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It all worked because I never had to boot into an out-of-date version of the OS in order to bootstrap up to a sufficiently recent version of the OS.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


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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