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Cannot re-install OS X on a 2008 Mac desktop

Posted on 2016-09-16
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Last Modified: 2016-09-19
Hello All!

I am trying to reinstall OS X on a 2008 Mac desktop which has recently been wiped/restored. When I try to reinstall it gives me an error message reading "This item is temporarily unavailable" after entering my apple ID and cannot get past that screen.
error message
I have tried to open the Disk Utility to try and wipe the hard drive again, but am unfamiliar with the process. I have also tried multiple different apple IDs to circumvent the error to no avail.
disk utility
Any idea how to make this happen?
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Question by:Jaime Lewis
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17 Comments
 

Expert Comment

by:matedwards
ID: 41802676
You may be best pulling down the installer.dmg to a USB, booting from that and installing locally.
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Expert Comment

by:Eoin OSullivan
ID: 41802925
Can you confirm the model of iMac or Mac Mini?

What version of OSX was on it before?  Is the HD in the Mac the one that came with the computer?  There is a chance that the HD is old and has damaged sectors (wear & tear after 8 years of use).

The Disk Utility is pretty straightforward ... click the Macintosh HD on the left panel, choose the ERASE tab on the right pane

Select Apple Extended HFS format (case-sensitive) and let it format the entire HD which will take a few minutes .. then resume the OSX installation process.
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Expert Comment

by:rogeroren
ID: 41802990
When our iMac internal drive started messing up, we got an external drive, formatted it, then started the installation process to that drive. Downloading the installer to a USB drive is a good idea, if you know how.
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Expert Comment

by:serialband
ID: 41803041
8 year old spinning disk platters can have a lot of errors on it.  They really should be swapped out or prepared to be swapped out at around 3-5 years, if they're under heavy use.

It's also possible that your Mac model is too old to download and install the newer version.  Instead of just command r, try option command r to see if you can install the "original" version of OS X on it.
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Author Comment

by:Jaime Lewis
ID: 41803088
Here are the specs for the machine:
specs
I'm pretty sure that the hard drive is stock, and unsure of the version of OS X that it was on before, though my gut tells me it was Maverick.

I did erase the HD again, but Extended HFS format (case-sensitive) was not an option, only (case sensitive, journaled), after which I tried to install again and got the same error.

Should I use the ever powerful google to figure out how to put it on a USB drive and try it that way? I unfortunately don't have an external hard drive to format.

I also tried holding option, command, r for about 2 minutes on start up and the apple icon did not appear.
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Expert Comment

by:matedwards
ID: 41803113
You will need a working mac to create the installer USB. You can download the installer from the App Store, plug in the USB and run one line from the terminal(below).
 Please note: The words MyVolume  should be replaced with the name of your USB drive.

sudo /Applications/Install\ OS\ X\ El\ Capitan.app/Contents/Resources/createinstallmedia --volume /Volumes/MyVolume --applicationpath /Applications/Install\ OS\ X\ El\ Capitan.app
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Expert Comment

by:matedwards
ID: 41803117
Once created, you can reboot from the USB drive and use the disk utility on the installer to format the hard drive and then install.
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Assisted Solution

by:serialband
serialband earned 250 total points
ID: 41803142
With only 1 GB of RAM, I suspect you could not have run Mavericks(10.9), at least not very well.  It must have been upgraded to more than 2 GB if you had it.  You may have had Leopard(10.5) or Snow Leopard(10.6) and possibly Lion (10.7 - very slow) with just 1 GB.  Mountain Lion(10.8) needed 2 GB.  Yosemite(10.10) and El Capitán(10.11) needs 4 GB just to run, that may be why it's not installing.  You really need 8 GB to be able to run more than 1 or 2 apps without swapping to the very slow disk with Yosemite and El Capitán.  Find the original installer disc and install the OS and work from there.

With an 8 year old disk, you should probably also get a new SSD.  If your system is really still at 1GB, I suggest just getting rid of it.  The cost of upgrades is not worth the expense and effort to get it working again.  You'd put your money to better work by just going to ebay and getting that same system in working condition, assuming someone's selling.
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Expert Comment

by:matedwards
ID: 41803163
Serial and is right. 2GB OF RAM minimum to run any osx past now leopard.
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Assisted Solution

by:davidanders
davidanders earned 250 total points
ID: 41803167
http://everymac.com  reports
By default, 1 GB of RAM was installed as a single SO-DIMM module. One slot free.
*Apple officially supports 4 GB of RAM, but third-parties have been able to upgrade the system to 6 GB of RAM using one 2 GB and one 4 GB SO-DIMM module.
Came with Leopard 10.5
*This system can run the last version of OS X 10.8 "Mountain Lion", OS X 10.9 "Mavericks", OS X 10.10 "Yosemite" and OS X 10.11 "El Capitan" -- if upgraded to at least 2 GB of RAM, including booting in 64-bit mode.
The existence of a "Recovery Disk" indicates it was updated to Lion or later.

