With the new SANLink Thunderbolt to Fibre Channel adapter from Promise shipping recently. I wanted to add a couple Mac Mini machines to the XSAN for Tosh.0.


The problems?  The XSAN is running 2.2.2 on OS X 10.6.8.  That means the Mac Mini’s, which only ship with OS X 10.7, wouldn’t be a good choice to add as clients until I upgraded the Metadata Controllers, but we are in the middle of a production cycle, so that wasn’t a viable option.  So I had to try to install Snow Leopard on those machines first.  After several failed attempts to build and update the installation, I came across an Apple Discussion with some very helpful tips, including what turned out to be the key for me, to copy over the kernel extensions from a 10.7 Lion installation.

The following is an abbreviated recap posted by user David Amis, recalling solutions by newfoundgloryKasper E and others.

Full instructions for installing Snow Leopard 10.6.8 on a 2011 Mac Mini, version 2.

This is an assembly of what has been discovered and posted by newfoundglory, Kasper E, and others, with much detail added. These instructions look long and complicated, but it’s just detail and options.

The problem: The 2011 Mac Mini ships with Lion (10.7), which is unusable for many users. Snow Leopard (10.6.8) can be installed, but without some alterations it will be slow and will have the Phantom Display* issue.

There are three possibilities for how the installation will be used: clean new install, migrate from an existing computer during the install, and create an installation that can be copied to many 2011 Minis. It’s helpful to determine which type of installation you intend in advance, but only in your choice of user name. If you want a clean new install, use the user name you want to be the final user name. If you migrate during the install, the user name from the old machine will be used. Otherwise, use a temporary name, such as ‘Admin’, which you will replace later (Migration Assistant requires this if not run during install). When you have completed the installation, you can duplicate it to other Minis using SuperDuper or Carbon Copy Cloner.

To do the installation, you’ll need the following:

1. A 10.6.x install DVD, and any machine that will run it (also, it should have 10.6 installed). For example, the 10.6.3 retail install DVD will work on any machine introduced before 10.6.3, but a 2011 MacBook Pro must use the 10.6.6 DVD it shipped with. I used a 2011 MacBook Pro, so in these instructions I’ll refer to the second machine as ‘MBP’.

2. A Firewire cable. The Mini has FW800, so you need either a FW800-FW800 or a FW800-FW400 cable, depending on the second machine.

3. 10.6.8 Combo update, downloaded to the MBP.

4. A few kernel extension (kext) files from 10.7 and 10.6.8 (specific versions). Available here in a folder called “MacMini2011 Snow Leopard kexts”:

MacMini2011 Snow Leopard kexts

Install Snow Leopard:

1. Start the Mini in Target Disk Mode (TDM) by holding the T key, connect to MBP with the Firewire cable. The Mini’s hard drive will show up on the MBP’s desktop.

2. Boot MBP from the Mac OS X 10.6.x install disc. The next several steps will be performed on the MBP.

3. If you didn’t preserve the 10.7 installation as described above: You can’t install 10.6 over 10.7, so you need to erase the single partition on the Mini’s HD. Open disk Utility and select the partition (i.e.’Macintosh HD’) on the left (not the ‘Media’), click the erase tab, and erase it. You may want to use a different name from the MBP’s HD, so you don’t get them confused. In any case, the Mini’s HD will have the Firewire icon.

4. Install 10.6.x on the Mini’s HD. Be sure customize the install to add Rosetta and QT7.

5. At the end of the install, restart, but hold down the option key and boot from the MBP’s HD.

6. Install 10.6.8 combo update v1.1, and click “Change Install Location” at the Destination step, and choose the Mini’s HD for the install. If it doesn’t work, try it again. If it still doesn’t work, you’ll have to boot the MBP from the Mini’s HD and finish the install, then install the update.

7. Shut down MBP and Mini, and remove the Firewire cable.

8. Now connect Mini to a monitor and boot from its own HD. It should work, but it may have Phantom Display issues.

9. The final steps of the install will be done on the Mini, either migrating from an old Mac, or creating a new user.

10. (optional, perhaps a bad idea?) For good measure, and to make sure no drivers were missed, Install 10.6.8 combo update v1.1 again, this time directly from the Mini.

Fix kernel extensions:

1. Copy the “MacMini2011 Snow Leopard kexts” folder to the Mini’s desktop and open the folder.

2. Also open this folder:


An easy way to do this is to open a new finder window, copy the path above (from first to last ‘/’), choose Go to Folder from the Go menu, and paste the path.

NOTE: in step 3 and a few other steps, you’ll be required to Authenticate.

3. Drag Macmini5_1.plist, Macmini5_2.plist and Macmini5_3.plist from “MacMini2011 Snow Leopard kexts” to the Resources folder.

4. Now open this folder:


NOTE: After you perform step 5 and also after 6, you may get the “System Extensions cannot be used” dialog several times. You can ignore the error.

5. Find AppleIntelHDGraphics.kext and AppleIntelSNBGraphicsFB.kext, and move them to the trash.

6. Drag AppleIntelHDGraphics.kext and AppleIntelSNBGraphicsFB.kext from the “MacMini2011 Snow Leopard kexts” folder to the previously opened Extensions folder.

7. Open the Terminal app in the utilities folder, and type the following:

sudo su - 

It will then ask for your password.

8. Paste the following into terminal:

cd /System/Library/Extensions/IOPlatformPluginFamily.kext/Contents/PlugIns/ACPI_SMC_PlatformPlugin.kext/Contents/Resources chown root:wheel Macmini5* chmod 644 Macmini5* cd /System/Library/Extensions chown -R root:wheel AppleIntelHDGraphics.kext chown -R root:wheel AppleIntelSNBGraphicsFB.kext chmod -R 755 AppleIntelHDGraphics.kext chmod -R 755 AppleIntelSNBGraphicsFB.kext kextcache -system-prelinked-kernel kextcache -system-caches exit echo 'Finished' 

 the commands will take some time (a minute or so), and you will get an error about InternalModemSupport.kext that you can ignore. It’s complete when you see ‘Finished’.

9. Now reboot your Mini, and you’re done!

That was all great.  I got the Mini’s running 10.6.8 headless and was very excited when I got my SANLinks.  I unboxed them, hooked them up and nothing.  Oddly, the Mini’s were reporting them in the Thunderbolt section of System Profiler, so what was going on?  They were blinking because they were receiving a signal from the Fibre Channel switch, but when I connected an optical cable, I noticed there was no transmission signal.  Hmmm?  Update Thunderbolt.  Using Pacifist, I installed the Thunderbolt 1.0 and 1.1 updates and restarted.  Voila.  The Mini’s saw all the LUN’s, even though it is not connected to “Qualified” storage or Fibre Channel Switch.

Regardless, thanks to the users above for a nice, simple solution for helping me get these Mini’s on.  I set them up as additional Qmaster Clusters so they could help with our transcoding.  Already, they have saved us a couple of times by being available to help get cuts to where they needed to go faster.  Can’t wait to do it all again when I upgrade to 10.7!

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