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Installing Mac OS X Mavericks

Posted on: October 25th, 2013 by Errol Sayre

Installing a major OS upgrade can bring a slew of problems, from incompatible software to lost configuration —even missing functionality. Thankfully, Mavericks (Apple’s latest version of OS X) doesn’t seem to bear any of those issues. Still, if you’re cautious and want to know a little more before hitting that “Upgrade” button in the App Store, here are my impressions of the process.

Install Process

As always, the first step before a major upgrade should be to make a backup of your data.  I suggest you invest in a USB hard drive to use with Time Machine as well as start using UM Box for your day to day work.

The actual installation is super easy. If you’re running any version of Mac OS X with an App Store (10.6 Snow Leopard, 10.7 Lion, or 10.8 Mountain Lion) and have a 64bit processor (most Macs since 2008) you can get Mavericks (OS X 10.9) for free directly from the App Store.

After you click download, in a few minutes to an hour, you should have an app called “Install OS X Mavericks” in your Applications folder. Launch that app and follow the instructions. Your computer will reboot after awhile and continue the process and about 20 minutes later reboot to the shiny new OS.

Post-install Check-up

In my case, almost every single application worked fine after the install. Granted I was already running the latest versions of pretty much everything before the OS upgrade but, unlike many previous versions, OS X Mavericks’ under-the-hood changes generally don’t cause compatibility issues.

Java Roadblock

To get things back up and running,  I needed to install the Apple version of Java (which is older than Oracle’s JVM, but does get security updates) because it contains the middleman that allows packaged Java apps like the SAP GUI for Java to launch like a Mac app. Thankfully,  this process is very straight-forward, as the system prompts you to install the software when you try to open a packaged Java app.

Although unnecessary, I highly recommend installing Oracle’s Java 7 JDK to ensure that everything Java on your Mac makes use of the more secure and up-to-date JVM. It’s important to use the JDK rather than the default JRE as only the JDK will affect packaged Java apps like the SAP GUI and the version of java linked at /usr/bin/java.

Virtual Machines

I utilize VMWare Fusion version 5 for a lot of SAP development work. Everything seems to work fine although I have encountered occasional freezing within my Windows 7 virtual machine —I think this may be related to Mavericks’ “App Nap” feature.

I do not use Parallels and so cannot comment on its performance under OSX 10.9.

Other Resources

Mavericks is a hit!  One site indicates over 5% of Macs had already upgraded within 24 hours and web analytics firm GoSquared claims almost 11% of its Mac traffic is from Mavericks (in about 48 hours). ZDNet’s Adrian Kingsley-Hughes says Mavericks is “what a modern OS upgrade should feel like.”   Macworld’s review is generally positive and also has an excellent introduction to Mavericks for new Mac users/owners. Macworld also has an installation primer for further reading.

If you would like a more in-depth review of the technical changes in Mavericks, I recommend John Siracusa’s perennial review at Ars Technica.

A good resource for compatibility information is RoaringApps.com which maintains a crowd-sourced listing of apps’ compatibility with various versions of OS X.

Updates

This article was updated October 29th with a note regarding VMWare Fusion due to feedback from readers, as well as a link to Roaring Apps and Macworld’s Install Guide.

A new development November 1st: Western Digital warns users to remove WD SmartWare and other software on Mavericks to avoid a potential data loss.

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