First off, it's a 2008 MBA; it came with Snow Leopard.
There was a utility in Snow Leopard called "Remote Install OS from CD" or something that would let me install an OS on a disc from my mac pro to the laptop. It is gone in lion.
EDIT: Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Remote_Install_Mac_OS_X
EDIT: It might have come with Leopard, actually. I don't remember. Regardless, it was running 10.6 at some point.
Well, that's certainly more helpful. To downgrade from Lion do the following:
Downgrade Lion to Snow Leopard
1. Boot from your Snow Leopard Installer Disc. After the installer loads select your language and click on the Continue button. When the menu bar appears select Disk Utility from the Utilities menu.
2. After DU loads select your hard drive (this is the entry with the mfgr.'s ID and size) from the left side list. Note the SMART status of the drive in DU's status area. If it does not say "Verified" then the drive is failing or has failed and will need replacing. SMART info will not be reported on external drives. Otherwise, click on the Partition tab in the DU main window.
3. Under the Volume Scheme heading set the number of partitions from the drop down menu to one. Set the format type to Mac OS Extended (Journaled.) Click on the Options button, set the partition scheme to GUID then click on the OK button. Click on the Partition button and wait until the process has completed.
4. Quit DU and return to the installer. Install Snow Leopard.
This will erase the whole drive so be sure to backup your files if you don't have a backup already. If you have performed a TM backup using Lion be aware that you cannot restore from that backup in Snow Leopard (see below.) I suggest you make a separate backup using Carbon Copy Cloner 3.4.1.
If you have Snow Leopard Time Machine backups, do a full system restore per #14 in Time Machine - Frequently Asked Questions. If you have subsequent backups from Lion, you can restore newer items selectively, via the "Star Wars" display, per #15 there, but be careful; some Snow Leopard apps may not work with the Lion files.
The utility to which you refer is a way to install from a DVD on the MBA that did not have an optical drive. The utility was on the Leopard discs that came with the computer. You might find it on your Snow Leopard DVD.
Here's a suggestion if you don't wish to look for the utility on your Snow Leopard DVD. Get an 8 GB USB flash drive. Format for OS X and clone your Snow Leopard DVD to the flash drive using your other computer.
1. Open Disk Utility in your Utilities folder.
2. After DU loads select your hard drive (this is the entry with the mfgr.'s ID and size) from the left side list. Click on the Partition tab in the DU main window.
3. Under the Volume Scheme heading set the number of partitions from the drop down menu to one. Click on the Options button, set the partition scheme to GUID then click on the OK button. Set the format type to Mac OS Extended (Journaled.) Click on the Partition button and wait until the process has completed.
4. Select the volume you just created (this is the sub-entry under the drive entry) from the left side list. Click on the Erase tab in the DU main window.
5. Set the format type to Mac OS Extended (Journaled.) Click on the Security button, check the button for Zero Data and click on OK to return to the Erase window.
6. Click on the Erase button. The format process can take up to several hours depending upon the drive size.
Clone using Restore Option of Disk Utility
- Open Disk Utility from the Utilities folder.
- Select the destination volume from the left side list.
- Click on the Restore tab in the DU main window.
- Check the box labeled Erase destination.
- Select the destination volume from the left side list and drag it to the Destination entry field.
- Select the source volume from the left side list and drag it to the Source entry field.
- Double-check you got it right, then click on the Restore button.
Destination means the USB flash drive. Source means the Snow Leopard DVD.
It most definitely is on the Snow Leopard DVD. I am in exactly the same position as you are - an older MacBook Air which is having a difficult time running Lion, which I therefore want to revert to Snow Leopard.
You can easily find the required application "Remote Install Mac OS X" on the Snow Leopard DVD by means of an application called "Pacifist"
Once you launch the application, choose "Open Apple Installers".
Once this has completed, simply enter the word "Remote" in the application's search window, then drag "Remote Install Mac OS X.app" to your desktop.
Just to bring up to date any who might be considering reverting to 10.6. It's been almost 2 months since I reverted my Air back to 10.6, and I must say I couldn't be happier. The machine runs much, much quicker. And interestingly - though I don't have any numbers to back this up - I'm pretty sure the battery lasts much longer, and really seems to recharge much more quickly.