My ex-collegue just passed on a Mac mini Server to me and said it needed an OS. So I start it with Command-R, and then it asks me for Wi-Fi connection.

I am on my University network, so I can connect with my staff account or eduroam. However, none of those are in the list of detected networks. They have fine range though and all my other Mac/Unix machines in my office have no problem.

So I tried adding a new network: I type eid and I have a box for password, however, not for username. All the networks here require both username and password.

Is there any way around this?


I can connect to my iPhone as a hotspot, but I can't possibly share as much data as needed for the setup as my bill would be too high.

So I figure, I'd share my MacBook connection through USB with my iPhone, but it says: Your Internet connection cannot be shared because it is protected by 802.1X.

Maybe this reveals some info about the Wi-Fi connection here and why the setup is not detecting it.

2 Answers 2


There is no (reasonable) way around this. Basically, what's going on is that the firmware's network stack isn't smart enough to do 802.1X authentication (which is what's used for "enterprise" Wi-Fi authentication with both username and password). It can only do "personal" Wi-Fi authentication (network password, no username) an open networks (no captive portals either -- they require a browser). And ethernet, of course.

As for resharing the network (e.g. from your Mac) there's no technical reason this can't be done, but there's an extremely good practical one: 802.1X authentication implies a relatively high-security network, and particularly one where the network admins want to be able to tell who's connected where and when. Resharing such a network connection would open a hole in the network security, as well as potentially allowing untraceable and probably unauthorized people to connect to the network. From a security policy perspective, this would be very very bad. So macOS doesn't allow it.

Possible solutions: Can you get access to the campus network over ethernet? If so, you could use that (unless it also requires 802.1X authentication, but that's rare). If not, you're going to have to take the Mac Mini somewhere else to get an Internet connection it can use.

Another possible solution is to download the macOS installer app to your MacBook (in the App Store), then use DiskMaker X to make a bootable installer disk (you need an erasable USB flash drive at least 8GB), then boot the Mini from that. This might need a network connection, but as long as the installer is for the latest version of macOS, it should only need to check for & download the latest firmware for the Mini -- your iPhone hotspot should be able to handle that.

  • Using your USB flash drive method will not need access to the internet. You will need internet to do updates after the install, but at that point the computer will be working and he'll be able to connect to the network normally to do those.
    – l008com
    Commented Mar 21, 2018 at 5:15
  • This is interesting thank you (our ethernet also requires some setup). If this doens't work, I'm gonna take advantage of the 'mini' feature and take the Mac Mini home for the night to setup...
    – dorien
    Commented Mar 21, 2018 at 5:49

The simple solution is to plug into Ethernet.

Another solution is to install through another Mac, if you have one handy that also has Firewire? (or Thunderbolt if the mini has Thunderbolt) Boot the Mac mini holding the "T" button, to put it into Target Disk Mode. Plug it into the other Mac.

Download macOS on the laptop, through the App store. Run the installer and install it on the mini's hard drive. Once it's done and gives you the setup screen, Command-Q to quit out of that and shutdown. Then disconnect everything and reboot normally. The mini will be good to go.

  • I tried ethernet, but our university has some extensive setup procedure for that. Interesting, I will try the T option. Didn't know that was possible.
    – dorien
    Commented Mar 21, 2018 at 5:45

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