Upgrading a 2009 MBP. SSD and OS question - Hurdles and Hoops

TuckerdogAVL

Registered
I have an old 2009 MBP I've actually replaced. But I was thinking about using it just for emails, online, innernet. It's been on the charge for at least 2 yrs because the battery is dead. So, I found I could replace the battery for under $90. I've gone thru the disk utility hoops, the reboot hurdles, I've been in the "not booting up" mode, all the Command R, stuff, safe mode stuff, I've gone thru those hoops, but still lots of spinning. The next hoop was an attempt to reinstall El Capitan. I'm trying to install it on a flash drive that is partitioned with the TM back ups. It is now saying I have 15 hrs... every few minutes there's a few more hours.... I'll be up to at least 24 soon.

So.... here's the question.

If I replace the hard drive with a solid state drive, can I now upgrade to Mojave or at least High Sierra .. maybe even Catalina? Or is there a hurdle regarding the computer's infrastructure. And is the HD most likely dying? I had to do the disk utility Command R a couple times in a row to be able to even reinstall a TM backup. The TM backup by the way can't be done. It fails, so last back up was in May 2020. But that did supposedly restore. And D power shows nothing. Safe mode just goes black. PRAM reset three times in two days.
 

DeltaMac

Tech
Your 2009 MBPro is limited to El Capitan. Doesn't matter about the type of boot drive that you have installed.
Apple doesn't support anything past El Capitan on a native install.
If the hard drive is as old as the laptop, then it will make things better by swapping that out for an SSD.
AND, you can use one of Dosdude1's patcher tools to go up to Catalina, if that's where you want to go.
The patcher app modifies Apple's standard installer, so it bypasses the firmware restrictions, and also adds support for some of the older hardware.
 

TuckerdogAVL

Registered
Most of this is a foreign language to me. I was able to go online to "download" an install but it stops and says I can't. The HD was locked so I started down some rabbit hole on that. I did download an install and save to a flash drive but haven't a clue as to how to get the computer to recognize the flash drive at this point. I read about the boot and it being an image, and to "just simply" do something but I don't remember what that was.

So, if I install anew SSD I can use a newer OS or not? Otherwise, I'll just trash it. A shame because it would be fine for email, internet and arguing on Facebook.
 

SGilbert

Registered
DeltaMac just told you, adding a SSD will not allow you a newer OS than El Capitan unless you 'patch' it with the link he provided.
 

DeltaMac

Tech
You have to copy the installer app to the flash drive using a method that will make that drive bootable. Simply copying the app to the flash drive is not enough. (there's several steps you need to go through to get there. One step at a time will make it happen. I've done the steps a few times...
Downloading El Capitan from Apple is easy, but there's several parts to the process to get that system onto a flash drive, and make that bootable.
You can find out very easily if that flash drive is bootable:
Insert the flash drive. Open your System Preferences, then open Startup Disk. I think you have to unlock that pane (click on the padlock, enter your admin password when asked). You will see ALL bootable drives, and your flash drive should be one of those. (I think you will NOT see your flash drive yet).
You said that you saved the download to the flash drive, so my first question: What is the name of the file that is on your flash drive?
Let me guess: InstallMacOSX.dmg
If that's a "yes" on that name, double-click that file to mount the image. You will get a folder on your desktop, with a file inside: "InstallMacOSX.pkg"
Double-click on THAT file. The installer window will open, so click Continue, then click Continue again to start the install. This step does not "install" anything, it just copies the actual installer app to your drive. (type in your password when needed to complete this step)
You will find that app in your Applications folder, named "Install OS X El Capitan"
THAT'S your installer app, and you are getting closer (not done yet! )
This post is getting too long - respond back here when you have that "Install OS X El Capitan" app in your Applications folder, and I'll give you some easy steps to use the terminal to make that bootable installer on your flash drive. You get to use the terminal for that, so something to look forward to! (Exciting days are coming)
 

TuckerdogAVL

Registered
You have to copy the installer app to the flash drive using a method that will make that drive bootable. Simply copying the app to the flash drive is not enough. (there's several steps you need to go through to get there. One step at a time will make it happen. I've done the steps a few times...
Downloading El Capitan from Apple is easy, but there's several parts to the process to get that system onto a flash drive, and make that bootable.

Actually, this first step isn't easy. When I am on the computer that the El Capitan is on, and Apple verifies I am the person I say I am and I actually am the owner, I get a message similar to "you cannot download El Capitan. Contact Apple Care." Well, that ain't gonna happen, you know, due to COVID 19.... that is why I have had all kinds of hurdles and hoops.

You can find out very easily if that flash drive is bootable:
Insert the flash drive. Open your System Preferences, then open Startup Disk.

Often, I have had to start the Com-R two or three times to "see" the Startup Disk. It doesn't always show up. I'm always thrilled when it does. I have also tried saving to a restore HD, the TM partitioned section, anything that has over 450gb of space.

I think you have to unlock that pane (click on the padlock, enter your admin password when asked).

I see no way to unlock anything. That's what started all this when I attemped the first time and got the "this HD is locked" message.

You will see ALL bootable drives, and your flash drive should be one of those. (I think you will NOT see your flash drive yet).
You said that you saved the download to the flash drive, so my first question: What is the name of the file that is on your flash drive?

