 11″ MacBook Air, a 24″ iMac at work, and a 15″ MacBook Pro at work.  It’s been more or less fine on all machines except the MacBook Air, which is the one I use the most.

On the Air, I’ve had spotty WiFi behaviour where it had been perfect previously, the occasional lock-up, and most alarmingly, it was through it that I learned of Preview and Finder’s new bad behaviour in 10.7.

Try this on a 10.6 machine:

  1. Make a directory
  2. Drop 20 images in
  3. Name them in order:  1.jpg, 2.jpg, 3.pdf, 4.png etc.
  4. Highlight them all
  5. Open them in preview.
You will have a single window open with files 1.jpg, 2.jog, 3.pdf, 4.png… open.  Now you can view them as a slideshow.  Perfect, simple, obvious, hurray.
Now do the same thing in 10.7.  I’ll wait.
See, what a mess?  You will get some of the 20 images opening, out of order.  Others will say “You downloaded this from the internet…”  some will just not open.
Now, try doing this with seven folders of 20 images with a room full of people wanting to see slideshows.  Even better, try it on day four of not enough sleep.  I did.  It wasn’t fun.
So, it’s back to 10.6 on the MacBook Air.  I’ve only been running this way for an hour or so but the system is humming along nicely.  It’s faster, scrolling works like it should, Preview works like it should, wifi is working perfectly.  Perfect, simple, obvious, hurray.

Downgrade from Lion to Snow Leopard using Time Machine Backups

I am truly amazed by just how good Time Machine is.  I wish that an equivalent backup system existed for every other OS.  It’s that good.

With that out of the way, here is how I reverted from 10.7 (Lion) back to 10.6 (Snow Leopard) on my MacBook Air using my original Snow Leopard USB recovery drive and my Time Machine backups, which I had used both before and after upgrading to 10.7 back in August:

  1. Take a clone of the Lion drive using Carbon Copy Cloner just in case I change my mind/had problems.
  2. Once completed, go to System Preferences -> Startup Drive and select the recently cloned drive, reboot from that to verify that it worked.
  3. Shut down.
  4. Plug in the USB recovery media.
  5. Power up, holding down Option/Alt to boot from the USB key
  6. Once booted, go to Disk Utilities and wipe the 10.7 drive.  (May not be necessary)
  7. Under Utilities, choose “Restore from Time Machine Backup”
  8. Plug in my TimeMachine drive and pick the last 10.6.8 Time Machine backup
  9. Wait.  About an hour from a 5400RPM USB drive to the internal SSD
  10. Reboot.  You’re done!

I use dropbox for everything important, so my files were all synced back.  If I happened to miss anything, I have the CarbonCopyCloner copy of my Lion drive on another USB drive.  Easy.

One other thing to note is that I originally wiped and reinstalled 10.6 and then tried to recover from the Time Machine backup. This failed because I had used the Time Machine drive after upgrading to 10.7.  It was then that I rebooted to recovery media and restored using steps 7-10 instead.  So, don’t freak out, and yes you can use Time Machine drive with both 10.6 and 10.7 backups to restore.