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New MacBook Air features USB software reinstall drive

post #1 of 57
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Rather than relying on an external optical drive or another computer sharing its DVD drive, the new Mac Book Air supplies a solid state reinstallation drive the plugs into the USB port.

The new drive, a naked mini USB dongle without the usual shielding, is pictured on Apple's MacBook Air product page as among the items included in the box. The new MacBook Air, with screen sizes of 11.6 and 13.3 inches, was introduced Wednesday.

The new USB device eliminates any need for optical media, without taking up storage space on the sold state hard drive as many other PC do with their factory reinstall partition.

Apart from USB 2.0 ports on either side of the unit, the new MacBook Air design uses a conventional MagSafe port for power (using a 45 watt adapter), a MiniDisplay port that supports DVI, Dual-link DVI, HDMI (with audio), and VGA signaling with the use of external adapters, and a standard headphone port (which supports iPhone-style headphones with a remote and integrated mic). There is also an integrated microphone built into the side of the unit.

post #2 of 57
That's cool... A restore USB drive included with the new Macbook Air as a standard feature. I call that brilliant, imaginative engineering!

Here is more about the Macbook Air Software Restore Drive from Apple at:
http://support.apple.com/kb/HT4399

Note: This special USB software restore drive includes Mac OS X and iLife and is READ-ONLY. You CAN NOT write to it!
post #3 of 57
it’s USB. I was thinking it was SD. I thought I saw an SD slot on the new MBA.
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post #4 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

its USB. I was thinking it was SD. I thought I saw an SD slot on the new MBA.

Only on the 13" model.
post #5 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by adamw View Post

That's cool... A restore USB drive included with the new Macbook Air as a standard feature. I call that brilliant, imaginative engineering!

booting / restoring an OS from a USB / flash device has been done before (e.g., VMware and a few distributions of Linux).
post #6 of 57
May I be the first to say that the picture makes the restore tool look tiny. If it's as small as it looks, it's bound to be lost pretty damn quickly...
post #7 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by emacs72 View Post

booting / restoring an OS from a USB / flash device has been done before (e.g., VMware and a few distributions of Linux).

But its about time this was made standard. I would like to see this with all new macs rather than DVD's. (the dvd recovery set i got with my iMac were scratched and unusable. I had to go back to the Apple store to get replacements)

@bobmarleypeople

Handy too that it has a hole through it so you can stick it on a keyring or lanyard or hook on your wall etc so you dont lose it.
post #8 of 57
.

Mmmm...

So, you have this personal computer, without an ODD, that can be setup by plugging in, and booting from an inexpensive solid-state USB drive -- instead of attaching it to another computer.

Why, that little sucker doesn't even have a connector -- just some contacts built into the case...

... I wonder if...

.
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post #9 of 57
if it just had built in 3G it would be perfect.
post #10 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dick Applebaum View Post

.

Mmmm...

So, you have this personal computer, without an ODD, that can be setup by plugging in, and booting from an inexpensive solid-state USB drive -- instead of attaching it to another computer.

... I wonder if...

.

shhhh....

They're working on it.




On a separate note. I'm hoping that the next rev of the Macbook Pros brings higher resolution screens standard.
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post #11 of 57
.

Shazam !


Get th' kids Mabel, we're goin' inta' town!

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post #12 of 57
Sexy.
post #13 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by irnchriz View Post

But its about time this was made standard. I would like to see this with all new macs rather than DVD's.

twenty (20) years ago we were glad to use CDs instead of a stack of 3.5" diskettes. and, yes, i very clearly remember those days (and several years prior when 5.25" and 8" floppy disks were the norm)
post #14 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by bobmarleypeople View Post

May I be the first to say that the picture makes the restore tool look tiny. If it's as small as it looks, it's bound to be lost pretty damn quickly...

It's got a hole in the handle. Nail it to your forehead.
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post #15 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by adamw View Post

That's cool... A restore USB drive included with the new Macbook Air as a standard feature. I call that brilliant, imaginative engineering!

I prefer the idea of putting a ROM chip on the motherboard so that it never gets lost. It would only need to be a small 8GB chip. If your Mac ever went wrong you just reboot, hold the right keys and it boots your recovery without you having to think about plugging it in. With it being soldered, it does present a security risk and the fixed battery prevents password protection so I guess USB is the next best thing unless they put a reset button on the motherboard to flush the password.

