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You are here: MacNN Forums > Software - Troubleshooting and Discussion > macOS > Safe and Sure Way to Install Sierra / Ongoing Regressions in OS X

Safe and Sure Way to Install Sierra / Ongoing Regressions in OS X
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kds-kds
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May 12, 2020, 04:18 PM
 
I am looking to install Sierra from scratch in a straightforward, foolproof manner on an Air currently on Catalina. I've written 'straightforward, foolproof' because it appears that experienced persons have run into trouble doing this and I do not do sysadminey stuff to begin with.

Installing whatever O.S. you wanted used to be so easy when Macs came with DVD-Rs.

Sierra is still available as an upgrade on the App Store but as a direct install and 'visible' only to O.S.'s up to and including Sierra, so you can't directly revert to an earlier O.S. I downloaded it (on Sierra itself). The Installer says "This copy . . . is damaged, and can't be used . . ." This may be because the download was interrupted and restarted. Inside the app wrapper is 'InstallESD.dmg.'

I could re-download and if it's not 'damaged,' I could copy it all over onto an external drive to install but that external drive would have to be a bootable drive as well -- more new things to learn and more pitfalls. So is there no easier way? An "Installing Sierra for Dummies" way?

As a follow-on, derivative enquiry:
Is this a proper forum on which to post lists of OSX regressions or is the collective/official mindset "Apple can do no wrong?" (Though is it really Apple OSX after the passing of Jobs and the departures of Tevanian, Serlet, the Automator chap, et al. and after the advent/coup of the ideologues?) I have a lengthy list of post-Tiger regressions (incrementally jotted down through sheer frustration) and now a developing list of post-Sierra regressions (and I'm not even trying to find any).

The purpose would be to see whether there is general agreement that a downslide and/or undesirable paradigm shift is ongoing. If so, maybe there could be some interest in a lobby/advocacy group.
     
reader50
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May 12, 2020, 06:00 PM
 
Beware that if your current MBA model was released after High Sierra came out, Sierra may not install. If you've managed to boot Sierra on your new MBA already, then never mind.

If you have Sierra on an external, you can clone it across to the new MBA. Disk Utility can do this, though I prefer SuperDuper myself. It's free for full-disc cloning. Others like CarbonCopyCloner.

If your installer image came from Apple more than 6 months ago, it may not be damaged. The security cert may be expired. Try setting system clock back to a year ago, and see if the image works now.

If your Sierra image really is damaged, you can use DosDude's Sierra Patcher tool to download the latest Sierra installer from Apple. You don't need the services of the patcher tool itself - it's used to install Sierra on old Macs that don't officially support it. Just use the menu option inside to download a fresh Sierra installer from Apple.
     
kds-kds  (op)
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May 14, 2020, 04:02 PM
 
Re "Beware that if your current MBA model was released after High Sierra came out, Sierra may not install." Yes, it was released well after High Sierra.

Thanks for the info. This is what I was afraid of and someone else on another board gave me exactly the same heads-up.
     
reader50
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May 14, 2020, 04:22 PM
 
In general, new Macs only support the OS at the time they were released, plus later versions.

However, it's not an absolute rule. If the new Mac is just a spec bump (logic board unchanged) then it will usually run earlier OS versions. Back to whenever that logic board was originally released. Try putting Sierra on an external, then see if your newer MBA can boot from it.

If your MBA really is too new for Sierra, it's possible to install High Sierra (or Mojave) on an HFS+ volume. If the new APFS stuff is what's stealing your space, you could try it.

If your MBA can boot High Sierra, use the DosDude patcher here. Repartition/reformat your MBA to all-HFS+ and use the patched installer. An unpatched Apple installer may refuse to install on an HFS+ volume.

If your MBA can boot Mojave, use the DosDude patcher here. Reformat your MBA to all-HFS+ and use the patched installer. However, Software Update will not offer any updates in Mojave on HFS+. App updates can be manually downloaded & applied. OS updates -- you have to do the patcher+latest OS all over again. It is not safe to manually apply OS updates individually.
( Last edited by reader50; May 14, 2020 at 04:35 PM. )
     
kds-kds  (op)
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May 16, 2020, 02:12 PM
 
Thanks for all this detailed info.

