Mac OS X v. 10.4 Tiger now ships on a DVD by default instead of a suite of CDs like Panther used to. This makes for a much faster, smoother installing experience as no disc swapping is required. Unfortunately, it also raises new questions for users whose Macs are well within the system requirements but do not own a DVD drive.
While Apple offers a Media exchange program, users who have purchased the Family Pack and only have one or two incompatible drives will probably not want to revert to the old fashioned CDs.
Luckily, there are alternative ways to install Tiger onto your Mac, even without an internal DVD drive. Note however that they are not officially supported and that they might, under some circumstances, lead to a slightly less stable installation so, as the young people saw nowadays, your mileage may vary.
Use an external DVD drive
That might seem like an obvious solution but many Mac users are wondering whether this is possible. The good news is that it is, with most external DVD drives. Anything modern, self powered, FireWire equipped and using the latest firmware available for it has good chances to do the trick.
The difficulty here is that you need to be able to boot from this device. To perform the installation this way, connect the external drive to the Mac, insert the DVD into it and restart your Mac while holding the “Option” key.
After a while, your Mac should present you with a list of all the available boot volumes, which includes this external drive — you may need to wait a few minutes until you can click on it but that’s normal. From there on, simply follow the traditional steps and you should be all right.
Using FireWire Target Disk Mode
This installation method relies on the ability of modern Macs to boot into a special mode called “FireWire Target Disk Mode” that causes them to be seen by other computers are simple external FireWire hard drives. It will require that you have a spare Mac with a built-in SuperDrive or Combo drive (anyone knows why they aren’t called ComboDrive, by the way?) to play with.
Start by starting the DVD-deprived Mac into FireWire Target Disk Mode, by holding the “T” key down until you see a big FireWire logo dancing on the screen. Then, by using a thick, known-good FireWire cable, connect it to your other Mac and wait until it appears on your Desktop.
Finally, insert the Tiger DVD into the computer and restart it. From there on, simply follow the traditional steps. You will be able to select the external Mac in the Installer Window as the destination drive for Mac OS X. Your other volumes should be left intact.