USB is at least better than a DVD though by far. I reckon they'll do this through the whole lineup.
post #16 of 57
I found it interesting few months ago when I found a video on Apple.com giving step by step constructions on how to create an Mac OS image from the DVD. I think a USB restore/reinstall drive is the way to go.
post #17 of 57
The only thing that it needs is firewire, and before everyone starts up with the "usb is fine" story, let me explain: As an apple tech, firewire target disk mode is the BEST feature EVER. If a mac won't boot, you can start it in target disk mode, copy data off, re-install patches etc etc, I use this feature quite alot, but on the current MacBooks, and the MacBookAir's, I can't.
Replace user and press any key to continue!
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post #18 of 57
wow amazing... we can expect more from the next macbook refresh !

i am saving my money to get a new macbook next summer with Lion pre installed
post #19 of 57
Only the genius over at Apple engineering could have thought of this. Great feature, I love it.
post #20 of 57
Next, let's do this with MBP's. Keep the optical drives for the MacBooks and iMacs, let's give the MBP ridiculously long battery life.

I'm still operating on the early '08 MBP, with 2-4 hour battery life. Won't be upgrading for another two years or so, would love a huge jump in battery life if I did.

Most CD/DVDs are coming with a digital download in terms of music and movies, and if I buy the CD I don't feel bad about downloading a copy of the album off the internet - I have little to no use for DVDs if they bring the USB restore to all Macs.
post #21 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by Drow_Swordsman View Post

Next, let's do this with MBP's. Keep the optical drives for the MacBooks and iMacs, let's give the MBP ridiculously long battery life.

I'm still operating on the early '08 MBP, with 2-4 hour battery life. Won't be upgrading for another two years or so, would love a huge jump in battery life if I did.

Most CD/DVDs are coming with a digital download in terms of music and movies, and if I buy the CD I don't feel bad about downloading a copy of the album off the internet - I have little to no use for DVDs if they bring the USB restore to all Macs.

Hear, Hear!

I would settle for a single external ODD to use across all Macs (like I share a single printer) -- to support the occasional DVD creation for others, or reading a DVD received from others.

.
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post #22 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by irnchriz View Post

But its about time this was made standard. I would like to see this with all new macs rather than DVD's.

I'd like to buy Lion on USB, too.


Quote:
Originally Posted by sabuga View Post

The only thing that it needs is firewire, and before everyone starts up with the "usb is fine" story, let me explain:

Still, I bet 99 per cent of people rather have a 2nd USB port than firewire.
And as long as we're wishing, why not wish for USB target mode? (and USB 3.0 for that matter )
post #23 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by sabuga;

The only thing that it needs is firewire, and before everyone starts up with the "usb is fine" story, let me explain: As an apple tech, firewire target disk mode is the BEST feature EVER. If a mac won't boot, you can start it in target disk mode, copy data off, re-install patches etc etc, I use this feature quite alot, but on the current MacBooks, and the MacBookAir's, I can't.

Agreed. Target disk mode is handy. Accept no substitutes!

I had to install snow leopard on a friends MacBook air. I didn't have the Ethernet dongle or the DVD drive. While doable over airport, FireWire would have saved a couple of hoops, and it would have been easy to do a quick disk image backup of the whole thing first.

On the other hand I really like it that the overpowered USB port on the old MacBook air actually charges an iPad. The only Mac that does I think...
post #24 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by sabuga View Post

The only thing that it needs is firewire, and before everyone starts up with the "usb is fine" story, let me explain: As an apple tech, firewire target disk mode is the BEST feature EVER. If a mac won't boot, you can start it in target disk mode, copy data off, re-install patches etc etc, I use this feature quite alot, but on the current MacBooks, and the MacBookAir's, I can't.

If only there was another option like booting from SD or USB. Oh wait, there is, its the things I just mentioned.

Ive had Mac OS X on a partition of my external HDD for years now. Have an issue? Just hold down option and choose that partition to boot from. Which is a hell of a lot easier than needing a 2nd Mac and a FireWire cable with the appropriate end connectors for those two Macs. Its just silly for consumers to think Target Disc Mode is easier than the method I just explained.
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post #25 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

If only there was another option like booting from SD or USB. Oh wait, there is, it’s the things I just mentioned.

I’ve had Mac OS X on a partition of my external HDD for years now. Have an issue? Just hold down option and choose that partition to boot from. Which is a hell of a lot easier than needing a 2nd Mac and a FireWire cable with the appropriate end connectors for those two Macs. It’s just silly for consumers to think Target Disc Mode is easier than the method I just explained.

