Lion Clean Install Requires Snow Leopard Disk? [Updated]

In order to perform a "clean install" of Lion -- on a new hard drive or when restoring a machine to sell it, for example -- users will need to install Snow Leopard first, according to an email forwarded to MacRumors, purportedly from Apple CEO Steve Jobs.

We have inspected the raw header information included in the email and believe it to be genuine, but these emails must always be taken with a grain of salt.
On Jun 20, 2011, at 9:57 PM, xxxx wrote:


I'm really exited about Lion, but I'm a bit anxious about the absence of any physical media in the event of a crash where I need to do a clean install. Will Lion still provide a way to make a bootable image in the event that I need to start from scratch?
And Steve's typically short response:
From: Steve Jobs
Subject: Re: Lion clean install
Date: June 21, 2011 7:55:05 AM PDT
To: xxxx

You can clean install Snow Leopaard [sic] first.

Sent from my iPhone
If this is true, it seems likely Apple will continue to sell Snow Leopard for the foreseeable future for users upgrading from Leopard and to perform clean installs.

Apple still sells Leopard for users who wish to upgrade their pre-Intel PowerPC Macs. Leopard is $129 and only available through 800-MY-APPLE, not the Apple Online Store or the retail stores. The company could offer Snow Leopard in the same surreptitious manner.

Update: To clarify, the original question and Jobs' answer seem to be focused on a situation in which a user is presented with a bare hard drive such as after an upgrade or a replacement after drive failure. OS X Lion does create a separate recovery partition to enable clean installs from a working system, but in the event of a full drive failure and no available backup, Apple's officially-sanctioned reinstallation policy appears to involve first installing Mac OS X Snow Leopard. For machines that ship with Lion installed and thus do not have Snow Leopard to fall back on, Apple will presumably provide some other recovery solution, perhaps in the form of a USB key as is included with the MacBook Air.

Update 2: The website Emails from Steve Jobs yesterday posted a similar email from Steve addressing the same topic:
Dear Mr. Jobs,

I just wanted to know if there will be a way to install Lion on a new HDD/SSD without previously installing 10.6?


Andreas Dantz
Steve's straightforward reply:
Sorry, no.

Sent from my iPhone

Top Rated Comments

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113 months ago
Apple has gone crazy with this release?

What happened to user experience and ease of use? C'mon.
Rating: 51 Votes
113 months ago
Wouldn't it make more sense to just have a "Create Install Disk" function built into the OS?
Rating: 33 Votes
113 months ago
Surely you can't be serious.
Rating: 33 Votes
113 months ago
Maybe I'm missing something, but wouldn't the definition of a clean install rule out installing Snow Leopard and the upgrade to Lion? A clean install, in my mind, means installing the OS from scratch on your new system/drive.
Rating: 31 Votes
113 months ago
Uh oh. This is really, really not good.
Rating: 30 Votes
113 months ago
This is just plain stupid. I'm not going to keep an album of previous OS releases on disk because Apple wants to toy around with the Mac App Store.

Isn't the point to move away from physical media?
Rating: 28 Votes
113 months ago
such an elegant solution /sarcasm
Rating: 26 Votes
113 months ago
That is ridiculously stupid. How un-apple like

Edit: I had bounced around this and other options in a blog post just yesterday ( For instance, Apple could still have physical media only at Apple Stores, or via special order.

I simply can't believe Apple is being this obstinate about being Mac App Store only
Rating: 18 Votes
113 months ago
Just buy a new maac [sic].

Rating: 14 Votes
113 months ago
I call BS on this one. How does Steve's iPhone not auto-correct "Leopaard"?
Rating: 11 Votes

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