No it was called something like Apple OS boot something or other. I can't check right now because I've actually been able to get the TM to show up and supposedly it's restoring to the computer ...
Let me guess: InstallMacOSX.dmg

However, yes, that is what it is called that is sitting on my Mac Mini that I was able to download from Apple. And that is what I dragged to the flash drive.

If that's a "yes" on that name, double-click that file to mount the image. You will get a folder on your desktop, with a file inside: "InstallMacOSX.pkg"

I will try this again, but when I did do that, the install got about halfway and I got a message that it wouldnt/couldn't continue. Sorry, I didn't write the specific words down. When I try this again, I will let you know. As I say the TM is restoring at this point, so that should be interesting. I had been able to restore a couple times, but it usually takes about 3 minutes to click on anything (airport, a folder, open a file) of spinning before anything happens.


Double-click on THAT file. The installer window will open, so click Continue, then click Continue again to start the install. This step does not "install" anything, it just copies the actual installer app to your drive. (type in your password when needed to complete this step)

You will find that app in your Applications folder, named "Install OS X El Capitan"

And, yes, I have seen Install OS X El Capitan numerous times in numerous ways. But everytime it gets about 3/4ths of the way through and then there's a pop up that says "unable to continue" or something that implies it's against the rules or it's not allowed or something. When that happens again, I'll write that down for you.


THAT'S your installer app, and you are getting closer (not done yet! )
This post is getting too long - respond back here when you have that "Install OS X El Capitan" app in your Applications folder, and I'll give you some easy steps to use the terminal to make that bootable installer on your flash drive. You get to use the terminal for that, so something to look forward to! (Exciting days are coming)
So, yes, let's assume that the installer app is on the flash drive at this point. I'll let you know what happens with the TM restor it's 63.5% done. :) Thanks for your interest in helping. I'm glad I don't NEED this computer right now.
 

DeltaMac

Tech
"Installer app" on the flash drive doesn't get you too far, unless the flash drive has been made bootable.
I don't "assume" anything. Tell me the name of the file that you have on that flash drive. If it is anything other than "Install OS X El Capitan" then you are not there. If the file is correct, but the flash drive can't boot your Mac, then you are still not there.
 

TuckerdogAVL

Registered
"Installer app" on the flash drive doesn't get you too far, unless the flash drive has been made bootable.
I don't "assume" anything. Tell me the name of the file that you have on that flash drive. If it is anything other than "Install OS X El Capitan" then you are not there. If the file is correct, but the flash drive can't boot your Mac, then you are still not there.
Thanks.
In the meantime, just for snicks, I launched Com-R and got into the Time Machine. The Mach HD showed up (along with the flashdrive grey and another Restore HD grey). And instead of choosing the same TM back up I always do (The one from May) I chose January 8. So, I'm looking at a TM restore, and I was able to b/u a while ago ... or it appeared to be backing up .... but the last back up is May. However, if you go into TM, you see today's back up. So, I'm backing up again and it appears to be backing up. There is 600GB available and the drive needs 215gb ... on another subject, can I manually delete old back up files vs waiting for them to disappear automatically?

Here's a screen capture of what is on the flash. It is called OS Base System. I believe it is what happened when I ran the .dmg.
the install app doesn't work. it stalls out and the message is something like "you cannot install this OS. Contact Apple Care."
Screen Shot 2020-07-21 at 2.35.46 PMEDT.png
And a screen capture of what is on my MacMini Desktop.
Screen Shot 2020-07-21 at 2.38.25 PMEDT.png
 

TuckerdogAVL

Registered
I have copied the .dmg over to the flash drive as is too now. Haven't done anything with it. I'm waiting for the spinning to stop after I clicked on trackpad to find out why only the mouse works right now. Should be about five minutes. :) (after five minutes the window popped up to disable in accessibility so I did that. I'm waiting for the spinning to stop to see if that fixed it. I'm not kidding about the spinning). Or, just clicking on anything: A doc, a file, to look at anything takes about 2 mins to respond.
 

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DeltaMac

Tech
Yes, likely a symptom of a hard drive nearing the end of its life.
(You are booted to more-than 10 year old hard drive. Performance goes down the tubes when the hard drive no longer can work nicely (probably a lot of failed sectors, nothing you can do other than replace it) This is the moment when you consider replacing with an SSD (Yes, it's really worth doing!)
How much memory is installed in your 2009 MBPro? I worked on a 2009 with only 2GB of RAM installed. It was deadly slow, taking minutes sometimes to launch another app.

Just as a test, try to boot to your flash drive. Insert the flash drive, then restart, holding the Option key. You should see any bootable drives. Do you see the the installer flash drive maybe with that name "OS X Base System"... If you don't see that flash drive appear, then you DON'T have it created correctly. I'll post good steps for that, should you want to do that correctly. Let me know...
 

TuckerdogAVL

Registered
I think I was able to boot from the flash drive. Not sure, because it appeared when looking at the disc utility that it did boot from the flash. I say appeared because there was a lot of clicks and tries and this and that and choosing, etc when something finally happened. Then I got out of safe mode or whatever I was in, maybe the command r, and it all showed up, npmesning the desktop. But, any attempt to do anything just spins forever. And somet8mes just drops out or freezes. I appreciate your help but just haven’t been dealing with it lately, hence why I haven’t responded. Because I think it’s just not worth it. Frankly, I don’t know if I want to bother with replacing the battery and hard drive for El Capitan.
 
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