Off the top, I want to thank dosdude1.com for providing the software – and the instructions – to upgrade many older Macs to OSX Sierra. Please donate if you can!
The benefit to this update is that we are getting a number of Macs – Towers, Mini’s and iMacs – that can only go up to OS7 or OS8 and thus are increasingly out-of-date. If we can get at least some of these Macs up to OSX Sierra, we have a great chance to give them new life for a few more years. And that means we can give students, families, non-profit groups and others the ability to work with the latest OS and be as productive as they can be going forward.
The website lays out the requirements, supported (and non-supported) machines, things you’ll need and known issues (which we laid out in Part 1.)
You can use the instructions from dosdude1 to take you through the process. My intent here is to give you my take as I went through those instructions.
The instructions are clear that you need a flash drive of at least 8 GB in size. I found that you can get away with a smaller one. That said, you will need to get ahold of a copy of the Sierra installer by using a newer Mac to get it from the App store or dosdude1 gives you a link to the MEGA Unlimited site in New Zealand – but you can get instructions on how to download it from other websites as well.
You’ll also need a hard drive with an older version of the Mac OS (based on the requirements for the upgrade) or a blank drive. In either case, you’ll be installing Sierra – so it will be a “normal” install as you would with any Mac update, or a clean install on a new or blank drive.
Update: This is my main drive info. I did this upgrade on an exact copy:
NOTE – we plan to do a clean install and, with some additional software tools (like Open Office) we will plan to make a Time Machine backup to use to make clones for other Macs. (Yes there are other ways to make clones – as in using SuperDuper or Carbon Copy Cleaner. But I’ve found that using a Time Machine backup is actually quicker. (See note below about this.)
We’ll write about that experience in a future blog.
Download the Patcher Tool as instructed. Plug in the USB drive and format it using Disk Utilities. (That said, the Patcher Tool will format it anyway when you go to the next step.)
NOTE – I used a 6 GB partition on a large USB drive that I have with various OSX installers without a problem.
It’s time to install OSX Sierra on the USB Drive. Make sure you know where the Sierra installer app is – the patch tool will want to know.
Run the Patcher Tool and click on the Sierra icon to verify your Sierra install app. This went as planned for me. Now it’s time to install the OSX Base System on the formatted USB drive (or in my case – partition).
Remember, this will be the boot drive from which you’ll install OSX Sierra onto the drive of your choice.
With the USB drive selected, I clicked on “Start Operation” to begin installing the Sierra install app.
This is where I ran into some trouble – as the install would get almost all the way to the end and then give me an error message. I reformatted the USB drive and tried again. Same thing. Third time, I LEFT what had been installed on the USB partition and walked away. The install was successful this time! Not sure why but it was time to move on.
I keep a Time Machine backup and a SuperDuper backup of my boot drive, so I decided to use the backup as the guinea pig for this update. I rebooted the Mac from the USB drive (Apple Menu -> Restart – Press the Option key). If your USB drive only has one partition (with the Sierra install on it) you’ll see your boot drive and one that is called “OS X Base System.” THAT is what you want to boot from.
I intended to UPDATE from El Capitan (10.11), but if you want to do a clean install, you’ll need to boot into the install drive and then pull down System Utilities to format that drive (yes – you could have done this before as well).
Proceed with the installation on the disk of your choice. This will take awhile so be sure to go into System Preferences and tell your Mac (using Energy Saver) to not go to sleep or turn off your hard drives.
Once installed, your Mac will boot into the new OS. You’ll know because the background will be the Sierra Nevada mountains and “About This Mac” from the Apple Menu will confirm it all.
I was almost done! Although it LOOKS like you’ve upgraded properly, you still need to patch the new OS. So I rebooted BACK into the USB Sierra installer partition. This time, when it booted, I found a small box had popped up with four menu items. You only care about the last one – macOS Post Install. I chose that and it asks you to choose your Mac model.
Luckily – it TELLS YOU what Mac Model you have. Choose that model from the drop down box and you will see some suggested patches pre-populated for the model Mac you have. Select the drive you installed Sierra on and press PATCH. For some reason, I had to do this twice but it did finally take.
