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Installing Mavericks on an unsupported Mac Pro

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For those of you with an older Mac Pro – model MacPro1,1 or MacPro2,1…

I managed to install Mavericks (Mac OS X 10.9.3) on my MacPro2,1. Since support for the MacPro2,1 and earlier models have been dropped in recent releases of Mac OS X, it is not so straight forward to install Mavericks on older hardware.

I read that the graphics card needs to be upgraded as well and the Apple version of the ATI Radeon HD 5770 was a good choice. I ordered one and swopped it with the old card. I was still running Snow Leopard (Mac OS X 10.6.8) and it booted up perfectly.

The steps I followed was to build an installable USB using the process described at the Sixty Four On Thirty Two (SFOTT) website.

Unfortunately it did not work straight away – My Mac Pro did not boot up.

What I proceeded to do then was to do the following:

  1. Find another machine with recent hardware which allows you to install or boot Mavericks – I have a recent MacBook Pro.
  2. Use Disk Utility to partition an external drive to install Mavericks on it since I did not want to install Mavericks on my MacBook Pro.
  3. Boot with the installable USB on my MacBook Pro (the machine which is supported by Mavericks).
  4. Tell the Mavericks Install that I want to install Mavericks on the external drive (NB. I wanted to keep my existing install on the MacBook Pro intact).
  5. Finish the install.

After this I tried to boot the Mac Pro with the external drive which now has a clean Mavericks installation. Unfortunately this still did not work. I looked at the boot.efi file and the PlatformSupport.plist file and these did not contain the necessary changes.

I then copied the boot.efi (the modified version) from here to the external drive. The locations updated were:

  1. System/Library/CoreServices
  2. usr/standalone/i386

I then edited the PlatformSupport.plist file by adding my board-id and my model identifier (MacPro2,1) to the file in the following location:

  1. System/Library/CoreServices

I tried booting from the external drive again and it worked!!!

I then used SuperDuper to clone the external drive (the one with the bootable and modified Mavericks install) to the Mac Pro internal drive and rebooted. My Mac Pro is now up to date and I am a very happy customer 😉

My next step is to investigate upgrading the RAM on the Mac Pro to extend it’s life even more.

Written by Rudi Engelbrecht

June 12, 2014 at 2:02 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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