Mac OS X Leopard: from install to shutdown

It's finally here! The eagerly-anticipated update to Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard has arrived on our desks and will soon be installed on our Macs - a Power Mac G5 and a MacBook Pro. We're expecting all kinds of surprises - good and bad - so pop back often to see how we're getting on.

11.28am - UPS man at the door, with an incredibly small cardboard box. Leopard may be big on features, but it's very small on packaging. It's shiny too with a big silvery X on the front and a purple and black reflective starfield. Inside is the install DVD, a Welcome To Leopard guide and two Apple fanboy stickers. Do Windows Vista users get the same buzz? This is the moment we've been waiting for.

11.44am - Our Power Mac G5 has coincidentally just finished backing up. We started it at 8am this morning. Normally we'd do a clean install - reformat the hard drive, install all the apps afresh - but we feel like living dangerously today. We'll see how silly or not that is later. Our guess is that a lot of people will install Leopard this way.


12pm - Leopard installation is underway. As is usual with Mac OS X, it first prompts you with the language you'd like to use, whether you want to do a straight installation, archive your old files and then install or obliterate everything on your hard disk drive and install a completely fresh copy.

12.08pm - Leopard is checking the integrity of the install DVD before it starts pouring files on to the hard disk. It's now 40 per cent complete. Not much longer to wait.

12.30pm - The DVD check is complete and installation is under way. We have another 10 minutes to wait before the Leopard intro movie kicks in and we can get our hands on the OS. Newbies and upgraders will be pleased to hear that Leopard has relatively low system requirements.

System requirements

It can run on Macs equipped with PowerPC G4 and G5 processors, plus all flavours of Intel-powered Macs. There are some caveats however. PowerPC G4 Macs will need at least an 867MHz processor to run Leopard; others won't be able to take advantage of the full run of features. For example:

  • You'll need an Intel Core 2 Duo Mac to use the blue-screen style animated backgrounds in Photo Booth. All other Macs will need an iSight webcam or a DV camcorder equipped with FireWire.
  • Boot Camp - the program that enables you to run Windows XP or Windows Vista - obviously needs an Intel processor to run.
  • iChat Screen Sharing needs a 128kbps or higher internet connection.
  • Front Row needs a built-in infra-red port and an Apple Remote.
  • For the DVD player to run at its best, you'll need a 1.6GHz processor of any stripe.
  • The Time Machine automated backup tool requires an external hard drive. We upgraded to a 1TB model yesterday for our setup.

You can find full system requirement details on the Mac OS X Leopard - Tech specs page.

12.45pm - Leopard installation is nearly complete. Our Power Mac G5 has rebooted with something that looks suspiciously like a Blue Screen Of Death. It's probably just the Mac OS X updating itself with all the new features. Fingers crossed.

12.55pm - We obviously missed a restart message (or there wasn't one). Our Power Mac G5 has now been restarted.

At home with Leopard

1.03pm - Quick as a flash the Welcome to Leopard intro movie whizzed by and we're now in Mac OS X.

1.05pm - The first thing we're being asked to do is nominate a backup drive for Time Machine. The second we picked it, Time Machine switched itself on and a full system backup has started.

We also just checked the Spotlight desktop search application. The magnifying glass in a blue circle in the top-right corner has gone, and been replaced by a simple black outline on the Finder's menu bar. Spotlight is currently reindexing our Mac - it'll take around three hours for the 750GB's worth of hard drive space.

The Finder's menu bar also doesn't look like the one in Windows Vista at all. The translucent effect has been scaled back massively - probably as a result of user protest - and is mainly white, but with a slight hint of background colour. The Apple Menu logo in the top left has also changed - it's now two-tone in appearance (black / dark grey) to make it look metallic.