In another life, when I was more 'into' computing (except sysadmin stuff) and had more time on my hands, I would have tried it (and would probably have done it).

Now, with 'real life' having caught up with me, I was looking to revert to Sierra in, as I had written, "a straightforward, foolproof manner" as I can't afford to lose even a day or run into a frustrating situation, having only one laptop.

Thanks again.
     
reader50
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May 16, 2020, 02:46 PM
 
Is it too late to return/trade your laptop for one with bigger storage?
     
kds-kds  (op)
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May 18, 2020, 01:56 PM
 
Return, no; trade, probably yes. But then, I'd get a second-hand machine while this is my own new one.

For the time being I'll just offload another largeish dir or two to an external drive that stays connected, with the dirs' symlinks to my home -- have been doing that with four little-used special-purpose dirs for a couple of years, and such an arrangement works very well. Yes, you can't 'take' such dirs with you unless you also carry your external drive, but you can do this with dirs you know you're never going to need on the move.

Someone on another board suggested simply replacing the SSD in my Air with a 250 GB SSD and that is a very attractive option – a slim MBA with 250 gigs.
     
reader50
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May 18, 2020, 03:37 PM
 
Apple has been eliminating internal expansion options, or I'd have suggested an upgrade. If you post your exact MBA model, I can check if the SSD is a separate module, or soldered in place. But I'm under the impression all recent Apple notebooks have soldered-down flash drives.

You can see the current model in Apple Menu -> About This Mac -> Mac Book Air (some year).

A more precise model number can be obtained by (hold Option) Apple Menu -> System Information... -> Hardware Overview -> Model Identifier:
     
kds-kds  (op)
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May 19, 2020, 01:59 PM
 
Thanks for the reply.

Re "Apple has been eliminating internal expansion options," first it was batteries, now this. Aren't Mac users complaining by the droves or up in arms about this? Apart from that, I encounter so many regressions from O.S. to O.S. after Tiger but am I the only one who cares?

In a Computing Age that proclaims Component-Based Architecture for software systems, Apple is going Anti-Component-Based Monolithic Architecture for hardware.(?)

Thanks for assisting; model is MacBook Air (13-inch, 2017); model identifier is MacBookAir7,2.

On MacNN, how does a user view his own questions or tagged discussions? (I did Search by user-name -- is that the only way?)
     
reader50
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May 19, 2020, 04:43 PM
 
I complain frequently about Apple's removal of upgrade options. And I'm not happy about how they're locking down the OS either. Like making it mandatory to sign graphics drivers, then refusing to sign nVidia drivers. Or making cases harder & harder to open to reach undocumented options. However, most people just buy the computers, without understanding how they're being shorted. It's reached the point where my next computer will probably be a Ryzen + Linux box. Especially if Apple jumps to proprietary ARM CPUs as keeps being rumored.

But you're personally in luck, because your MBA isn't the latest model. The 2017 MBA has a (proprietary) SSD module. Which 3rd parties have reverse-engineered to design upgrades. The 2018 and later MBA has soldered flash chips, which would require sophisticated soldering work to replace.

iFixit guide, with a drive link.
OWC upgrade options including tutorial videos.

OWC often offers mail-in upgrade service. I didn't see it on the page, so you'd have to email them for details.

According to your specs, you also have an SD card slot. You could buy a big SD card and leave it plugged in as a spillover drive. They don't protrude much.

On MacNN, you can Search for posts by user name. But it's easier to start from one of your posts. Click on your user name to left of a post. Select "Find More Posts by kds-kds" from the popup. You can even bookmark this link.
     
reader50
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May 19, 2020, 07:31 PM
 
Upon rechecking your model info, it was released with Sierra 10.12.4. The logic board came out in 2015 with Yosemite 10.10.2

Apparently you can indeed install Sierra, or anything from 10.10.2 onwards.
     
kds-kds  (op)
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May 25, 2020, 11:48 AM
 
Thanks again for the helpful reply.