I suppose, but your method not only requires preparation ahead of the fact, but also an external hard drive, preferably partitioned. TDM is still comes in very handy when you or someone you know has gotten into the soup. It's also great for Migration Assistant.
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post #26 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dr Millmoss View Post

I suppose, but your method not only requires preparation ahead of the fact, but also an external hard drive, preferably partitioned. TDM is still comes in very handy when you or someone you know has gotten into the soup. It's also great for Migration Assistant.

I know people with Macs, but I dont know anyone anymore with the appropriate FireWire cable. Am I suppose to plan to have the appropriate FW cable with me on vacations, along with an adapter for FW400 or FW800 to make sure my bases are covered, assuming there is someone else with a Mac if I need one?

How about just using your Time Machine drive, or a USB flash drive or a SD card. Those are always in my computer bag and I dont have to rely on anyone to do a simple Disk Repair.
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post #27 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

I know people with Macs, but I dont know anyone anymore with the appropriate FireWire cable. Am I suppose to plan to have the appropriate FW cable with me on vacations, along with an adapter for FW400 or FW800 to make sure my bases are covered, assuming there is someone else with a Mac if I need one?

How about just using your Time Machine drive, or a USB flash drive or a SD card. Those are always in my computer bag and I dont have to rely on anyone to do a simple Disk Repair.

If you're expected to be the Mac support guy for everybody you know (I know the feeling, trust me), then I guess the answer is yes. If you've got a Time Machine drive or a Time Capsule (are you really hauling them along on vacations?) then the issue is moot. I do like the flash drive option, but then again, the purpose in that case has to be to troubleshoot the drive, not rescue much data from a crashed drive. You can do that in Single User Mode, no extra parts required. And again, is the Migration Assistant question -- TDM is ideal for that. Or do you not agree?
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post #28 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dr Millmoss View Post

If you're expected to be the Mac support guy for everybody you know (I know the feeling, trust me), then I guess the answer is yes. If you've got a Time Machine drive or a Time Capsule (are you really hauling them along on vacations?) then the issue is moot. I do like the flash drive option, but then again, the purpose in that case has to be to troubleshoot the drive, not rescue much data from a crashed drive. You can do that in Single User Mode, no extra parts required. And again, is the Migration Assistant question -- TDM is ideal for that. Or do you not agree?

I do not agree.

Let me put it this way, the way I found out this was a possibility (though difficult to setup in Leopard and part of Disk Utility in SL) was by taking my Mac into an Apple Store. They didnt pull out another Mac and FW cable. They pulled out an external HDD that had a dozen different boot partitions of Mac OS X versions on it when he booted and pressed Option. For that point on Ive copied my Restore Disc to a simple method that I can manage in a nice GUI if need be. It doesnt have to be the Restore Disc either, it can be the OS itself with full access to all the HW.
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post #29 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

I do not agree.

Let me put it this way, the way I found out this was a possibility (though difficult to setup in Leopard and part of Disk Utility in SL) was by taking my Mac into an Apple Store. They didnt pull out another Mac and FW cable. They pulled out an external HDD that had a dozen different boot partitions of Mac OS X versions on it when he booted and pressed Option. For that point on Ive copied my Restore Disc to a simple method that I can manage in a nice GUI if need be. It doesnt have to be the Restore Disc either, it can be the OS itself with full access to all the HW.

You lost me there. I asked (again) if you didn't agree that TDM was ideal for Migration Assistant an got an answer about something else. Anyway, full nuke and pave restores are so rarely needed in my experience that they don't factor in much for me as a major issue.
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post #30 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dr Millmoss View Post

You lost me there. I asked (again) if you didn't agree that TDM was ideal for Migration Assistant an got an answer about something else. Anyway, full nuke and pave restores are so rarely needed in my experience that they don't factor in much for me as a major issue.

Ah, your question was about a new Mac in general. No, I dont agree. You still have to have two Macs on hand and the FW cable. I just plug in my Time Machine backup and BOOM. Its right in the setup screen for a new Mac. If I lost, broke, or already gave my old Mac away Im good to go.
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post #31 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by foobar View Post

And as long as we're wishing, why not wish for USB target mode? (and USB 3.0 for that matter )

Maybe even 802.11n direct target mode so you don't need a cable.