Formatting to HFS+ Journaled is preferred - Case Sensitive creates file naming confusion.
Connecting the iMac to another Mac with a Firewire cable and starting the iMac in Firewire Target Mode (T key down at startup) will mount the iMac's internal drives on the other Mac.
Connecting the iMac to another Mac with a Firewire cable and starting the other Mac in Firewire Target Mode, will allow you to boot the iMac with the other Mac's hard drive.
Videos about Target Mode  https://www.google.com/search?q=youtube+firewire+target+mode

http://crucial.com  is my source for RAM    
4Gg RAM upgrade is $56
http://www.crucial.com/usa/en/imac-%28early-2008%29-imac8%2C1/CT3265324

Earlier OSX versions are not available unless the Apple ID has purchased or downloaded the OSX version - they will appear under "Purchased"
When Sierra appears, El Capitan will disappear from AppleStore, unless previously downloaded.
Snow Leopard on DVD can be purchased from Apple for $20
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Author Comment

by:Jaime Lewis
ID: 41803257
Thanks for your guidance and info, guys. I'll try and track down the original disk, see if I can find out what the current HD is, and go from there to determine which version I should install.

This is a computer that I got for free that I'm trying to just get running for the kiddos, so I'm not really interested in upgrading the HD at this time. Even if it's old and slow, running would be a win!

I'll update this once I get a better idea of where to go from here.
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Expert Comment

by:serialband
ID: 41803319
Ok, that makes more sense.

It's really not worth spending money on an 8 year old iMac.  Find someone that is getting rid of an old, but much newer than the 8 year old internal one, working external disk drive.  Then you could try to "upgrade" it by just plugging the disk into the USB port and installing and booting onto the disk, assuming you don't want to take apart that iMac and replace the internal disk.  That would probably be the easiest thing to do.  Otherwise, you could get any hand me down disk and swap it.
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Expert Comment

by:davidanders
ID: 41803379
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Expert Comment

by:Eoin OSullivan
ID: 41803631
Jamie

I'll echo serialbands comments .. whoever GAVE you the FREE Mac didn't really do you any favours especially if they didn't reset it and install a clean OSX beforehand so it was ready to use.

To summarise .. you'll not be able to run any recent version of OSX without spending $50-$70 on extra RAM.

That Mac came with a DVD drive and OSX can be installed from a DVD but to be honest finding the OSX 10.5 install DVD from 2008 won't be too easy and you'll probably have to pay for it on eBay or elsewhere.

Your kids won't thank you for installing an 8 year old operating system as the web browsers and several other applications from the last few years will not work on the iMac and it will actually not allow them to view certain websites and you'll have NO support.

Installing RAM on the iMac - upgrading to 4Gb and then installing OSX El Capitan is probably the lowest cost option BUT the hard drive on the iMac is 8 years old so it might last another few years or could start to fail anytime.  Replacing the Hard Drive is not easy on the iMac so you'd have to take it to an Apple Service Centre and cost around $50 for a 1Tb drive and whatever labour is required.

So you either spend €70 on extra RAM and then try installing latest OSX or cut your losses and sell it for spares and parts (you should get around $200 on eBay) and put the $200 towards a newer iMac.
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Expert Comment

by:Tim Lapin
ID: 41804783
I would recommend at least 4 GB of RAM.  It's a reasonable minimum for just about anything, these days.

Because of that and potential hard drive issues, I'll add my vote to selling it and using the proceeds to get a newer unit.  Try to look for a 2010 (or newer) Mac from eBay or similar used sites.  I sold my 2007 white 24" iMac on kijiji (part of ebay in the U.S.) for $200 (CDN) in 2015.

Buying a refurbished unit from Apple itself is also an option but that will be a tad pricey.
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Accepted Solution

by:
Jaime Lewis earned 0 total points
ID: 41805002
After fiddling with it a bit more, I ended up taking the machine in to a local Mac Service Center (not apple store). They installed El Capitan with no problems, and it's running great now, though they also recommended that I upgrade to an SSD as well. It did have a much larger hard drive, after all.

$45 well spent! Thanks for your help with this guys, I'll certainly look into getting an SSD soon!

(also, my kids did thank me)
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Author Closing Comment

by:Jaime Lewis
ID: 41805009
After reading the advice from the experts, I decided that it was beyond my capabilities and took it in to a shop to solve my problem.
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