“I complain frequently about Apple's removal of upgrade options.” so pleased to know someone’s doing it. I want to complain about the regressions, both design and implementation. Where does one do that?

Re cases, sigs, and such, my technician friend told me that the 13-inch 2019 model is a disaster as it has a high failure rate and the SSD is integrated with the motherboard, so if you don’t have a backup and your laptop dies, you’re in a spot of real bother. They’ve also got batteries being ‘ID’d by the T2 chip so even technicians can’t replace batteries anymore without resorting to trickery. And to think how we could do that in the PowerBook G4 days.

Re “It's reached the point where my next computer will probably be a Ryzen + Linux box.” just two days back I was idly but anxiously thinking along similar lines. Never thought I’d ever be having to switch away from NEXTSTEP/OpenStep/OS X. Makes me feel even more that a lobbying/advocacy group is the need of the hour.

Re "The 2017 MBA has a (proprietary) SSD module." Okay, so it’s not that bad, but there’s that word ‘proprietary’(!), and hitherto non-proprietary/open components are being made proprietary. And you wrote “Which 3rd parties have reverse-engineered.” What I mean is that they shouldn’t have to, in that while Apple is under no obligation to reveal proprietary information and trade secrets, at the same time it should not deliberately be making systems more and more monolithic, closed, opaque, and straitjacketed as per pseudo-technical company policy.

Re “Especially if Apple jumps to proprietary ARM CPUs,” are they so ill-suited for laptops? I don’t know much about it but it really does seem like Tim Cook wants to turn MacBooks into iPhones. Or wants to disappear them altogether and turn Apple into an iPhone, TV, and Music company.

Could Tim Cook be an agent, as in “From Redmond, with Love”? Could the Android chaps be referring to him as “Our Man in Cupertino”? :-)

“you also have an SD card slot. You could buy a big SD card” Good idea, thanks! I just checked my System Specs but it doesn’t tell me whether the SD card slot takes only standard SDs or also SDHC. I’ll do a few searches and see what I find.

While it’s useful to know that Sierra can be installed on my laptop (and I wish I’d known it before) I am now so far into Catalina having resolved nearly all issues (pertaining to my usage and not the customary regressions), and needing to offload only a couple of (more) big dirs (including an ever-accumulating mail-client bulletin mailbox) on the external drive (or an SDHC card if they’re compatible) that turning back now would be more work than it’s worth.

Thanks for all the info.
     
reader50
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May 25, 2020, 02:36 PM
 
Originally Posted by kds-kds View Post
“I complain frequently about Apple's removal of upgrade options.” so pleased to know someone’s doing it. I want to complain about the regressions, both design and implementation. Where does one do that?
Here mostly. Apple has a feedback form used for bug reports. But no standard way to protest policies. I support the Right To Repair movement, and will vote for it should we get it on the ballot here in Ca.

Repair.org - covers latest developments in RtR.
Electronics right to repair WikiPedia - has organization links in summary box.

Originally Posted by kds-kds View Post
They’ve also got batteries being ‘ID’d by the T2 chip so even technicians can’t replace batteries anymore without resorting to trickery.
An SMC could provide the useful functions of a T2 such as optional hardware-based drive encryption. I figure the T2 exists so Apple can retain control of the hardware after the sale. I won't buy a Mac with a T2 chip. I don't care how well it performs. A computer is not an appliance - internal upgrade capability is expected.

Originally Posted by kds-kds View Post
Re “Especially if Apple jumps to proprietary ARM CPUs,” are they so ill-suited for laptops?
Most likely they'd be excellent choices. Apple's proprietary A-series CPUs regularly set new records for performance-vs-power-usage in iPhones. But the key word is "proprietary" again. Apple would be the sole source of chips. Will they be socketed? Will Apple change the pinout each year, so later chips cannot be used to upgrade earlier Macs? Will Apple continue to sell compatible CPUs 5 years after a Mac is discontinued, or refuse to sell the parts as they do today?

If Apple solders down all their Arm-CPUs, will they even sell the CPUs as service parts at all? In the end, I don't care how well they perform. It's about control after the sale. If Apple keeps all the keys, the house is not worth buying. No matter how big the pool is.
     
   
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