Written by Topher Kessler
Apple has announced Snow Leopard's availability, and have links to it from their website's home page. Since this announcement, there have been many inquiries about whether or not a certain system will run the new operating system.
The basic requirements for Snow Leopard are as follows:
An Apple computer with an Intel Processor
1GB of Memory (RAM)
5GB of hard drive space (Storage)
DVD drive for installation
The full set of system requirements can be found at Apple's website at the following page: http://www.apple.com/macosx/specs.html.
While the DVD drive is mentioned, it is not actually required to install Leopard though will make things easier. You can use another computer's drive or a disk image to install Snow Leopard. While previous versions of OS X have required you to boot from the installation media, Snow Leopard copies the installer files from the media to the hard drive and then installs from there.
PowerPC Support: NONE!
Snow Leopard will not run on any PowerPC system, even PowerPC G5 systems that are 64-bit capable. If you have a PowerBook G4, iBook G4, PowerMac G4, Mac Mini (G4), iMac G4, iMac G5, or PowerMac G5, do not buy Snow Leopard since you will not be able to install it. Apple has split away from PowerPC, and while there are technical reasons for why the 64-bit architecture in the PowerPC will not work with the latest OS, the fact that Apple has switched architectures is the primary reason for the drop in support.
PowerPC machines will still run Leopard and have most of the features (user experience enhancements) of Snow Leopard, but will not be able to run the optimized code that Apple has put into Snow Leopard. The main differences between Snow Leopard and Leopard are under the hood, so in terms of the operating environment you will not miss much by still running Leopard on your PowerPC system.
You can check to see what kind of processor you have by opening "System Profiler" in your "Utilities" folder and highlighting the "Hardware" section. The processor should be identified in there. Alternatively you can enter the command "machine" in the terminal to see what kind of processor you have. If the output contains "PPC" in the name, then you have a PowerPC processor:
Tophers-Computer:~tkessler$ machine PPC970
Tophers-Laptop:~tkessler$ machine i486
My desktop computer (PPC970) will not run Snow Leopard, but I will be able to install it on my laptop (i486).
UPDATE: An additional and quick way to check what kind of processor you have is to go to the Apple menu and select "About this Mac", then check the processor type in the resulting window.
Snow Leopard Discussion
Previously, we have discussed some of the features of Snow Leopard, and what systems will work with these features. This information is in our article series on preparing for Snow Leopard, which we are continuing to write about and update. Here are the current articles in the series so far, so be sure to read up if you are unsure about the features of the new OS:
Topher has been an avid Mac user for the past 10-15 years, and has been a contributing author to MacFixIt for just over a year now. One of his diehard passions has been troubleshooting Mac problems and making the best use of Macs and Apple hardware both for family and friends, as well as in the workplace. He and the newly formed MacFixIt team are hoping to bring enhanced and more personable content to our readers, and keep the MacFixIt community going here at CNET. If you have questions or comments for Topher or the other MacFixIt editors, feel free to contact us at http://www.macfixit.com/contactResources