The requirements for Mountain Lion are:
- OS X v10.6.8 or later
- 2GB of memory
- 8GB of available space
and the supported models are:
- iMac (Mid 2007 or newer)
- MacBook (Late 2008 Aluminum, or Early 2009 or newer)
- MacBook Pro (Mid/Late 2007 or newer)
- Xserve (Early 2009)
- MacBook Air (Late 2008 or newer)
- Mac mini (Early 2009 or newer)
- Mac Pro (Early 2008 or newer)
If your machine does not comply with these requirements you may be able to install Lion, for which the requirements are:
- Mac computer with an Intel Core 2 Duo, Core i3, Core i5, Core i7, or Xeon processor
- 2GB of memory
- OS X v10.6.6 or later (v10.6.8 recommended)
- 7GB of available space
Lion is available in the Online Apple Store ($19.99) (you will get a code enabling you to download it from the Mac App Store).
You should be aware that PPC programs (such as AppleWorks) will not run on Lion or above; and some other applications may not be compatible - there is a useful compatibility checklist at http://roaringapps.com/apps:table
Check that your computer is compatible with Mountain Lion/Mavericks.
To check the model number hold down the option/alt key, go to the Apple menu and select System Information.
- iMac (Mid 2007 or newer) model number 7,1 or higher
- MacBook (Late 2008 Aluminum, or Early 2009 or newer) model number 5,1 or higher
- MacBook Pro (Mid/Late 2007 or newer) model number 3,1 or higher
- MacBook Air (Late 2008 or newer) model number 2,1 or higher
- Mac mini (Early 2009 or newer) model number 3,1 or higher
- Mac Pro (Early 2008 or newer) model number 3,1 or higher
- Xserve (Early 2009) model number 3,1 or higher
Do you have space on an external drive that you can create a small partition 25GB (more is better). Make sure the drive is formatted correctly first. See if Mavericks will install on the external drive.
Format the external drive as Mac OS Extended (Journaled) - Partition Map Scheme: GUID
BTW, how much RAM do you have installed? Apple recommends 2GB, but it will be so slow with 2GB that you will regret updating. Even with 4GB Mavericks will be slow.
Have you checked to see if all your necessary applications will run under Mavericks? No Power PC applications will run. Appleworks and Microsoft Office 2004 are two of the most mentioned applications that do not run on Lion and higher.
App Compatibility Table
Can you please elaborate on the installation on an external drive? Sounds interesting since I have only 4GB RAM and would be nice to see how it works before actually upgrading.
Can I somehow clean install Mavericks (in contrast to upgrade an existing installation)?
From your lines, I understand that if I have an "obsolete" application then the installer will report the mentioned error message, right?
Running OS X from an external will be slower than running from an internal drive so keep that in mind when testing. If your internal drive is big enough you can create a partiton there to install Mavericks.
Once you have a partition, you can select it as the destination to install Mavericks OS X. This will be a clean install. Add applications carefully.
If you select to install over a previous OS X, the installer will move applications to a folder as "Incompatible", but it will not do a thorough cleaning. It's best to do the clean install and be very careful about what you bring over from your old drive. Just your files to be safe and a few selected files from your User's folder.
Diane's advice is spot on!
Backup or clone first.
DO NOT install Mavericks over Snow Leopard as that will destroy the Snow Leopard environment!
Partition or add an external drive and install Mavericks there.
Use the "dual-boot" method (System Preferences:Startup Disk) to determine which flavor of OS X (Snow Leopard or Mavericks) you will be using.
Experiment with Mavericks, but retain the ability to boot into Snow Leopard when you find software incompatibilities in your Mavericks experimentations.
How unhappy are you with Snow Leopard? Are there applications you want to run but are only avaialble if you move to Mavericks? More important what applications are you running that would require a paid update if you move to Mavericks?
At some point in time your computer will die or require repairs that are too expensive to justify. Start preparing now for the transition so when the times comes you'll be ready both financially and with backups of your data.
A clone will save you if you come in one day to a dead or non fuctioning computer. Take it from someone whose Switch died suddenly and computer would not boot. Old G4 computer. The cost of the switch plus labor to replace was more than the computer was worth. I was lucky I had backup. Another computer had monitor problems after the third year. Even though the drive was working great, I couldn't see to work. Again, cost of repairs more than computer was worth. Luckily it was in the last month of Apple Care and Apple gave me a new computer.
>>how well will a clean installation of Mavericks will work on my box (having MacBook Pro from 2011 with 4GB RAM)? Will it be usable or am I better off with SL?
It's more than usable on my 2007 model with 4GB, so I'd expect yours to be the same or better.
Make a backup first, so that you can revert if things don't work out.
I get the feeling from you guys that I shouldn't try to update...
Most of us feel: "if it ain't broke, don't fix it!"
Let's say that I don't care about my current installation; how well will a clean installation of Mavericks will work on my box (having MacBook Pro from 2011 with 4GB RAM)? Will it be usable or am I better off with SL?
Oh, you'll care... and you'll care at the worst possible time!
Four of us vote for you to clean install Mavericks on a new partition or external drive (I am taking the liberty of including Eric in our vote).
One guy from across the pond, says roll the dice and install Mavericks over Snow Leopard: and when you run into problems with Mavericks, look forward to the enjoyable experience of dread and horror while you spend all of your available time trying to revert back to Snow Leopard!
There are your two choices...