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No DVD Drive? Beware Mac OS X Tiger

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I ordered the new Mac OS X v10.4 Tiger a week ago with plans to install it on Friday night. However, after I opened the box, I realized the evening would not be working out as planned for me. All of the Tiger software was on a single DVD, which is great for convenience, but if you own one of the 8 Tiger-qualifying Macs without a built-in or external DVD drive, you’re up the creek.

I have a Power Mac G4 (Quicksilver) with a 733mhz processor and 1GB of RAM. I know by industry standards, it’s obsolete… but if I can run Photoshop, Illustrator and Quark all at the same time without crashing, then there’s no need to replace my current Mac. In addition, I already have 2 DVD players in my apartment, I don’t need one on my computer too until it’s absolutely necessary.

However, had I known I needed a DVD drive to install Tiger, I wouldn’t have made the purchase. I made sure to read the Upgrade Requirements before I clicked Buy Now. So to clear my head, I went back to the Tiger Upgrade System Requirements page just to make sure I had not missed something.

As it turns out, I did not. Apple makes no mention of needing a DVD drive in order to upgrade. The word DVD does not even appear on the page. Hmmm. I eventually discovered the small print on another page that a DVD ships in the package, but nevertheless— why couldn’t they make that fact more prominent?

So I searched through Apple’s site for a solution. It’s not like I was looking for it on floppy disks or something, just having a CD version makes sense if you’re going to include the DVD-less Macs. Eventually, I found a small sidebar box that states:

Media Exchange Program

Tiger ships on a DVD, but if your Mac doesn’t have a built-in DVD-ROM player, you’ll need CD media. When you buy Mac OS X Tiger, you qualify to purchase Tiger CDs for only $9.95. Download the order form

So now, I mailed out my order form, spent an extra $15 and will wait another week to receive my OS X Tiger on CD. I guess you could say that I am just having sour grapes about all this, but like I said— if Apple had included that you needed a DVD drive on the Upgrade Requirements page, then I would not have purchased it. Hopefully, people with DVD-less Macs don’t make the same mistake as me.

Note: As it turns out, Amazon does list the Tiger Software as DVD. And you get a $35 rebate too, so buy at Amazon instead of at Apple.

Read and see more of Mark Sahm’s work at Blogimus Prime and Magic Junk.

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About Mark Sahm

  • Good point on that Tiger release. Luckily I have so I will continue. I got OSX just last year but I will upgrade to this one and then continue with the free updates along the way which keep my computer current.

    But this >> I have a Power Mac G4 (Quicksilver) with a 733mhz processor and 1GB of RAM. I know by industry standards, it’s obsolete…

    I know your following statements show that it’s not obsolete – but for others reading – I have a 256MB, 450mhz G4 Mac circa 2000, with OSX 3.9 (the latest before Tiger) and I can run Photoshop, Dreamweaver (both memory heavy), a browser, OS 9, and, a printer, a scanner, a text editor all at once (and maybe more, I haven’t quite paid attention) – and download at the same time.

    Your computer is even futher from obsolete than you thought because I have never felt my machine was slow.

    The only thing I need to upgrade is the 20GB hard drive that came with. Haven’t done that, yet.

  • Temple, I would have gladly traded the extra RAM I have for a DVD drive last night.

    But I see your point about the varied perspectives of ‘obsolete’… I guess it’s the computer user’s version of whose sports car is faster, eh?

    If your G4 has the space, I recommend adding a ‘slave’ hard drive inside. It’s actually easy to do, and is described in most of the Mac manuals you got with your G4. I had a 40GB and added an 80GB slave. Plenty of space now.

  • You could just purchase Tiger online and download it, thereby bypassing the need for any kind of CD or DVD drive. I assume they offer some sort of downloadable version through the Apple store?


  • A downloadable version was my initial hope last night, but it appears that Apple only offers Tiger via disc.

    The bug fixes and security updates are usually accessible online, but the main upgrades are not.

  • That seems tedious. Maybe they should put out a ‘tiger light’ with some of the dubious new apps that no one really needs taken out so that it would be small enough to download.


  • MH

    My dad has the same problem – no DVD drive. I suggested that he buy a cheap CD/DVD drive. I found combo DVD-ROM/CD-RW drives for $25, and DVD-RW/CD-RW drives for around $50. I figured he would like an excuse to upgrade his computer again. 😉

    Option #2: if you have access to another computer with a DVD reader, is to use Firewire target mode on the DVD-less machine. You can then install onto the hard disk from the other Mac.

