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10.7: A solution for MacBook Air and Mac mini lack of install media System 10.7
I'm not happy with not having restore media and I'm not patient enough to wait for a 3.5 GB download, so I sought another solution.

The new MacBook Air and Mac mini use a build of 10.7 different from the regular installer from the App Store. If the hard drive is replaced or wiped it's necessary to download the installer from Apple's servers using Lion Recovery from either the Restore Partition or using Lion Internet Recovery.

Firewire or Thunderbolt Target Disk Mode (T key at boot) makes creating a copy of the contents of the drive using another machine an easy matter, but what about the Recovery Partition? For that, first enable the DeBug Menu in Disk Utility on your second machine. Once that has been enabled choose the 'Show every partition' option and the Recovery Partition is visible and the contents can be copied.

At this point it's possible to restore the image that originally came with the MB Air, but if it's a new or wiped drive the restore would lack the Recovery Partition. Adding the recovery partition needs to be done at the command line because Disk Utility at the GUI won't permit creating a partition as small as the Recovery Partition, nor will it hide the partition properly.

The process is fairly clear; reduce the size of the main partition, create the Recovery Partition, then because diskutil is a little confused, correct the size, copy the contents of the Recovery Partition and then designate the type of partition.

Detailed instructions (Use 10.7.x for all of this):
  • Using Thunderbolt Target Disk Mode from MacBook Air to other machine, image Apple install from the MacBook Air drive to the destination.
  • Enable the Disk Utility DeBug menu using this command:

    defaults write com.apple.DiskUtility DUDebugMenuEnabled -bool true

  • With the DeBug Menu now visible, enable the 'Show every partition' option, then use the Mount menu command to show the Recovery Partition on Desktop, and image it as well.
  • Next, establish a 650MB partition on HD. It should be this size: 681574400. Use diskutil info to find the Total Size of main partition = X, then subtract 650MB from that size to get the new size of main partition; i.e., X - 681574400 = NewSize.
  • This command will resize main partition and create the new Recovery Partition:

    diskutil resizeVolume /dev/disk0s2 NewSizeB jhfs+ "Recovery HD" 650002432B

    (Note that's a 'B' at the end of the number.)
  • Results likely will show that Disk Utility didn't quite make it 650MB so that can be fixed:

    diskutil resizeVolume disk0s3 650002432B

  • Restore the data previously copied out of the original Recovery partition.
  • This command will make the Recovery partition invisible and set it's type correctly:

    asr adjust --target /dev/disk0s3 -settype "Apple_Boot"
The source for much of this hint is here though it's modified it for ease and a better understanding of what takes place.

[crarko adds: I haven't tested this one.]
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10.7: A solution for MacBook Air and Mac mini lack of install media | 6 comments | Create New Account
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10.7: A solution for MacBook Air and Mac mini lack of install media
Authored by: odi on Oct 17, '11 11:53:22AM

This worked, but I ended up with a 681574400 byte partition instead of a 650002432 byte.
The hint mentions both numbers, which doesn't make sense. The original recovery partition has a size of 650002432 bytes. After using "X - 650002432" instead of "X - 681574400" I got a partition with the correct size, even without the second "resizeVolume" command.
Also note that "asr" needs to be called by root, so the last command should start with "sudo asr ..."



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10.7: A solution for MacBook Air and Mac mini lack of install media
Authored by: wallybear on Oct 17, '11 01:47:34PM

"Adding the recovery partition needs to be done at the command line because Disk Utility at the GUI won't permit creating a partition as small as the Recovery Partition, nor will it hide the partition properly."

This is not completely true: Disk Utility lets you create small partitions, you just need to type the partition sizes in the text fields (it won't work dragging the division bars in the graphical representation).
That said, it's true that you cannot specify the partition size down to the byte (but this is not so important, it suffices to give a partition slightly bigger, eg. 0.66Gb, and the image restoration will work the same), and you cannot specify the right partition type neither hide it, so it's definitely easier to use diskutil from the command line.



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10.7: A solution for MacBook Air and Mac mini lack of install media
Authored by: lar3ry on Oct 17, '11 01:52:30PM

As I have a Mac Mini Server with OS X Lion Server installed, this is a pretty good hint on how to get a "proper" recovery partition that isn't simply OS X Lion without the Server GUI extensions.



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10.7: A solution for MacBook Air and Mac mini lack of install media
Authored by: uxjw on Oct 17, '11 02:51:07PM

Apple released a utility specifically to address the lack of CD drive. It creates a bootable USB drive which functions just like the Lion recovery partition: http://support.apple.com/kb/DL1433



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10.7: A solution for MacBook Air and Mac mini lack of install media
Authored by: agentx on Oct 18, '11 06:33:31AM

Still reckon the best way is to download the Installer for your model again.
Create a USB flash installer disk from InstallESD.dmg file inside the Install Mac OX bundle.
It is a policy of mine to immediately create a USB recovery stick before you do anything.

Apple should be leaving the Install files after imaging the machines...but they are not PITA !
Also recovery partition cannot be installed on a RAID set and internet recovery fails as well !



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10.7: A solution for MacBook Air and Mac mini lack of install media
Authored by: allanmarcus on Oct 18, '11 06:03:46PM

I was told (but have not verified) that the 10.7.2 version on the App Store will work with the Air and the mini. Can anyone confirm or deny?



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