If you take two Macs and click on the wifi icon on one of them and choose create network. Then join that network with the other Mac and test a file transfer, it goes pretty quickly. Far more quickly than over a router even with 802.11n. For security, you'd choose a password on the target mode computer.

Ad-hoc connection would be the best so you don't lose your network on the active machine.

USB 3 and Light Peak would be the ideal but ad-hoc wifi target mode could probably be enabled on the existing Macs without firewire. I don't know if they could get the USB 2 protocol to work this way.
post #32 of 57
I remember years back people were talking about windows and office coming on thumbrdives instead of DVDs. How fitting that OSX would be the first major piece of software to do this.
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post #33 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

Ah, your question was about a new Mac in general. No, I dont agree. You still have to have two Macs on hand and the FW cable. I just plug in my Time Machine backup and BOOM. Its right in the setup screen for a new Mac. If I lost, broke, or already gave my old Mac away Im good to go.

Two Macs: the new Mac and old Mac. That's why it's called Migration Assistant. Using Time Machine MIGHT be better, assuming you've got one set up already (a very good idea, but universal? hardly) -- but certainly not Time Capsule. Slow, as in agonizing. And of course, even with a Time Machine drive you STILL need the proper cable, unless you've found a way to connect a hard drive to a Mac without one.
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post #34 of 57
As to FW or USB to connect devices and/or computers. AFAIK, FW alao allows daisy-chaining and USB 2.0 does not.

Also, it is interesting that the iPod 30-pin connector has pinouts that suopport both (and a lot more).

It is conceivable, with economies of scale, a 30-pin cable could be the universal adapter (a thin SCSI with no terminator required).

Lacking connectors on every device, a 30-pin cable -- with adapters for USB and FW would work.

Lastly, the 30-pin connector, while wider, is 1/2 the thickness of a USB or FW connector -- quite important for thin devices such as MBA, iPad and iPhone.


http://pinouts.ru/Devices/ipod_pinout.shtml

.
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post #35 of 57
.

Since nobody else has mentioned it...

Apple, virtually, announced another "personal computer" today, and no one, even Steve, mentioned it.

If a "personal computer" must be able to be setup without connection to another computer...

... Then a thumb drive with contacts that fit the iPad connector, would allow the iPad to be setup / reset similar to the MBA,

To all those who insist that the above is part of the required defonition of a PC, it seems that Apple could easily silence these nay-sayers.

But, Apple shouldn't do it for that reason -- rather, the iPad could be sold as the first and only computer for some consumers -- and some business environments, such as kiosks, etc.

All that, with a simple, inexpensive, little piece of pastic with some eletrical contacts.

.
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post #36 of 57
Is that USB key labeled in any way? What happens when later models start including different versions of software on USB keys?
post #37 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by Drow_Swordsman View Post

Next, let's do this with MBP's. Keep the optical drives for the MacBooks and iMacs, let's give the MBP ridiculously long battery life.

Make the DVD drive in MacBook Pros easily removable, and sell secondary batteries that slide into the optical drive bay. Allow people to choose between having an internal optical drive or longer battery life whenever they want. Unless diehard Apple defenders find even the option of an internal DVD drive so personally offensive that they would prefer nobody have it at all.
post #38 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by Haggar View Post

Make the DVD drive in MacBook Pros easily removable, and sell secondary batteries that slide into the optical drive bay. Allow people to choose between having an internal optical drive or longer battery life whenever they want. Unless diehard Apple defenders find even the option of an internal DVD drive so personally offensive that they would prefer nobody have it at all.

Apple already offers an external USB superdrive for $79.

.
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post #39 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by sheff View Post

I remember years back people were talking about windows and office coming on thumbrdives instead of DVDs. How fitting that OSX would be the first major piece of software to do this.

Maybe the first OEM, sure, but it's not exactly difficult to put Windows on a USB drive. In fact, that's the only method I use for installing Vista and 7. It was also probably possible to do it with Mac OS X, too, but I never tried.

Also keep in mind this is only a read-only reinstall. It's still, at least as far as we know, not a sign that all future Mac OS X builds will be released on USB drives.
post #40 of 57
It's about time!

The HP MediaSmart Windows Home Servers come with a routine that builds a bootable USB drive to restore your Mac if the hard drive crashes - it works very well (tested it when I upgraded my hard drive). Nice to see Apple doing this, although since it's read only - as another poster opined I would rather see it built into the computer, accessed by a key combo or something. Impossible to loose that way.
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