On the bottom of the Post Install, you’ll see “Complete!” on the left and a Reboot button. Ignore “Force Cache Rebuild.”
My Mac rebooted into the backup drive with Sierra installed. It worked perfectly! I checked for any updates and only had one – Pages – to update. The patched system should allow updates as well (at least for Sierra) but there have been none so far.
That was it! I will likely go ahead and install Sierra on my original El Capitan boot drive (2 TB) as well after giving Sierra a run through on the backup.
Given that the patches are Mac-specific, I’ll likely have to run the patcher tool on each machine we update at the MacRecycleClinic. The good news is, I can boot from the USB drive and install Sierra on any Mac that is supported. From there, I just have to run the Patcher Tool and choose the right version of the machine to patch.
The other plan (as mentioned above) – to create a Mac-specific Time Machine clone may not work but we’ll give it a try and report back.
NOTE that there are still some restrictions with certain Macs – in some cases, for instance, WiFi won’t work – the website says machines ( a wide range actually) running the Broadcom BCM4321 WiFi module. The fix is to install a compatible WiFi card if one is available.
Let us know your own experiences with this patch and any suggestions you might have to make it easier.
My Mac Tower is finally at a point where it can’t be upgraded. At least that’s what Apple says.
The curious thing is – it can be upgraded – with a little help.
Our MacRecycleClinic guru Lorin Evans found a great website that offers a number of solutions for those of us with older Macs (within reason) that want to use Apple’s latest OS.
The website is pretty plain but has the info you need:
The owner of dosdude1.com does ask for a donation if you use his tools to do the deed. But to start – here are the requirements:
-Early-2008 or newer Mac Pro, iMac, or MacBook Pro (MacPro 3,1 and 4,1, iMac 8,1 and 9,1, MacBook Pro 4,1, 5,1 5,2, 5,3, 5,4, and 5,5)
-Late-2008 or newer MacBook Air or Aluminum Unibody MacBook (MacBookAir 2,1, MacBook 5,1)
-Early-2009 or newer Mac Mini or white MacBook (MacMini 3,1, MacBook 5,2)
-Early-2008 or newer Xserve (Xserve 2,1)
Machines that ARE NOT supported:
-2006-2007 Mac Pros, iMacs, MacBook Pros, and Mac Minis (MacPro 1,1 and 2,1, iMac 4,1, 5,1, 5,2, 6,1 and 7,1, MacBook Pro 1,1, 2,1, and 3,1, MacMini 1,1 and 2,1)
*The 2007 iMac 7,1 is compatible if the CPU is upgraded to a Penryn-based Core 2 Duo, such as a T9300.
-2006-2008 MacBooks (MacBook 1,1, 2,1 3,1 and 4,1)
-2008 MacBook Air (MacBookAir 1,1)
I have NOT done this upgrade YET but will give it a shot on a backup drive and let you know what happens. In the meantime – give it a try if you’re up to it and let us know how it goes.
Thanks to MacInTouch for this information (with minor editing):
Please note that if you (and your friends/family/clients) have not downloaded OS X 10.11 El Capitan yet I strongly advise you to do so before Sept. 20 because after this date, in line with what has happened with previous OS X upgrades, it will probably no longer be available to download from the App Store. The download is free and you do not have to install it/upgrade to it:
1. Go to Apple menu > App Store… (or Macintosh HD > Applications > App Store).
2. Click the “Purchased” tab.
3. If you need to sign in, sign in with your Apple ID.
4. In your Purchased list look for “OS X El Capitan.”
5. If it is listed, you have already downloaded it and you do not need to do anything else – quit the App Store.
6. If it is not listed click https://geo.itunes.apple.com/gb/app/os-x…&at=11l7jb
7. If OS X El Capitan has a “Download” button click it to download (the installer is quite large ~6GB so may take some time to download).
