Mac Upgrade Circus

I was called in at 9 this morning for some routine maintenance, and an upgrade or two of the computer that Just Works.

Mac Don’t Always Just Work

I started at 9:20am – faced with the 2-year-or-so old Intel MacBook Pro that was still running OS X Common House Cat Tiger, and in desperate need of an upgrade.

The machine was previously used as a photo bank / work horse and was now relegated to the serene pastures of office admin.  The 120GiB hard drive was 100GiB full, and would therefore need a good vacuuming.

Still littering the office from previous Mac upgrades, which didn’t go smoothly at all, I had my 2-step upgrade discs handy.  I’ve read several posts where people have said upgrading from Tiger straight to OS X Snow Leopard was possible, but my mileage varied quite considerably.

I had to from Tiger to Leopard to Snow Leopard, with all of the 5 or 6 various-aged Macs that I had to upgrade about 3 months ago. Not. Fun. At. All.

Bring in the Leopards

Anyhow, the files on this computer had all been backed up, so I could just fire away. I duly slipped the OS X Leopard 10.5 disc into the drive.  The Mac recognised the disc easily enough, and a couple of clicks later the disc was humming along nicely. Leopard was being installed.

About 25 minutes later, as the progress bar neared 100%, I was thinking to myself how smoothly it was all going. Of course, thoughts like this generate a ridiculously strong electromagnetic pulse, and mere moments after forming this thought in my head, the Mac threw up a non-helpful message: “Leopard could not be installed on this system. Please restart and try again”.

Luckily the message said please, otherwise I would have been seriously pissed off at just having wasted 30 minutes.

But the fun was just starting. Restarting the Mac then caused a message that said OS X 10.4 was required for this installation, and that OS X 10.4 was not detected on this system. I chose the main drive as the startup disc, and restarted the Mac again.

This time it try to boot, but just shut down. I tried a couple of times, but it did the same thing and eventually I realised the hard drive got wrecked.

How to the get CD out of a Mac that doesn’t boot up

Hit the power button, and immediately hold down the mouse button (on the track-pad). After a while the disc will eject.

How to then boot again from the CD of a Mac that doesn’t boot up

Power up the Mac, slip in the CD, hold down the C key.

Eventually, I used a retail disc of OS X Leopard to go into Disc Utilities and check the hard drive for errors.

“Oh”, said the Mac, “the disc needs to be repaired”. Wow, that just works.

I clicked on the Repair button and several more wasted minutes later, it apparently didn’t just work as I was told “your disc can’t be repaired. Save as much info as you can and reformat.” Nice one, Apple.

So that’s what I did. I reformatted and started from scratch by running the OS X Leopard 10.5 retail install.  After about 30 minutes of that, I treated myself to an immediate additional 25 minutes by upgrading straight to OS X Snow Leopard 10.6. I was up for even more, and thought about immediately installing the patches to bring it up to 10.6.4, but the 900MiB download, and a slow Internet connection in the office, quickly killed off that idea.

Apple Macs Just Work – Eventually

So at 13:00, the Apple Mac finally just worked.

And the crash, which resulted in the loss of all the installed applications with their files, means that the office is now a superbly uncluttered admin workhorse richer.

Published by Yaku

Yaku is a brewer, baker, and semi-retired trouble maker (semi-retired from trouble-making that is). Although he believes anything is possible, he is nevertheless frequently stupefied by his world and the people in it.

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