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Run full OS X installer for another drive without rebooting
Authored by: larryy on Jun 19, '10 05:58:39PM

This hint was a total life saver for me. I bought a new Mac Mini (mid 2010, with HDMI), but because I wanted two 7200 rpm internal drives and didn't need an optical drive I bought the server configuration, fully planning to blow away Snow Leopard Server with regular Snow Leopard. I had a retail, boxed copy of Snow Leopard I intended to use for this purpose. However, the Mini was too recent to use the boxed version of Snow Leopard I had, and the machine would kernel panic when I tried to boot from the installer DVD. A couple of phone calls to Apple couldn't come up with any solutions and they were even suggesting I might want to return the unit and get the non-server model (which I very much didn't).

Then I remembered this hint. I booted the Mini off its originally installed server OS. Inserted my Snow Leopard install disc (in an external USB CD/DVD drive). Used this technique to install 10.6 to the second volume in the machine. Downloaded the latest combo updater from apple.com/support. Applied the update to the system on that second volume. Et voila. I could safely boot off of that second volume into standard Mac OS X. (And erase the original boot volume and use it for the data I always intended for my second internal drive.) Outstanding!

(Because of an unusual situation with Apple releasing a version of the 10.6.4 updater that was specific to this generation Mac Mini and which was not a "combo" updater, I actually had to use a 10.6.3 updater instead of the latest 10.6.4 updater, but this is not likely to be a common scenario.)

It all worked because I never had to boot into an out-of-date version of the OS in order to bootstrap up to a sufficiently recent version of the OS. Thanks for the *great* hint!

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Edit: Well, it almost worked. The installations proceeded as expected and I was able to boot off the target volumes after. But I hit a very mysterious situation in which built-in ethernet could not be found. I suspect this is a matter of special drivers being needed for this particular device at this particular stage of it and its OS's life. (It's unusual to see Apple release device-specific software updates.) So the method in general works as advertised, but I'm afraid it let me down in this specific instance.

Edited on Jun 20, '10 02:18:08PM by larryy



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