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I borrowed a Core 2 Duo Mac mini. I want to back up the HDD and wipe off the OS Leopard that it has so that I can later re-install it back. Then I want to upgrade to OS X Lion. Can this Mac mini run Lion? What steps should I take? specs here: mac mini 3.1 Intel core 2 duo 2.26ghz 4gb ram

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1GB of RAM is insufficient for OS X 10.7 "Lion." You'll need 2GB or more.:

OS X Lion - Technical Specifications General requirements

  • 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
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And if you get more RAM for your mini, I would start by installing Lion on to an external drive. You can boot off an external OS quite easily on Mac until you get used to imaging / backing up / restoring. –  bmike Sep 7 '12 at 16:02
    
updated the specs..i have 4gb ram –  iceman Sep 8 '12 at 8:15
    
Then both Lion and Mountain Lion will run quite well - personally I'd recommend ML instead. –  da4 Sep 8 '12 at 15:41
    
is there any article detailing steps to clone the existing snow leopard before i start installing lion and steps to install lion for a usb drive. i've a dmg image –  iceman Sep 13 '12 at 13:16
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I'm a fan of Carbon Copy Cloner for cloning an existing system, but there are other options like SuperDuper that can do this as well. Remember to test booting from the cloned/backup before making changes to the original system. Then use Disk Utility to restore the InstalLESD.dmg from inside the Install Lion.app package to your flash drive. –  da4 Sep 13 '12 at 15:54
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