How to Burn an OS X Lion Boot Disc

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When Apple’s OS X Lion debuts in July, it’ll only be available through Apple’s Mac App Store. No retail copies, no white-edged Apple-gray install DVDs—just an install file you’ll purchase and pull down by conjuring the App Store from your Mac’s dock and perusing “New and Noteworthy” for a picture of Apple’s new tawny-maned kitty. Oh, and you’ll need at least 2GB of memory, 4GB of install space and to be running the very latest version of OS X Snow Leopard in the bargain to make it all work.

So what about performing a clean install? You know, where you don’t upgrade over your existing Snow Leopard one? For those of you who—like me—prefer computer installs to begin all “tabula rasa”? Can you still do that?

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According to tech blog Egg Freckles, yes you can. But it’ll take a bit more work to transfer Apple’s system files to a DVD. Here’s how:

1. Once you’ve pulled Lion down from the Mac App Store, right-click on the installer and select the option “Show Package Contents.” This is your Mac’s way of tearing the wrapping off a virtual install disk to access all the shiny bits (aka “files”) inside.

2. Open the “Contents” folder, then look for a “SharedSupport” folder and open that. Inside, you’ll find something called “InstallESD.dmg.” This is the money file we’re looking for (or the “master control program” if you’re a Tron wonk).

3. Copy that file (“InstallESD.dmg”) to a folder outside of the installer (your desktop works).

4. Open the “Utilities” folder on your Mac and launch “Disk Utility.”

5. Select “Burn” from the “Images” menu option, or just click the yellow and black icon on the menu bar (which, disturbingly, looks just like the official symbol for nuclear activity).

6. Browse to wherever you copied “InstallEDG.dmg” and select that—drop in a writeable DVD, wait for it to burn, and presto, instant bootable OS X Lion DVD!

Of course you won’t be able to do any of that until July-something-or-other when Lion actually hits. Apple hasn’t said on what date in July, specifically, to expect their new OS, so we’re still waiting (kind-of-sort-of on tenterhooks) for official confirmation.

MORE: An ‘Onlion’ Release for Apple’s Next OS