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I have been a developer for a long time. I am deciding when to just use Snow Leopard as my primary operating system, now or after it is released to the public. In the past I have always had a separate hard drive for testing, and I keep nuking and reloading with the latest seed.

Now with the current seed (SL), Apple is offering updates via Software Update. I know the final release is scheduled for September, but I think I am ready to reload my new MBP-13 and go all Snow Leopard. It would allow me to more conveniently work on and test my applications and I am going to upgrade the first say out anyway.

What really prevents me is the question, will I have to nuke again to install the final release or can I just do an upgrade?

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I'd love to know the answer to this as well. In the past I'd say you would have to nuke for the final release, and from a legal (not a lawyer) sense you probably would have to. But from a practical side of things you may be able to just continue to get updates. – Bryan Schuetz Jul 31 '09 at 15:30
Likewise with Bryan. I'd like to know whether or not to upgrade or reinstall. Either way, I'm psyched for Snow Leopard! – osij2is Jul 31 '09 at 15:45
Completely anecdotal, so I'll make it a comment rather than an answer. The only way I found to get an optimal experience when moving from 10.4 to 10.5 was a complete wipe and reinstall. The system worked when I upgraded in place, but it was painfully, noticeably slow. With that in mind, I will probably do the same again. I don't trust Apple's promises about in-place upgrades. I lose a day reinstalling applications and setting preferences, but in the long run it's worth it. – Telemachus Aug 1 '09 at 14:41

If I recall there the announcement of Snow Leopard recently it was mentioned during the Video that the upgrade is possible. I also know that the our developers have been doing in place upgrades of the test seeds provided by Apple.

According to the official Snow Leopard pages here:

Faster, more reliable installer.
The installation process is up to 45 percent faster and more 
reliable than ever. It checks all your applications and sets 
aside programs known to be incompatible. And in case a power 
outage interrupts your installation, it can start again 
without any danger to your data.

According to the Up-To-Date Program here it will also be possible.

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As a tester I personally don't feel "right" if I am using an actual shipping operating system. I would suggest that you just bite the bullet and jump in now.

What makes this extra appealing is that if you use time machine, you can just re-install from your backup if it all goes pear shaped, so your downtime loss would be minimal.

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@Bruce - Time Machine is pretty cool I have a lot of data. Maybe I need to change from a 1TB Time Capsule to a 2TB now! Bot the reasons to upgrade! – user4215 Jul 31 '09 at 15:36
I do however agree regarding Beta / RTM release upgrades. As a rule I do reinstallation's, however in the case of SL it doesn't look like it is necessary. – BinaryMisfit Jul 31 '09 at 15:44
@Diago - I was actually thinking about re-partitioning to 3 partitions. Snow-Leopard (main) a smaller partition for Leopard testing (or whatever comes next after SL) and a Data partition. I should be able to have both OS partitions use my home on the Data partition by changing the location in Sys Prefs. I am TOTALLY psyched about SL though. a bug fix release was a great idea, the price of $29 will be great. Yes, I pay more for my hardware than PC users, but being a Mac person is Friggin awesome. I have since I was 16 years old. – user4215 Jul 31 '09 at 15:52
@indie - No need to preach to the converted. I am a Mac user myself and as far as I have been able to confirm you can directly upgrade from test seeds to the full version. – BinaryMisfit Jul 31 '09 at 15:55

Without knowing whether or not the GM will be released as a software update (mind you Apple has never put out more seeds via Software Update before with the exception of one time updates to WWDC seeds designed to test Software Update) it's impossible to tell what kind of install you will have to do and Apple isn't talking.

EDIT: Coincidentally the rumoured GM (10A432) per MacRumors has been reported to only be available as an image from Apple's developer site. It may be a delay on the Software Update however.

I would recommend looking at the Archive and Install option regardless - it will keep your user folder and your Applications folder and simply just replace the OS. A "clean" install without actually wiping the drive. The only downside is that any plug-ins or applications that are installed in /Library/* (eg. /Library/QuickTime for QuickTime components, or /Library/Internet Plug-ins/ for plug-ins, etc.) but you can retrieve them by either re-installing the applications that added them or grab them from /Previous System/Library.

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