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Install 10.3 on a 1.5 GHz Mac mini System
I needed an OS X 10.3 boot partition on my new 1.5 GHz Mac mini, for applications that don't work on 10.4 (in my case, BitPim for syncing my cell phone). However, these minis were built to run 10.4, and "do not support 10.3." Here's how I worked around that limitation.

First, one needs to get a 10.3.9 system installed on a partition on the mini. If an older machine that can boot 10.3 install disks is available, attach the partition in question to the older machine, install, and update to 10.3.9. (If the partition is internal, attach the mini inself in Target Disk Mode.)

If one is working solo on a mini, use Disk Utility to make disk images of each install disk. Mount all disk images. Ignoring the top-level installer, launch instead the OSInstall.mpkg package found in /System -> Installation -> Packages on the first install disk image.

As an aside, in my experience this is the slickest way to do any install; 99% of the time, it's simpler and more robust than the advice for constructing custom install DVDs or partitions. That is a modular problem; it is quicker and more reliable to make a bootable DVD or partition which includes these disk images. Want that Betty Crocker "I added an egg" feeling? Make an alias to OSInstall.mpkg.

Now, manually apply an update to 10.3.9, downloaded from Apple, rather than trying to boot into 10.3.0 to run Software Update. Finally, restart the mini using the newly installed 10.3.9 boot partition.

Using a DVI connection to a Dell 1905FP monitor, my screen was so distorted as to be nearly unreadable. However, I managed to find and open the Displays System Preferences panel and selected a lower resolution. The distortion disappeared. I then reselected the higher, native resolution, and the distortion was now gone. This seems to be the only major issue, initial video incompatibility.

Something good happened by toggling resolutions. I have ideas, but they would be mere speculation. What matters is that this worked for me.

[robg adds: I don't usually recommend trying to run an older version of the OS on a machine that was seemingly designed for a newer version. In this case, though, it seems to work. If I were going to test this hint, I'd make sure my backup was current before proceeding!]
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Install 10.3 on a 1.5 GHz Mac mini | 10 comments | Create New Account
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Authored by: bedouin on Jan 20, '06 08:35:18AM

I've used BitPim before in Tiger. What's the problem?

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Authored by: syzygies on Jan 20, '06 03:43:44PM

The whole deal with BitPim is getting a driver recognized, yet their mail lists are not open to discussions of driver problems, and they make scant mention of the existence of Tiger on their site, so I've been on my own. I'd love to get BitPim working in Tiger.

What worked for me in 10.3 was

BitPim for LG 4500 cell phone

FutureDial USB to Serial cable
RadioShack 17-792, $20
Prolific 2303 chip
Online name of driver file:


My last try with 10.4 was in August. I used

to no avail. The errors I got were of the form

This port is active but not available for use.
Your operating system shows this driver and port is correctly configured and a device attached
It was not possible to open this port

So those of you that got BitPim working in Tiger, what were you doing differently? Any help is appreciated!

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BitPim in Tiger
Authored by: rtarpine on Jan 21, '06 07:20:06AM

I had your error message. I think This port is active but not available for use means that the driver is not installed. In BitPim preferences, try looking to choose a com port. I have Serial (/dev/cu.usbserial) chosen. Under ports not available, there is a choice with "Prolific Technology chip" in its name; that might look like what you want, but it isn't. It doesn't use a driver, but is direct USB access. If you don't have the driver installed, I think that is all that appears.

There's a chance that Prolific's driver simply didn't work correctly yet on Tiger when you tried it. The second post here seems to suggest that (it's from last August).

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Install 10.3 on a 1.5 GHz Mac mini
Authored by: Mike A on Jan 20, '06 09:05:54AM

For the screen resolution issue, this could also possibly have been solved by holding down Shift whilst the machine boots. This should force the OS to use a really low setting and you can then change it to what you actually want.

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Install 10.3 on a 1.5 GHz Mac mini
Authored by: mflender on Jan 20, '06 11:14:30AM

I also have used BitPim in Tiger.

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Install 10.3 on a 1.5 GHz Mac mini
Authored by: garroth on Jan 20, '06 11:52:50AM

I can't imagine why there would be any problems with this hint. The first mini's to come out had 10.3 installed. I got one of these just 2 weeks before 10.4 was released. So they shouldn't have any problem running 10.3.

Sometimes the Wheel spins faster than the hamster runs.

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Install 10.3 on a 1.5 GHz Mac mini
Authored by: syzygies on Jan 20, '06 03:26:30PM

This is a brand new Mac mini with the "stealth upgrade" specs (box says 1.42 GHz, "About this Mac" says 1.5 GHz). I called Apple for tech support and after looking at my serial number, they told me that 10.3 was unsupported for this hardware, they were surprised that I got it to work. In particular, it has a different video circuit and more video RAM than the early minis.

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Install 10.3 on a 1.5 GHz Mac mini
Authored by: Sobeguy on Jan 20, '06 04:07:02PM

I'm not sure that I get this. When was 1.5ghz Mini released? I only see a 1.42ghz Mini??

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1.5 GHz Mac mini (stealth upgrade)
Authored by: syzygies on Jan 20, '06 05:08:39PM

See Stealth Upgrade.

I went into an Apple Store, bought a mini and had them boot it at the Genius bar. My plan was to pay the 10% restocking fee if it wasn't the new model, but it was: better video, better burner, faster.

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Install 10.3 on a 1.5 GHz Mac mini
Authored by: chomski on Jan 20, '06 08:59:18PM

I was trying to keep a client's site all Panther for uniformity, and luckily they keep purchasing Minis. I imaged the Mini's drive with Bombich software's NetRestore from an updated Panther drive that I had patched. There really wasn't anything to it(5 minutes total), since no Tiger partition was necessary in this case. Prep time is of course longer, but it does right by the client, as this is the third machine I've turned back the clock on. These hints are a good reminder of the tools that Apple's engineers and Mr. Bombich have brought down off the mountain and handed to us. Just wanted to add my two cents.

for beter results, add beer

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