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How to install Mac OSX clean without the original discs?
September 5, 2007 12:08 PM   Subscribe

How can I install Mac OS X on an older Macbook Pro without the original discs?

My boss recently got a brand new Macbook Pro, and so I received his old 15" Macbook Pro to do dev work on. I'd like to reinstall a clean install of Tiger, not only to remove cruft but also to save some space by only installing the apps I really need. The problem is that the original discs are lost, and it seems no other install discs will work.

I've tried original discs from the new Macbook Pro, a new Mac Mini, and our discs from our Apple Developer subscription. All give the same error message very early in the installation and won't continue: "This software cannot be installed on this computer."

We have the 10 seat ADC subscription and a AppleCare for all our machines, but I was wondering if there was some solution that didn't require sitting on hold for customer service or waiting in line at the "genius" bar.
posted by rsanheim to Computers & Internet (13 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
btw, this is "MacbookPro1,1" according to the system profiler - so probably the first revision or shortly thereafter.
posted by rsanheim at 12:09 PM on September 5, 2007


You should be able to download the platform agnostic OS images from the ADC website. I don't see them offhand, but I'm not a member.
posted by doctor_negative at 12:34 PM on September 5, 2007


You should be able to install with any other Intel Mac install disc. The default install type is 'Upgrade', which will give you the the error message you mentioned. Just click that 'Customize...' or 'Install Type...' button (can't remember the exact wording) in the bottom left, and switch to either an 'Archive and Install' or 'Erase and Install', and then it will let you install normally.
posted by boaz at 12:38 PM on September 5, 2007


The install discs from the new MacBook Pro should work just fine.

boot your OLD 'Book in "Target Disk Mode" and attach it to the NEW one with a firewire cable. Then use Disk Utility to erase the OLD 'Book. (This step probably isn't that necessary, but what the hell!) You can then run the installer and choose the OLD 'Book as the target destination.

I use my MacBook Pro to do OS X Server installs on xserve machines this way all the time, so I can't think of any reason that it wouldn't work on another laptop.
posted by drstein at 12:42 PM on September 5, 2007


doctor: Someone checked that - those images are similar to the retail version of Tiger in that they are not Intel-mac compatible.
posted by rsanheim at 12:43 PM on September 5, 2007


boaz: I never get far enough to have an option for that. I insert the dvd, and choose install. It prompts to restart to continue, which I do. After restarting the dvd spins up, I get the language prompt and choose English. Then the "Install Mac OS X" window comes up, and immediately I get the alert with the 'cannot be installed' message. My only options then are 'restart' and 'startup disk'.
posted by rsanheim at 12:53 PM on September 5, 2007


Do you happen to have a mouse plugged into it? I've run into issues with Macbooks which do not want mice, particularly 3rd party mice, plugged in during the install.
posted by jamaro at 1:34 PM on September 5, 2007


Jamaro: nope, trackpad only...
posted by rsanheim at 2:05 PM on September 5, 2007


Have you updated the firmware for the old Mac? I had some problems upgrading my G4 because it had outdated firmware.
posted by TedW at 4:51 PM on September 5, 2007


You sure the old one is a Macbook Pro? None of those are that "old." The message you get happens when you try to install the Intel versions of OS X on a PowerPC mac. Any chance the old machine is just a plain old G4 Macbook?
posted by fourcheesemac at 6:22 PM on September 5, 2007


Oh, sorry, you are sure according to the first comment. The firmware update should do the trick.
posted by fourcheesemac at 6:23 PM on September 5, 2007


Thanks for the attempts everyone, I thought I would update this in case anyone else has the same issue.

The macbook pro didn't need a firmware update, so that wasn't it.

Eventually a collegaue brought in his orignal dvds from his macbook pro, which is a newer revision and is the core 2 duo (as opposed to my original core duo). His discs were 10.4.8. It finally worked with his discs. I have no idea why my mbpro rejected 10.4.10 from the brand new mbpro, and allowed the slightly older version, as they both have the different processor and are from different macbook pros.

I'm just glad I didn't have to go to the Apple store, and that everything worked.
posted by rsanheim at 8:10 AM on September 8, 2007


Not that anyone's paying attention now but here are some things to add:

I use my MacBook Pro to do OS X Server installs on xserve machines this way all the time, so I can't think of any reason that it wouldn't work on another laptop.

The OS X 10.4.7 Server Install disk is Universal. It'll boot all PPC and Intel Machines. There are some OS X Tiger Intel installers that will work with most Intel units, but as far as I know they don't work with the latest Santa Rosa machines. (And they're Apple-internal only).

I insert the dvd, and choose install. It prompts to restart to continue, which I do. After restarting the dvd spins up, I get the language prompt and choose English. Then the "Install Mac OS X" window comes up, and immediately I get the alert with the 'cannot be installed' message. My only options then are 'restart' and 'startup disk'.

I work at an Apple Authorized Service Provider, and this very same problem has required a move back to the bad old days, that of keeping and maintaining a folio of discs, disc images, and instructions regarding what discs will and won't work with various machines. Plus, the DVDs need to be DL which makes each two-disc set cost about $5. Compare that to $0.50 for the normal blank DVD Tiger needs, factor in that discs like to walk and get scratched, and calculate how quickly a constant $4 loss eats in to our profits and my salary.

This is very frustrating. It wastes time and makes me want to drink. It's believed, but not confirmed, that the upcoming Leopard (10.5) release will be universal (like the betas, the WWDC releases and the latest 9A559 seed to devs) and this 2 year madness will end. This also makes me want to drink, but in joy and celebration.
posted by now i'm piste at 7:12 PM on September 29, 2007


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