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I have a couple things I'm trying to do that I can't find a solution for.

The end goal is to be able to run DVD Studio Pro 4 on my Mac which has El Capitan installed. The software is pretty old but I need it for a client so I'm trying to figure out a way to get Snow Leopard installed on a partition that I set up on my drive. The only real reason I need Snow Leopard (10.6) is because it's the last version of OS X that runs 'Rosetta' which is required to run PowerPC application (which DVD Studio Pro is).

I set up a partition, plugged in my Apple USB SuperDrive (I have a Mid 2014 Macbook Pro so I no longer have a disc drive), put the Mac OS X 10.6 installer in, rebooted the computer and tried to boot it from disc by holding 'C'. It recognizes the command then opens up the old Apple start screen so I know it even recognizes the disc in the drive since it's clearly pulling up an old OS X start screen. The issue is that it never gets past that initial screen. I'm not sure if I need to wait it out longer but I've let it run for 10 minutes with no result.

I then tried to boot holding 'Option' but my SuperDrive didn't show up as one of the options.

I then went into the contents of the disc itself because technically I can install Rosetta because it's part of the 'Optional Installs' for that operating system and if I can just run Rosetta it will solve my problems. Of course when I try to proceed the Mac gives me a pretty strongly worded warning that I probably shouldn't do it because this old software is not compatible with the current OS installed on my computer (the whole reason I was trying to create a partition anyway).

To clarify, I can't just run the installer off the disk for the OS because the application is actually a PowerPC application and has the 'no' symbol on top of the application so I can't run the installer directly.

My main questions are: - Is there a way to just install the OS on the partition without doing the reboot? And if so, will it work running a PowerPC installer on my Intel Mac.

  • Is it ok for me to install Rosetta directly on my El Capitan system? (I know the answer is likely 'no' but just thought I'd ask in case...)

  • Is there another boot approach I could try to get past that first screen?

Thanks for your help!

  • I've never used a Snow Leopard installer. Does it ask what disk you want to install it on? You could just install while on El Capitan and then choose the partition as the target disk. – Arc676 Nov 3 '15 at 10:35
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    Hi @Arc676, I just clarified in my question. I can't actually run the installer directly from the disk because it's a PowerPC application and I can't run PowerPC applications on my Intel Mac, hence the cycle I'm stuck in (which is why I'm wanting to install the OS on a partition in the first place)... – MxmastaMills Nov 3 '15 at 10:38
  • Generally, you cannot install & run any OS on a Mac newer than the OS, the hardware drivers simply didn't exist back then - so @MikeScott 's answer looks like your only option. – Tetsujin Nov 3 '15 at 15:29
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I think your best bet is to buy a copy of Snow Leopard Server on eBay. Unlike regular Snow Leopard, you can run it in a virtual machine, so install VirtualBox. Parallels or VMWare Fusion and you should be able to install and run it.

  • Ok great, thank for the info! I was unaware of the difference between Snow Leopard operating system and Snow Leopard Servers (I've never had to do anything like this). I have VirtualBox already installed on my computer so this solution will work great. – MxmastaMills Nov 3 '15 at 18:05
  • Update on this, this worked. I got Snow Leopard Server and I run it on Parallels (I was having trouble with VirtualBox but Parallels worked great). – MxmastaMills Nov 8 '15 at 19:28
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    According to this VMware forum post, you should be able to get Snow Leopard Server from Apple by asking for part number MC588Z/A. – CajunLuke Dec 4 '15 at 14:49
  • @CajunLuke That post is over a year old, and I believe it is outdated. I don't think Apple are selling Snow Leopard Server any more. – Mike Scott Dec 4 '15 at 16:41
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    @Mike I believe it may be outdated as well; I'm seeing if I can make it work. – CajunLuke Dec 5 '15 at 20:50
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You usually can't install an "old" operating system on newer Macs. It usually doesn't provide necessary drivers for the newer hardware.

The preinstalled OS X on your Mac probably was OS X 10.9.4 (13E28). Older OSs like Mountain Lion (10.8) or Lion (10.7) probably don't run on your MBP and certainly not Snow Leopard.

The only legal option you (and your client) have is purchasing Snow Leopard Server and a type-2-hypervisor like Parallels and VMware Fusion or the free Oracle VirtualBox. Install SL Server and all necessary apps (like DVD Studio Pro 4) in a VM.

  • Ok this is all great info. I do have VirtualBox and I use that to run a licensed copy of Windows on my Mac so I'm already familiar with that environment. I'll continue down this path. Thank you! – MxmastaMills Nov 3 '15 at 18:05
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Wanted to add my findings here. Needed to install 10.6 on a 10.11.6 machine that started as a 10.6 iMac. We need 10.6 to connected to some scientific equipment. 10.11.6 iMac will not run the 10.6.3 installer and not will boot from the 10.6.3 install DVD.

Using an old MacBook Pro put the iMac into target disk mode. Created a new partition for 10.6 and ran the installer. Install completed, booted to the 10.11.6 partition successfully and can see the file structure of 10.6.3. The Boot Manager recognizes the 10.6.3 partition. However it will not boot to the 10.6.3 partition. Just hangs at the grey loading screen with the Apple.

I believe that an EFI change has occurred and will not allow 10.6 to initialize. Looking into a copy of 10.6 server and using parallels.

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I went this route but don't get any sound unless I install a third party sound card and drivers and under VMWare this gets kinda screwy

Consider buying an old Mac off eBay?

I bought a very fast G4 PowerMac for a fiver!

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Best guess, install snow leopard on an external hard drive, on a machine that will run snow leopard. Then after successfully testing that snow leopard will run that computer from the external hard drive. Shut down that computer, (The one you use to load the external hard drive with snow leopard) unplug the external hard drive. With the other computer shut downed, plug the external hard drive into the Computer running the more up-to-date operating system. Then go to system preferences to check to see if the external hard drive is an option in startup disk. If so select the startup disk with the snow leopard operating system and restart. Good luck.

  • It's a non-starter, I'm afraid. You simply cannot boot an OS older than the machine you're trying to run it on. The hardware wasn't invented then, & there are no drivers for it. – Tetsujin Dec 4 '15 at 15:30
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The last standalone OS which Apple put on the market as a bootable DVD was Snow Leopard 10.6.3. Modern Intel machines, in general all those which were born (or were later updated) to run Lion (or any following Mac OS), won't let you boot from DVD (your Mac would get stuck on Apple gray logo/spinning wheel). Some late aluminum Macpros (5,1), though, came equipped with an updated DVD, containing OSX Snow Leopard installer 10.6.4, which would allow your Mac to boot from DVD and let you install Snow Leopard on a new drive/partition. You could buy one of those updated DVDs on ebay from a previous Macpro 5,1 owner.

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