I may have permanently murdered an old Mac Pro because Apple is crazy

The actual computer itself, the motherboard and associated bits, is perfectly fine. But all of that does no good if there is no way to boot up, and I have evidently found the perfect recipe for preventing that from ever happening, unless one of you can come up with something that neither I or 2nd tier support at Apple have thought of or tried.

It is fiendish combination of things, which boil down to this catchiest of Catch 22’s: In the modern era of purchasing system installers exclusively through the App Store, in order to install a bootable system on Mac A, you must download the installer you need from a successfully booted Mac A. If you cannot do this, you cannot install a working system, because the App Store is so clever it knows what computer you are downloading to and includes little details that render the installer unusable on any computer other than Mac A. (I don’t know if this goes so far as to be exclusive to specific computer, just a specific model.)

I did not know this when I set about wiping drives and installing systems on my old Mac Pro so I could send the machine to the person who purchased it from me. I did this in the easiest way possible: I pulled the drives out of the OMP and hooked them up to my Newer Mac Pro (NMP) and installed from there, either erasing or overwriting any and all versions of Mac OSX on all of those drives which had been installed on those drives when those drives were in the OMP, (with one very sad exception of a system that I had not used in so long that somewhere along the way I had deleted key pieces of the system, leaving just enough behind to allow me to boot, yes, but upon arriving at the Finder learned that there was no way to accomplish anything because it could not get online, there were no System Preferences, etc.) I wasn’t sure which system the new owner would want, so I partitioned one drive into Mountain Lion on one half and Mavericks on the other.

When I reinstalled them in the OMP, I got the universal sign for No Soup For You! - a circle with a line through it. This was new to me.

Now, being the tech-hoarder nerd that I am, I turned to my piles of DVDs, among which I found 3 different gray OEM installer disks for Mac Pro, Versions 10.2, 10.4.2 and 10.4.5, as well as original retail disks for Jaguar, Panther, Tiger, Leopard & Snow Leopard. In addition, I have 8 versions of Techtool and a few Diskwarrior, which all have bootable systems on them.

Every single disk was read as a folder with a question mark. By both of the optical drives in the machine. (For the record, the opticals work, since they were able to read the disks when I was booted in via the Sad System. Some, anyway, I didn’t try them all and maybe I should… perhaps the very earliest can do installs without booting from the disk, I can’t remember…)

I got my hopes up when the Apple guy told me that I should be able to do an Internet Recovery not via Command R at startup, but Command=Option-R… after we tried that 4-5 times we got to talking about the whole issue of updated firmware and how mine may have been updated enough to reject any system that was too old (hence the issue with the DVDs) but not sufficiently to allow it to take advantage of the Internet Recovery installation option.

What I spent a great deal of time trying to accomplish before talking to Apple was trying to create a USB installer by cloning an installer disk image to a hard drive to hook up to the OMP to boot and install from there, but I am pretty sure it cannot ever work because the only versions of the installers I have to clone are the ones downloaded from the app store…
EXCEPT… and I’m thinking out loud here… perhaps I can clone one of the retail DVDs to a hard drive and boot from that? Haven’t tried THAT yet, it’s next on my list.

So. Any other ideas?

You can make a USB install disk from the installer downloaded from the app store. There are two options for creating Mavericks install media here.

If you right click on the OS X installer and view package contents, you should find a .dmg image in there, as well. You could write this to USB media and use the bless command to make it bootable.

Good luck!

Why couldn’t you have done the reformat and reinstall from the old Mac Pro? The recommended procedure is way easier than what you did, even if it had worked:

What to do before selling or giving away your Mac.

Well, I almost had it… I dialed all the way back to Leopard, cloned the retail disk to install that, and that worked… next step Snow Leopard. I only had my backup copy of the original, which a friend never returned to me, and I made a clone, and it started to install…then fail. No explanation, just nope, not gonna happen.

Without Snow Leopard installed, Lion won’t install, Mtn Lion won’t and then Mavericks won’t.



I would have been more careful. Those old Mac pros are often hardcore believers and are known to bite when it’s suggested that Steve Jobs might have been partially mortal.

ETA: is what I just wrote Mac prose?

Does your old Mac Pro meet Mavericks system requirements?

I have a 12-core and an old 8-core MP, and although the App Store suggests installing Mavericks on the 8-core, it fails to do so when it realizes the video card is too old.

Assuming it’s a read error, couldn’t you just copy the disc and then burn a new one?

And you should be able find a copy of Snow Leopard online somewhere for free. I don’t think anyone would think worse of you for it. If that doesn’t float your boat, it looks like new copies are selling for about $20 on the bay.

Also you can go straight from Snow Leopard to Mavericks.

I don’t believe that’s true. Where are you getting information that it is?

I made a bootable USB stick with Mavericks downloaded from the App Store on it and was able to install it on multiple different models of Mac laptops.

Okay, all is settled.

I was able to install Leopard, then Snow Leopard, then Lion, via various methods. At which point I could go no further, because this is a Mac Pro 1,1 - not supported. It can be done, but step one is a new graphics card, then many geeky steps after. Not my job.

Thanks for your suggestions!

Like all gods, he had his flaws. :slight_smile: