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MacBook Air Leopard an exclusive OS

updated 09:05 am EST, Thu January 31, 2008

Air's Leopard an exclusive

The MacBook Air is dependent on a exclusive version of Mac OS X Leopard, Apple technical documents show. "The Mac OS X 10.5 installation media that shipped with your MacBook Air is designed for use on this computer only and not intended for any other computer," the document warns. Owners are further cautioned that the installer "prevents this software from being installed on other Macintosh computers," and that moreover, an Air cannot be restored by using other Leopard installation discs.

While this reflects Apple's policy for most of its computers, this may complicate ownership of the Air for some people, as it may involve not just keeping two versions of Leopard in easy reach, but contacting Apple for a replacement should the Air version go missing. There is no indication to date that the separate version of Leopard will be available in stores.

by MacNN Staff



  1. njfuzzy

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Not a worry

    This has happened before. The next official release will support the Air and all other Macs with the same disks.

  1. Feathers

    Joined: Dec 1969


    pass the nails...

    ...yet another reason, apart from mere common sense, to steer clear of the iCoffin!

  1. thirdjal

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Why is this news?

    Every new Mac shipped in the past few years has shipped with media which is locked to the hardware. In fact, I've had media from the original Core Duo MBP and then Core 2 Duo MBP be incompatible with each other. This shouldn't be a surprise to anyone.

    I imagine as later versions of Leopard retail install media is released that it will support the MBA in the future. The fact is that Apple builds its drivers into the OS and when Leopard was released last October, no drivers for the MBA were necessary.

  1. vasic

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Isn't this standard?

    If I'm not mistaken, whenever you buy a Mac, you get a restore disc for that specific model. The OS installation on that restore disc will allow you to run a standard Mac OS X install (just like when you buy the Leopard shrink-wrapped), and it will go through in exactly the same way. However, that installer disc can only be run on that particular model. Having a CD iMac and C2D MacBook, I can confirm this with the Tiger, and I've seen Leopard discs that come with new Macs do the same.

    I have read somewhere that there is a way to modify that installer disc to allow installation on other (Apple) hardware by changing some entries in an XML file in one of the packages. Obviously, the disc would have to be copied into a r/w disc image on a hard drive, then re-burned onto a DL R(W) dvd.

    Isn't the story the same for MBA?

  1. dliup

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Wow, feathers wants to be just like t***. Did your mom kick you out of her basement so you have no where else to go?

    This is a non-story, as this is the standard behavior on macs for years.

    By the way did you know, referring to the MacBook Air, "The price is competitive with other laptops in its market segment." []

  1. Roger@MacNN

    Joined: Dec 1969


    re: non-story

    You're right that it's not new for Apple, but it is something to be aware of, and a policy that should probably stop.

  1. das

    Joined: Dec 1969


    True of ALL SYSTEMS

    This is true of ALL SYSTEMS that Apple has ever shipped. The installation media that ships with the machine is intended for only that computer. Also, where 10.x.y is the latest publicly released version of Mac OS X, it is typically a slightly newer build than 10.x.y, to provide specific hardware support. To date, this has ALWAYS been resolved with the release of 10.x.y+1.

    But it is nothing new that the discs that ship with the machine are intended only for that machine, and customers have ALWAYS had to contact Apple if those discs were lost! You've never been able to just take an earlier Mac OS X disc and use it in any supported fashion to install on a newer Mac. Only full Mac OS X releases (either point releases or major releases) released after the hardware in question will technically boot and install on the system in a supported fashion.

    Many organizations routinely build images to support all hardware (using the custom build included with the piece of hardware in question, and then again once 10.x.y+1 is released after the hardware's release), and machines can always be reimaged with 10.x.y+1 or newer without the installation discs at all (and yes, this is true for the MacBook Air as well).

    This is extremely, extremely sloppy reporting. I can't even believe I'm reading this on MacNN.

    Dave Schroeder

  1. hokizpokis

    Joined: Dec 1969


    the security connection

    the reason Apple is doing this is to keep the unique code required for the air out of hands of those EVIL SECURITY INDUSTRY ZELOTS who have put all their energies into creating 'Bugs, Trojans and Viruses'.

    By keeping the Leopard version of Mac Book Air software out of the hands of these unscrupulous persons will keep Apple one or two steps ahead of the 'evil horde' who would prefer to 'sink the elegant air book'...

    or STEAL it's innovative technologies...

    Of course another mac zealot could himself produce the OS code to run the 'evil empire into the ground' but 'do comic book heros still do overtime anymore'?

    no back to work, dogs...

  1. maybesew

    Joined: Dec 1969


    a policy that should stop


    So people don't loan out there restore discs to anyone they know that wants to upgrade to leopard for free?

    I would GLADLY trade not having to deal with activation and other BS keys and codes that windows people have to go through just to use their computers, in trade for my restore discs only working on the system they were intended for.

  1. Roger@MacNN

    Joined: Dec 1969


    re: true of all systems

    Again, it may be true that this isn't unique to the Air, but it's still an issue for some people. Its place on the frontpage probably just gives a semblance of too much importance.

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