    Option #3: you may be able to install from a mounted disk image. You’ll need to have your disk image on, and be booted from, a drive or partition other than your desired destination. Then open the OSInstall.mpkg from the mounted image: “open /Volumes/Mac OS X Install DVD/System/Installation/Packages/OSInstall.mpkg”

    I’m a developer so I happen to have the (2.3 gig) disk image handy… I can start the installer from the image and it looks like it will work. I have installed an earlier version of OS X that way, before I had a DVD burner.

  • RichS

    You should have put that $15 towards an older model DVD burner… a 4X shouldn’t be more than $25. Then you machine would be almost respectable!

  • Bill Gibson

    Actually sounds like its about time to return that copy of Tiger and pony up the dinaro for a mac mini (which is even tastier since it includes Tiger, iLife 05, etc. plus a host of other hardware improvements over that older machine).

  • Why settle for a Mac Mini when you could drop 3 grand for a dual 2.7GHz G5! Mm-hmm, and my Lotto numbers are hitting this Tuesday.

    Anyway, thanks all for the solutions. When the CD Tiger arrives, I’ll try my best to not be jaded when reviewing it.

  • Justin

    Well, you legally own it, so download and burn the cd version! that means lots of online time for the 56k. but it’s out there!

  • Jeff

    I do have an internal DVD-RAM drive on my PowerMac G4, but not original equipment. It’s a PCI PowerMac, which did not come with DVD drive installed. I had installed a non-Apple DVD RAM drive a few years ago, and have been able to read and install disks from it, but not the Tiger DVD installation disk. I agree that it should have been stated very clearly that you need a PowerMac that came with the standard DVD drive already installed. So, Beware!

  • I’d like to ask Jeff how he installed the aftermarket DVD-Ram drive into the PowerMac G4. I have a PowerMac G4 (Yikes model) and no DVD. I found a place to get a DVD-Ram by Apple for $34. I have installed a second hard drive but never a DVD. Also, the one for sale doesn’t have a housing. So, maybe I should replace the CD drive with a DVD/CD drive?? That way I would have to look for housing. Is this difficult? I can’t find any manual instructions.

  • racoon

    I went thru the same, just to fire up Verizon dsl!
    True… Not a word said on Apple web page about dvd and the extra bs, we went thru!
    Shame on Mac!

  • I have the system set up on 733 mhz quicksilver… just get the pioneer dvr 110-D. you can get for about 40 bucks..You need to upgrade soon since most software uses dvds since the programs are getting larger.. Long run you will save money… mac man

  • Ah yes, nothing like present time comments on two year old articles.

    BC, how I’ve missed thee… let me count the ways.

  • cc04723

    I have been having trouble with Java and was told that I needed the most recent OS(10.4). So, when I attempted to purchase it and realized that it only came on DVD, I called Apple and was told that they did offer it on several CDs a while back, but that option is no longer available. In fact, I got my hopes up and tried to use the link in this article (took me to an Apple error page). Bummer.

    So, my solution was to order a DVD drive from eBay. I am nervous to install it, even though it said it was pulled from a G4 tower, I have a bad feeling about my $9 purchase — drivers, housing, screws, etc. Any advice will be helpful …

  • CC— of course the link is an error page, this article is more than 2 years old!

    If you still have your original Mac manual, it should have instructions on how to use the extra bay in your G4 tower. Otherwise you’ll have to pay someone local, or a service like Firedog or Geek squad.

    Or… maybe it’s time to stop fighting change and upgrade. Good luck.

  • jdenn

    The reason people comment on 2-year-old articles is because the problem is still relevant, today. Maybe even more so as a DVD drive seems like a must-have for a mac.

  • Jean

    Low End Mac has beaucoup info for all of us running, updating and maintaining our still excellent, older Macs.

  • Tony

    I have an external DVD drive that I tried to use to install Tiger OSx but I cannot get the computer to use the external drive as the start up drive. Ay ideas?

  • SuperDuper

    Yes, nothing like commenting on a 5 year old article. Sadly this problem is still relevant today. My old G4 does not have a DVD drive, thus I cannot install this Tiger upgrade. Yeah it sucks, but I have no money.

  • ant

    Once upon a time I downloaded Tiger for PPC processors from somewhere … (think I located it through pirate bay) … I got tiger PPC version on 4 CDs to sort out a friends similar problem. Shame that the solution is to use illegal means. Or take the machine to mac genius in store. They might install it for free.

  • Tessa

    It sucks that they didn’t mention that you will need a dvd driver to upgrade. Maybe they should have an option that you can install it via USB flash drives instead of a disc.

  • I think that Mac OS X Tiger does in fact have some very useful enhancements for up prepress guys. with over 150 new features there’s definitely a few important ones for anybody, even us prepress folks. Mac OS X Tiger will have Spotlight. Tiger’s new system-wide Spotlight search finds anything, now.