8. Once it has downloaded the installer will launch.
9. At this point quit the installer – do not run through the installer.
10. In your Macintosh HD > Applications folder there will now be an “Install OS X El Capitan” application – you can leave that where it is unless you need the disk space in which case it should be safe to delete it (although it’s worthwhile to make a copy/archive of it somewhere else from your boot drive before deleting it).
11. The free purchase and download of OS X 10.11 will now be registered with your Apple ID so that if Apple remove OS X 10.11 next week from the main App Store you will have it in your Purchase history and will still be able to download it in the future should you ever need it.
We have talked in the past about how much more difficult it is getting to recycle Macs, and frankly many other PC brands – especially laptops.
Now word that the upcoming MacBook will be even worse. A beautifully thin machine glued together with a battery that literally can’t be replaced. Shredding is not even an option.
This article by Huffington Post Reporter Andy Campbell tells the tale. But it reflects what we continue to see at the Clinic. We are only accepting and working on Intel machines now, so we are already having to deal with issues of machines that – for example – might only need a new hard drive, but it’s just too difficult to open up to replace. And that means it is harder for us to meet our goal of getting perfectly good machines back to folks who need them.
Frustration, thy name is increasingly Mac.
The Huffington Post article can be found here:
Apple’s Next MacBook Will Probably Be Terrible For The Planet
Thanks to Verizon Wireless for providing this great list of sites across the U.S. where you can recycle electronics.
Some states have established electronic waste recycle programs, including many that are free to consumers.
Recyclemac comment: Why are there only 13 states out there doing this kind of thing? IF your state is NOT LISTED let us know and we’ll add them here..
- Connecticut or call 1-888-424-4193
- Hawaii or call 1-808-586-4226
- Minnesota or call 1-800-657-3864
- New Jersey
- North Carolina
- Oregon Oregon E-Cycles: Free recycling for computers, monitors and TVs or call 1-888-5-ECYCLE
- Pennsylvania or call 1-800-346-4242
- Rhode Island
- Washington Recycle computers, monitors and TVs free of charge or call 1-800-RECYCLE.
- Wisconsin or call 1-800-943-0003
Note: North Carolina, Vermont and Wisconsin prohibit the disposal of netbook computers, tablets and in Wisconsin, cellphones, in solid waste landfills. Other states may have similar restrictions. More information is available on the websites identified above
Protect your Personal Data
Most recyclers will attempt to erase data from refurbished or recycled devices. However, it is good practice to purge your personal data – your contact list, photos, text messages, etc. – before giving it over to a recycler (or passing it to a family member or friend).
– 12 complete PowerMac systems went to the Cheverly (Md.) STEM Education Center located in the Cheverly United Methodist Church. The school provides Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) classes for area home schoolers.
– 6 additional towers went to the Chance Academy, which is located in the Michigan Park Christian Church in Washington, D.C.. This school provides the homeschool network in Maryland and the District of Columbia with academic programs in the sciences.
All of the machines (including monitors, keyboards and mice) from the MRC are donated Macs that are reconditioned to make sure everything is working properly. We have a “master” hard drive that we clone (copy) so that all machines have the same set of software when they go out the door.
Since all these machines were PowerPC Macs (pre-Intel chip machines), the software is all optimized to work with OS 10.5.8 – the last OS version that works with PPC Macs.
Always great to hear these kinds of stories that we can pass along to our Recyclemac readers.
This one comes from our own Jim Ritz – a long-time member of the MacRecycleClinic and the old Tuesday Night Crew at Washington Apple Pi when the club had a physical office in Rockville.
Recently one of (MRC volunteer) Phil Marchetti’s clients said she had an old iMac that was of unknown status. She asked Phil if he could fix it and maybe she could pass it in to her handyman who couldn’t afford to buy a computer.
Phil said it worked but needed ram and who knows what else. Hearing the specs I knew we had ram of the type it needed. We increased the ram from 256 MB to 2.0 GB and installed the latest Mac OS that early Intel could handle and passed it on. The client gave MRC a donation as well.
This was a Win, Win, Win situation for all involved!
It is what MRC does.