The DVD of Snow Leopard was something like 7.09gig in size, and the Mac Store download of the new Lion install is <4gig.

Why the big difference in size?

Since Snow Leopard was a physical disc, did it include extra drivers or such, where the d/l of Lion is 'just' the base OS?

1 Answer 1

  1. The Developer Tools (760 MB) included on the Snow Leopard DVD are not part of the OS X Lion installer. They are a free separate download in XCode 4.1

  2. A whole whackload of printer drivers (~400 MB) are not included in OS X Lion. Presumably they are downloaded when a new printer is added.

  3. The Snow Leopard DVD includes a Library folder (1.3 GB) with frameworks etc. needed because the DVD is bootable, while the OS X Lion installer creates a bootable partition for installation.

  4. That said, the Essentials.pkg is actually bigger in OS X Lion: 1.35GB vs. 882 MB

Those are the major differences that jumped out at me, I'm sure there are other minor differences I've glossed over. The actual "Installation" package on the Snow Leopard DVD is ~4 GB, the OS X Lion installation DMG is 3.74 GB.

  • You could possibly add that Leopard did not have compression built-in to the file system so the Snow Leopard disc image required some of the bootstrap files to be uncompressed. I don't know how much of it had to be Leopard readable though. My install actually got 3GB smaller after Lion so there's certainly been some progress in compression of the OS files. Commented Jul 21, 2011 at 21:53
  • 1
    Also, PowerPC support has been dropped, so presumably that saves some space as well.
    – molle
    Commented Jul 22, 2011 at 16:49

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